It Was Real: 3 Things I Learned From Having A Timed Romance Abroad

by Michelle Belair

It’s not written in stone, and it can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

We all know the feeling: the undeniable tightening of the chest, the butterflies soaring in your stomach and the endless need to hear his voice and see his face.

Love has a funny way of working out, and travel has a funny way of making love a larger priority.

The first time I saw him, he was singing in a café, with a guitar slung from his shoulder and a harmonica dangling from his neck.

Opportunity struck, and before I knew it, he was picking me up the following evening.

I sat in the balmy Caribbean heat, sipping on rum while he sang a song for me.

We didn’t take it slow.

The realization that I only had a short time left created a sense of urgency, and we spent nearly every waking moment together.

Our time was filled with evenings listening to him sing, dinners and drinks every night and nights at his place. We explored an abandoned house, kissed in the sea and drove around the entire island.

We talked about our futures, our families and our dreams. We laughed, fought, cried and ultimately kept each other close, until it was time for me to go.

There were promises of visits in the near future, of him visiting Canada and me returning to the island. There were assurances we would talk on the phone and FaceTime every week.

We were sure we would stay in touch.

But as these things go, the phone calls faded and the FaceTimes never even began.

I caught myself doing the embarrassing things we love to label as “crazy girl” behavior.

But I wasn’t crazy, was I?

I just missed him. I missed the idea of what could have developed, and I was terrible at putting that idea to rest.

Was it real love? I don’t know.

Would it have continued if I hadn’t taken my flight home? I don’t know that, either.

But I do know it wasn’t for nothing.

1. It was real for me.

It might not have lasted, and who knows if I'll ever see or hear from him again. But during those months and in those moments, it was real.

I let myself be open, raw and vulnerable.

I loved being near him, holding his hand and kissing his face.

I loved waking up next to him, listening to the stresses of his day and debating our thoughts about the world.

I loved when he pulled me tighter in his sleep and how we made up after a fight.

I loved having that sense of being wanted and appreciated, even for that fleeting moment.

2. It will always coincide with my time abroad.

Whenever I look back on my time abroad and the incredible people I met, I will remember him.

He’ll sneak into my thoughts whenever I think about the experiences I had and the things I loved.

I’ll remember the moment he said he wanted me to meet his parents, when I, terrified at the seriousness of that request, declined.

I’ll remember the moment he ran down the street toward me when he thought I was leaving without saying goodbye.

He will always be there when I think about my time abroad.

3. It made me believe love can still exist.

Our time together wasn’t perfect.

There were things about me that annoyed him and things about him that drove me crazy.

There were times when our souls were intricately meshed, and times when our personalities pushed against each other.

But all the similarities and differences made me realize I haven’t given up on love. It made me realize I don’t want to settle for our hook-up culture of Netflix and booty calls.

I want debates, I want full-belly laughs, I want arguments.

I want make-up sex and morning sex and afternoon sex.

But more importantly, I want all that with someone whose soul wants and inspires my soul.

If that takes another five years to find, I will wait. I am deserving of that type of all-consuming, honest and raw love.

We all deserve that kind of love, and we shouldn’t be afraid to wait for it.