Since starting to travel solo, my heart has taken a bit of a beating. Because love in a hostel is quick, and finite, and of course not really love; but it’s also sudden, and exciting, and of course still sometimes real.
The first time I fell for someone while travelling was in Switzerland… Although looking back, I didn’t really fall for him at all. I was in love with the country, and with travelling. I was in love with the story of meeting someone in the mountains and lying beside a waterfall with them watching the stars.
Still, it hurt when he brushed me off, and I spent the next week or so going through some kind of strange accelerated break up. I was in Europe… Gelato helped.
After that, I thought I’d learn to be more careful. But time and time again, I met strangers who became friends, friends who became more; and time and time again I let myself think there was a story in what was really only a fleeting moment. There was the ‘nice guy’ in the Alps, the friend in Barcelona, and the not-quite-friend in Lapland. And each time, I lost a little faith.
It was killing me. And somewhere along the way, I decided I’d had enough.
So one night in Finland, I sat in an abandoned cabin with a friend, and drunkenly admitted that the latest crumbling story didn’t hurt. That I wasn’t feeling it any more. And that scared me. She wasted no time in telling me off. And she reminded me that an open heart is worth having, even on the road.
Because when I look back on the past year, there’s a whole lot of stuff, good and bad. And that’s a whole lot better than the whole lot of nothing I was feeling before.
The idea that travelling makes you a more open person is a cliché, but I’ve found it’s a cliché for a reason. I don’t know if it’s the fleeting nature of travel-born friendships, or the sense of freedom that travelling itself inspires, but since starting to travel, I love more openly. I love like a child deciding someone is their best friend after 5 minutes, or like a teenager falling for someone for the first time.
It’s messy, and inconvenient, and sometimes downright upsetting, but it’s real. It kills me. And I never want to get back to a place where it doesn’t.
How has travelling changed you? Share your experiences with me in the comments section!