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The Last Time I Saw You (Part Four)

Utila Honduras

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, 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, a local meal. 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 in the room. You were tanned a dark brown, and the only man at the table not wearing a singlet. I liked you immediately.

“So what about you, Miss Canada?” you asked me privately, while the rest of the group chattered in the background. “What are you doing here?”

We were drinking cold Salva Vidas, the local beer in Honduras. I was running my finger up and down the can, collecting beads of condensation.

“Do you mean… in Utila? Or in life?” I smiled.

“I mean in Utila,” you laughed, “but if you’d like to tell me all about your existential philosophies on life, I’m all ears. I bet you have some stories to tell.” With this you raised an eyebrow, just for an instant.

I had been in Central America for two months at that point, through Belize and Guatemala. I was in Honduras to scuba dive, and I had already finished twelve of my fourteen fun dives for the week. The last two dives were the next day, and then I’d leave the day after that for León, in Nicaragua. My schedule was fairly airtight, as I was meeting Kerri, my best friend, in Granada in exactly a week. I didn’t have any wiggle room.

“Well, I came here to dive, but Honduras is just a small part of the whole trip. I’ll be in Central and South America for about nine months in total. You?”

“Ah, I’m jealous,” you leaned back in your chair. “I wish I still had that much time on the road. I’m just finishing up – I spent a year in South America, and am now making my way up to Mexico. My buddy has a dive shop there and I already signed on to work as an instructor for six months. I’m just here to check out Utila’s dive scene.”

I laughed, slapping you on the arm. “What are you talking about, jealous of me? I’m jealous of you! That’s always been my dream, to work in a dive shop.”

We had done a lot of the same things, you and I, and had a lot of the same dreams. When I was a little girl, wanderlust felt like my dangerous secret. As I got out into the world, I realised how many other people had been afflicted by it, and how it was not only expected, but assumed. There were certain people I met whose wanderlust synced with mine, though; they, too, wanted to travel the Silk Road, had fallen in love with the chaos of India, and had always imagined opening a little dive shop on a beach one day. You were one of these people.

We talked all night. You told me of your plans to buy a camper van whenever you made it back to your native Australia, how you wanted to take it round the country.

“Can I come?” I asked you, emboldened by the mere thought of adventure. You looked right at me, put your beer down on the table.

“Yes, you can,” you answered, your eyes like big wet stones, shining in the night. And it might have been the beer, or maybe it was that Honduras heat, but I believed you. You walked back with the group to our guesthouse, but then left to go to your own.

“See you later,” you said to me, raising that eyebrow again.

The next day you joined me for two dives. We met at the dive shop around 6:30 a.m. and had our gear together and on the boat by 7. With four other divers, the boat bounced over waves until we reached our dive spot, and we suited up. Diving in Utila had already been incredible, with clear Caribbean water and great schools of colourful fish, and I knew that the two dives would be much like the others: beautiful. Still, with you in the water with me, I felt an extra rush of excitement. I felt nervous, too. We flipped backward off the boat into the ocean side by side, the warm water enveloping us whole.

Underneath the sea everything feels muted, calmer. I focused on the sound of my own breaths, the steady inhale and exhale. We followed the dive leader along a reef wall, all of us stopping when there was something particularly fantastic to observe. I liked being in the water with you, I liked turning around and seeing you there, giving me the OK sign. OK, I’d motion back. OK. Before we got back on the boat you blew bubble rings for me, and I’d chase them, swimming through them. You kept making me laugh, my mask filling up with water.

We returned to Utila by mid-day, tired and happy. It was so hot that the salt from the ocean had caked on to our skin in sheaths of white, and on the boat you leaned over and licked my shoulder.

“Tastes pretty good,” you joked.

We met up for dinner that night, but this time, it was just the two of us. It was my last night on the island. You took me to a little bar someone had recommended, a local hang-out, and we ordered sloppy burgers and Barena beer on tap.

“Will your wife have another drink?” the server asked you, after we’d both finished our pints.

“Yes, she will, thank you,” and you looked at me and grinned.

