What a strange word.
For some it’s a prison. Others, bliss. And for some of us, we just really love pizza.
Love happens. Everywhere. It makes the world spin, and it’s universal. We’ve all seen it. Beautiful, horrible and a real pain in the A, all at the same time.
I remember the first time I fell in love overseas. Intoxicating. That hispanic accent can make any man’s knees wobble. I used to see those eyes and think, “Gosh, you’re amazing.” Now if I see those eyes I’ll scramble to the nearest bunker. That girl was Level 10 crazy to the moon and back.
The more I travelled, the more women I met. Short relationships, long relationships, friend-zonifications, platonic friendships and wild flings – they happened all over the world. The attention-seeking Frenchie, the magnetic but insane Filipina, the cute red-head with the horrible accent, the single mom who was impossibly sweet, the California girl who I wasn’t sure if I was dating or not, the charming half Tanzanian who I had to leave far too soon. On it went.
I didn’t seek those relationships. They just kind of happened. Meeting them was just so…interesting. A first date was like a wild adventure.
“What is this place?”
“Is this what you normally eat for dessert?”
“How do I ask for a cup of tea in Bulgarian?”
Everything was new. Everything was amusing. Even if the date was terrible, it wasn’t. It was always funny and memorable, and at the very least, a great story to tell the boys back at the hostel. It was impossible to have a boring date on the road.
And soon I learned, every country breeds amazing women. Some are demure and sweet, others wild and adventurous, but all were unique and beautiful in their own way. To date a foreign girl was the ultimate culture shock; sometimes good, sometimes horrific, but always worth it.
However, the road isn’t a place where love blossoms into a mighty tree that lasts a lifetime. At most, it sprouts into half a flower, then it’s ripped out of the ground once your visa expires or your return flight comes around.
Such is the love life of a travelling man.
When I finally came home, it was time for reality check number two. Dating was impossible.
On the road every single conversation was fun.
“What did you eat for breakfast?”
“Katogo! What’s that? How do you cook it? Can we go eat it? Is it good?”
Laughs all around. Endless conversation.
Home was different.
“What did you eat for breakfast?”
It became impossible to date at home again. There was nothing to talk about. They didn’t get me. I didn’t get them. It was just so…boring.
I couldn’t have a relationship with the girls at home. I couldn’t have a relationship with girls on the road. It was either underwhelming, or fleeting, or both.
So what did I do? I did what any man would do.
I simply endured my terrible, annoying, up and down love life.
And then I realised, it wasn’t because of the girls. It’s not you, it’s me (no seriously…) It was simply because my heart was somewhere else. I couldn’t give any connections the attention they deserved. I couldn’t truly let them into my life. And that was all because I couldn’t give up my true love. My real mistress.
You meet a girl. She’s amazing. But hey, this can only go on for a couple of months because I’m going to Europe in March.
You go on a date. She’s really sweet. And I’d love to spend more time with you, but I’m heading off to Africa next week.
If they ask if I’ll change my travel plans for them, they usually don’t like the answer.
So I’m selfish. Maybe that makes me a dick. But when your heart is telling you to go, are you really not going to go?
Because I hurt too. Those awful, gut-wrenching goodbyes that still make my stomach echo when I think about them today. But at the end of the day, I need to keep moving. It’s who I am. When I need to go, I need to go. I don’t expect you to understand.
When you’ve tasted the joy of travel, life changes quick. There’s always more to see, more to explore. Endless adventure is always waiting. Where do you stop? How can love compete? Every now and then a special someone comes along, but it doesn’t matter how fast she makes your heart spin, because the road is always there, calling your name.
I don’t know if that’s a love that ever dies.
Perhaps, this is the double-edged sword of worldly curiosity. Lives of colourful adventures and crippled romances. But is it worth it?
I hope so.
Because despite the battered backpack and the heart to match, this train keeps on rolling. My clunky love life will just have to tag along with me.