[I asked my Facebook friends to give me some writing prompts, as I am feeling the need to write a lot. This is one of those prompts. Enjoy and note that these aren't meant to be complete in themselves, but possibly launching points into bigger, longer works.]
“For love to endure it takes human capital, it takes sweat equity, understanding, and it takes people.”
This is what my mother told me before I left. I knew she didn’t really want me to do this, but I had to. For myself. For my sanity. For the faint hope that, someday, I could believe in love again.
I’d saved up money for three years. Three years. That’s a long friggin’ time.
Josh and I were supposed to get married. We had it all planned out. We’d have a simple ceremony, paid for by the two of us. Then we’d use the rest of the money to travel for a year. Wanderlust had afflicted us both severely. We met on a Caribbean cruise four years ago. We both hate cruises. I guess that’s what brought us together – our mutual hatred of floating around on a boat for days on end. I was there with some girlfriends and he was on a bachelors’ trip with his best friend and the rest of the groomsmen. In the Bahamas, we almost got left behind when we took off on our own during one of the excursions. We loved it. The thrill of adventure. Of possibly getting left behind. Of exploring new places. We were both crazy. And crazy for each other.
But crazy + crazy =/= healthy relationship.
Long story short, I found out he was cheating on me with several other women. When I confronted him, he told me, “You know how hard it is for me to stay in one place….and be with one person…”
“BUT YOU PROPOSED TO ME!” I yelled back at him as I threw my engagement ring in his face. It poked him in his right eye before tumbling to the ground. I was a little proud of my aim at that moment.
“Yeah…I know…sorry, Cassie. Look, just give me another chance….”
“The hell I will. See ya!” I said as I pointed to my apartment door, directing him to leave.
And that’s the last time I saw him. Sure, I’ve gotten texts and emails. He probably wants to explain himself. I won’t let him have the time of day. I don’t have time for that. I don’t have the patience for that. And I don’t feel like opening the wound all over again.
So, I took my half of the money that was supposed to be for the wedding/trip and decided to take the trip on my own. And here I am, pondering that quote that my mother left me with. She told me that she knew I’d believe in love again. That if it took a trip around the world to do it, then so be it. I brushed it off as mother-wanting-daughter-to-feel-better logic.
But I’d be a liar if I said that she wasn’t right.
I’ve been gone for three months now. Not nearly long enough to be ready for a relationship or any kind of romantic gesture. But what I’ve seen lately has really gotten me thinking about love and its many forms.
Right now, I’m staying in a crowded hostel in Rome. My bed isn’t that comfortable and the showers could use a little updating, but the people I’ve met so far treat me like family. A backpacking couple from Canada – Mark and Ellie – chatted with me for hours about how they backpack through Europe every other year. They stay in new cities every time and “collect memories.” They said they’d be more than happy to host me if I ever came up to Calgary. Another solo traveler, Sarah from the UK, invited me out to dinner, paid for it, and gave me some great advice about places to go while traveling. I couchsurfed in England, staying with friends of friends. One guy, Graham, offered his couch for free if I helped him and his friends serve at a local food bank. I did and it was incredible. I met so many interesting people that day. Yes, the odd coke addict here and there, but mostly just a lot of people who were down and out for various reasons.
One kid, Daniel, was really rough around the edges. Rude, obnoxious, and attention-starved. So, I decided to chat with him for a bit. Come to find out, he bounced around from foster home to foster home before he aged out of the system. He’s been on the streets ever since, with little stints at temp jobs here and there. Once getting through the tough exterior, I saw that Daniel was just a kid that wanted to be wanted. Wanted to be loved.
All I did was feed people that day. But it felt like so much more. I could’ve easily told Graham that I’d just pay him for the stay rather than give up my precious traveling time for needy people. But I’m so glad I did it. Now I have these people in my heart. I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again. And that’s okay. Because I met them. And got to know them. And on some human level…I came to love these people.
I’m off to Greece tomorrow. I don’t know what people I’ll meet or what experiences I’ll have. But I’m already exciting about loving them.