Anonymous has serious commitment issues when it comes to blogs and equally serious itches to write, which is why she thinks this is a great idea.
Erin and I were sitting on the floor of my apartment, sipping hot tea to warm ourselves after being drenched in the Manchester rain. It was the first time we’d ever met each other, so we had to first figure out if the other person was a serial killer before finally allowing ourselves to relax completely and settle into the wonderful experience that is Couchsurfing. As we clicked, laughed and shared our stories, we inevitably got to the topic of love. Not just love, love – love on the go.
She shared some experiences of meeting people on her backpacking adventures that sounded as though they came straight out of the best movies. Think chance encounters you could have missed if you were there just a split-second later, clicking with them like magic, then receiving the biggest surprise when you move on to your next random destination after saying your “see you around’s” to find them there as well. I was looking at her with big eyes through the gaps in my fingers I had held plastered over my face, squealing with excitement and absolute agony every time she fed me with one more perfect, perfect detail.
I have my fair share of stories like that, and my friends always wear the same delighted yet pained expression I had on when I heard Erin’s. How could they not? When you meet someone in the most random of encounters at the most unexpected of times, click so well with them that you form a deeper connection in those few fleeting moments than the ones you share with people you’ve known for years, the last thing you want is to say goodbye. But the truth to the life of anyone who travels and truly opens themselves up to the experience is that when these things happen – and they will happen – as much as you’d like them to stay, they have to leave. Because geography. Because distance. Because real life beckons.
I smile every time I think about them because it’s crazy how some coincidences can be, and how just being in the right place at the right time could change everything. Whilst slightly intoxicated (I blame my French boss and his friends for this) and holding on to a coconut in one hand and my wine glass in the other, I announced: “If he were here, I would date the shit out of him”.
I think a part of it has a lot to do with the inherently human quality of wanting something that’s just a little out of reach, yet still attainable if you’re optimistic about it. With plane tickets that can be bought just like that and jobs around the world you can easily apply for, they really are just that one little step away. As much as I believe in that, I’ve so often wondered if these people are idealised too much in my head, because let’s be honest: while first impressions hold a great deal of importance, it’s what comes after that’s even more so. I don’t doubt for a second that these people are some of the most exceptional ones I’ve ever met and they are likely as fantastic even if I had the chance to get to know more of them, but I am not going to cross out the tiny, minuscule chance that we wouldn’t be able to stand each other if we could see how it all plays out.
“Sometimes I wish I’d never gotten to know her,” reflected another backpacking friend.
“She seemed more perfect when I met her in that moment, and I built her up so much in my imagination that when I finally got to know her, my idea of her seemed better than who she actually was.”
So what do I make of all of this in light of my own experiences?
For one, it has definitely reaffirmed my belief that “The One” does not exist. To assert that there is literally only one right person for you out there in this ridiculously and gloriously vast world is just silly. It’s a fairytale fart. There could be thousands of people you could be in a perfectly happy relationship with, hundreds you could love, and many who are in every way complementary to your every quality. To believe that there is only one person out there just doesn’t make sense. The person with a giant question mark slapped on their silhouette you’ve envisioned yourself with since, I don’t know, puberty, could be in a completely different continent. Your first language might not be theirs, and you might not ever visit the place they live in because it could be in some godforsaken part of the world.
It has also made me realise the importance of not settling. It would be easy to think: “Well, I can’t find anyone as great where I am right now, so this person will have to do. They don’t excite or inspire me in the same way… but I suppose they aren’t half bad.” I’ve been guilty of that, and of convincing myself my feelings were more than they actually were. At the back of your mind, though, there will always be that nagging little voice telling you that you’ve met better and could actually (okay, hypothetically) do better, so why don’t you? For various reasons you’d shut that voice out, but ultimately it isn’t fair to whoever that other person is, nor to yourself. Now, I subscribe to the “fuck yes” theory – if I’m not screaming (in my head or otherwise) “fuck yes, I want to be with this person”, then I won’t. Love shouldn’t be a matter of convenience, but so often we see that it actually is. It’s an ordeal that has become so painfully pragmatic that it’s now more about the process and less about the person. All that said, if you do meet someone amazing who happens to live where you do, you will definitely appreciate them so much more.
The third thing is to be, above all, optimistic. So what if all these great, wonderful people live in different corners of the world? If you like their part of the world for other reasons and want to give living there a shot, move. If you decide later that you want to go somewhere else, do that. I think travellers of all people understand the importance of always being on the go. The point is that if it happens, it happens. And if it does, love and love hard, because you only meet someone that special once in a lifetime. We can all throw confetti around, have a massive party and retell the most romantic story of how the two of you met, and it would be pretty awesome. But if it doesn’t happen, then I wouldn’t worry too much about it; the world is so massive, and if there’s one time I believe in the saying that “there’s more fish in the sea”, it’s right now.
Get out there and love each other, you crazy humans. We need more of that around here.