Once upon a time, not so very long ago, I did something a little crazy. On one hand, this story may evoke admiration amongst the adventurous romantics of the world. On the other hand, it may call my sanity into question.
But here's the thing: While my 20s and free passes for reckless behavior quickly slip away, I justify my choices by asking myself a simple question. What good is life without spontaneity and irrational, emotion-fueled decisions?
Meeting people online these days is pretty standard. We are a Facebooking, Tindering, Couch-surfing generation, after all. While I've done some strange things in my life, including but not limited to going on my fair share of internet-generated dates and moving across the world, I never imagined that Instagram would be the platform to launch an international whirlwind of a romance.
Here's how it all started:
I was on an island in Thailand, the stunning Southeast Asian country that tempted me away from home for two years. I was in the middle of a beach scene worthy of a desktop screensaver. Despite this actually being my reality, I was shamefully glued to my phone. It was then, bikini-clad and epitomizing iPhone addiction, that a hot, seemingly well-traveled guy started to follow me on Instagram.
Now, perusing through an Instagram profile offers a lot of information about a person. In five minutes, those squares told me everything I needed to know.
I could clearly see he was good-looking, he'd been to numerous places around the world, he liked dogs, he worked out, he had an active social life, there were no recurring females to indicate that he was taken and he was close with his family (quite a mama's boy by the looks of it.)
I followed back. He responded by liking a few pictures and commenting on my latest post. Feeling particularly bold, I decided to send a direct message: "So you're adorable, how'd ya find me?" Turned out, in one of my #travel liking sprees, I'd liked one of his pictures. Our conversation quickly escalated into exchanging Facebook information and striking up conversation there. Thank you, social media.
David* was an English dreamboat bouncing between London, England and Marbella, Spain. Unapologetically intrigued by one another, we started talking incessantly, whenever our waking hours coincided. Something just clicked; I didn't think twice about what to say and everything flowed effortlessly.
David had been to Thailand several times, and we had a lot in common. In addition to texting, we started exchanging short video clips, and I'd die a little bit inside every time I heard his ridiculously charming accent. Things accelerated quickly, and suddenly meeting each other was on the table.
I'd conveniently orchestrated a week off between jobs, and he didn't have the typical 9 to 5. So who should go where? When David told me he was going to Spain during my week off, suddenly I knew I was, too.
We scheduled a FaceTime date to discuss our impulsive idea more seriously. Never had someone been more on my page; never had someone considered the outlandish things I considered.
We didn't hesitate at all, which is the only way something crazy like this ever actually comes to fruition. I sent my first direct message on June 20. By June 25 I had a flight. By July 5 I had traveled nearly 19 hours and was toting a suitcase around Malaga Airport, nervously looking for this stranger that I would meet in person for the very first time.
With only five full days to spend in Spain, it would be a quick trip, considering the distance. The days spent together were not without their flaws (those English accents can be really hard to understand sometimes!), but we spent our days as this (no pun intended) insta-couple.
We had a romantic date night; we spent a lazy afternoon on the beach kissing and singing old '90s hits from my iPod; we enjoyed homemade family dinners; we climbed a mountain and took risqué pictures at the top; we swam through a beautiful gorge; we took a boat to Old Town Marbella; we went on photo adventures and we explored swanky Puerto Banus and its nightlife.
It was like I'd walked onto the set of "The Bachelor," but better. I had the exotic dates, the sexy man and thankfully, zero other women to beat off with a stick. As quickly as I'd arrived, it was time to head back to Bangkok. We set no expectations for what was to follow. Both of us were realistic enough to be content with the possibility that our time together might be nothing more than a crazy adventure.
While the internet has undoubtedly made the world a smaller place than ever, England and Thailand were still a considerable distance apart. The stars could not have aligned better to orchestrate our first meeting, but they kind of scattered across the sky after that.
David and I haven't had the chance to see each other again, but we still talk to this day, over a year later.
Although we've both moved on, I consider him a close friend. We share our work and dating woes as well as our travel plans, the one thread and common interest that particularly connects us. Our moment may have passed, but I'm so glad to have had the adventure, and to have met someone else like me out there, someone willing to follow their heart and take a chance, even if it sounds like the craziest thing in the world.
In my book, it's stories like these that make life worth living, and I plan on writing many more.