The last time I saw you, we said goodbye casually, like new friends. We were surrounded by other people, everyone hugging each other goodbye, and you and I hugged just once, brief and unfamiliar. I kissed you, a quick one, on the side of your mouth. I don’t think you were expecting it.
“Have an amazing time, whatever you end up doing,” I said to you, looking up. You were always one of the tallest in the group. You smiled at me, your eyes crinkling, but your mouth stayed tight-lipped, not showing your teeth. You nodded once, and turned to hug someone else, my last image of you being one of someone else’s embrace.
I almost never do these kinds of review posts – I’m always so impressed with bloggers who manage to do monthly round-ups. I often think how great it would be to do the same, and that it would keep me motivated and probably make me post more, but then I remember how lazy I am and laugh. It seems like every blogger has already done a review of their 2016, and I don’t even know who reads these kinds of things, but hey, I just had a fantastic breakfast at Falafel House (fellow Winnipeggers, you know what I’m talking about… I always get the corned beef hash and a glass of chocolate milk), two cups of coffee, and nobody else is home, so I thought I’d use these couple of hours to do something semi-productive. Usually I’d just be binge-watching Forensic Files, so I’m going to count this as a win.
I originally thought about organising this post by the trips I’ve taken this year, but my life is more than just my travels, and this blog is slowly encompassing more than travelling, so I’ve decided to organise it month by month.
Without further ado, here’s my year in review. No, I did not mean to rhyme that.
As we said goodbye, she lifted one hand up in a half-wave, her bracelets glinting in the sun. She had beautiful silver hair that nearly reached her waist, and I remember turning around again and again to wave until I could no longer see the flash of her.
My time in South America was nearly over, my bag full of sand and souvenirs, my journal laden with nine months of memories. Like all good things, the trip had gone by too quickly, and I was left with very little time to explore Brazil. I had already spent three months in Central America, bussing from Belize to Panama and then sailing to Colombia, where I started a six month overland journey down to Brazil.
I was on the last leg of my trip when I met her.
A few months ago, when I was in Mallorca, I wrote a post called “Nine Mistakes to Make as a Traveller”. In that post, I wrote about things like trusting strangers and getting lost and how those “mistakes” could actually be really good, valuable, fun things to do.
But the travel mistake I keep making wasn’t on that list. And I made the mistake – again, and for the hundredth time – just this last weekend in Paris.
“Whatever could it be?!” I’m sure you’re all quivering with anticipation. Well, I hate to break it to you, but the travel mistake I keep making is actually one that I’m sure many people don’t make at all, if they are smart, resourceful, responsible travellers.
The last time I saw you, you were walking away from me, your hair shining blue-black in the streetlights. I had turned back to wave again, but you didn’t, and so all I saw was the back of you, disappearing into the night.
We met at a beach party on another continent, a place where the water turned smooth as glass. The night we met the moon shone low, turning the sand a pale grey.
“You don’t need salt,” I said to you, reaching for the salt shaker in your hand. Those were my first words to you, leaning up against the bamboo bar.
“Oh, I don’t?” you replied, the shot of tequila in your hand full to the brim. You smiled a wicked smile, your teeth flashing like the Cheshire Cat.
“No, you don’t. It will taste better without salt, trust me.” I was flirting with you, my hand still lingering on top of yours, both of us holding on to the salt shaker, neither of us breaking eye contact. I was wearing a long turquoise dress; it brought out my tan and my blue eyes. I felt good that night. I felt like flirting with you, the most handsome man at the bar.
I can remember holding you for the first time, your tiny pink hand slowly clenching and unclenching around my finger. By the time you were walking and talking we were inseparable. When you were old enough, we’d go out on long bike rides, riding to the convenience store for Slurpees and five cent candies. We’d then whip around the neighbourhood, going as fast as we could leading up to the hill down Crescent Drive, toward the golf course. People joke that you can watch your dog run away for three days in the prairies, and we had to make the most out of every minor hill, every chance to feel the rush of wind on our faces. We’d race each other through the pathways of Wildwood Park, stopping in each playground to eat candy while sitting on the swings. We knew those streets like the back of our hands, knew every crack in the sidewalk, every low branch, every yard that had a dog that would bark as we zoomed past. When it would be time to go home, we’d cycle down South Drive slowly, seeing who could ride with our hands off of the handlebars the longest, both of us showing off.