Traveling with a Bleeding Heart

And she said losing love 
Is like a window in your heart 
Everybody sees you’re blown apart 

Paul Simon, “Graceland”

I had a woman in Medellin. Or maybe she had me.

That’s ok. That’s how things go when you’re on the road. Backpacker hostels: young, vibrant, full of energy and alcohol and interesting new people. It’s almost bound to happen — if you’re the type of person to go in for that sort of stuff. Or even if you’re not.

After all, you can be anyone on the road.

Except if you’re actively publishing a memoir of emotional devastation.

I started writing “In Praise of Character in Spite the Bleak Inhuman Loneliness” one year ago. As you can infer from the working title I chose, I was not in the best place. I did not anticipate it being a happy story. Nor did anyone around me at the time.

I started serializing the writing on this blog as a way of coping — and because it was a good story. I knew the writing was good, and in some way I needed to get it out. I hoped people would read it. I, of course, thought a lot about the implications of certain people reading it.

Mostly, it was a story I felt I needed to tell. The audience was irrelevant.

But somewhere between then and now, the story caught hold. People started visiting my blog, and they kept coming back. Somewhere between then and now, I started identifying myself as a travel blogger. Which was how I introduced myself to many people in Medellin, how I started scoring free stays, and how this woman in Medellin ended up telling me:

“It’s very strange, I know everything about you, and you know absolutely nothing about me.”

I had introduced myself as a writer, and told her about my blog and my book. Unlike most other people I told that to, she’d actually gone and read it. And she was right: that did give her quite a lot of power over me.

That’s the downside to doing the type of writing I do. It’s very personal. While that’s what differentiates me from other travel blogs, it also makes it impossible to keep separation between my personal life and my online presence. If a new person was intent on learning a lot about me, as this woman was, it’s quite easy. I’ve put it all out there.

I generally think of that as a good thing.

But there is a reason we usually wait a while before telling people our biggest secrets.


Medellin, Colombia.

Once she knew of my blog, my Medellin friend was, of course, careful not to give up anything too personal. “Or it’ll end up on ‘this is youth dot org’,” she said, smiling, but still quite serious.

There was no solution to this dilemma. Keep a person out of your stories, and they will feel slighted, as if they are insignificant to you. But write about things the way I do, and you are just as likely to offend. If not moreso.

I’ve learned this lesson, but I still keep writing.

“You can’t just write things like that about people!” this woman told me, late one night, after she’d read the bit about the ceilings. “You know she’s reading that, right? What if one of those women read that? And how did you end up sleeping with your best friend’s ex-girlfriend?!”

I sort of laughed, sort of retreated away from her on the couch.

“This makes you uncomfortable, doesn’t it?” She sounded almost incredulous.

“A bit, yeah.”

She laughed, and ribbed me a bit more about it. She snuggled up closer, under the blanket. “That’s ok. We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

We laid there for a bit, looking at each other.

“But you are different than you are in your book,” she said to me.

“How so?”

“You are happy,” she said, tracing the smile lines on my face. I kissed her.

“It was a long time ago,” I said, softly.


I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front lately; hopefully you understand. Finishing a large project like that Nepal series can leave one feeling in a bit of a hole, creatively. This piece, which has been sitting on my hard drive for a while, seemed like a fitting coda.

As you can see the site is going through some small changes — much needed. Revamping the design a bit, the about page, the contact page, etc. I’d love to hear any suggestions you have.

Stay in touch!

Don’t hesitate to email me directly at dkay (at) and please sign up for my email list for occasional updates from me 😊

9 thoughts on “Traveling with a Bleeding Heart

  1. I love your blog and how you put into words your thoughts and feeling. I have a question though, for the sake of conversation – does it really feel inadequate and disjointed at the beginning?
    ive started blogging a month ago, and I well relate to your line “it was a story I felt I needed to tell. The audience was irrelevant” because that is why I started writing in the first place. but I often find myself at a loss in the middle of it, wondering why it feels so petty when you see the actual words in paper, and not just in your head?
    this might only be applicable to me, but am very curious of your thoughts. 🙂

    • Hey, thanks for reading!

      Yeah, I think it is always a bit difficult to get started doing this sort of writing. Putting experiences into (meaningful) words is harder than it seems.

      But I find the best thing for it is practice! I’ve been writing this blog for three years now, and it has definitely been a huge help in improving my writing!

    • There is more! I try and write pieces in this style as often as I can. Its not every piece like this, but give me a follow and I guarantee you’ll find more you like!

      Thanks for the kind words!!

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