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I write to you with a broken heart, and a major life change. Today, I become a solo traveler.

Mark and I are broken up. I won’t go into details despite the temporary a vindication that might give me — I respect the sanctity of our three-year relationship too much to do that, regardless of how it ended. And our own two feelings aside, I know Mark’s family and some of his friends read this blog (at least up until now) and I adore and even love some of them far too much to subject them to that.

What I will say is that boyfriend just isn’t an adequate word to describe what Mark was to me. He wasn’t some guy living in the same city as me with whom I went on dates on the weekends. He wasn’t someone I’d fallen into a familiar routine with. He was my best friend, my co-worker, my travel buddy, my biggest supporter, my safety net, my partner, my rock. He was family. We lived together, traveled to 11 countries together, and turned our lives inside out to be together. And we had plans. We were going to live in Australia, backpack in Peru, volunteer for Sea Shepherd and work together on a luxury liveaboard. We were going to take over the world. The word boyfriend just can’t sum up what Mark was to me.

From the moment we met in Thailand all those years ago our relationship was summed up by one word: crazy. We skipped continents, moved countries, hopped borders, racked up air miles, made sacrifices, spent hours on Skype, and worked like mad, all in the name of… love.

In choosing this crazy nomadic life together we stood on the edge of sanity, tethered ourselves to one another for safety, and jumped headfirst into the unknown of the open road. Alone, I feel suddenly that I am adrift with no life raft.

Koh Tao Sunset

Seemingly overnight, this blog has gone from an open-book story of my life to a painful scrapbook of a relationship with a shocking ending. Over three hundred posts of excruciating recaps of happy times Mark and I spent traveling, and even more emotion behind the scenes, where Mark was my biggest fan and supporter as I threw my hat into the blogging ring. Yet in light of recent events, suddenly posts like this seem a bit too open… even a bit embarrassing. Even now perhaps I am being a bit too raw… showing a bit too much of myself. But if there is one thing I have learned about myself recently, it is that I have a hard time knowing when to draw the line.

However, this blog is one of my greatest accomplishments — a few pieces of html code thrown together to create something that has become my business and my passion. I refuse to let it die alongside the relationship it grew up with. But please, be patient as I find my footing again. Posts may be sporadic, emails may go unanswered, comment replies may be delayed. I’ll be back on my feet soon, I hope.

Right now I’m struggling to merge the happiness of my experiences over the past three years (many of you have been along for the ride since the beginning!) with the devastation I feel now. A friend wrote to me in an email recently that she would rather “hike up to the top of the mountain for the beautiful sunset only to find the cloud cover than have never hiked the mountain at all.” I’m not quite there yet… but I hope I will be someday.

I will miss this man that I have shared the past thousand days of my life with.

Obviously… this has turned my life and all my plans upside down. Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on what I’m doing to pick back up the pieces. For now I’m just trying to put one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, and every other breakup cliché that you can possible imagine.

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75 Comments...
  • Adrian
    April 18 2012

    Hey Alex – I hope you are doing well. We’d love to have you visit this summer.

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thanks Adrian. I’m going to be all over the US this summer… maybe I can make a stop in Chicago as well.

  • Grandma Burr
    April 18 2012

    Of course, you know that you’ll recover. I have the utmost faith in you. Strange how fate throws these things at us. My feelings are with you. All my love. Gram E

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thank you Gram. You are right… logically I know I will feel better at some point. If only my head was in charge…

  • MarkG
    April 18 2012

    Very sorry to hear about this. Hope you are OK. Just two words…GO FORWARD.

  • Vicky
    April 18 2012

    I’m so sorry to hear that! Breakups can be incredibly painful and unfortunately usually the only thing that helps is time.
    Vicky recently posted..Daring Cooks April 2012 – Quinoa with Grilled Vegetables

  • Olivia Baackes
    April 18 2012

    Oh Alex, you have been in my thoughts so much this past week. You are stronger than you know. I always tell people how awed I am that you got on a plane to the other side of the world BY YOURSELF at age 19, and it’s because of that bravery that you were able to forge an amazing adventure for yourself and a lifestyle the rest of us only dream about. I (and the rest of your readers) can’t wait to see what new adventures you have ahead of you. Just make sure you keep traveling in warm, tropical locations– I want to come back from all my visits to you with a great tan!

    So so so much love,

    Your sissy

  • Mike Goodfield
    April 18 2012

    It’s his loss. I would eat ice cream sundaes off your belly and I am on a diet. Has anyone seen my meds?

