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.
I used to wear a Danish krone around my neck. It’s the perfect coin to do so, really – it has a hole in it already. I also kept a few spare kroner in my wallet in Canada, just because I liked knowing the extra weight came from those foreign coins, jangling around thousands of miles from their home.
This is a story about travelling, about falling in love, about growing up, and, ultimately, about going back to Copenhagen.
The last time I saw you, we hugged on the tube platform. I had just moved to London, and you happened to be passing through, just visiting. I remember the sound of the train as it rushed past us, thinking I could say anything to you and you probably wouldn’t hear me. We hugged for just a second too long, or maybe a few seconds. And then we separated, and looked at each other, both of us waiting for the other to do something, or say something.
We met on the backpacker trail in Central America. I was travelling on my own, but had quickly made friends with a group of people in my guesthouse. One of the guys in the group had met you at another guesthouse, and so you came along to a dinner of conch baliadas one night. You were a bit taller than me, with brown hair and grey eyes. I remember noticing your laugh, the way you had the ability to make everyone feel like the funniest person at the table. You were tanned a dark brown, and the only man at the table not wearing a singlet.
Last weekend, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I put on one last swipe of lipstick, grabbed my purse, and locked the door behind me. It was just before 3am, and the streets around my flat in East London were fairly empty, save the lights from passing traffic. A group of people speaking Spanish, their night winding down, walked down the sidewalk laughing and talking. I walked to the bus stop and stood next to a man smoking a cigarette and looking at his phone. The bus pulled up a few minutes later, and I got on board, taking a seat at the back.
I was on my way to the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of my favourites in the city. I have been many times in the past, and my most memorable visit had been in 2013 to see the David Bowie exhibit. It was strange, taking the bus to the museum at such an ungodly hour of the night. Nearly everyone else on the bus seemed like they were going home, their journey ending. Mine was just beginning, on my way to see Savage Beauty, the showcase of Alexander McQueen’s work.
I’ve been through a lot of customs and immigration experiences. For the past year and a half living in London, for example, I go through customs and immigration about two or three times a month, depending on where I travel. As I travel on a Canadian passport, every single country – including my own – checks my passport and usually asks me a few questions (as opposed to anyone with an EU or UK passport, for example).
I’ve written about how to cope with customs and immigration before; I wrote that article a few weeks before I returned to Canada from nine months in Central and South America, and I was worried what kind of questions they’d ask. I always remember my dad telling my sister not to let Colombian officials stamp her passport… uh, it doesn’t work like that, dad. Anyway, in all the travelling I’ve done, and I’m sure, that you’ve done, there have been some harrowing, stressful, hilarious, and just downright weird experiences when crossing borders. Here are just a few I’ve had.
I have had many, many moments of extreme happiness in my life, and I am grateful for them all: scuba diving with great beasts in the Galapagos, riding on the back of a motorbike with Cambodia’s pink skies as my backdrop, hearing the calls to prayer for the first time while sitting on a rooftop in Istanbul, dancing like crazy on a Colombian dance floor, all those family dinners, those moments of personal achievement in school and work that have peppered my life. They are the highest highs I can think of. So many of my happiest moments have happened on the road, or with my family. But now I live in London, a stable, settled life. I am thousands of kilometres from those I love most. Although my career and my passion allows me to travel frequently, they are short holidays. And so, sitting in my flat in London, I found myself missing the high.