Ah, Mon Chéri, a final letter for now,
I feel like such a sap thinking about you, and here pouring out my heart to the world. But I promised you this letter, and I feel like everyone else deserves it as well: To know what happens when two wandering souls unexpectedly find each other.
A month has passed from when we first met. In some ways, that’s no time at all. In other ways, it’s felt like a welcomed eternity.
We met briefly in Montenegro and quickly separated en route to Albania with our own plans and no expectations. We then found each other a second time by surprise. Parting ways that time was bittersweet, and we said goodbye in hopes that we would get to say ‘hello’ again soon. Hello came much quicker than we’d anticipated, as the next day you surprised me in a third city.
We knew this was something special. Unique. I called it a sign. You called it the best thing you’d ever done. We traveled together throughout Albania and every time there was a quiet moment from our travels, we filled the space with talks of future adventures. Africa, Iceland, Western Asia. We taught each other phrases in English and French, and I must say, your “She sells sea shells” is much closer to perfection than my “Les chaussettes de l’archiduchesse”. (Next up: “Peter Piper…”, don’t forget!)
After Albania, we went to Macedonia. First to Ohrid, and next to Skopje. Here, I got more quiet. More reserved. We both felt it and knew it was time to say goodbye. We had an awesome final dinner, a simply divine fare of olives and cheese, baguette, red wine, and scrumptious cakes. We ignored our surroundings, forgetting that we were at a hostel’s dining table surrounded by jealous eyes who were pretending to watch Telenovelas on the screen beside us. And just so you know, no matter how much you try to redeem yourself, I will forever think of you as a stereotypical frenchman eating loaves of bread and repeatedly washing them down with coffee or wine, depending on the time of day. Oh, and scrambling to find the pastry infused with the greatest amount of chocolate.
That final night as I lay in my bunk, I shed enough silent tears to keep the next morning free from any sobby goodbyes. You rose early and we gave each other 1000 hugs good-bye. You were off to Turkey to begin your Eastward adventures. I stayed in Skopje to play catch-up with life and to prepare for the upcoming busy-bee months. I realized immediately that we’d both snuck out and found a simple sweet treat to pack into the others’ bag. The exact same sweet treat you gifted me, I had gifted you. Really? What are the odds?
The few days after you left were not the easiest. I saw many picture-worthy views, but didn’t feel like capturing them to look back on. That says a lot, you know. I walked through Skopje like a cast member from The Walking Dead and called home to get a little love and advice from Maman, the woman who knows me best. She told me to reach out to you again. So I did – and again we felt the same way. Being apart was hard.
So again we decided that while we were still close in proximity, we had to be together. We met halfway between Istanbul and Skopje, in an amazing cultural center of Bulgaria. Seeing you again was strange. You openly questioned why we’d agreed to meet again. But then we felt a sense of reassurance. It’s just natural, being with you. So many things, I don’t understand. You, I don’t understand. And this feeling, I totally don’t understand. Before, I prided myself with being “Ms. Independent” and now I like the Tin Man being led to the Emerald City. You showed me, maybe I do have a heart.
We both recognize our luck to have found the other. At the same time, we recognize our current states. While outwardly it seems we’re both free and able to go wherever we please whenever we please, we realized it’s not the truth. We’re both tied down. Tied to our own plans, dreams. Tied down to directions and relationships. I have plans to meet friends north and family west of here. You have plans to travel east. Tied down to money. Both of us must take time to stop and work at some point. Or to find work along the way if suits us. Tied down to passports and past experiences. You’re going places I cannot access as easily because of my nationality, and London doesn’t seem as exotic to a Parisian as it does to a Minnesotan.
You and I both have so many smart plans. Yet I have no idea where I’ll end up. You have no idea where you’ll end up. We both have dreams. And we both have wishes to see more, be more, do more, go more. I hope that one day we will find each other yet again.
Bon voyage, Mon Chéri. Until next time. Wherever and whenever that may be.