On Happiness: Part Two, Travel and Love

Ever since I began my career in travel, it’s been with suitcase-in-hand and no home of my own. Even my year of “living in NYC” included never signing a lease and being gone from the city more days than I was in it.

The years have worn on, full of adventures, new countries, fun experiences with people in all corners of the globe and a burning desire that could only be labeled accurately as ‘wanderlust‘. It’s been a gift I’ll never be able to fully thank everyone for — because there have been a great many people who have helped along the way — but it’s also been the hardest won victory I’ve ever fought for. I’ve gone without eating for days on end, been assaulted and robbed in foreign countries, and even watched the sun set still having no clue where I’d sleep that same night. I’ve done it mainly to prove that it can be done, that it isn’t easy but it is WORTH IT. Travel, I mean. The new experiences it brings and the growth that it forces on you willingly, or unwillingly — are all good.
Yet when good does not always equal great, how do you express that without seeming ungrateful. How do you have a dialogue about the difficulties when the benefits seem to far outweigh the personal cost. For me, often introverted and not always good at making new friends on the road, the reality has been a lonely one.

I got what I always wanted. I proved it could be done.

Yet I also discovered, at the height of my most beautiful experiences, that a little nagging consciousness buried in my soul was trying to tell me it wasn’t enough. Moreover, that it never would be for me. What I craved absolutely most of all, was all the travel and all the growth and every bit of the unpredictability — tempered with a little stability and a soft place to land between the insanity. Buried even deeper than that, a desire for companionship and love that I thought had been scared away for good in the brutality of my divorce and first failed attempt at “happily ever after.” Might I even find someone to share travel experiences with, as some of my blogging friends who travel with mates, have?!
Then, I walked through the doors of an Indian restaurant on the Lower East Side of New York City during a time that I wasn’t even supposed to have been in the United States, on a day I abhorred, to a dinner that I very nearly chose not to shown up for, to find this guy seated next to the only chair still available at the table.
Well, Valentine’s Day will never be the same again.

Danté, as I would later find out, was not only available and straight but also, by the end of the night — interested in me. Enough to ask me out before we even parted ways. Not interested in playing games or abiding by some cliched “three days” rule, he made his intentions clear and he courted me in a way that I couldn’t help but take notice of; with decreasing skepticism as my appointed, and all too short, time in NYC ran down. That first date turned into several more and by the time I flew back to Europe where I’d intended to get a visa and live permanently, I was glad to find out my application in one country had actually been denied.

We continued to talk via regular Skype calls and daily emails. We got to know each other in that way so many couples skip because infatuation deems that one get right to the good stuff without talking. We couldn’t skip to anything so far apart, so we dug in and got to the meat of what made the other person tick. And before long, he had taken the risk of buying a plane ticket to join me in Paris for what would officially be our fourth date. One five days and four nights long.

There were many things, both early on and later when I was sure and yet felt there could never be too many things to reassure me, that I really took special notice of. One of them was his profile on Instagram, which says, “You never know what life will put in your lap until you open your arms and embrace it.” Couldn’t agree more with that philosophy! He shares playlists with me and, for the first time ever, I’ve not had to tell a guy we don’t share the same taste in music. There isn’t even one song I’ve really disliked. Later, after he made the incredible commitment to join me in Paris, on the day he was leaving, he shared a photo of his plane ticket with the caption, “If anyone asks, tell them ‘I had to go see about a girl’.” That line from Good Will Hunting is not only one of my favorite movie lines, the movie itself is one of my very favorite movies.

Those are simple examples because I’m keeping the real good stuff just for us, but the point is, we’re on the same page about each other and about life. We’re sure that we each love the other, this is not a one-sided anything. I’ve never met someone I’m so attracted to who also just, fits. Sure, I still need to make some changes in my life to make a relationship with this incredible man work but they’re not sacrifices. In the end, that’s how I know.

I’m changing my life’s structure so I can balance the thing I love [travel], with a life with the person I love, and it’s all gain. There’s no loss.Just like I did when I began my life of full time travel, urging other people who wanted to do it but might have been scared like I was, so I write this to urge you now: whatever happiness looks like to you, when it comes knocking, don’t shut the door in its face. I could have. Danté could have. SO thankful he didn’t.

And now this blog won’t just be about finding the courage to travel solo and escape into a life of adventure. It will be about having the courage to try and have it all. Travel, someone to love, and someone to travel with. That starts, with once again having a home base in New York City [to commence in June]. This time, I’ll even be hanging some clothes in a closet and putting away the suitcase once in a while.

I hope you’ll still follow along. I have a hunch that the adventure of balancing love and travel will be the greatest story yet.