When you’re a young, solo backpacker, staying in hostels definitely makes the most sense; obviously the price is right, but the opportunity to cross paths with like-minded travelers is key. And it’s easy to connect with people when you’re all young, beautiful, and as free as birds while you travel. Friendships are formed quickly, and romantic dalliances are as hot, bright, and fleeting as falling stars.
However, there was something extra special about the hostel in Lisbon. Or maybe it wasn’t the hostel at all, maybe the stars had aligned that week in November, 2008, bringing together the perfect group of people at the perfect time and place. All I know is it wasn’t just me feeling the magic. The Australian trio ended up staying there for over two weeks! There was a big group of us who spent most nights and many of the days together: exploring the sites of Lisbon, sitting out in the backyard swapping stories and talking about life, checking out local markets, bombarding the tiny little neighbourhood bars – there were so many of us we’d spill out into the street and sit on the curb with our plastic cups of beer – we even went to a concert one night! It’s not unusual to meet people in hostels who become friends, but it’s not very common to have an entire group of travelers stick around long enough to have the kind of experiences together that we did. It was so much fun.
I still spent a fair bit of time alone, but more often than not if our hostel group wasn’t hanging out, then I was with the Aussie boys. They were 23, really easy-going, a lot of fun, very cute, and they didn’t seem to mind having me tag along. They showed me some places they liked, and other days I would just follow them to the park where they’d kick a soccer ball around, while I sat and sort of read a book (but mostly laughed at their antics).
As the days progressed, I found myself more and more drawn to one particular Australian guy. Not only was he easy to be around and very attractive, he was also incredibly sweet, and a genuinely interesting person. I was liking him. A lot. However, there were a few reasons why I was in no way going to pursue this attraction:
1. The first night at the hostel, when I joined the massage train, I’d ended up rubbing the shoulders of one of the other Aussie boys. Nothing happened between he and I after that, but he seemed to take it upon himself to be the one to include me in their little group. While there was no real connection there, other than friendliness, I didn’t want to come across as flaky or flirty, which meant I was absolutely not going to put the moves on his friend.
2. Travel flings can be fun, but they can also be unsatisfying, and that was not what I was interested in.
3. The object of my desire gave no indication that my feelings might be reciprocated.
So I continued to enjoy their company, splitting my attention equally between the three of them, and enjoying all the fun times with our hostel group. I had to go back to Barcelona eventually, but I had no desire to leave Lisbon and travel anywhere else until then.
My last night there, our crazy group was all out on the town, together as usual, having the best time. There was dancing and drinks, we were all sweaty, we all had smiles that refused to fade, hugs were being swapped and photos snapped. At one point as I glanced across the room my eyes met the eyes of the gorgeous Aussie guy, and I was stunned to realize that he was looking at me the exact same way I was looking at him. Through the crush of people we managed to find each other’s side, and our fingers twined together. There was an intensity sizzling between us that couldn’t be ignored. How we’d managed to go a week without acknowledging it was mind-boggling! By mutual agreement, and still hand-in-hand, we slipped away from the group and the party, letting the quiet of the night enfold us. Our last night in Lisbon. Our first night together.by McKinnley
So, you know how when you start doing something, and you’re really pumped about it, and it’s going really well… and then you just stop? And you have a bajillion reasons why you’re no longer doing it, even though you still really just want to do it some more..
And then it gets to a point where it’s been so long that it feels awkward and a little embarrassing to start again? But you get over yourself and finally decide to just DO IT.
Yeah. That. Welcome back to your own blog, McKinnley.
It was a big summer and an even bigger year. I have a TON of blog ideas that I can’t wait to spew out. So what the heck has taken me so long? I dunno, I don’t have a single good excuse.
Without any further preamble:
HOW TO DO THE THINGS YOU WANT, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT GETTING WHAT YOU WANT
I’m house hunting.
I’ve been looking for a place to call home for the last six months. And it’s exciting, but also kind of frustrating. I’m trying to be proactive and open-minded, while simultaneously being patient and making sure I stick to my “non negotiable” list. (House-hunting is a lot like dating…)
A few weeks ago I put an offer on a place. It wasn’t perfect, it needed a little TLC, but instead of that being a turn off I got really pumped about it. I started looking up painting ideas and DIY projects on Pinterest. I knew exactly what I was going to do with the kitchen (butcher block countertops, rip out that weird standing cabinet, get a smaller island), the bathroom I wasn’t as sure about, but I was still excited to figure it out.
But I didn’t get the place, instead I got frustrated and kind of bummed out. All my great ideas were now going nowhere! I started catching myself thinking things like, “It’s so disappointing to not be able to do the things I want to do,” and “When I finally get my house it’ll be awesome and so satisfying.”
So I sat myself down and asked myself, “McKinnley, owning a house is going to be really frickin’ cool, but you can’t put your life on hold until you do. So, what exactly are you looking forward to? How come you’re so stoked about the idea of projects, and so disappointed that you aren’t able to do them right now?”
My answers were fairly enlightening:
– I want to put together my surroundings perfectly so that I’m perfectly comfortable and feel right at home.
– I also kind of want to show off my work and my place.
– And I’m looking forward to the chance to be creative, and to have a fun hobby.
Well guess what? I don’t need to own a house to do or feel any of those things!! Duh!
I found a project I can do right here, right now. It satisfies all the criteria: I get to be creative, it’s both a productive and fun use of my spare time, it will make my surroundings even more enjoyable, and I can totally show it off! I’m redoing my dresser! It involves a poster, paints and quotes. It’s turning out to be far more work than I anticipated (that always seems to be how these things go), but I’m already really pleased with it.
I’m feeling a lot better about where I’m at with my house hunt. And this thought breakdown is proving pretty useful in a whole bunch of areas in my life! “But what do you really want??” THAT is the big question.by McKinnley