“Fuck the future. It would’ve been nice to have you in my present for a little while.”
I had been drunk the night before receiving that message, sitting outside a hostel in Laos at god knows what hour, after dodging another backpacker who kept trying to kiss me and take me back to his hotel room. Instead I broke free and walked home, alone, got out my laptop, and wrote to a boy I’d met at a hostel in Vietnam a few weeks earlier, drunkenly telling him how much I liked him. How I wish I had stayed behind with him.
I did like him, a lot. Despite the fact that I only knew him for one night. A night we spent playing cards and making weird faces and talking and dancing and kissing and, well… We both loved writing. We both loved travel. He was funny. He was weird. He was cute. He was probably the only guy ever to stop in the middle of kissing me because he wanted to have a conversation. But I left the next day. I already had a bus booked with a Swedish girl I’d been traveling with and we had plans to spend New Year’s on Halong Bay together.
I could have stayed. Canceled my bus. Canceled my plans. A big part of me wanted to. But, at that point, I was only six months into my trip and, for me, had to keep going on my own path. I wasn’t ready to give it all up for a guy.
“Fuck the future. It would’ve been nice to have you in my present for a little while. … You were just what I needed.” He replied, the next day.
That was two years ago and I hadn’t seen him since.
We had tried to meet up again. Plans fell through to meet in Thailand when he was running out of money and had to go back home to Australia. Later, I was going to meet him there, but then decided to stay longer in Asia because I didn’t want to go broke.
Over a year passed and I figured it wasn’t meant to be. I figured our paths would never again cross. But then he moved to London on a working visa, and he asked me to come visit, and I said yes.
It was finally perfect timing. I had now been traveling for over two years. I could go anywhere without the fear that I was compromising. And I had been planning on coming home from Colombia to settle down anyways, what was a couple more months of travel? Besides, while I was there I could visit with so many others from England that I’d met on the road, and I could go to TBEX in Ireland. It was all coming into place.
I was trying not to get my hopes up, but, being the forever day dreamer that I am, that was a hard task. In my head this trip could quite possibly be it. Maybe we’d fall in love. Maybe I’d cancel my ticket home. Maybe I’d finally find someone I could spend my life with.
But, the more we talked online in preparation of me visiting, the more it seemed that he was just talking about sex. And so, one day, I asked him if he only wanted to sleep with me.
“Not to sound like a dick,” he wrote, “but that’s a very girlfriend sounding question. Considering our relationship.”
“OK,” I wrote back, “Never mind.”
And I stopped talking to him.
Silly me for asking a question about what exactly our relationship was.
Silly me for thinking that a guy that asked me to fly across an ocean to see him actually wanted me for more than sex.
Silly me for thinking that a man who often mentioned how he was ready to find his soulmate, who wanted to fall in love, could ever be talking about me.
I debated canceling the whole trip, staying home or staying in South America, but decided to go anyways. I had made the trip about so much more than just him that it no longer mattered when I cut that part out of it. I was so excited about everything else. So I flew to Ireland, went to TBEX. I flew to England, visited with friends, went to London, went to WTM.
Somewhere in Ireland, amidst bad decisions and getting robbed, I started to think about him. And I wondered why I was so upset. And I wondered why it mattered that he just wanted sex when I hook up with guys all the time. Why could I sleep with a stranger and not someone I already knew? Was there a difference? I mean, I was the one who read way more into everything than I should have. I was the one who let her day dreams get away from her.
On a particularly bad night I sent him a message to say hi and let him know I’d be going to London soon.
And he offered to still let me sleep at his place. A “sex-free couch.”
I wanted to say no, but I also did want to see him again. And I ended up with a weekend in London, after taking way too much advantage of my friend Dylan‘s hospitality, where I had nothing booked and no where to stay, and little money. So I said OK.
After WTM, I moved into his place for three nights.
Three. Awkward. Nights.
He spent most of the time working. We didn’t go out at all, we stayed in, cooked dinner, watched movies. There were random kisses, here and there, and nights sleeping next to each other. But that was really all.
After the second night I decided it had all been a big mistake. I felt uncomfortable being there. I wasn’t prepared for any of it. I needed to get out. Quickly. So I booked a bus to Bath for the next morning.
On our last night, before I left, we sat across from each other talking for hours about writing, books, life. He read to me from Chuck Palahniuk. I read to him, buried under a blanket, the post I once wrote about him.
I remembered why I liked him so much.
He inspired me. He was so passionate about books and writing that I felt it too. He made me realize that I didn’t read as much as I should anymore. He made me realize how much I ached to write more than just this blog.
But I’m not so sure I inspired him back.
As I walked away, towards the tube, the next morning, I felt surprisingly OK with everything.
I liked him, yes. But our time together just made me realize that maybe I’m still not ready. Maybe I’m still not the person I want to be when I find a man to love.
But I’m getting there.
And as much as I felt for two years that he was a man I could be with, I’m not sure if he was.
For instance, he kept mentioning, randomly, his future children. And I think we all know by now my stance on children.
The older I get, the longer my list of relationship deal breakers gets. Maybe some women, as they inch closer to the mid-thirties mark, might realize that they may never find a man who fits all their wants. And maybe those women settle for someone. And not to say that’s bad.
But, for me, I’m realizing more and more that I can’t compromise.
I now realize that I could never end up with someone who doesn’t want to travel semi-permanently. It’s too important to me now. But I also need someone who wouldn’t be opposed to “settling” somewhere, some day. I still do have big dreams of renovating a three flat (where I’m going to ever get the millions of dollars to do that is beyond me). But he should also probably be willing to succumb to any and all design decisions I have, because I pretty much have the whole imaginary place designed in my head (and my Pinterest boards).
He should be funny. And make me laugh like no one else can.
He should be a good kisser.
He should be passionate. About something.
He should be creative.
He should be motivated but not take anything too seriously.
He should be cute and kind and loving.
He should inspire me.
I should inspire him.
I spend so much time wanting to find this perfect person that I forget sometimes that I need to be perfect too. Not perfect perfect. But I should be cute and funny and kind. I should be motivated and passionate. I should be creative. And sometimes I doubt if I am any of those things. At least not with any sort of consistency. If I’m ever to have a mutually inspirational relationship, I have a few things I still need to work through.
I still want to get married some day. I still want to fall in love. I want that intimacy. Someone to spend my life with. Someone to take care of me and vice versa, through thick and thin. And sometimes wonder if I will actually be OK if I don’t ever find that person.
Because sometimes I’m not so sure he is out there.