I came across to this song by coincidence when I was editing this post and I thought it was the perfect song for it.* I recommend you listen while you read and go and get the album, just to hear his beautiful words and the whole song. He took my breath away; just like love sometimes does.
I travelled with a boyfriend exactly twice and I think it left me a bit wary of the concept of traveling par deux. Sorry, no great travel love story coming up.
The first time I was 16 and we went to Sylt. It was a big deal to go away with a boyfriend then and we really didn’t care much about the destination. I do remember he was being very nice by getting me take-away fish ‘n chips when it was raining and I couldn’t look up from my novel. Other than that I can’t remember much of this trip, but in fairness to him, while it may not have been the most memorable, it also wasn’t disastrous and simply a long time ago.
The second time I was in my thirties and I was going to Europe with my South African boyfriend. Unfortunately he had not applied for his UK visa in time and if you know me at all, you know that silly organizational issues like this will drive me up the wall (at least ever since the time when I, too, was unorganized and left my passport at home while trying to travel to New York). So we arrived in Europe and spent our time first in Germany, then Italy trying to sort out his visa. Not the type of holiday I envisioned. He ended up having to buy a separate one way ticket home from Germany and consequently declared, in order to save money, he would now only eat at McDonald’s. Faced with Happy Meal breakfasts and accusations of being an unsupportive girlfriend, I decided that holidays with your significant other were hugely overrated.
You could object, and probably rightfully so, that I have never traveled with the right person. The person who makes a Happy Meal a truly happy meal.
Until recently I was keen on the idea to try it again, third time is a charm and all. Actually only now when I’m faced with going back to Marrakech, am I really dreading the idea of trying it again that travel & love thing. You will ask what’s wrong with Marrakech, especially since Germany is sporting grey skies and Marrakech, well, Marrakech is romantic and sultry. I should be thrilled. Only, I am not. Truth is, I never really liked Marrakesh before. Until last august when I was there and I was about to fall in love. He wasn’t with me, but in a way he was. It was that beautiful moment just before something wonderful may happen. When all you all you do is feel hopeful, when all you see are endless possibilities, when all you can do is smile, because what could possibly go wrong.
So when I think back about this holiday, it was not only a time when I saw a person, but also an entire city through rose colored glasses. Looking back I see rooftops and riads and myself chatting the night away. Or during a lunch. Or really any time when there was wifi. And when there wasn’t, I was still looking at things differently. I stored them in my memory so I could share them later. I didn’t look at things like a travel writer or a simple traveler who wanted to share her journey with friends back home or her diary. All I wanted to do was share my adventures and musings with him. I would take pictures that had the audience of one. I didn’t feel like sharing my pool at midnight selfies with the world, in fact I don’t think I would have ever taken them if it wasn’t for him.
I’d ponder for twenty minutes over which postcard to buy. I hadn’t written postcards to anyone but my father for the past decade, till now. It took me another hour to write it; I quoted Charles Baudelaire if you want to know. A quote so heartwrenchingly beautiful, while on display at the Maison de la Photographie, I think it should only be shared with special people. I even managed to post not only this one, but also another postcard when the first was lost in a postcard-fell-behind-the-cupboard scenario. I sat in a dark garden surrounded by candle light and a whispering fountain and skyping felt like being on a date. I had the most wonderful hotel rooms all to myself and all of a sudden they felt a bit desolate, I didn’t need all this space for myself.
It might sound sad and lonely now, but actually it was the most wonderful trip. I wasn’t lonely, I was about to fall in love. nothing could disappoint, nothing was really real. It was also during these two weeks when I realized that I could never settle for anything less. I will always need a riad with candlelight and someone who makes my heart beat faster, just like Morocco does and Bangkok and New York and the rest of the world…
Unfortunately for now reality has me back and it’s just me and my return ticket to the red city. I fell in love with marrakech and I fell in love in marrakech. As hard as it may be to let go of the person that made me see marrakech through rose colored glasses, I refuse to let go of the love I feel for this city now. And until the right person comes along to share my love with, I will do what all moroccans do: Keep calm and drink mint tea.
*Also, I’m over the guy from the post now and officially in love with Jonathan Jeremiah.