When Travel is Heartbreaking
When I quit my job, secured a visa, and bought a plane ticket, I was really just going through the motions. Granted, those aren’t typical motions. But until I sat alone in a Chicago airport at 10:00pm on a blustery winter night, awaiting my transatlantic flight, I didn’t quite comprehend what I was doing. I knew I was making a life-changing move, but I didn’t realize quite how life-changing. I thought I would do my au-pairing, travel Europe a bit, and come home, refreshed and ready for the American grind once more.
Part of me had the slightest feeling that this may happen, but not in this way.
I fell in love. With cities. With people. With one person in particular. I decided to stay longer.
What I didn’t realize when I was going through the motions six months ago was that I was already taking the chance; the chance to meet new people, love new people, love other places. At the time I saw my move as temporary, but in reality I was risking my sense of normalcy for the rest of my life.
I met my boyfriend shortly after I arrived in Spain. He is from Paris, but lives and works in Malaga. The stars truly aligned on the day we met. What are the chances that a girl from an obscure village in Ohio, USA would meet a Parisian boy on the southern coast of Spain? I was immediately charmed by his dimples, his gentle nature, and his the fact that he pronounces “the” as “ze.” After one date I knew I was in deep. We have been together half a year now, woah! I adore him in every sense of the word. He is the only man I want to adopt cats with.
When I entered my relationship with him, I knew my life would never be the same. And it’s exciting! Next week I’m meeting him in his hometown and meeting his family and friends. I don’t know what the future holds for us. Only time will tell. But I do know that as much as I love our lives together, we must face the fact that our families will likely never be on the same continent and that one of us will always be across an ocean from our family. Again, not saying we’re gonna head to the chapel tomorrow, but as long as we’re together, that’s our reality. He makes it so worth it.
I fell in love with my host-children. Those three kids took me in when I needed love the most, and they made me theirs. They accepted me for all my silliness, all my seriousness. They made me laugh, and they made me cry. Some days we wiped each other’s tears. When they hurt, I hurt. I’m not old enough to be their mother, but I do feel like they are mine. They taught me about patience and parenthood. I love them. I’m so excited to watch them grow.
I fell in love with the cities I visited. I learned that I feel most at home when I’m not at home, and that I feel most like myself when I’m in a completely foreign place. I went on some wonderful adventures in several cities, sometimes by myself, sometimes with great friends.
I never thought I’d see the day that travel became heartbreaking for me. As I prepare to leave for France on Monday, my heart aches. Being home with my family has been refreshing, and I love them so very much. I also love my partner, and currently an 8-hour plane ride separates us. It’s both a curse and a blessing to have all the people you love spread all across the world.
I wouldn’t trade my six months in Spain for anything.