Can you find love on the road? It’s one of the questions I receive most often from readers, and it’s undoubtedly the most difficult question for me to answer. I have fallen in love with places and people and most certainly myself while wandering this beautiful earth. I have found love everywhere I have ever stepped foot.
But lasting romance? Partnership? That, that I have yet to discover. That, still seems to evade me. So last year I decided to write that man, my one day partner, the man “of my dreams”, a letter. (Read it here: A Love Letter From a Woman Who Travels Alone.) It’s still one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written. The response I received made me realize, this is something that so many solo travelers experience.
So today I’m sharing with you all another letter. This time, written by my friend Kristin, an incredible writer and badass solo traveler for the super popular travel blog Be My Travel Muse. I’m elated to be featuring her on the blog, and to share her letter, which is both heartbreaking and deeply soothing all at the same time.
I sat on the wooden bench in the park that Saturday in the city. You were watching from afar. I suppose after nearly two years apart you wanted to see, before looking me in the eye, what I still looked like. You could still disappear if you felt the compulsion.
But you didn’t. You came and sat right next to me. My body tensed as I looked to my left and there you were, the same dashing man you’d been when we traveled together two years ago, and for once I was out of words to say.
We started out with just small talk. I looked into your dark eyes – the color of black coffee, and caught a gasp in my throat. I still loved you and I had known it for years. I couldn’t show my cards yet, though. I didn’t know how you felt yet.
Then you asked a frank question. It had to do with why things fell apart the way they did back then. I answered honestly.
I had missed you. I had regretted that stupid argument nearly every day since it happened. I had never wished to take anything back as much as I had wished to take that day back.
The hug that followed was so long, and, for lack of a better way to describe it, lit my heart on fire. It honestly felt like it was engulfed in flames. It burned for so many things – sorrow, gratitude for another chance, but most of all, it burned for hope.
That day ended up being the most romantic of my life. It really did. I left sure that there would be more for us. I knew that our story wasn’t over and was overjoyed that you agreed. Two years later, the flame still burned bright. If it had been a storybook, the ending would never have touched ours.
Ours was so much more intense, real, and genuine than a story could ever be.
Yet as I sit here now, there’s only one thing to say, and that’s goodbye.
Not because I want to, but because I have no choice.
It’s too bad that you run away when you’re scared. Scared of taking your share in the fight for what you think is impossible, scared to sign up for heartbreak, and scared to be vulnerable.
I tend to do that, too, but this time, I believed in us enough to fight. If there was ever a chance for anything or anyone, there was one for us.
But if stability is what you desire, then I am the antithesis. If predictability is what you need, then I am the antichrist.
I said to you before and it still rings true, no life with me will ever be easy. I will never be the girl who follows you, who is around when you come home, who spends her days lovingly making a home just for the two of us. As noble and affectionate as that role is, I have to be me sometimes. I can’t always be us.
I have to explore, and dance, and flirt, and laugh, and jump off of things, and run. It doesn’t mean I’d be disloyal to you, but I have to be loyal to me, too. I can’t help this addiction.
And even if I could, I wouldn’t want to.
I know, the very thing that makes me intriguing is the very thing that makes me impossible to be with. You wouldn’t want to rub the dust off of my butterfly wings. Caging me would be like caging a bird – a bird who is meant to fly because her wings are what make her so beautiful.
You like that I’m spontaneous, until that means I’m might spontaneously disappear here and there. You love that I’m brave, until that means I’d keep you up at night worrying. You love that I’m social, until that means I’m talking to a man just as handsome as you in the dark corner of a bar – just talking, nothing more, but it makes your blood boil.
Until we meet again, perhaps in another life, keep me in your heart and remember the girl who connected with your being, touched your soul, entered your mind and never left, leaving footprints as she walked away. You’ll live in the land of what-ifs forever, because my life does not exist in one place – besides the place in your heart. That was the one place I would’ve happily stayed forever.
And just so that there’s no question in your mind as to whether I’m talking about you, let me be incredibly clear. I’ll repeat the same last words now that I said to you the last time we spoke:
You deserve the most beautiful love, even if it’s not with me.
Kristin Addis is the solo female traveler behind Be My Travel Muse, a website for off the beaten path adventures. For the past three years, she’s traveled the world alone, hitchhiking in China, sleeping in a tent for over a month in Africa, and learning how to say ‘I love you’ in 12 Asian languages. She just authored the guidebook for solo female travelers, Conquering Mountains: How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly. You can find more of her musings on Instagram and Facebook.