I’m no stranger to travel romances. I had one major one in Europe when I was twenty-two; another travel fling had turned into a full-blown relationship that lasted for a year at twenty-five. I ended up travelling with a man I met in Southeast Asia through Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia before breaking up in North America. And even in Central America, only a month before meeting you, I had developed feelings for someone in Antigua, though neither of us acted on it. That one had left me cold – it had been complicated, and we hadn’t exchanged contact information before we left. These aren’t counting the minor flings, the times I kissed someone just because – because I wanted to know what it was like to kiss a foreign man on foreign land. It’s simple to fall for someone when you travel. Thrown together in strange situations, unbridled and uninhibited, perhaps we’re much more open to connecting with someone. We’re not necessarily thinking of the tomorrow. We’re just thinking of the now. Under the glow of a unfamiliar sky, getting caught up is easy.

You walked me back to my guesthouse. It was quiet, with nobody sitting on the wooden dock that jutted out to the ocean. The milky moon cast a streak across the dark, still water.

“What do you say?” you asked me. “Should we take a dip?”

We stripped to our underwear and jumped in. You swam around me, sometimes going underwater only to pop up right in front of me, laughing.

“I wish you were staying,” you told me as you tread water, your eyes searching mine. I wanted to kiss your neck, taste the ocean on you, taste what our future might hold.

“Me too,” I answered, before diving down into the ocean’s depths, escaping. We never even touched. I think we both knew it would only make it that much harder to say goodbye.


A year and a half later you messaged me on Facebook. “I’m going to be in London,” you wrote. “Do you want to hang out?”

My heart was pumping hard and fast when I met you at the tube station. You looked pretty much the same, only without as much of the tan. After Mexico you had travelled through Europe for a bit, and you were on your way home to Australia.

“Hey!” We hugged, and you took some of my hair in your hand. “You look different.” You had only seen my hair wild and curly, styled by the ocean and the sun. Here in London I had straightened it. “You look good, though. It’s really good to see you.”

We spent the day together. Despite the fact that you once lived in London for a year and I had just moved here, we both felt like tourists, wide-eyed and animated. We both talked too much, our stories running into each other’s. We walked along the South Bank, stopping for ice cream. We continued on to St. Paul’s and then, just for the hell of it, walked to Trafalgar Square, and then to Piccadilly Circus, where we bought a bottle of red wine and drank it under the light of the huge screens until the late hours of the night.

“I’m going back to Australia in three days,” you told me, and I didn’t say anything. What could I say?

We hugged goodbye on the train platform, lingering just too long. And I should have said it then, when the train rushed in and our words would have been swallowed and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I should have told you that I wished we weren’t just ships passing in the night. That as much as I’m glad travelling brought us together, I’m sad that it took us apart, too. And that once in a while, this world of ours is far too big.

You went back to Australia. While I studied in London, you really did drive that camper van around the country. I saw on Facebook that you have a girlfriend now, a pretty girl you’ve travelled with to Borneo and Sri Lanka. You look happy in your photos, those grey eyes crinkling with every smile.

But sometimes I’ll think back to when we floated in the ocean under a sweep of stars, and remember when we wished the night was never-ending.


Please note: some of the details in this story have been changed to protect the identity of this person.

Click here for all other instalments of The Last Time I Saw You.  


107 Responses to The Last Time I Saw You (Part Four)

  1. Amanda August 10, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    I just love your stories; they’re so real and honest. Another great article Brenna.

    • Brenna Holeman August 10, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

      Thank you very much, Amanda!

  2. Amy (Two Drifters) August 10, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    This is SO BEAUTIFUL! When my partner and I met, we were traveling in Scotland. We shared a memorable, romantic weekend in London as well, but I thought we’d never see each other again. As it turned out, a few months later, we did reconnect and now it’s been 3 1/2 years! But I absolutely remember the pain of that first parting. It feels crazy to have such a connection with someone you feel you barely know, but I totally get it…and you’ve captured it here gorgeously!!

    x Amy

    • Brenna Holeman August 10, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

      Thank you so much, Amy! That’s a great story, and I’m so happy that you found your love on the road. All the best and happy travels. 🙂

  3. Tash August 10, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Ow Brenna, my emotions! This series is amazing, so beautifully and eloquently written; you are an extraordinary writer! And by the sounds of it, a pretty cool human being too.

    • Brenna Holeman August 10, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

      Thank you so much Tash, I really appreciate it!

  4. Lauren August 10, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

    I love this series! You are an amazing storyteller.

    • Brenna Holeman August 10, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

      Thank you so much, Lauren!

  5. Ashley August 10, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    This was beautifully written (as always), Brenna! I always find myself completely engrossed by your stories.

    • Brenna Holeman August 10, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

      Thank you so much, Ashley! I really appreciate your kind words.

