I am a girl who travels. Whether you want to date me or not doesn’t really matter to me, at least, the question is not keeping me up at night. Unless, of course, I like you and I am eyeing the idea to date you. In that case, I may wonder if you like me too, but most likely the thought that me traveling has anything to do with the matter wouldn’t have occurred to me. That was until my mother asked me a few months ago if I stopped traveling if I met a guy I’d fall in love with. I really didn’t understand the question, it seemed so silly to me and so my reply was ‘Why the heck would I do that?’ (sounding even less eloquent in German). Only later did it dawn on me, that there might actually be guys out there who a) actually spend time thinking about the pro and cons about dating a girl who travels a lot and b) who subsequently might not want to date one.
She’s the one with the messy hair.
I was a bit baffled because I never thought in terms of such … practicality, I guess you could call it. I travel and I have blue eyes, I make great pizza and like giraffes, I love scuba diving and don’t mind plane food and not one of these things does define me more than the other, at least, that’s what I always thought. Would you not want to date me because you don’t like giraffes and your most burning desire is not to go dive with a Mola Mola? Probably not, so why would the traveling part be any different? I have close friends in so many different countries and don’t love them any less just because they are far away, that the idea to diss someone because of proximity seems rather odd to me.
Then again, I haven’t had a relationship to speak of for a while, so maybe I’m getting this all wrong.
She’s tasted life and it marked her with flaws.
The truth is though that dating as a traveling introvert ain’t easy. I don’t like the concept of dating much to begin with, but now how to approach someone if you dislike crowded bars, hostels, full moon parties, and crowds in general? Or should I actually stand in a museum hoping for a handsome stranger to stroll by, stopping next to me mesmerized by the same painting and/or me? Does the old line of ‘can you put sunscreen on my back’ still get used and does it work besides warding off cancer? If I’d manage to find someone with any of the above or other to me unbeknownst ways, how do I date and always leave? How can I not rejoice that someone is committed enough to want me as their plus one for a summer wedding when in fact I have no idea where I will be in summer? I think we can all agree, avid travelers or not, that communal wedding attendance is huge in a relationship but so is a trip to Iceland or New York. How do you hide the fact that the idea of Bali and said Mola Mola gives you more butterflies than the person you are lying in bed with and who hopefully just gave you multiple orgasms? How can you explain to someone that they really do need to let you go in order for you to come back to them? Not once, not twice, but all the time. Maybe it really is me and not you, but that brings me back to the beginning… what about the girl who travels, who does she want to date and how will that work for her?
She follows her heart.
The other day I read a wonderful post about a girl just like me. Who travels and who still dares to dream about finding love. Who still believes against all odds of the space-time condominium that she will find this person and that time and space will not matter when she does. That her travels are irrelevant to a connection that can be made, that one shared moment will be enough to find it/him. Call me a fool, but I believe it too.
Oh well, now that I’ve admitted to the internet aka the whole world that I am looking for love I may as well tell you what I did next because while this is all well and good in theory, I thought fate could use a little help. So I started to wear mascara on long distance flights (not the greatest idea!) and waterproof mascara on diving trips (no mascara is that waterproof it turns out).
I also started to look up from my Kindle once in a while when I’d go for dinner on my own to see if there was anybody out there. That was probably a better idea if it wasn’t for the fact that I am apparently the only person in this world to ever go to dinner alone when traveling. Single guys who travel, do you not eat?? I also started to be generally more friendly and chatty to tour guides, salesmen, and taxi drivers to gain some flirting practice and collect karma brownie points which usually resulted in proposals of all sorts: camels, marriage, marriage with goats as dowry.
After I turned down a Morrocan carpet salesman who offered me 600 camels for my hand in marriage, something I was actually quite chuffed about me being in my thirties and not blonde, I realized that I needed to be more active. Men don’t grow on trees and they definitely don’t just fall into your lap either.
When the waves are calling, life stops.
With that realization, I decided that more concrete action was needed and I downloaded Tinder onto my phone. Well, actually first I contacted a South African ex who I remembered fondly while I was in Cape Town. Though he was initially keen, he then realized that the trauma of his last relationship was still too daunting to see me for an open-ended drink. I must admit I was quite bummed when he canceled and so I do blame him for ending up on Tinder.
Believe it or not, Tinder treated me well enough. The offers weren’t too creepy, no unsolicited dick pictures were sent, and then I even met HIM. European, my age, former diving instructor, travel designer, and a beard of note (lately I have added ‘beard’ on my ideal guy wish list). The perfect guy on paper/screen and he seemed to feel the same way about me. After a week of messaging we met. There were drinks, there was food, we kissed, we ended up at his place (kids, don’t try that at home!), and then I left too quickly. Something was not quite as perfect as I would have liked it.
Every place a reminder, she must let go. And she goes.
We met once more and that’s when it hit me – was I maybe secretly hoping for someone to rock my world so much that I would want to stop traveling? That I actually couldn’t believe my own sentiment that it would be possible to do both, to love and to travel, to love both equally, to not crave one more than the other?
As we lay in bed we talked about diving. About Indonesia, sharks, and buoyancy. He talked about things he had seen, I spoke of creatures I ached to meet. Then I left, again, too quickly. I wanted to hide my glow. A glow that didn’t come from his touch but his words, not from his actions but from him fueling my dreams. While he wasn’t meant to be the one to love, he was the one who pushed me to go further – in my travels, my dreams, my pursuit of having it all.
Maybe love and travel are possible, will be possible, even for me. Until I find that person, until he just finds me, I will let go and just go.