  • Nadia
    April 18 2012

    Kudos to you my friend for standing tall with grace and dignity. It may be difficult to see now but that is exactly what you are doing. I am so excited to read about your solo adventures, the people you will meet, the challenges you will face… I remember my first solo trip nearly a decade ago and the uneasiness that I felt. Now I cannot imagine a life limited by a travel companion. You will perfect your “tough girl” face, read people’s body language, trust intuition, and generally become more engaged in your environment. While it is not fair that it is different for a lady to travel (in many parts of the world) it is a reality and I know you will navigate those waters with the grace you have displayed here.

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thank you Nadia…. It’s true, there are definitely different things to think about traveling alone as a woman. It’s a whole new set of rules and things to remember. And I know so many women who do it… but it doesn’t make it easier to do it yourself for the first time, somehow.

  • Jo
    April 18 2012

    Sorry to hear that Alex. But I’ve been there, and you will get through it – a couple of years ago this article helped me a little bit (although it might not all be relevant to your situation or mine, but the sentiments are the there):

    http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/relationships/story/0,,2287405,00.html
    Jo recently posted..She Loves…Blogs Written By Pigeons.

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thanks for sharing Jo. I often turn to books and written word to help me through times of trouble… I appreciate you sharing something that helped you.

  • Cat
    April 18 2012

    Ugh! Sad your life has turned upside down. 🙁 I can’t even imagine what you’re going through right now but what I do try to imagine makes my heart hurt very much for yours. Sounds like you’ve already given yourself some good advice in just aiming to put one foot in front of the other. Sending you virtual hugs.

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thank you so much Cat. I appreciate so much your empathy.

  • Aunt Karen
    April 18 2012

    Oh Sweetie! Grandma just called and told me and I did not believe her, but here I am to see for myself. I’m in shock needless to say. Wish I could make it better. Words of comfort are so cliche’. What you would benefit from are hugs, tears and laughter all going on at the same time with lots of food. Alas I cannot be there but that is what I would do for you. Wish I could do for you . .
    So I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers continually till your sun shines again soon. Love you always, xo

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Love you Karen, thank you….

  • Dani
    April 18 2012

    So sorry to hear this, Alex. We hope you’ll feel better soon – big virtual hug!
    Dani recently posted..Jumping Into the “Travel Closet” in Egypt

  • Shannon
    April 18 2012

    Every day your blog gives me the strength to carry on with another mediocre work day, with the knowledge that one day it will all pay off and I will be soon on a plane to explore the ginormous world that awaits me. I am saddened to hear that you and Mark have parted ways but I hope that you continue your wonderful adventures with the strength and knowledge of what you have accomplished this far. I am sending you happy vibes and hugs from Canada and I hope for you that you find your footing, however long it may take.

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Hi Shannon, I wish I could tell you how much your comment means to me. I bet you’ll be on that plane sooner than you think.

  • Noelle
    April 18 2012

    Hi Alex, my name is Noelle and I am 18 years old traveler. Having just found your blog as of recent on the Lost Girls website, I am living vicariously through your travels each time you write a new one. I think you are incredibly brave for having the dreams as well as the initiative that you do. Although you might feel as if something is missing now, or that a great change is upon you, you will always have everything you need to walk – to wander on.
    “Not all who wander are aimless. Especially not those who seek truth beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond the image.” -Mona Lisa Smile
    Thank you for being such an extraordinary inspiration to all who come come across your blog and are fortunate enough to read your adventures. Thank you for being such an extraordinary inspiration to me.
    Noelle L.

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Hi Noelle, thank you so much for your sweet comment. It means so much to me to think I have inspired someone… and I hope to keep doing so.

  • Anton
    April 18 2012

    rock on girl scout

  • Karen a Opalka
    April 18 2012

    So sorry about this news. I read it aloud to Chet and started to cry. I don’t even KNOW you or him, so I can’t imagine….one foot in front of the other, and keep on swimming, just keep swimming…….

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thank you Karen, your empathy is touching. I will keep swimming….

  • Heather
    April 18 2012

    The openness and genuineness that shines through your writing, while it may feel raw, is also the aspect that makes me feel like I know you at least a little bit, when in reality I’m just a rando on the internet living vicariously through your photos 🙂

    I’m so sorry to hear about your pain, and hope that you can both move forward and heal at your own pace. Virtual hug!

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thank you Heather, for saying that about my writing style. It’s nice to have reassurance that I’m not becoming some crazy internet ranter….

  • Grace
    April 18 2012

    I don’t know you or Mark, but I was so sad to read this post. I’m really sad that you are going through this, and hope you feel better sooner rather than later.
    Grace recently posted..Poor Little R Is Diseased

  • Dad
    April 18 2012

    Mom and I have shared our thoughts with you privately but I am delighted to see so many of your readers supporting you. I hope these give you strength, hope and encouragement.

