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.)
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 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.
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.
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.