  6. Camille August 11, 2015 at 12:28 am #

    I always look forward to these stories. I sometimes think relationships that never matured, that always remained at the beginning stages and never fully realized, are harder to let go of because of all the possibilities.

    • Brenna Holeman August 11, 2015 at 1:26 am #

      I think I agree with you. There’s always that feeling of, “What if?”

      Thanks for the comment, Camille!

  7. LC August 11, 2015 at 1:28 am #

    These are always such a pleasure to read.

    • Brenna Holeman August 11, 2015 at 1:37 am #

      Thank you very much!

  8. Oneika August 11, 2015 at 2:54 am #

    My dear Brenna!! This really and truly took my breathe away. You are so talented!!! I wish that *we* weren’t ships passing through the night and separated by travel. Wish we could hang out again!

    • Brenna Holeman August 11, 2015 at 4:13 am #

      Aw, thank you so much, Oneika! That really means a lot to me. I think that, too – I’ve had so much fun with you whenever we’ve hung out, and it would be so awesome to spend more time with you. You know that whenever you’re back in London you have a place to stay… and I would LOVE to come visit you in New York one day!

  9. veena August 11, 2015 at 7:05 am #

    i always love these stories, although i’m sorry you had to experience so many ups-and-downs for us to be able to read these words. of all my relationships, i have one “what if” in my past as well, and i sometimes still wonder what would have happened if travel hadn’t sent us to different corners of the earth. although my “what if” is now married and has a child, so i guess we’ll never know the ending to that one…

    keep these stories coming! your writing is extraordinary.

    • Brenna Holeman August 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

      Thank you very much, Veena. I really appreciate your kind words! I’m running out of these stories… maybe it’s time to head back on the road for a bit.

  10. Jayne August 11, 2015 at 7:11 am #

    I bloody love these posts! You’ve so beautifully captured the ‘what if’ I’m sure many of us experience when we meet awesome people on the road.

    • Brenna Holeman August 11, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

      Thank you so much, Jayne! I really appreciate it. 🙂

  11. Jodie Young August 12, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    I love these posts Brenna, they are always told so beautifully and capture the emotions of stories like these perfectly.

    • Brenna Holeman August 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      Thank you so much, Jodie!

  12. Ruth August 12, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    These stories are always so captivating, another one I greatly enjoyed! well done – and I can’t wait until your book is finished I am so interested to read all your travel tales and experiences!

    • Brenna Holeman August 12, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

      Thank you so much, Ruth! That is so kind of you to say. The book is very much in this style of writing so I hope you’ll like it!

  13. Danielle August 13, 2015 at 3:44 am #

    I love this! I have been following your “The Last Time I Saw You” series and look forward to every one. You are such a brilliant and talented writer, and the emotions you convey in your stories are palpable. I had my own “what if” encounter with a sexy Frenchman when I visited Paris a couple of months ago… so I can definitely relate to wondering what might have been. 🙂 Looking forward to reading more of your writing.

    • Brenna Holeman August 13, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

      Thank you so much, Danielle! Aren’t those “what if” feelings so… well, confusing? I mean, I don’t regret the experiences, but I am with you that I definitely wonder what might have been from time to time.

      Thanks again for your lovely comment. 🙂

  14. Mimi Rose August 13, 2015 at 6:37 am #

    When I found your blog over a year ago, this series was what first caught my attention. It’s what first made me want to continue coming back, because your writing always took ahold of me and put me in the moment of your uniquely descriptive prose. You bring something many travel writers lack sometimes, and I really appreciate this blog for it. You’re an awesome writer, Brenna, and I always enjoy reading “The Last Time I Saw You.” This one definitely gave me the feels!

    • Brenna Holeman August 13, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

      Aw, thank you so much Mimi – I really appreciate all of your kind words and it makes me want to write/blog even more! Seriously, you just made my day. 🙂

  15. Meryl August 13, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    I love this series, Brenna! The stories are just so beautiful and heartbreaking (in a good way).

    • Brenna Holeman August 13, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

      Thank you so much, Meryl!

  16. Gemma August 15, 2015 at 5:39 am #

    I can’t resist reading these stories, of romances that never quite happened, the wishes and moments that were, and the more that could have been!