    Love always

    Dad

    Tuckers says, “Arf Arf Arf”

  • Jenna
    April 18 2012

    Thinking of you
    Xoxoxo

  • Amanda
    April 18 2012

    I’m so sorry to hear this but also looking forward to all your adventures as a solo traveller. And I agree with Heather- the openess of your blog makes it so interesting and engaging to read. Don’t stop writing please!
    Amanda recently posted..Montmartre: Sacre Coeur and Le Refuge des Fondue

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thanks for the encouragement Amanda… it’s so comforting to hear people’s reassurances about both my current situation and my sometimes haphazard blogging style.

  • Idun
    April 18 2012

    I don’t know you much, as I only found your blog about 5 months ago, but I really feel for you now. Especially since I became single just a few months ago myself, incidentally also having a Scottish boyfriend (while I’m Norwegian) and it being mostly long-distance (2 years), although we didn’t experience even half the crazy and fun things you did with Mark. I can’t imagine how tough this must be, but it will get better! Hope it doesn’t take too long for you do get to that point.
    Idun recently posted..Stirling: Wallace Monument

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      What a coincidence… Loved your post about Stirling, I visited there as well this summer when I went to meet Mark’s family.

  • Sophie
    April 18 2012

    So sorry to hear of this deeply saddening, life altering event:((
    Hope you give yourself plenty of time to grieve and know that you have so many loving fans standing by you and sending you positive healing energy. Please don’t change your openstyle of blogging and of being!! We love you just the way you are!
    Sophie recently posted..How To Teach Your Dog To Come Every Time You Call Him

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thank you Sophie, the outpouring of comments like this one have been a comfort.

  • davi
    April 18 2012

    As a new reader I am so sorry, I am sure over time you will move on. All the best.

  • Laura
    April 18 2012

    Alex, I wish I was there to wrap my arms around you and give you a big hug. You are such a special person and give so much in your relationships. Anyone would be lucky to have you in their life! I realize this must be a painful time but please don’t feel lonely. You have so many people who care about you and love you very much. You are in all our thoughts. Cant wait to see you again. Love you, Laura

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Laura, you always make me cry. I miss you all so much and can’t wait to be giving you a big hug. Love you lots.

  • Ryan McCoy
    April 18 2012

    Best of luck to you…hopefully you will find solo travel rewarding.
    Ryan McCoy recently posted..The Grand Canyon Is Trying To Kill You

  • Krista C.
    April 18 2012

    I’m so sorry to hear about this painful turn of events in your life, Alex. I have never met Mark or you but best of luck to you both. You are a wonderful writer and I have and will always, enjoy your stories. (((Hugs)))

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Krista, thank you so much for your support and your kind words about my writing. Its hard to be so vulnerable but reassurances like yours make it worth it.

  • Diane C
    April 18 2012

    Alex–You write–and live–with grace and beauty. Grace will carry you. Keep walking forward. Keep writing. I most love Tucker’s wise advice.

    Love to You!

    DianeC

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Tucker is a wise, wise dog. It’s amazing how comforting animals can be, wish he was here with me now.

  • Rachel
    April 18 2012

    So sorry to hear about this! Of course only time will really heal but fatty foods sure make you feel better in the short term 🙂
    Rachel recently posted..Delicious Inspiration for Today

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      No fatty foods! Didn’t you read my post about getting fat? Ha, oh…. how cruel, to be going through a breakup while trying to get back in shape. It’s just not the same without cartons of ice cream.

  • Diana
    April 18 2012

    🙁 Many of us have been here. And if I can say one thing, I promise that things will get better and this is only one chapter in your story. You have more to write. 🙂

  • Margaret
    April 18 2012

    xo

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      I will take this comment as a full invitation to come stay at your house this summer and go visit Niagra Falls together one weekend. That is what you meant by it, right?

