Updated: Sep 23, 2018
I have continued to write about my travels as a testament to me, my strength, my vulnerabilities and the teachings that I find. Two years since I started my first solo adventure I’ve realised that my expectations and intentions of travel have shifted. I am now seeking deeper connections, to interpret and absorb different cultures and to travel slow. I plan to do this by connecting with people I have met along my travels, staying with them in their home cities and learning their culture. My need to see every city, every place is no longer a priority. With these new visions comes different shades of fear and anxiety which I will share.
So here is the story behind my recent month in France. A month of living the french lifestyle. Learning their ways. Sleeping in and eating croissants from the local boulangerie. Doing slow and intentional activities. The French ease into their day, not skyrocket from their bed in a hurried frenzy. Learning the art of french dining and indulgence without guilt. Driving through the french country side, visiting castles and wineries. Staying in a mountain house in the pyrenees along the ‘Tour De France’ route , shopping in French food markets and eating the best creme Brûlée I will ever have, but most of all an experience of dating a French man.This year, I started off my solo trip by meeting up with a French guy that I was dating in Sydney. He was working in Sydney when we bumped into each other in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney taking sunset pictures. This was the start of a whirlwind romance. He happened to be staying in a hotel in Sydney harbour. Morning runs over Sydney harbour, sunset swims in the rooftop pool looking over Sydney Opera house, evenings spent at the Opera and flying to the great barrier reef for a weekend were just someone of the experiences we had together.
As much as my single life is secure, warm and fulfilling I still have not mastered the act of companionship outside the shackles of coupledom. Therefore when someone slightly decent comes along in the form of an attractive romantic French man, I was swept away and got caught up in the intimacy and friendship.
When I arrived in Toulouse in his hometown, these experiences continued. His want to show me all his favourite places in France, introduce me to his closest friends and have me stay at his grandparents house in the mountains and forever care about my happiness made my heart ache with love for this man. Dating a french man is an experience. After all they have been long been considered the holy grail of international lovers.The intensity, the emotional openness and the proclaimed love that I received from my Frenchman was bewildering. The French like to move quick; they work on impulse and chemistry. Apparently it is not unusual for a French man to know already his true feelings for you after the first date. Or think he knows. But hey what woman doesn’t like to be told how astonishing a man may find her.
So here I am, in his French apartment getting ready to meet all his friends, preparing for a romantic roadtrip around France, getting ready to fall in Love and most importantly trying to live in the present moment and not over think this. Overthink what you may ask? Im 29, this will be the longest time I’ve even spent with a man. I’ve been single a long time and I have never lived with a partner. I’m about to spend every single moment travelling with a man. Not only travelling but meeting his friends, eating his food, living his life, without very little French. I knew this would be a challenge. Solo travel I can do. Spending this much time with a man was the real challenge for me, and when ever you step outside your comfort zone comes fear and stress. So you see the fabulous pictures, the smiles, the romance of it all, but behind this I was stressed at times. As much as I love to travel and see new places I like to have fun along the way and I couldn’t find the fun. So many other things were there but without fun, what is life.
As the days went on I started to become aware of a lot of things. A lot of things about myself, about my flaws. Travelling with a lover or being in a relationship or spending so much time with a person has definetly left me feeling a little unstable.While in the Pyrenees I text a close friend saying’ I think I’m crazy’. My friend replied saying ‘your the sanest person I know’ . However the reality is only an intimate person who you live with gets to know the real you. I think the only people we can really think of as normal are those we don’t know very well. From close up, over long periods, almost everyone is condemned to seem pretty dispiriting.Thats why I love being single. Being alone spares you from constant reminders of how difficult and strange you might be. No one is there to hold a mirror up, record your antics and constantly make you accountable for them. Being single I can pretend to be sane.
So a few weeks into the trip, the French affair came to an end with my lovely, kind Frenchmen. It was obvious we weren’t compatible. It ends well, we shared some great moments and he has definetly left a huge print on my heart.As I tried to venture back into solo travel and single life when the love affair ended I was faced with many different feelings and struggles. Feelings of sadness, loneliness and emotional .
Day one on my own. Marseille train station. I’m lost and disorientated. Is this what heart ache feels like. I cant remember. Ive been single for so long I’ve forgotten. Loves makes me vulnerable and I haven’t felt this exposed in a very long time. Every time I go for a hike by myself I think of how much he would have enjoyed it. I wake up in a 12 bed dorm instead of waking up beside him, I feel sick when I see happy couples, everything French is reminding me of him and I think back to the quote at the end of one of my favourite movies Into the Wild ‘Happiness is only real when shared’.
After a few days in the of South France solo I decide to fly back home. With these over whelming feelings of sadness and loneliness its impossible to enjoy travelling solo right now. I need to grieve this and prepare for the next adventure.
Moving on from a french man can be hard work. Because he was so romantic, made me feel special, seemed totally into me, was even talking about a future. So I will miss all the good things about dating my Frenchman. I will allow myself to wallow for a few days and then I will go back to my wonderful and sometimes vulnerable single life, back to doing my own thing and back to the hope of love somewhere in the future.