Published: October 19th 2011October 19th 2011
Last time I sat down to write a blog post I was on my way home, now I'm as far from it as I've ever been. Before I left a year ago one of my best friends told me he'd bet money that I wouldn't come back after only a year of travelling. I laughed it off, telling him home was where I wanted to be, that I just wanted to see something new and figure myself out a little. But since that moment, on my travels, I have become obsessed by this need for adventure and to push myself further and further, to challenge myself and experience as much as possible. I live for those moments where you can't help but cry, when the beauty of a moment overwhelms you. There was one morning, when I'd camped on a quiet beach in my tent, I woke up to the sound of breaking waves and the salty smell of the sea in the air. I clambered out of my tent and was alone. This beautiful beach was mine. I stood there with the wind wrapped around me, the sand between my toes, watching the waves crash in. All this beauty just for me. A tear rolled down my face and down into the sand. I stripped off and jumped into the water and fought the waves and played like a child. When I was finished I stretched out across the sand and let the morning sun dry me before I packed my tent and moved along. There is a quote used in 'Into The Wild' by the author attempting to explain why some people have this compulsion to roam.
“The need of committing yourself to something absolute – life or truth or beauty – of being ruled by it in place of the man-made rules. You need to surrender to some such purpose more fully, more unreservedly than you have ever done in the old familiar, peaceful days, in the old life that is now abolished and gone for good”.
Part of experiencing a life like this is knowing that by putting yourself in strange situations you make yourself vulnerable. You have to let go of prejudices and sensibilities and trust everything will be OK. Sometimes you're wrong but you learn to accept these sacrifices because when you're right it's so good it's holy.
After San Francisco, I spent a month at home but moved around so much, never staying in a place for more than a few days, that I never managed to feel settled. It was good to see people and catch up and I wish I could have stayed longer. When it came to leaving a part of me wanted to stay but I knew it was better to go. This life would still be here when I was finished.
Next I flew to Kuala Lumpur to spend a month in South East Asia. My trip there is mostly a blur. The places I saw and the things I did fade to irrelevance because near enough every thought I had was about a girl. I travelled in Malaysia, Thailand and Laos, I got my first tattoo, I rode on an elephant, I swam in beautiful waterfalls, snorkelled with sharks and turtles, partied most nights and met great people, there were lots of girls that could have been, but I couldn't take my mind off one in particular. I first saw her at a beach party dancing in her 'I Love Bangkok' t-shirt. I couldn't take my eyes off her. It sounds like a sick cliché but it's true. I was dancing with a French girl who whispered in my ear, “forget the I Love Bangkok t-shirt, notice the girls noticing you”. It was tempting for a second to take the easy option, but instead I stopped dancing and told her I was sorry but I liked the 'I Love Bangkok' t-shirt. We had a good time together that night, although nothing happened. Through a few twists of fortune we ended up travelling together; me, her and her best friend. From the beginning I knew the situation was difficult. The first time I tried to kiss her she told me 'not today'. It turned out she had a boyfriend back home.
The night she told me about her boyfriend was the first night we had any time alone. Her friend went to bed early and we stayed up and talked, then went for a walk and found a quiet spot on the edge of the river Kwai where we ended up kissing. The next few days were like heaven. We connected with the spark of two wires being touched together. Although we spent two weeks together it was only in this three or four day period where our passion erupted and everything was new, the world was a better place, the sky bluer and the water sweeter. Those few days were so vibrant and intense my heart aches to feel them again. After that she was worried it was becoming too serious (whether her feeling too much or me coming on too strong, I can only guess) and she wanted to break it off. That never really happened but we weren't together every moment we were alone either, only occasionally stealing a kiss here and there. She started distancing herself from me and although I understood, it was difficult. It was like being given a crumb of the world's best chocolate cake, letting yourself dream about the whole thing and then waking up to find it gone.
We were totally different people. She's a last year med student who's very passionate about her course and excited by her future career. Ambition and respect are two values she considers important whereas I'm a self proclaimed tramp on a free spirited romp around the world without a care for my future or my standing in society. All I know is I want to have fun and do things a little differently. But the one thing I value above anything else is love and when the time comes and I meet the right girl all of this will mean nothing anymore and then I'll do whatever it takes to keep us together. When we spoke about how it would work if I came home with her she asked me what I would do when realistically she would be earning a lot more money than me and spending a lot of time at work. I told her I didn't care, I told her I'd make it work because we'd be together but looking back that was just the ramblings of a love drunk fool. Secretly I agreed with her but could never have told her because all I wanted was for her to love me back. Although she was wrong for me in almost every way, she was perfect in the one way that mattered. The purity of love is measured by feeling, not judgment. It isn't convenient and it doesn't make sense, it doesn't fit within the boundaries of society and sensibility. It's never easy and it hurts, but it should because that's how we know something is real and that it means something. I know I should let her go but I don't want to. I believe I could have made her happy and that we could have been good together, despite our differences. People say time is the best healer. But I think that's bullshit. You can't mend wounds like these. I prefer Jeanette Winterson's comment: “Time is a great deadener – people forget, get bored, move on”. But the scars are always there.