How to forget a heartbreak

My friend Shawn lives in Budapest.

He has lived there for the past two years, ever since he met his Hungarian girlfriend, Dóra, in Laos. The two traveled together for a bit, fell in love, and he jumped. He took a risk; she took a bigger one; and now I have a reason to visit Europe.

Which, conveniently, is exactly what I was looking for, Christmas 2017.

**

In early November, when C left Chefchaouen after three days stay at the hostel I was working at, I intentionally did not get her contact information.

We had passed a wonderful time together. We had spent hours talking at the desk while I worked; we had kissed; we had just brushed the surface of each other. I begged her to stay another night, so we could spend one night together, fully. I managed to make her miss one bus, but not two. She left. I didn’t walk her to the door.

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All I was left with: two pictures she had taken on my sister’s phone. Her, in one of Chefchaouen’s endless blue alleys, sticking out her tongue, which had been painted blue by some chemical-filled candy. She had been obsessed with finding those candies, she said, ever since she saw some kids with blue tongues on her way in. Cute pictures. They were all I had.

Better to leave it, in memory, I had thought. Just a shining three days. I took no contact info. I asked for no Facebook, and I let her walk out the door.  I had the sense, even then, that I could become obsessed.

She tracked me down.

Slowly, we started to exchange messages.

“I just wish I didn’t have all this rage in me,” over her last relationship, she wrote. A long-distance, international romance, it had taken place all over the world — but never at home. The hurt was still raw and oozing, I could tell.

“I don’t know why I am telling you all this,” she said, via Instagram DM

“Because we had a connection,” I responded.

“We did, didn’t we?”

***

I am careful with the messages. I use a light touch.

It is a cautious dance; one that plays out over the course of weeks.

“Men are stupid,” someone at the hostel says. “Why don’t you just tell the truth? Let her know how you feel.”

No, no, I say. Not with this one.

***

I tell her I am considering going to Budapest for Christmas.

If you go, I’ll come visit you! She says.

I book the tickets the next day.

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2017 in Places

Another year, another few stories to tell.

One of my favorite posts I wrote last year was 2016 in Places, a meditation on a year of movement.

I started that post with this sentence:

“As I go into 2017, I’m faced with a big choice: do I choose to keep chasing places, for another little while, or is it time to settle down and devote myself to enhancing my relationships with people?”

As you’ll see, I ended up choosing places. Places gave me a lot this year. I leave 2017 with a greater breadth of stories and experiences. But my feeling is 2018 will be defined by people. We will see.

For now, here’s what happened to me in 2017.

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An Average Climber’s International Trip

 

Climbing media is full of stories about unbelievable places you’ll never climb at in your life. For most of us, places with exotic names like Railay, Chamonix, Kalymnos, and Patagonia are simply out of reach. This is why Lumpy Ridge is the best trad climbing in the United States.

But all climbers—real climbers— are obsessives.

So how does a kid from Colorado chase climbing dreams across the sea?

Read on:

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ExPat Life

[This is a guest post from Shawn Wall, my errant climbing partner. Shawn left Colorado to do some travel after graduating university at the end of 2015, and he never came home. He now lives in Budapest, Hungary, with his girlfriend. I spent a month visiting them in October 2016. I asked him to write a little bit on his experiences living as an expat in a foreign country.

You can find his personal travel blog, The WanderinGinger, at http://wanderingingertravels.blogspot.com/]

***

February 22, 2017.

Today marks three years since when I first ran away from home to a magical place called New Zealand. I wanted to escape the troubles of day to day life and just be free from everything. So I left. I was running away from death, pain, sadness, confusion and everything that I knew and called home. At least, that is what I thought I was doing. Parts of that may be true, I was running away, but whenever you run away you run towards something else. I was running straight towards a whole new path of life.

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