When I decided to travel nineteen months ago I did not anticipate the catalogue of events this would create for me.
I spent a year planning my six month trip around America. I saved vigorously, worked three jobs, limited my social activities as much as I could, worked out my monthly budget, and prepared my case full of things I thought I would need. I remember sitting on the floor in my living room with a map of the United States in front of me; post-it notes, pens, notepads, IPhone, laptop, calculator all neatly around me as I designed the most cost-effective route to get the most out of America for my budget.
I am not wealthy. I never have been. My family struggled throughout my life and beforehand. Money has never held importance to me other than ensuring we are able to eat, sleep, and enjoy each others’ company. As a five year old I remember being at my Dad’s house with my sisters and Dad in the living room; we did not have money, we were struggling to pay the rent, my parents had divorced two years before and had lost an incredible amount of money on the house we had to sell. We had moved from the North of England to the Midlands and so both my parents were away from their families. They were alone trying to raise three daughters in a new small town after leaving one of England’s biggest cities, and they now had money troubles along with custody battles to contend with.
While in the living room with my Dad and Sisters my Dad brought out a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate. I remember so clearly from childhood that if we had a bar of Cadbury chocolate and “hedgehog” bread it meant Dad had a little extra money left over that week.
We did this so often that it became our routine whenever we had the money for chocolate. We all shared the chocolate equally between the four of us while chatting and then when the chocolate had all gone we rolled up the foil wrapper and threw it around the room at each other; diving over sofas, ducking behind chairs, using feet, arms, heads, flicking the wrapper we were laughing so hard and for so long it was true happy family time.
When I was at University in London I walked around Camden showing my Sister and her Boyfriend my favourite area of London. I stopped at a palm reader on the corner of a street. It was five pounds for a single palm reading so I went for it.
I was eighteen years old, completely fresh to London and filling my days at University with dance and drama (Performing Arts being my subject). When I sat with the palm reader she asked me to not respond or speak, simply listen.
She told me that I surround myself with negative people; that whenever I get a little bit higher there is always someone waiting there ready to knock me straight back down again. She told me I am not good with money, and I never will be. She told me I will find Mr Right, but I will hesitate, and he will walk straight past. But she told me I have a lot of Hope. She said that I am filled with Hope.
How I could be full of hope after this conversation escapes me a little but rather than seeing this as my fate, I viewed it as a warning of how my life could become unless I acted now. Possibly my Hope talking.
Over the next few years I would try to look at my friendships and see who my friends actually were. Because of this I have lost contact with many people, but the ones still in my life, oh my gosh I love them. My incredible friends like S, my high school best friend that stood by me, and continues to stand by me, during every good and every single bad moment. When the heat is on she is stood next to me, and when the chips are down she’s always there for me. My wonderful friend Chunk (his nickname since his childhood that no longer applies given that he is a walking muscle-machine now but he’s still ‘Chunk’), who, when the drama surrounding my friend B’s relationship ending erupted to gigantic proportions a few weeks after my own long-term relationship break-up, met me for coffee and asked me what happened; I instantly began the story of our mutual friend B only to be interrupted with “No, it was obvious they were never going to work, I’m asking about you. How are you? Are you ok?” I had forgotten my own break-up was in anyone but my own mind until he said that to me; I didn’t think anyone was interested since all I was being asked about around then was regarding B. I cried in his arms as I told him how unhappy I had been in the relationship and how much I tried to change myself so that I wouldn’t be yelled at by my ex or his family any more but I couldn’t live like that, so after three years I left. I was devastated and was still getting used to sleeping alone, no longer having my phone filled with “I love you” messages, and not having the same routine after work of dinner and cuddles on the sofa. I was incredibly lonely and trying to hide it to help others deal with B’s dilemma.
My trip was meant to be six months and then I return to England on January 4th 2014 with new experiences, bad hair, covered in travelling tattoos, a strange accent and my head and heart ready to enjoy the new adventure of settling my twenty-six year old self down. I spent three months of my travelling time thinking of how perfect my life would be when I returned to the arms of My American in January. Instead I flew to Hawaii rather than home for my three week break where I had planned to meet up with My American until his work commitments and his own thoughts on our new long-distance relationship meant that he didn’t want me to change my plans to meet him.
