An ex-boyfriend told me once that I shouldn’t see psychics because they communicated with the devil. I try and go to a psychic every year.
This year, I decided there was no better place to have my palms and tarot cards read than in New Orleans. I had been having pretty terrible luck with relationships, and just needed someone to point me in the right direction when it came to many areas of my life. The woman in Jackson Square flipped over a King of Swords, raised her eyebrow, and told me that in a few days I would meet an intellectually driven man who would have a big influence on the next year of my life. She neglected to tell me that I would meet him on Tinder.
My first date with Jeremy was at a coffee bar in South Austin. At some point, I told him about my plans to travel throughout Southeast Asia and Australia with no return date. I would bring this up on every first date, not only because it made me seem hip and interesting, but also because I wanted to let people know where I stood. I had no interest in a relationship with an end date, because that sounds awful.
You know where this is going.
Seven months later, you’d think I wouldn’t still be shocked at how amazing partnerships can be. (I clearly didn’t date a lot in college.) Jeremy is selflessly supportive, encouraging, and understanding. When I moved to Austin, I wanted to see who I was without the pressure of friendships and relationships. I wanted to see who I would be and where I would go when I had complete control. As it turns out, Jeremy had similar plans whenever I wanted to go anywhere. (When he too was going to Beyoncé night at Cheer Ups, I knew that dating him was inevitable.) We gave each other the freedom to explore who we really are and to indulge in our very odd sense of humor. I finally get the “hype” around love and relationships. No one told me it was this good.
A trip across the world, that would ultimately end a relationship, can hang over two people like a storm cloud. We brought an umbrella. We’ve been very open about ending the relationship once I leave.
One night in March, we were driving to a party and talking about my upcoming trip. The seconds between “I feel like I know what’s going to happen when you leave,” and “we’re going to break up,” felt longer than the beef jerky that I imagine is sold at Buc-ee’s. After it was over, however, a wave of relief washed over me. There was no argument or confusion or miscommunication. The honesty, paired with knowing that we had to make the best of our relationship before I left Austin, made our relationship stronger and more fun.
The more we talked about it, the more we realized that this was the best course of action.
We have goals that would complicate a long-term relationship. I want to convert a school bus into a home and travel across the country. He wants to bike across the country. I want to travel and write. He wants to travel and play music. In a dream world, these itineraries would align perfectly. But relationships are hard enough when you’re living together in a house with a two-car garage and a white picket fence. To further complicate things, both of us have had trouble in long-distance relationships. Trying to make things work with a 12 hour time difference was just out of the question. Why would we try to make things work, when they were ultimately going to fail, and doom our relationship?
And let’s be real. No one is dying here. We both have the freedom to move and make our own decisions about our lives. If our relationship proves to be more important than whatever we are doing at the time, we can move back to the same city. Even more real? I’m 23, and Jeremy’s 24. Both of us are horrified at the idea of settling down at this age anyway, so why would we? Jeremy’s also the first ~real~ relationship I’ve had, all tea all shade. I’ll leave it at that. Ok. Back to our regularly scheduled sappy programming.
It hurt to leave. It really did. This is probably obvious. When I had my final 2 a.m. P. Terry’s the night before I flew home, I had tears in my eyes. There was a lot of crying that night. There was a lot of frustration and sadness. And the crying didn’t stop when I sat down on the plane or arrived at home in Pennsylvania. It hurt to leave, but there was comfort knowing that we were ending (or, optimistically, taking a break) with so much positivity, support, and love in our relationship.
I don’t have much experience breaking up with someone (or, optimistically, taking a break) to travel the world for an indefinite amount of time, so it’s hard to tell what will happen in the next few months or weeks. It’s confusing, and we definitely have some roadblocks ahead. I haven’t listened to Townes Van Zandt and it may take a while until I do. (This is a very isolating reference, but I’ll say it: I’m avoiding Trixie Mattel’s Instagram at all costs.) I can rely on one thing, a practice that Jeremy has amazed me with during our last few weeks together: staying in the present moment.
Even though I knew he would be upset after I left, Jeremy rarely showed it. (Scorpios, am I right?) We stayed in the present and enjoyed whatever we were doing, whether it was paddleboarding, seeing a show, or just hanging out. I owe it to him, and to myself, to also stay in the present moment while I’m at home and while I’m backpacking. (I also owe it to Andrew, who is going to be my travel buddy for a whole six weeks. He’s put up with enough of my shenanigans.) What good is traveling when you spend your time sulking in your hostel room? Why worry about a relationship that may or may not work out if or when I move back to Austin?
Staying present and staying mindful, no matter what time zone I’m in, is the only way to fully enjoy my trip and my life. I’m going to follow my third eye and trust that my intuition is right when it comes to relationships, my career, or where I move. Worst comes to worst, I’ll head back to Jackson Square and get another tarot reading.
Have you ever sacrificed something to travel? Had to make decisions between your relationship and your goals? Let me know in the comments.