The first time I was ghosted, I didn’t understand what I had done wrong.
I met Chris in a little cocktail bar one rainy night in London (sidenote: my best friend has demanded that I never again date a guy called Chris… I’m cursed with guys called Chris). We had a fantastic date, one of my best ever, and it culminated with both a passionate kiss and an invitation to a second date. He texted me on the way home.
“I can’t stop smiling…,” he wrote, and oh my god, there is no better feeling than getting that text after making out with a ridiculously hot, ridiculously intelligent journalist named Chris, let me tell you.
Over the next couple of days, we texted back and forth and made plans for our upcoming dinner date. And then, the day before, I texted him to confirm what time we were meeting. No response. That seemed a bit strange, but I tried not to let it bother me until the next day. By lunchtime – I would assume we were meeting only a few hours later – I texted again. Yes, oh yes, the dreaded double-text. But I was kind of worried, and very confused.
“Hey,” I texted. “Are we still on for tonight?”
And that, dear friends, is when I encountered my first ghost.
I try to remain positive every day, and to remind myself that the majority of the people on this planet do not wish harm against one another. But fuck, it’s difficult sometimes. It’s difficult when you hear about a person with so much hatred inside him that he feels the need to fire a semi-automatic rifle into a crowd of people dancing, that he feels the need to detonate a bomb strapped to his chest while surrounded by families doing their daily shopping, that he feels the need to wield an axe on a train of commuters just trying to get home, that he feels the need to drive a truck through a busy street filled with children. It’s difficult when you hear about young men being shot just for reaching for their wallet. It’s difficult when you hear about casual post-Brexit racism happening in your own neighbourhood, to your own neighbours. And I sit down, and I read all the news articles I can, and I debate whether or not hashtag activism is insensitive or not, and I talk to my parents about it, and I talk to my friends about it, and then I just feel hopeless. I feel like there is nothing I can do.
But, in a way, I suppose there is something I can do, and something you can do, too.
Three days ago I was there, in the place you see photographed above: Cinque Terre, Italy (and that, specifically, is the village of Vernazza). I had an amazing time in Italy, my sixth time to the country; I ate lots of great food, went hiking on beautiful trails, sat by the water with glasses of wine, drank far too many espressos, and even met some handsome Italians (that always helps). And then, with one two hour flight from Pisa and a bus from Stansted airport, I was at home in my flat, unpacking and doing laundry and wondering whether or not I could eat enough sushi to warrant the minimum delivery surcharge (spoiler: I could, even though I ordered so much they delivered it to me with four sets of chopsticks).
Something I often think about – and quite frankly, something I often worry about – is whether or not I’m addicted to travelling. That, perhaps, I’m too consumed by it, and, what frightens me the most, is that I’m often the happiest when I’m on the road. So what does it mean to be addicted to travelling?
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. I remember thinking I should write it after the Paris attacks, and then again after the Ankara and Istanbul attacks. I thought about it after Tunisia and Kenya and Yemen and Cote d’Ivoire and Indonesia and Mali and Somalia and Lebanon and California and so many other places, not to mention what’s happening in Syria, Afghanistan, and other war zones. I meant to write it after certain politicians in various countries continued (continue) to incite hatred and racism. And then, yesterday, after the horrible events in Brussels, I felt like I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
I once met a girl named Courtney while I was travelling through Nicaragua. She was tall and rail thin, her body covered in tattoos. From Seattle originally, we met on a volcano-boarding tour just outside of Léon, a small colonial city where all the buildings were painted dark pinks and greens and blues. We’d spent the day climbing Cerro Negro Volcano and then riding on sleds down the side of it, hurtling ourselves down the soft black ash.
“I just got this one before I left for Central America… look.” She instructed me to pull down the back of her t-shirt, revealing sprawling script across her shoulders. I recognised the words; it was a quote by Saint Augustine. I had heard the quote a few times before, seen it on a mug or read it on a blog. This was before it became one of the most popular travel quotes splashed across the internet, found on thousands of Pinterest boards, the text always written over the image of a pristine beach or a young woman standing on a mountaintop, her blonde hair blowing in the wind.
The thing is… I hate this quote.
While this is primarily a travel blog, I’ve never been shy about writing about other aspects of my life, including romance. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you’d know that I haven’t been in a serious relationship for a very long time. I’ve dated here and there, and met some absolutely lovely people. I have never considered myself unlucky in love, not at all; in fact, I consider myself extremely lucky in love, simply from the fact that I’ve had the chance to get to know some absolutely wonderful people from around the world. Because I don’t put much pressure on myself to get married or have kids (nor am I sure that I want either of those things), I’ve been able to date around, have fun, and figure out what it is I truly want out of a partner.
And then I met Scott.