By Dannie Elizabeth
“Travel is rebellion in its purest form. We follow our heart. We free ourselves of labels. We lose control willingly. We trade a role for reality. We love the unfamiliar. We trust strangers. We own only what we can carry. We search for better questions, not answers. We truly graduate. We, sometimes, choose never to come back.“ – The Triprebel Manifesto
So you’re wondering what it feels like to travel to a new place, plant roots and become engulfed in an entirely new surrounding? Have you ever been on a date? Maybe a blind date?
Congrats! You’ve joined an Internet dating site and have been carefully reviewing your “matches”. He enjoys rock-climbing, craft beers, and is fiercely motivated in his career. Click! So far on paper, he’s your kind of man but your worried that maybe, just maybe there’s something wrong with him. Just like the rest of the guys you dated there has to be at least one thing you won’t like about him – the way he holds a fork, his terrible dance moves, his overly religious mother…I could go on for days.
Traveling – or more so, looking to stay put in a place whose currency you’ve never held in your wallet – can be quite similar. You’ll do your research, talk to friends, read books and then one day you’ll find your match. Maybe it’s the beautiful beaches, the exquisite cuisine that you can’t get enough of, the romantic language that the locals speak, maybe you’re getting a great fucking exchange rate, or perhaps it’s just the mystery of the place that has enticed you to buy a ticket.
This “one-way ticket” is your agreeing to meet this guy in a bar, alone, next Friday night. You’ve never actually met this guy, but you’re willing to put yourself out there and see what comes of it. It could be amazing; he could be the one! Or it could be a disaster and you’ll have to duck out early because your friend is having an “emergency”. Either way, here goes nothing.
Your first impression is “ok, he’s not bad looking…he definitely looked better in his picture, but I’m sure his personality is great”! He’s a bit rough around the edges but there is charm in his eyes. Something tells you in the pit of your stomach that you should take a seat and stay a while.
Every photo of your destination has been photo shopped or taken with a professional camera, or shot at the most perfect time of day. It never looks exactly the way you pictured it. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Either way, it’s a place you’re willing to explore and get to know a little better before you run back to everything you know and love at home.
Success! It’s been four weeks and you’ve spent every waking moment talking to each other and creating your own secret language; you’re eating, but everything tastes better with him next to you; you’re walking on a boring street but everything seems to glow a little brighter. The honeymoon phase has sucked you in.
It’s the same in a new country. The pictures looked better online, but there’s something in the atmosphere– it’s the people you see haggling over prices of fruit at the market, the fact that people are driving on the wrong side of the road. You’ve never explored these back alleys before, so to you, they’re little treasures. Every street vendor and high-end restaurant is a culinary masterpiece – anything is more exciting than that diner you were frequenting a month ago, where they knew your order of cheese fries and milkshakes without even asking.
But then it happens. The little things that were once so adorable and so sweet have turned into monotonous, everyday life and have lost just a little bit of that sparkle. You don’t love him any less…you’re just comfortable. His quirky style of clothes and definition of “fun” are polar opposite to everything you are – but that’s why you love him. You’re at home with him. You can be yourself and you can lose yourself at the same time. This is right. This feels right. It’s too natural to not be right.
Not everything stays magical forever. Grocery shopping will one day turn into just that. You’ll have to clean your amazing apartment that looks over the river, just like the rest of the world. And some days you’ll be a little frustrated at absolutely nothing. But that’s life – no matter where you are.
Oh god! You’re introducing him to your parents?! Your best friend?! “No, no, no this is a terrible idea. What if they don’t love him like you do? What if they think he’s a huge weirdo who tells terrible jokes?! Does he tell terrible jokes? Is he wasting your time? No! Focus, focus! You love him and that’s all that matters but damn it would be great if they loved him too!”
You nervously await the introduction and hope everything goes smoothly. For the most part it does – he gives your dad a great handshake, your mom laughs at his awful jokes, and you have a lovely dinner. But you see your dad giving him the up and down…judging every move he makes. “Why would she pick him? I don’t see it.” Your mom is being as supportive as she can because she knows you always surround yourself with good people and you always have a solid plan, but she doesn’t want to get too close just incase it happens again…
So you’ve had a bit of a history with commitment issues? No ones perfect. You’re just not ready to settle down anywhere yet. Your dad never understood why you decorated your apartment the way you did and your mom just wishes you would move closer to home so you can meet for lunch on your work breaks. But year after year you just bop around, looking for something new. Sometimes you stay a while; sometimes you walk in and walk out right away.
And then the inevitable happens. Everyone knew it was coming. You’re done. You couldn’t possibly spend another month with him – the allure is gone. You’ve loved him like you’ve never loved before and you found out more about yourself than you expected…but its time to move on. It’s time to grow even more and experience something different – you miss that honeymoon phase.
You take out your map, count the money left in your account and book a ticket to the next adventure. The next blind date awaits you. You’re still not sure what exactly you’re looking for, but you’re willing to open yourself up to something new again. New foods to excite your taste buds and a new climate to shock your skin.
So what’re you waiting for…it’s time to update your profile? Go for it. Dating is never so terrifying that we’re not willing to subject ourselves to it again. It always end up with some great stories, great memories, and great new friends – some they stay, some they go. Traveling gives you that same rush, those same butterflies. And while nothing lasts forever, its what you do with the time you have.
What will you take away from your next relationship – a new language, a new recipe, and new outlook on life? Who knows, you may find your soul mate.
Dannie got on her first plane to Canada at the tender age of nine months and since then she hasn’t stopped. She currently lives in Thailand where she works as an ESL teacher and gets her travel fix on the weekends. Her most recent escapades can be found on her blog, Eat Well, Travel Often. Dannie also contributes monthly to the popular NYC fashion blog, Merci New York.