Colombia was one of my favorite trips of 2014. I got to travel with some of my best friends, went paragliding in Medellin, saw inspiring street art in Bogota, hiked to the top of El Peñol, practiced my Spanish, hammock camped in the beautiful Tayrona National Park, and discovered my love for Bandeja Paisa, a traditional dish of rice, beans, beef, egg, plantain, chorizo, pork cracklings, arepa and hogao.
It was also when Chris — my boyfriend of the last 15 months — decided he couldn’t marry someone who was already married to the world.
My regular readers may remember Chris from my Guatemala and Southern California stories, as well as my happy-at-the-time post on the joys of dating a non-traveler. Now, sadly, I’m dealing with another perspective: Love on the road…is it a fairytale?
Living The Dream
So often I have people tell me I’m living the dream. I work for myself, and created a life that allows me to live and work from anywhere in the world. What they don’t realize is that when you choose one dream, you often give up another. For 15 months Chris was okay with what I did. Actually, the fact I’m independent and work for myself was the first thing that attracted him to me. While I’m used to guys getting sick of the travel thing 3-4 months in, after a full year of being with Chris I thought we were in the clear.
The trigger to this whole ordeal was a WIFI-less camping weekend. The Colombia trip was already a bit longer than Chris liked to not see me — two weeks — and, as he explains it, the two days I was without email while camping in Tayrona National Park were very difficult for him. In fact, they made him realize that I wasn’t going to be around all of the time. That sometimes I wouldn’t just be a phone call away.
Despite the cheerful phone conversations and “I love yous” and “I miss yous” we had over Skype, Chris was noticeably uncomfortable upon my return to New York. And when he said those dreadful words — “Jessie, we have to talk” — I knew what was coming. After breaking up for a brief time we tried making it work for a few more weeks — spending the holidays and New Years together — but ultimately questions like “If we have kids will you just take them traveling and leave me behind?” or “If we get married will I have to take care of everything at home all the time while you’re gone?” made it clear where his head was at.
Did I Make The Right Choice?
Sometimes I feel confused about my choices in life. For a moment, I sometimes wonder what would happen if I stopped traveling so much and allowed myself to get enveloped in the American fairytale of a white house with a picket fence in the suburbs, a hard-working but loving husband, two children and a dog. I can’t think about it too long, however, as I start to get sweaty palms at the realization that that house in the suburbs would soon become like a prison cell to me, with only two weeks per year allowance to leave its premises.
It’s not that I couldn’t find any delight in this life, it’s just that it wouldn’t be mine. I would be living someone else’s dream, instead of the one I made come true for myself with my blog.
That’s not to say I don’t want marriage or potentially kids; however, I don’t want “marriage” to mean “settled.” I don’t want a ring on my finger to mean, “Okay, Jessie, fun is over. It’s time to pick a home and stay put.” While I would love to marry someone else who travels — or at least values travel — as much as I do, I would also be happy finding someone who loved me so much they could accept and even nurture my lifestyle.
Is that so much to ask?
Maybe it is.
For now, Chris and I are giving each other some space. I don’t doubt we’ll be an important part of each others’ lives in the future once our emotions have calmed. He was the first person in my non-teen years that I said “I love you” to, and he will always be special to me. But for now I must go where my heart calls, the open road. The place where I not only find pure happiness, but where I can seek comfort from my problems. Where I can learn lessons that help me grow. Where I can find a clearer sense of purpose. And maybe, where I can find someone who truly understands me.