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I want to start by thanking everyone for the outpouring of support after my last post. I’ve never felt quite so much sadness at hitting “publish” but the comments, emails, messages and tweets I’ve received have really been heartwarming.

So I guess the next question is: How does this change my plans?

Getting You Up To Speed

To answer that question, I think I have to go back and tell you what the plans were. I was meant to fly back from New York, reunite with Mark and the Koh Tao family and then head up to Northern Thailand to celebrate Songkran, take a motorcycle trip, and meet up with some visiting friends from when we lived in Grand Cayman. Afterwards we were likely going to head to Laos for some exploration before… (and this was going to be my big announcement) we shifted back to the western hemisphere. Mark accepted a seasonal job in the Caribbean (surprise!) and I was going to live at home for the summer so that I could visit (it is a liveaboard position where I would not have been able to live with him). That was the plan I was hoping to be unveiling this week. It hurts my heart just to type that out, knowing it didn’t/won’t happen. Of course a major part of any breakup is mourning the future — I can’t describe how much I was looking forward to celebrating Songkran up North, doing a big motorcycle trip with Mark, visiting him in the Caribbean.

Rather, I returned to the island and you now know what happened next. It all all feels like a blur… I went into what my friends lovingly named “zombie Alex” state and shuffled from friends house to friends house to hotel room to hotel room while I tried to pick up the pieces of my life. My first instinct was to get on a plane and go straight back home… crawl into my childhood bed, let my Mom take care of me, and heal in the familiarity and comfort of my home state. Nearly three weeks in and I still wonder every day if this is what I’m supposed to be doing, if I’m just torturing myself by staying in Asia right now. But… then another voice inside me speaks. I feel a need deep from within to keep moving, to not retreat, to prove to myself that I am capable of doing this alone, even if I choose in the end not to. (I will talk more about this on a future post about my feelings on traveling solo.)

A Sunset in Scotland

I quickly realized I could not stay in Koh Tao. There are too many memories around every corner. The bar we first met in, the restaurant where we had our first date, the bungalows we have lived in, the beach we used to sneak off to and whisper I love you on a busy night out. And then of course the bad memories as well, of things starting to unravel. Just in the way that I couldn’t quite describe all the things Mark has meant to me over the years, I have a similarly difficult time trying to describe the effect Koh Tao has had on my life. I spent the month I was home in New York thinking about my deep love for Koh Tao, about how much I adored my life there, how grateful I was for it and how I couldn’t wait to be back. Sadly, I was back on Koh Tao for less than 48 hours before all the joy was gone. I mourn the loss of Koh Tao in the same way I mourn the loss of my relationship. Two weeks after arriving back on the island, I was leaving again, this time with a troubled mind, and broken heart.

Right Now

Right now I am taking it one day at a time. I have a ticket from Bangkok to NYC on May 28th, though I struggle on a regular basis with the urge to get on a plane rightthissecond. For the moment, I have decided to keep my plans to meet my Grand Cayman friends up in Northern Thailand (because who doesn’t want to spend their honeymoon with a heartbroken recently single chick? Ha). After leaving Koh Tao I went to Bangkok to start my week-long solo journey up North, and I am currently in Ayutthaya. To me, this is the scariest part, the traveling alone. For the Koh Tao to Bangkok leg of the trip I was with some friends and the morning that they left and I woke up to an empty hotel room- I almost lost it. Almost cashed in my chips right then and there and bought a ticket home. But I bargained with myself. I promised myself I would make it through the week, see my friends, and then go home after if I still need to.

The gap between my Cayman friends leaving and my ticket home is about a month. I’ll see how everything plays out, and always give myself the safety net that I can fly home any time, but currently I’m hoping to make it to Laos or Burma in that time to do some exploring, make the most of my remaining time in Asia, and start to get my travel confidence back.

And Then?

My summer calendar, where I’ll be based in New York, is already filling up. So far I have the following planned for June-August:

• Philadelphia for my Grand Cayman friends’ wedding. (Yup, honeymoon is before the wedding. They are cool like that!)
• Denver for TBEX, the big travel blogging conference. Might extend this trip to include some other destinations in Colorado.
• Iceland with my Mom and sister!!! Yes, it deserves three exclamation points. I’m also hoping to combine this with a trip to London to visit some of my Koh Tao friends who will be home for the summer.
• Myrtle Beach with childhood friends. One of them has a family condo there and so we’ve been a million times — but I will never tire of the routine of waking up, frying on the beach all day, going out and partying at classy establishments such as Señor Frogs, and repeating daily for one week.

Of course there is a big hole in my calendar now where I was meant to visit Mark in Saint Maarten and Saba — the trip I was of course looking forward to the most. Who knows how I will fill it… I’ve had invitations to San Diego, Florida, and Chicago, so I know I won’t be lacking for destinations.

