You always said you wanted to dance with me. But you never turned on the music.
I have had this post sitting in the back end of my blog for quite some time. I was and still am not sure if I want to publish it. But something inside me tells me I need to in order to move on.
If you read me regularly you will know that this isn’t just a travel blog but also a diary, for better or worse. Take it or leave it, this is me and my current headspace so I want to share it with you. If you just want travel tips or pretty pictures, just ignore this and come back tomorrow.
Today I want to share a … a sort of love story I guess you could call it. I thought and hoped it would be a proper one for a long time. Now I am not so sure anymore. I ask myself what is worse. That all was just a lie at worst, an infatuation at best or that it was an actual love story just one without a happy end.
And maybe that’s alright, maybe the best love stories don’t have one or so I like to tell myself because otherwise there seems no point to write it and there seems to be no point to have lived it. At least in hindsight.
Either way, here it goes, a sort of love story called – The Theory of Scotland.
Last year a girl traveled to Scotland to meet a guy. She was also curious to finally travel there, Outlander and all, but honestly said guy was the main reason.
They had met via Twitter – welcome to matchmaking in the 21st-century for travel bloggers! After their initial contact, it was your regular yet not so typical boy meets girl story. They tweeted, they sent messages, they wrote emails, they skyped. After four months of that, it was time to take the plunge and meet in person. They called that meeting the Theory of Scotland. A theory of what? I actually don’t quite know but I think it was the theory that two humans can meet in a very unlikely fashion and despite their skepticism and cynism be happy together, even fall in love though they didn’t really believe in love anymore. Or something like that.
She had arranged a mini road trip through Scotland and he was to be her local guide. They hit it off as they both knew they would. Where they got the confidence from that all would be well, I wouldn’t know and it seems foolish now looking back. They had both been on the short end of relationships so this was almost too good to be true. In fact, in the end it was.
The thing she liked most about him was the fact that he didn’t like her despite her travels but because of them. He called her “Girl Who Travels” and lovingly so.
After a few months, they met again in Cape Town, her old home. A first trip together, one of many they thought, and playing house at the same time. It went as well as it could. She was not an easy person to love which she knew so his affections were all the more special to her.
Only very deep down did she feel that something was missing. She blamed her itchy feet as she hadn’t been traveling in three months nor been on her own.
She knew she should be happy. Happier. To have found that guy who adored her, whom her family loved, who told her she had changed his life and wanted to marry her.
Life was easy all of a sudden. Maybe too easy because something kept nagging at her which she tried to ignore to the best of her abilities. She wanted to make the ‘right’ decision not one worthy of a highschool girl who draws heart doodles in her notebooks all class long, only to erase them a day later.
They parted ways as travelers do and she went on to Morocco where she had a dream. A dream of kissing another guy. A guy she didn’t know but who she loved kissing oh so much. In her dream, she discussed her options of telling ‘him’ about the other guy she kissed with a faceless friend. She didn’t want to hurt him by telling him about the guy. But the friend asked her: are you not hurting yourself more by not telling him, by not being true to yourself?
The dream stayed with her even after she woke up and found messages from him, telling her how much he missed her. She couldn’t reciprocate, still wrapped up in her dream and in the arms of another guy who didn’t exist. She vowed then and there to always tell the truth to him. That was the least she could do. Or so she thought.
A few weeks later found herself asking him to come along to Thailand. Here they lived, ate and spent most moments together. It was nice. Nice to have someone who made coffee in the morning, who found neighborhood cats for her to cuddle, who got her medication when she got sick, and who loved her even when her hair was messy after diving. She was a girl with messy hair.
But what was nice for her was so much more for him. It was the beginning of an unexpected happily ever after. The theory had become a reality for him.
The guilt over this discrepancy started to choke her. It made her impatient, snappy – yet he loved her still. She was his Girl Who Travels and it seemed she could do no wrong.
And she? She was content that someone loved her that much, accepted her with all her flaws, weirdnesses and shortcomings. And especially that someone loved her because of her nomad soul and not despite.
She so very badly wanted to return his love, wanted to find a home away from home in a person, wanted to be worthy of being called his gold dust. Have him be her guiding star to follow, to return to. Whenever they spoke about the future, the uncertainties, and her fears she cried the bitterest of tears and meant them too. But still… deep down she felt it wasn’t enough. Or so she thought.
They said their goodbyes, they hugged and kissed and then she ran. She always hated goodbyes, whether with strangers or with people whose heart she would eventually break. And especially with those who would come to break hers.
A few weeks later and she was on the road again. For the first time in a long time, she was on her own through thick and thin and reveled in the freedom of it.
As soon as she hit the water in the Maldives her groove was back. She smiled all the time, above and below the surface. Her excitement revolved around baby reef sharks, unicorn fish, eagle and manta rays. She almost cried with happiness when she dived with nurse sharks in the dark and got touched by a stingray. A turtle ate from her hand and it became the best day of her year.
She was happy without him and she knew how much this realization must have hurt him, how much seeing pictures of her adventures and of her ever smiling face must have crushed him.
She was right, it did crush him and he broke it off. Finally and for good. It seemed like the turtle made him do it. She was crushed and relieved at the same time. She could feel how her guilt was slowly lifting from her shoulders, how she could let go of her feelings of not being enough. For her it was about finding her joy in the world again instead of just one person. Or so she thought.
Now it is a month later and she cries without end. In fact, she has accumulated an impressive list of hotel rooms she has cried in by now, wondering whether to start a Top 10 listicle. Surely she cannot be the only one who likes a good thread count for her tears to fall on?!
What has happened to the Girl Who Travels you may ask? What are all those tears about?
The simple truth is that she feels regrets and nothing but regrets. She knows it’s not her fault, but bad timing is to blame, but that is no consolation. She misses the guy who had become her home without her realizing. But it is too late, he has moved on.
The world seems grey without him. It has lost its appeal now that she has to discover it without him. She has become one of those people who want a partner to share it with, a thought that is foreign and strange to her. It feels wrong somehow to be ‘one of those’ girls. Maybe that’s why it took her so long to admit to it, to feel it fully?
The world is still her oyster but all she asks herself – where is he?
She is booking flights, smiling at strangers, marveling at new sights and sounds and all the time missing her home, her person to return to.
“By all means, go out into the world and explore; kiss strangers, kiss friends, fall in and out of love until your hands and heart are libraries of all the people they have touched. Before long we all learn, right down to our bones, that some people are hostels, and others are homes.”
Beau Taplin // Hostels & Homes
She doesn’t want to kiss anyone but him. She cries over the cruel irony of finally having arrived and having lost her home as soon as she did. She is trying to see light, but there is none. She thought she wanted to conquer the world. Now she knows that not even the world is enough when there is no one to share it with.
But with him, it is too late. She clings to four words, this too shall pass, and then she cries some more and shouts her anger and hurt into the world. She feels betrayed by him, herself, and the universe.
There is nothing left to do and say. For now, she clings to hope. For him to return to her or in lieu of that, for the world to catch her when she falls, hug her when she cries those bitter tears, and hold the space until all the hostels have passed and she will finally meet her real home, her person to travel the world with. As the world has done all along.
For that, she is still the Girl Who Travels and it wasn’t him who gave her that name, it was always the world who chose her first. And that, in fact, is the theory of Scotland.