We’re at this lookout point near our hostel, it’s on a ledge overlooking the city and the view is stunning, but we’re not facing the lights sparkling in the night. I’m nose to nose with the most beautiful, incredible man and we’re devouring each other like we’ve been starving and just found ourselves at a feast.
Unbeknownst to each of us, we’ve been quietly drinking each other in from a distance for an entire week. Suddenly here we are, and in each other’s arms all of the things we’d hoped are coming true as we talk and kiss and talk some more. We only have a few hours. Is it too late, or are we lucky to have connected at all?
Regardless, we’re making the most of this moment, and the connection feels like something bigger than can be passed off as a simple romantic night with an exotic stranger in a foreign country. We eventually find our way back to a common room in the hostel, where we talk and touch until we can barely keep our eyes open.
As much as we don’t want morning to come, it inevitably does. He is also leaving Portugal, there’s no discussion of “what if” or “what now,” there are bags to be packed and flights to be caught and real lives waiting thousands of miles away.
We sit in the back of a taxi together, he holds my hand the entire drive, and doesn’t let go as we walk through the airport. At my gate he kisses me, even though his friend is with us, and then I turn and leave without a backward glance.
My journal entry from then is short on details: “Traveling is a bit of a head trip… Lisbon was brilliant. I met someone that I could see myself spending a LOT of time with, except for the fact that about 4 hours after we realized how compatible we are and how into each other we were, we had to part.”
You know what sucks? Wanting to spend time with someone, except they’re 13,155 kilometres away. And I REALLY wanted to spend time with Nick. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, and I messaged him almost immediately after I returned to Canada to tell him as much.
Ten years ago international texting was exorbitantly expensive, so our best option for staying in touch ended up being Facebook messages and live chat. We may not have been able to hang out in person, but we made good use of our virtual hang out options. We messaged almost daily, long, detailed missives where we learned about each other’s lives, jobs, families, likes & dislikes, dreams & goals, and everything in between. When the 16 hour time difference allowed us to be online at the same time we would live chat, sometimes for hours. And every once in a while we would talk on the phone, so we could hear each other’s voice and laugh.
Often when you meet someone while traveling there is a strong immediate connection, but rarely is it lasting. But with Nick and I the spark not only remained, it exploded. The more we talked, the more we wanted to talk. The more we learned about each other, the more connected we became. We would each wake up to our respective morning and immediately check for a new message.
Weeks went by, and months passed. Our communications showed no sign of slowing down. Now we most often chatted about our day to day life, but with a mix of future desires – like my dream of having a lemon tree in the backyard, his goal of running his own business, places we would like to live, and destinations we wanted to travel through.
We often mentioned seeing each other again, but strangely that was one thing we didn’t get into specific detail about.
As time moved forward I became more and more certain that I wanted to find a way to be with Nick, however he was literally on the opposite side of the world, and I still had to live my daily life. I started a new job, I moved to a different house, I hung out with my friends. I felt somewhat stagnant and frustrated: I knew I didn’t want to stay in Calgary, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for work, and I had no answers as to what to do next. I did know that I wanted to move forward, I wanted to make some big life decisions and start feeling like I was accomplishing things in my 30’s. The wanderlust of my 20’s was fading away, I was ready for more – whatever that meant.