  • Natasha
    April 19 2012

    Hi Alex,
    I have been following your blog now for a while and have kept quiet, never having commented before as I have enjoyed just reading about your adventures been and those forthcoming.
    After reading this post though, the openness and truth you have conveyed has touched me.
    We are of similar age, on opposite sides of the world and will probably never cross each others path but by reading this enchanting blog of yours I have felt as though I have known you for years.
    Please know that although you may feel your world around you is crumbling, (CLICHÉ ALERT!) Time is the best healer! I am speaking from experience, all too similar an experience may I add.
    You are an exceptional young woman and have alot to offer this world so please go,get out there,do all those things you were planning and live your life the way you want!
    Best of luck to you Alex x

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Natasha, thank you so much for reading and for breaking your silence to leave this lovely comment. I truly appreciate every word… I hope you’ll speak up again 🙂

  • EM
    April 19 2012

    Hi Alex, like others who have posted, I am a long time lurker and first time commenter. I’m not sure how much sympathy from a stranger helps, but I am certainly feeling for you!! I have been in a similar situation and I know how out of control and scary it feels. Cry if you feel like crying, be sad if you feel sad and just do it one day at a time. The best advice I got was to not make any big decisions for awhile and to just get to know myself again. I hope you are able to find some solace with your friends and family right now, even though you are far away (god bless Skype!!) and don’t worry about us readers – we will still be here whenever you are ready to come back. It seems as though you have touched a lot of people through your blog (myself included, and you have inspired me to take the plunge and travel long-term to Roatan and do my diving instructor courses!) and we are all rooting for you. Take good care of yourself. xx

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Hi Em, Thank you too for reading and for delurking to comment. Yes, Skype has filled my evenings lately. I have your blog in my RSS reader and I have enjoyed reading your preparations for moving to Roatan… I’m not sure if you were a reader when Mark and I traveled there but we truly loved it. Best of luck in all your plans…

      • EM
        April 22 2012

        Thanks Alex, I promise to continue as a delurker now! I’m very flattered that you have been following along as you were one of my inspirations to start a blog, and I read yours voraciously when I found it and found it immensely helpful. I hope one day my blog is as lovely as yours is 🙂 And yes, I read about your travels to Roatan (that’s how I stumbled upon your blog) – it was very funny to read as I know who you stayed with just by your descriptions, and I was staying with an islander in a house right next door to the tourist police station so I loved your photo of that (brought back a lot of memories). Looking forward to seeing your travels this summer, it sounds like you have a lot of interesting trips coming up!
        EM recently posted..Over and over again.

        • Alex
          April 22 2012

          Roatan is such a small community (most diving places are!) I’ve been other people in the diving world who knew exactly who we stayed with as well. You have certainly chosen a beautiful place to live. And word of advice from someone who’s been where you are… used dive gear is your friend! Cheaper and makes you look less like a newbie!

  • Margyle
    April 19 2012

    Hey, I’m very sorry to hear about your break up. Traveling is such an intimate thing, whether you do it alone or with someone else, and I can’t imagine how you are feeling right now. I hate when things go that way… you have plans, you’re excited and then they fall apart. It’s not fair and it can make you feel like all that you did up to that point was a joke.

    I will say this though, don’t ever stop being what you are or what makes you happy. I couldn’t agree more with your line about climbing the mountain just to find it cloud covered – you never know what you might find along the way or what you might learn about yourself. Keep being open. Keep being you. Keep on writing. It will all be okay.
    Margyle recently posted..Lausanne: 1, Toronto: 4… but Lausanne Wins. Suck on That.

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Thanks for this insightful comment… I think you are right, sometimes the worst part of the breakup is the loss of all the things you were planning for the future. For now I’m just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  • Kathryn
    April 20 2012

    A very brave post my friend, you are amazing, and like your sister said, stronger than you think. I have so much faith in you, keep marching on…
    Love you girl xxx

  • Sarahsomewhere
    April 20 2012

    Look after yourself, Alex. You have an insight and wisdom beyond your years and a bright, bright future ahead of you. Thank you for sharing open and honestly, it encourages me to do the same. Sending you lots of love, it’s always darkest before the dawn, just know you’re not waiting in the dark alone. Ok that was cheesy, but I mean it 😉
    Sarahsomewhere recently posted..Making A Splash At Songkran

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Hey… I am all about the cliche and the cheese. Thank you 🙂

  • Edna
    April 22 2012

    So sorry to read about this, Alex; especially since I actually discovered your blog through your “shit I make my bf do” birthday post. I went through a similar experience in a relationship with a fellow expat, and while it took me a long time to get over, it ultimately made me a better person. I channeled all my energy into exercising (no fatty foods!), my senior thesis (I was in uni at the time), and pursuing my passions and focusing on only myself — and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today (literally and figuratively) if it hadn’t been for that breakup. And because we kept it civil, we managed to stay friends and I now look back on our time together with fondness. I hope you stay strong and know that time really heals all. And at least you’re still in a beautiful country and continent — I’m looking forward to reading about your future travels and adventures!
    Edna recently posted..Photo Essay: The Buskers of Galway

    • Alex
      April 22 2012

      Hi Edna…. oh how I loved that “Shit I Make my Boyfriend Do” post! I’m trying to handle my breakup how you did…. I’m traveling now so exercise is difficult but in the two weeks before I left the island I was at the gym every single day, and I’m trying to pour my heart into work. I hope someday I can look back on things with the grace that you have here…

  • Melanie
    April 22 2012

    Alex I am in tears. This post is written beautifully. Life has a funny way of working itself out. I believe that everything happens for a reason and there is a reason you’re on your own two feet right now, I know that is hard to realize but it’s true. You are always in my heart. Keep ya head up. https://youtube.com/watch?v=HfXwmDGJAB8

    See you soon.

    xo x a billion.

