On boys, babies, deal breakers, and bad decisions.
“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.
TaylorFebruary 13, 2014at10:35 am
sigh. i know i always read your posts, and i always comment on them, and you probably just think i’m a crazy stalker at this point, but there is just so much in them that rings true with me. first off, your unabridged honesty is exactly what i strive for in my writing as well. if you’re not putting yourself out there, what’s the fucking point? i think the only valuable writing is writing that makes the reader emote. so i emote and then they emote and hopefully soon we’re all emoting (that sounded better in my head, btw). but also your ability to somehow love yourself and hate yourself at the same time: to want so many things and strive for them, but also feel like you’re failing miserably on a daily basis. And most of all your struggle between wanting to build a home and wanting to leave it. Anyway, I get it. So I’ll always read your posts and I will probably continue to comment on them. Just please don’t stop posting them because that would make me very sad. And don’t worry about the whole love thing. I will not follow that with any advice. just don’t.
ValFebruary 13, 2014at11:21 am
Never stop commenting! I love that you comment! Plus when no one comments I worry that no one is reading. 🙂 And it always makes me feel better to hear from people who feel the same way about things and know I’m not alone!
And thank you so much as always for your reply. I’ll try not to worry about love and finding it. I used to think about it much more than I do now but I think the more I’ve traveled and had other things to focus my energy on, it’s become more of a side thought. With Valentines Day tomorrow and nothing else going on with me at this moment, it’s been more on my mind lately though. 🙂
TaylorFebruary 13, 2014at11:29 am
love is important and you should want it because it’s one of the very few things that actually matters on this planet. not just romantic love but all those other kinds the greeks talk about too. but anyway, what happened to all the milkshakes? i thought you were gonna shovel!
ValFebruary 13, 2014at2:29 pm
I shoveled! (not really, it’s too cold for that shit) But no one’s bringing any milkshakes yet 🙁
BrendonFebruary 13, 2014at11:27 am
Really love your articles, always so honest and true.
Don’t worry, the person you are looking for is out there somewhere, and will find you when you least expect it 🙂 In the meantime just keep on being your awesome self
ValFebruary 13, 2014at1:07 pm
🙂 Thank you Brendon! I know he’s out there some where…hopefully…
LuisFebruary 13, 2014at1:56 pm
Loved this! Hated that it didn’t work out for you. And you ARE inspiring… and cute 🙂
ValFebruary 13, 2014at2:30 pm
Aw thank you Luis! It’s OK that it didn’t work out. The right guy has got to be out there somewhere!
RichFebruary 13, 2014at2:07 pm
I still read. I may feel stuck here at home sometimes, but you remind me that if I really wanted to, I could get myself unstuck. Just knowing that helps get through the more annoying days. I’m not ready to be a world traveler, but I really like hanging out here reading over your shoulder. It’s comfy. 🙂
ValFebruary 13, 2014at2:38 pm
🙂 Aw thank you! I think anyone can get themselves unstuck in one way or another!
ChrisFebruary 13, 2014at2:45 pm
NEVER compromise Val – you’re freaking awesome and I’m glad he convinced you to come to the UK..cos I got to party with you! 🙂
Everything happens for a reason – and his reason is obviously to make you realise what you want and what direction you want to take. You always regret what you don’t do more than things you do…live learn, grow.
…hurry up and come to Ecuador!
ValFebruary 13, 2014at3:27 pm
I won’t ever compromise! Promise. 🙂
I too am happy that the whole thing got me over to England and met you! Everything does happen for a reason.
I’ll see you Ecuador SOON!
PaulineFebruary 13, 2014at6:24 pm
Val, loved this post. Firstly for your honesty and secondly because so much of this rang true with me. I have to keep reminding myself that dreams, even when they’re dashed, are all part of a well-lived life. Brilliant post.
ValFebruary 16, 2014at9:37 am
Thank you Pauline! You’re right, it’s hard sometimes when traveling when not everything is always great. But it IS part of a well-lived life. Travel really helps you realize that even the bad days are worth it!
PriyaFebruary 16, 2014at4:33 pm
I’ve met so many couples where one has the desire to travel but won’t do anything about it because the other doesn’t want to. And I always think to myself, “I would hate to be in your marriage or relationship”. It’s like being in prison.
ValFebruary 16, 2014at8:26 pm
Ugh I know! I really hope to find someone some day who has the same views on travel as I do! I don’t think I can go back to a “normal” life!
AliFebruary 16, 2014at11:26 pm
I like the list of what you’re looking for in a guy. Several years back, after getting my heart broken too many times and before starting a round of online dating, I literally wrote out a list of what I was looking for in a guy. The universal stuff like “makes me laugh” and the stuff that was more specific to me that isn’t so universal. Then whenever I met a guy or went on a date, I’d consult the list and see if he fit. So I went on a date with a guy whose profile said “trying to quit smoking” and even though he seemed nice, I knew I didn’t want to deal with a smoker, even one who claims he’s trying to quit. That list really helped me visualize what I was looking for in a guy, and in life really, and when I met Andy he fit. The only thing I had on the list in the “it would be great if” category was something like “handy with cars” which Andy isn’t. But since he doesn’t have a car, and our lives in Germany don’t involve a car, I decided “handy with websites” was a good replacement 🙂 So I guess this is all a long winded way of saying, know what you want, even write it out and reference it when you meet a guy, and then let it go b/c the guy who fits with you will come around someday. And damn, kids is NOT something you can compromise on, can’t even imagine my life with kids in it. Yikes.
ValFebruary 17, 2014at9:24 am
Lately I’ve been all about the lists. What I want in life, what I want in a man… They help me focus. I fall so hard sometimes that I forget that they guy isn’t actually someone that would work long term. The travel and kids things are the biggest non-negotiables. I would love someone who is good at photography because I want good photos of me! hehe. That’s on my “would be nice list.” 😉
SallyFebruary 26, 2014at9:14 am
So honest, well written. There’s definitely something to be said about bettering yourself, but don’t let it get so far that you’re convinced you’re also not good enough. Just being a person who wants to be a better person already makes you totally worth anyone’s time.
But this is a struggle I think everyone faces; is the perfect one out there? You just have to believe that yes, they are, and they probably aren’t perfect. But they probably also wouldn’t expect you to fly across the ocean just to have sex with them… hah. That was a lame move.
Concentrate on yourself, let the rest fall into place and be at peace that maybe it won’t. There’s nothing else you can do!
ValFebruary 26, 2014at4:04 pm
Thank you! It was so a lame move!
It’s definitely not that I don’t think I’m “good enough” but yes, I’m always trying to better myself. Like you said, I always feel like as long as I’m doing that I’ll be OK. I just feel like I’ve been at more of a standstill lately and need to kick my butt back into gear.
I guess I’ve been in relationships before where there’s none of that push to better yourself. Not to change for someone else, but that inspiration to want to change for yourself.