While in Maui with my newest closest friend from travelling, my San Diego roommate from Germany, she asked me to join her in travelling around Australia for a year. I had known LF for two weeks. I thought about My American. I thought about the fact I had told him about my eating issues and a week later he had told me not to return to England to meet him. I thought about how much money I had left, how much I would need for Australia, how much a flight would be, how much I would need to continue my trip around America and if I would then have enough to travel to Australia with the $5,000 the Australian Government require you to have before entering the country on the Work and Travel Visa. I thought about everywhere I still wanted to see in America and about everything I wanted to do when I got home. All I had wanted to do was settle down. Close this chapter on my American Dream and meet My American in London. I weighed everything up; thinking of my bank balance in my head, converting it to pounds, then US Dollars, then Australian Dollars, what would happen if I went back to England and My American didn’t want me. What would I regret? Not going back? Or not going to Australia when given the chance to?
I had two cards in my hands; continue the original plan and return to England whether My American wanted me or not. Or try Australia knowing that My American didn’t want me right now so there was every possibility he wouldn’t in two months when I got back. More time away from me meant less time wanting to be with me.
I said yes.
I cut a month off my original trip around America as I couldn’t afford to enter Australia with less than the $5,000 the Government stated, and the extra month in America would eat into that money too much. I wrote on my social media page my newest plan; hoping My American would message me. Instead I messaged him. I told him the new plan and he gave me no indication of his feelings towards it. Was he sad I wasn’t returning? Was he happy I was the one that made it easier to let go? Was he even wanting me to talk to him? I had no clue.
I didn’t book my flight until three days before I left New Orleans on the plane to Australia. One month after I messaged My American.
Looking back now I wish that I had spoken to him properly before I made any decisions. He isn’t a mind reader and neither am I. If I had the same chance now I would ask how he felt towards me and if he saw us with a future. I would tell him the only reason I’m considering leaving is because I can’t face going back and him not wanting me. Instead I just left.
Now I have been in Australia for two months and last week I booked a one-way flight back to London leaving in two weeks. During a conversation in the annex of our house at 4am I cried to LF as I said that I can’t stay here thinking of him each day and wondering if there’s any way we are meant to be together. I needed to go back and meet him. I messed up by not returning in January and I needed to tell him, if only to clear my head.
I battled the decision whether to tell him I am coming home or to wait until I was back and see if he wanted to meet. I told him. And now I wish I hadn’t booked the flight. He doesn’t want to meet me; it’s too late. He’s moved on.
Today I got offered a job in Australia, after reading an email from a job I applied for in England asking me to call them to discuss the position. I called my sister and told her I have two paths in front of me; one I know, one I don’t.
If I go home I work in an office again. I excitedly see my friends and family for the first few weeks, and then I am working in the office. I don’t meet My American because he doesn’t want to meet me, and I am exactly where I was a year ago.
Or I stay here. I work the job I’ve never had before in a company that has stated that team building exercises consist of paintballing and go-karting trips, that they already have a team lined up for me that they want me to work with, and that the two weeks I have planned to return to England (as I only stated I would be away for two weeks) is not a problem, they will have me join the team before I leave and work as normal as soon as I return after the two weeks.
Seems like an easy choice.
My head wants me to travel, to explore, become the Me I am perhaps meant to be. But my heart is devastated. I wanted a life with him. I fell in love with the possibilities. With everything it could have been, and I held on to that for six months, daily.
If you are half as sick of reading about My American as I am tired of thinking of him and every mistake I made then I apologise. My head knows I need to let this go but my hope won’t be silenced yet. I believe I met my Mr Right, and I hesitated to meet up with him before I left for America, and now he has walked past the thought of us. My friends here and while travelling have told me that my Mr Right won’t walk straight past. My Mr Right will want to meet me, be with me, do anything to have my heart and me in his busy life.
I hope so much that this is true.
Trying to close the chapter