September marks the big question mark. My hope is that at that point I will feel stronger and more confident and perhaps ready to take on another major life change — be it a move back to Asia, or onto a totally new destination like South America or Australia.

Whew!

I suppose I should congratulate anyone who made it to the end of this harried and confusing stream-of-consciousness post in which I switched tenses about ten million times. There is so much going on in my life at this moment, so much changing on a daily basis… I’m just trying to keep everyone a little bit up-to-date on what’s up and what to expect around here. I’ll be back tomorrow with some pretty underwater photos to balance all the sadness going on in this corner of the internet right now. Thanks for sticking with me, guys.

Note: As some of you know, my blogging is usually quite backlogged (for example I am currently writing about February!) So you will probably see Mark’s name and picture pop up again a few more times. Just wanted to note that to head off any confusion.

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27 Comments...
  • Myrtle Beach!?! That’s only 3 hours away from me! A meet up HAS to happen. I know that solo travel is scary, but it’s the BEST thing you could for your soul right now, I promise. It will heal you much faster than if you go back home. Promise!!! Like you said, take things a day at a time, make sure you’re doing stuff to nurture you (like get a massage or see a movie). Just got your email will respond later today. XO
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..My Wedding & Honeymoon: Day 22-23

    • Alex
      May 4 2012

      Andi, for some random reason I checked my spam filter today and saw your comments have been going there! I have no idea why! Here’s hoping I solved it by manually un-spamming them! Anyway, yes I agree about Myrtle Beach, perhaps I can rent a car and we can each drive half way xo

  • Brittany
    April 20 2012

    I am sorry to read about your current situation. But I wanted to share the daily quote I received with you, it seemed fitting!
    “Courage doesn’t always roar.
    Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
    at the end of the day saying,
    “I will try again tomorrow.”
    – Mary Anne Radmacher
    I hope that the remainder of this trip works out in you favor!

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Brittany, I absolutely love that quote… thank you so much for sharing. I’m adding it to my list of little mantras I repeat to myself when times get tough (yes, like a crazy person).

  • John
    April 20 2012

    Glad to hear you’re continuing to push on! I think you’ll come to love solo travel – I found when I traveled solo, I was rarely actually alone.

    I’m stoked you’re coming to Denver for TBEX as well. I HIGHLY encourage you to add a few extra days in for your trip. Colorado is my favorite place in the world. If you need any recommendations, let me know (it is home, after all).
    John recently posted..The Adventureous and Adaptable Cuisine of Lafayette, Louisiana

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Hey John, I look forward to meeting you there! I definitely plan to spend a bit of time in Denver. My aunt and uncle live part time in Aspen so I may get there as well. Unfortunately this is all sandwiched between a wedding and a trip to Iceland… wish I had more time!

  • Davi
    April 20 2012

    You go girl!!!

  • DianeC
    April 20 2012

    Alex–Even under duress you are one of the best, most moving writers I know. Your “stream-of-consciousness” is everyone’s elses best edited writing:)Move forward, keep writing, take care of your tender heart.

    DianeC

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      Diane, thank you so much for that compliment! It means a lot to get writing kudos from someone like you.

  • Sarahsomewhere
    April 20 2012

    Would love to catch up with you if you are in Chiang Mai at all, and by the way I found this post inspiring, not sad. 🙂
    Sarahsomewhere recently posted..Making A Splash At Songkran

    • Alex
      April 20 2012

      I will be arriving in Chiang Mai tomorrow…. would love to meet up! Send me an email or a message with your Thai number….

  • Natasha
    April 21 2012

    Alex,
    have a read of this.It really helped me to see things in a different light and help me move on.I thought it was relevant to your solo travels now.
    Hope it inspires x

    After A While

    After a while you learn
    The subtle difference between
    Holding a hand and chaining a soul
    And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
    And company doesn’t always mean security.

    And you begin to learn
    That kisses aren’t contracts
    And presents aren’t promises
    And you begin to accept your defeats
    With your head up and your eyes ahead
    With the grace of a woman
    Not the grief of a child

    And you learn
    To build all your roads on today
    Because tomorrow’s ground is
    Too uncertain for plans
    And futures have a way
    Of falling down in mid flight

    After a while you learn
    That even sunshine burns if you get too much
    So you plant your own garden
    And decorate your own soul
    Instead of waiting
    For someone to bring you flowers

    And you learn
    That you really can endure
    That you are really strong
    And you really do have worth
    And you learn and you learn
    With every goodbye you learn.

