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Heartbreak 2 of 2: A Travel Love and a Love of Travel

Last weekend I woke up with a decent hangover and the urge to finally write this post. I woke up and realized that while I am still a tad bitter about what happened, I'm tired of living in its shadow. I deserve better than that. I am better than that.

Let's go over the story first. This past summer after separating from my Beach Travellers group, a friend and I made our way up to Northern Thailand. We stayed in Chiang Mai for 5 days, then took our journey out to Pai (a small backpackers town about 3 hours away from Chiang Mai). Our original plan was to stay 4 nights. In fact we were only going to stay 1 night at the hostel we had originally booked, then switch to a different one that was right in town for the remaining nights.

That whole plan went out the window the moment we walked up to the front desk, and he checked me in. It was Canada day and he too was Canadian. In fact, back home we only lived 3 hours away from each other. We went to a Canada day party with a bunch of people from the hostel and ended the night off together. From the moment we set eyes on each other we were inseparable. I stayed in Pai for two weeks with him until I had to head back to Chiang Mai for my volunteer week with Elephant Nature Park. He then came to stay with me in Chiang Mai for a few days before I left for Indonesia. I left and he stayed, but we never cut off contact. We continued to talk daily and we made plans for when we were both home. We began to make plans for a life together.

And then the heartbreak began to set in. After delaying his return to Canada for 3 months he finally booked a flight, but when he tried to get on the plane to come home he realized that it wasn't his time, and decided to stay. Waiting on the other side of the world was making me an anxious wreck of a human. I got my hopes up and had them crushed several times. I was waiting on the edge of my seat for months, and eventually I couldn't do it anymore. We couldn't do it to each other anymore. So we stopped, and it's been a hell of a battle.

In no way do I blame him or myself for what happened. I blame timing and our naivety about what the real world held for us. During our travels we were in a bubble of ecstasy where everything was easy and relaxed. No one could touch us and nothing could stop us. We spent our days talking about music and riding around the countryside on a motorbike, and our biggest decision everyday was where to eat. Should we visit the hot springs or go hiking at the canyon. And as much as I loved our bubble, reality set in quickly upon returning home, and almost as quickly as it was created, it popped.

About 8 months before I took my trip to Asia I ended my relationship of 3 years, which followed a 2 year relationship, which followed a 4 year relationship. For practically 9 years I had been in relationship mode. I'm only 23 and it was all I knew. From high school right through university I always had someone. Never dependent, but never fully independent either. I then realized that this was a time of major change and growth in my life, and that I needed to be alone to experience it to the fullest. A time to be selfish and experience it just for me, which was a concept I wasn't familiar with. I felt more myself in the 8 months leading up my departure than I ever had, and this feeling was magnified as soon as I got to Asia and began my solo journey. Which is exactly what it was supposed to be. Solo.

We become different versions of ourselves when we travel. Our minds are opened and our spirits are freed. We have no cares except where we are going next. We have our guards down when it comes to meeting new people and the conversation flows even though you may not even speak the same language. We're in a bubble of ecstasy where no one can touch us and nothing can stop us, and it's like a part of our soul that is compressed in our everyday lives is freed. And it's absolutely beautiful. For 3 months I was on top of the world. Even the worst days (but what is a bad day when you're backpacking?) were still filled with sun, friends and adventures, and I remember thinking that I would never experience sadness again. How could I? I was spending my days doing what I wanted, when I wanted, and the only person I was accountable to was myself. So a Canadian boy with bright blue eyes capturing my heart in the blink of an eye was the last thing I expected to happen.

This trip was my adventure. My experience. Not ours. There was never supposed to be an "us". And then all of a sudden there was. It completely caught me off guard, but it never once felt wrong, even through all the heartbreak. I had never had something emerge so naturally before. He was my home away from home. I've been trying to figure out what kind of cruel joke life is playing on me by giving me a person, who I believed was my soulmate, to share my ecstasy bubble with and then popping it so violently. For months I had sworn off love and never gave anyone the chance to have any piece of me. I was selfish and didn't allow myself to get distracted from what I wanted, but then he came out of nowhere and I can't help but feel that it was some sort of lesson. On the other side of the world was a guy I had lived 3 hours away from my entire life, and we instantly shared a connection that was undeniable and uncontrollable. For months I felt invincible and in complete control of every aspect of my life. Until this. My emotions had their own agenda and there was nothing I could do about it, which was as frustrating as it was wonderful. It still is.

So while the "real world" may not be for us, I am, and will remain, thankful for having loved and been loved. For being reminded that it's okay to have your guard down every once and a while and to feel something. And that love, along with everything else that comes with travel, comes to you at the most unexpected times to give you the most unexpected experience. We all know that you can plan forever, but in the end things are going to happen the way they were meant to. So while our situation may not have turned out the way I had originally hoped for, I take comfort knowing that it was supposed to happen this way for a reason. At the very least, we will always have Pai.

Caylie Smith

Not Your Average

"Whatever is good for your soul, do that"

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