    • Brenna Holeman August 15, 2015 at 6:27 am #

      Thank you very much Gemma, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  17. leslie August 15, 2015 at 6:27 am #

    missed chance, lost opportunities. this story makes you realize if only you had that little bit of courage to throw caution to the wind. a very good reminder to just seize the day, carpe diem. You’re an awesome writer Brenna. These stories connect with your readers and touches that deep longing everyone has.

    • Brenna Holeman August 15, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

      Thank you very much, Leslie!

  18. Aleksis August 17, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    Brenna, the only word I can come up with is “extraordinary.” I really hope you publish a novel soon with all of your wisdom from your many experiences on the road. Not only are you an incredible writer, but your stories will touch many readers hearts (like mine). Thank you!!!

    • Brenna Holeman August 17, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

      Oh wow, thank you so much! I am actively working on the first draft of a book, so I will have some more updates about it very soon. Thank you again Aleksis, your words really mean so much to me.

  19. Zalie August 22, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    I think that these posts have to be some of my favourites to read. Your descriptions are always so real and I think a lot of people can relate to such feelings.

    • Brenna Holeman August 23, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

      Thank you so much, Zalie! xoxo

  20. Ashley of Ashley Abroad August 25, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    This is beautiful and heartbreaking and I could relate to the story more than I’d like to. I can’t believe I just discovered this series!

    • Brenna Holeman August 25, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

      Thank you so much, Ashley!

  21. rebecca October 1, 2015 at 4:33 am #

    I only just discovered these series and plan to catch up. Beautiful! You are such a truly talented writer. I was reading this on my phone as I was walking to work and I swear I could not take my eyes away from the story. I loved the honesty at the end, knowing you are both happy. I felt like I just read an entire book it simply one webpage/post.

    This will certainly be in my next “Worth a read” blog post.

    Love your work!

    • Brenna Holeman October 3, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

      Aw, thank you so much Rebecca! I really appreciate all of your kind words. 🙂

  22. Morgan March 12, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    This is so beautiful, thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 2:57 am #

      Thank you very much!

  23. Taylor March 12, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    Your writing is so beautifully honest and real. I almost fell in love with him too. I plan to travel the world one day and this love story has just inspired me more. Maybe your two souls were old friends in another life.

    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 2:57 am #

      Thank you so much, Taylor! Best of luck on your travels.

  24. Nahian Kabir March 12, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

    Loved it.

    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 2:59 am #

      Thank you!

  25. Milind Somalwar March 12, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

    Story telling is an art and you’ve proved it.

    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 2:58 am #

      Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!

  26. Jecca March 12, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this..
    I fell in love in London in October! It has been heart breaking barely getting to visit each other.. Every time I see anything involving London I almost break down and cry! Agh!


    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 2:58 am #

      London sure is an amazing city… I hope you get back soon!

  27. Rebekah Burgess March 12, 2016 at 9:25 pm #

    Oh, my.

    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 2:57 am #

      Thanks 🙂

  28. Kiri March 12, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

    What a beautiful little vignette. Just so lovely and evocative.

    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 2:56 am #

      Thank you very much!

  29. Ayan Omar March 13, 2016 at 4:01 am #

    I absolutely love this!!

    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 8:51 pm #

      Thank you!

  30. Tricia March 13, 2016 at 7:50 am #

    Thank you for sharing! What an amazing adventure. Such excitement…

    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, Tricia!

  31. daisywillows March 13, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    Oh wow! what a beautiful experience with this man. Your many love affairs on the road remind me that there is possibly more than one soul mate for a person in life. It’s the decisions we make that ruin or make that soul mate a permanent fixture. Loved reading this.

    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Daisy!

  32. meraki March 13, 2016 at 10:31 am #


    • Brenna Holeman March 13, 2016 at 8:53 pm #


  33. gail March 14, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    wow…once i started reading i couldn’t stop, your stories are amazing and your writing is at a whole new dimension. pity i have classes or else really i’d be spending all my days reading your work, fortunately i can always revisit your blog….you are just amazing

    • Brenna Holeman March 14, 2016 at 10:45 am #

      Thank you so much… what a wonderful comment to receive!

  34. Odira March 14, 2016 at 9:36 am #

    What a story! Nice one!

    • Brenna Holeman March 14, 2016 at 10:44 am #

      Thank you!

  35. Daniella March 14, 2016 at 10:34 am #

    Beautiful story. I love the captivating moments you shared and sorry most times they move on.
    All the same its a wonderful series.