    -Veronica A. Shoffstall

    • Alex
      April 22 2012

      Natasha… thank you so much for sharing. Truly, that is beautiful and I cried as I read it. Thank you for thinking of me…

  • Edna
    April 23 2012

    Good on you for continuing on alone and not going home! I’ll be in London this summer, if you’re there around Olympics time let me know, I’d love to meet up 🙂
    Edna recently posted..I Love My Neighborhood: Barcelona’s L’Eixample

  • Arlin
    April 24 2012

    Hey Girl,
    Hope you are feeling good this morning. I know every morning is its own challenge. I went through it myself, and it was a very long turbulent time for me. But I have confidence that your going to pick up the traveling solo as easily as you did the first time. From what I recall you were a solo traveler originally and did a pretty darn good job of it! Saving animals, trying new foods you hated and carrying a huge backpack on your own in a place you had never been before…etc. I just wanted to let you know that my sister spent about 9+months in south america this past year & if you want to chat with her about your future plans I know she would love to be of help. She seems to of had the most wonderful time and made a bunch of connections/opportunities along the way. She may even be opening up a hostel in the near future. I know you have dozens of travel buddies, but she and you seem to have similar interests so it might be a nice way to help you with your informed decision of Australia or South America.

    Good luck sugar bug. Let me know if you are in BK feeling like Havana Outpost or Ganni’s LOL.

    I recently received a card from my sister that read in all glitter type:
    “Dont worry, everything is going to be AMAZING”

    it’s a pretty good mantra if I say so myself 🙂

    Best wishes,
    Arlin

    xoxo

    • Alex
      April 25 2012

      Hey Arlin…. thanks for checking in. Someone said to me recently that heartbreak is the universal unifier and I guess its true. South America is very much on my radar right now for the fall and I would love to talk to you sis. From what I recall she is also hilarious and I need plenty of laughs right now. Good to hear from you… and I’m sure I’ll see you this summer in my favorite city in the world. Thanks again xo

  • Lissie
    April 26 2012

    Didn’t you start travelling alone? Isn’t that how you met that guy anyway? To be honest travelling solo has pretty much as many positives as negatives – and Thailand is a much easier place to start than the US. Don’t you dare run home early. I wouldn’t skip Laos and Cambodia either if you haven’t been there yet
    Lissie recently posted..Wellington Street Art – Stainless Steel Braille Sculpture

    • Alex
      April 26 2012

      Yes, I did start out solo at the age of 19! It’s surprising though how much you can come to rely on a person and a style of doing things after three years. As for my current travel, I’ve been to Cambodia twice- favorite country in the world. And Laos I head to for the first time ever tomorrow!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    April 29 2012

    I love these plans! You will absolutely, without question, fall in love with Iceland. I can’t wait to see your photos from there! If you wind up in Florida, let me know–we’ll be in the Panhandle from July 22-Aug. 5 with my family. And if you want to include Tennessee in those travel plans, you know you have a place to stay…we don’t have diving, but we have darn good whiskey.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Photo Friday: Washington D.C.

    • Alex
      April 30 2012

      Iceland is definitely my biggest excitement of the summer. I also have about 5 weeks where I have nothing planned where I’ve been considering a road trip down south… all the way to Florida! Might just have to include a stop in Tennessee…

  • Lauren
    May 4 2012

    All of this is really rough, but I want you to know how much I admire you and how much it has meant to me to read your posts and gain inspiration about taking risks in my own life. I look forward to more really great stories from you…

    PS I started my own “Great Escape” one month ago. I’m currently in the Republic of Georgia, and in two weeks I’ll be in Bangkok. Thanks again for helping make this happen, even if you didn’t know you were helping at the time!

    • Alex
      May 4 2012

      Hey Lauren, Thank you so much for this comment, it means a lot to me. It’s too bad we will miss each other in Bangkok. I’m very excited for your “Great Escape,” wishing you the best of luck…

  • Leah
    November 8 2012

    (Sorry I’m on a bit of a commenting roll and I am obviously slowly but surely making my way through your posts buttt …) your posts are so touching. i mentioned on my first comment to you that i recently went through a break up that left me as a solo traveler, and you have no idea how much your words speak to my heart. Especially the negotiating with yourself on how long you can make it for, and that inner voice that is quietly telling you that you owe it to yourself to push forward, despite the rest of your body screaming at you to run back to the familiar. Anyway, on that light hearted note, you should come to Australia! I landed here 3 weeks ago, and there are sooooo many amazing things to see, and it’s a breeze to get settled. Plus, no winter weather blues 🙂
    Leah recently posted..where have i been?

    • Alex
      November 8 2012

      Comment away Leah, I love it! Yeah, it’s hard to go through these old posts and see what a rough state I was in, but it makes the progress I’ve made since then so incredibly clear.

      And Australia is totally on my list! Waiting till I have a nice long chunk of time to dedicate to it, though…

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