“I just don’t feel the same about our relationship,” *Mark confided to me over the phone. “And, there’s someone else I want to pursue.”
I closed my eyes tight and shook my head, hoping it would go away like a bad dream. “But less than two weeks ago you told me I was the only one you wanted. You said we had so much in common because of our love of travel, and that you had never opened up to anyone like you had with me. We were planning to move to Ecuador together.”
“Sorry, but I can’t predict how my feelings will change from week to week.”
I hung up the phone, a mixture of sadness and confusion filling my veins and stinging my eyes. Mark was supposed to come stay with me that weekend. In fact, we had planned out the weekend only one day before and I had already bought tickets for us to see a comedy show. Could his feelings really have changed that quickly? Were the past seven months even real?
Our 30 Day First Date
Mark and I had met at a travel industry event in New York back in March. We had mutual friends, and seemed to hit it off right away. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you look at it – I was set to backpack South America for three months. However, that didn’t stop us from talking via email everyday of the trip.
“What time should I pick you up from the airport?” Mark asked on the night before I was due to leave Quito for the United States. I was flying into Denver to meet him for a travel industry event and then we were going to spend a month driving around Colorado, with a five-day trip to Mexico in the middle.
“You don’t have to pick me up. I can just take a taxi.”
“Jessie, we’ve been talking for three months now. I’m going to pick you up. What time?”
I smiled. “7:30 PM should work.”
From the moment we started our journey the trip was a nonstop adventure of laughs, surprises and learning. Topics most people wait a month to bring up with a new potential partner Mark and I were talking about by day four. By week one, we had gotten to know each other unshaved, unshowered and completely unkempt. He saw me nearly drown in a 4-foot pool of water when trying to see how long I could hold my breath, face plant onto a sidewalk, roll around an elevator in a fit of hysterical laughter, throw up from altitude sickness, get so drunk I couldn’t put my pajamas on, run in my underwear in the rain, cry when fighting with my mom…he even saw my “lovely” AKA hideous impression of a squirrel man. One night, we drank bourbon all night and stayed up dancing and doing gymnastics moves neither of us were quite qualified to perform.
While these are all sides of myself I usually didn’t show until at least a few months, Mark had been privy to the real me within only a few days. At the time, it seemed like we were naturally blossoming into something that could last, if only based on our passion for traveling and our love of funny faces, South American culture and bourbon.
“I could never date someone who didn’t view traveling as a top priority,” he confided in me one night. “I love that we share that so strongly.”
I felt the same way.
“It was a fairytale romance,” my friend Maria explained. “It seemed real when you were together having fun in these exciting destinations. But, what about when it’s time for real life?”
For Mark and I, I thought travel was our real life. Both full time travel bloggers, we spent more time on airplanes and abroad then we did in our own beds. To me, the fairytale had been my reality, while being at home had been more of an intermission.
While we had spent time in exotic places like Saint Lucia and Mexico, we had also done a fair amount of road tripping through Colorado, Boston, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. We had gotten romantic couples’ massages and sipped Champagne in a private infinity pool, as well as went off-roading, hiking, canyoning and rafting. Sometimes we went out to upscale classic cocktail lounges and fusion restaurants, while other nights we stayed in with a movie and cheap deli sandwiches. It wasn’t all glass slippers and VIP treatment, however, I guess it was still just a fantasy.
Can It Last?
Usually couples start out by dating – going to dinner, movies and parties and getting to know each other slowly – before planning a getaway together. However, for Mark and I we had done the process backward, with our first month together being split between a road trip through Colorado and a week in Mexico. Although we visited each other in New York and Rhode Island, most of our time was spent traveling together. Because for both of us travel had been our number-one passion, I thought this was simply a reflection of our nomadic lifestyle; however, I was left wondering if, for him, the sweet nothings and promises of future plans were simply statements that sounded good in the moment while on vacation, forgotten once he spotted another shiny object to admire.
Were the last seven months a fairytale? Maybe for some. But for me it was something I believed in with all my heart. Travel is my life, and while an escape from reality for others, there is nothing more real to me than exploring the world.
Have you ever experienced a relationship that revolved around your love of travel?
*name has been changed