Everything happens so quickly. Within days you share your life story and your tiny dorm bed. There is no such thing as a first date or perfectly timed text message banter—chances are you’ll spend almost all day together, almost every day. And then you start making the same friends and following the same route and booking private rooms and you can’t believe that you didn’t even know this person a week ago.
But then, here’s the other thing about travel romances: the falling out is also quicker, and messier, and it leaves you aching because there’s no time or place to retreat to the normal comforts of home. And there are so many more opportunities for jealousy and the discovery of old secrets or less than desirable character traits. So there are drunken arguments and long silences, awkward cultural outings and the taking sides of friends.
Between the perfect beach days and shared motorcycle rides, the English boy and I discover that our romantic histories are incompatible, basically. He is shut off and distant because of past betrayals while I crave affection and reassurance. He is sweet but unpredictable, and I continue to give him too many chances, my typical M.O. when it comes to boys I like. This one needs more saving than I can provide, though, and I finally gather up what’s left of my dignity and demand the more that I have learned over the past six months that I deserve.
The two weeks I pseudo-date the English boy end with me hysterically leaving the bar at 3AM, and I feel myself digressing into the pre-travel version of myself. Halfway through my walk home I stop in the middle of the road and drunkenly call you for the first time since August, and I find myself hurt, confused, and disappointed for the second time that night.
I wonder if it’s me after all; the common factor in all of my heartaches. I wonder if I want my life to fit into an interesting blog post a little too badly, and if I make poor choices accordingly.
I wonder if they’re right about me.
I run away from the English boy and his friends who have also become mine, changing my bus ticket to skip the beach party town we were supposed to go to next in favor of a more quaint inland town. I think it’s the best decision, giving us both some space, but I am angry that I am going so far as to change my whole trip for a boy, and sadder than I imagined I would be to leave these three guys.
And I still wonder what this says about me. It’s disheartening to see how easily I revert back and how anxiety has caught up to me halfway around the world. And what happens when I go back to normal life, and running away is not as easy as this? Has anything really changed or am I still just avoiding it all?