    • Alex
      April 22 2012

      I love you Mel. I wish so deeply that I shared your feelings about fate and all of that…. but even if I don’t think there’s a reason for everything I guess I know that there is a lesson in everything. Still trying to find the lesson here, but I know it will come. And I like the link 🙂

  • Peter
    April 24 2012

    Alex,

    You are a strong and capable woman. While I am terribly sorry to see this turn of events in your life, I know that you will emerge from this stronger, more confident and more complete a person than you were before. Keep your head up high. You have a great deal to look forward to even if it doesn’t seem like it right at this moment.

    All the best,
    peter
    Peter recently posted..Instagram: A view over Florence

    • Alex
      April 25 2012

      Hi Peter, Thank you for the words of kindness and encouragement. It’s been a great comfort this week to read these comments as they come in.

  • Camels & Chocolate
    April 29 2012

    Awww, sweetie, I’m so sorry you’re both going through this right now. Thinking about you.

    • Alex
      April 30 2012

      Thank you Kristin…

  • Briony
    May 4 2012

    I’m a little slow off the mark and in replying, just you be strong and continue on, don’t allow your dreams and goals to change because the way you achieve them will be different. Still reading and sending our love….xx

    • Alex
      May 4 2012

      Hi Briony, so funny I was just thinking of you the other day and then I find this lovely comment waiting for me. Thank you, miss you, and you all are in my thoughts. Let the long distance friendship continue…

  • myryah
    July 2 2012

    Alex! So great to run into you the other week. Again, so sorry to hear about the split, but life is long, and you are beautiful, smart, wonderful etc. I have no doubt you be absolutely fine, traveling solo or otherwise. xxx

    • Alex
      July 4 2012

      Hi Myryah, thank you so much for this, and I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet up before I was off again. We should make plans next time I am in Brooklyn, though it will involve some travel as the girls are no longer in Taaffe!

  • Ashley
    September 28 2015

    My boyfriend and I broke up this week. We’ve dated 7 years, since high school. We traveled all around the world and lived in Brooklyn together. He moved out, leaving our shared kitty and me- with two international trips coming up. It’s been a few horrible wallow-y days, but this afternoon I remembered this post and wanted to re-read it. At that time, I remember feeling so sad for you, and extra lucky that my boyfriend was so wonderful. That’s probably kind of weird for me to say, but I wanted you to know that looking at all you’ve done since this traumatic/life changing break up gives me hope. I don’t know where I’m going from here, I don’t want to stay in New York filled with so many memories, but I’m not sure what else I would do. Then again I guess I don’t need to know right this second. Thank you for being so brutally honest- even when it causes you pain- because today I really needed to read this.

    • Alex
      October 2 2015

      Hey Ashley, I’m so sorry to hear that. You definitely don’t need to know what you’re going to do just yet. Sometimes these posts are indeed painful and difficult to write, but it makes it all worth it when I read comments like this letting me know they’ve helped someone through a hard time. I know where you are right now and it’s awful. But all the clichés are true — you will smile and laugh and love again! Thinking of you x

  • Alex
    February 16 2016

    Hi Alex,

    I’m preparing for my own first solo travel experience right now in the wake of the most excruciatingly painful breakup of my life after I discovered something absolutely devastating that my (now ex) boyfriend did. Though you didn’t give details here, I see my story and my pain woven through your words, especially in the post you published a year after this happened. To trust my intuition is also the number 1 lesson I’ve learned from this breakup so far.

    Thank you for this post. Seeing all you’ve accomplished since this happened to you gives me hope for the future in a time when the pain of what happened is so indescribably deep and debilitating that it’s a struggle to even get out of bed. Really, thank you. You’re an inspiration.

    • Alex
      February 16 2016

      Hey Alex — I remember those days well though they feel like a distant memory in the rearview mirror today. I promise, you’ll get there too! The travel will help 🙂 Sending you lots of happy, healing vibes x

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