    • Brenna Holeman March 14, 2016 at 10:45 am #

      Thank you very much, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  36. Becca March 14, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

    Hey Brenna, can’t believe I just stumbled upon this, what a lovely story, told so well and so relatable! I too fell for a guy when travelling in Colombia last year – fortunately he was English, so we met up when both back in the UK. It was never the same though (must be something to do with weather, I’m sure), and fizzled out quickly. There will always be memories though, and the ones you’ve told are beautiful. Becca x

    • Brenna Holeman March 15, 2016 at 11:21 am #

      Yes, travel romances are like that sometimes… sometimes it’s the location that spurs on the relationship more than anything else! Thank you very much for your comment and kind words, Becca.

  37. Hope March 15, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    Oh wow, I loved this story…

    • Brenna Holeman March 15, 2016 at 1:02 pm #


  38. Mila March 15, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

    Lovely story, loved it! My first time on your page.

  39. Kevin March 16, 2016 at 4:44 am #

    I truly felt like I was there for the ride with you. Your writing style is pleasant yet detailed enough for me to thoroughly enjoy the story. I’m a fan. Excellent work 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman March 16, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

      Thank you very much, what kind words!

  40. Joan March 16, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    I like your way of writing. ????

    • Brenna Holeman March 16, 2016 at 10:28 pm #

      Thank you!

  41. Paige Round March 16, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

    Beautifully written and really captured the moments and feelings you had with him. I wanted a happy ending. But there is always the future… 😉

    Love, Paige X

    • Brenna Holeman March 16, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

      Thank you very much! Yes, and you never know what’s around the corner…

  42. kajal March 16, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

    Loved it. ☺❤

  43. kajal March 16, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    Lovely story! ☺❤

    • Brenna Holeman March 16, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

      Thank you!

  44. Saurabh Singh Bisht March 17, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    This story is ♥
    so good, just got hooked to the screen reading it !

    • Brenna Holeman March 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Thank you!

  45. Lexie March 17, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

    I could read this over again. Just beautiful.

    • Brenna Holeman March 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Thank you very much!

  46. Leisel March 18, 2016 at 3:04 am #

    Transporting! Loved the article…it so perfectly captured the travel world. You are definitely on the right track – you’ve got a gift for capturing moments that are fleeting & hard to describe. Keep on and thanks for the window into your travel world!

    • Brenna Holeman March 22, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

      Thank you very much!

  47. Indah Fornia March 18, 2016 at 4:49 am #

    Hi Brenna!
    Your stories are amazing..and i love this series.. so beautiful!

    • Brenna Holeman March 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Thank you so much!

  48. Diane March 18, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    This is awesome!!

    • Brenna Holeman March 22, 2016 at 12:24 pm #


  49. Jimmy March 18, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

    Lovely little story, thanks for sharing, I can certainly relate! so easy to fall for people when you are on the road.

    • Brenna Holeman March 22, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

      Thank you, Jimmy!

  50. Shirley March 21, 2016 at 4:25 am #

    I enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to the next instalment.

    • Brenna Holeman March 22, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

      Thank you very much, Shirley!

  51. Kacper March 21, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

    Your writing is awesome! 😀

    • Brenna Holeman March 22, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

      Thank you!

  52. AA March 25, 2016 at 12:14 am #

    You write really well. Life is bitter-sweet sometimes 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman March 26, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

      Thank you! And yes, it is…

  53. Murega March 28, 2016 at 8:02 am #

    beautiful read, can totally relate.

  54. Murega March 28, 2016 at 8:10 am #

    Looking forward to a read on Kenya when you visit,

  55. JennyBell May 20, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

    My goodness, you stole my heart.
    I lived in Utila for 8 months the third lie of Utila “I’m leaving tomorrow” was ALWAYS a lie. Even when I had trips booked and plans written in concrete, I usually couldn’t leave. If I did leave it was futile I would end up back on that ferry violently shaking and holding back my sickness with a giant grin. I was so in love with the place and the incredible group of misfits who would always end up there.

    I was only looking for a good read, and I’ve found this completely by accident just as I was thinking about how much I missed my life at Underwater Vision. Now here we are and you’ve picked me up and dropped me in the middle of a few of my best memories!

    Your writing is stunning. Thanks so much for sharing it.
    x Jenn

    • Brenna Holeman May 22, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

      Thank you so much, Jenn! I definitely fell into the trap of the third lie as well… what was supposed to be six days ended up being over two weeks. I’d love to go back!


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