The Road is Life
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Lately, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the state of Alex and Anders in both my online and offline life. And that’s only fair. You tell people a great love story, they want to hear the happy ending.
I’ve struggled to find the language to describe the end of things. “Broke up” indicates something awful has happened, that something was fractured and unfixable. “Consciously uncoupled” indicates that we are insufferable celebrities. “Accepted our lives were taking us in different directions to different locations, and went our separate ways with love,” is what I’ve been going with so far.
Before we even left Indonesia, we knew that day would come. Last year, Anders was accepted into a degree program in Denmark, and he deferred his acceptance in exchange for one more year of travel and working abroad. Much of that year we chose to spend together, exploring Latin America. So we always knew it was coming. In some ways that presented it’s own issues, as it’s hard to be in a relationship with a pending expiration date. It’s also hard, always, to be in a serious relationship with someone of a different nationality. Even if we had wanted to, we couldn’t stay long-term in each other’s countries.
“But I always thought of you as the kind of person who thinks with her heart, not her head,” said one of my girlfriends, when questioning why I wasn’t turning a blind eye to the financial, legal, and logistical obstacles and relocating to Scandinavia in the name of love. It gave me pause, because I’ve always thought of myself the same way.
And after giving it some thought, I still do. Thus far, the great love affair of my life has been with the open road. The one-way plane tickets, the electric feel of the exotic, the getting lost and finding myself again. I’ve never heard a more enticing pickup line than a departures call at JFK, and I’ve never known a more seductive glance than the one of a new country out a plane window. I’m not ready to give any of that up.
I’ve accepted that my lifestyle is going to mean a lot of goodbyes. It is not a small sacrifice. Yet rather than mourning the end of things, I think of my time with Anders as a gift. You know how people say, “He’s better than I deserve?” I would say the same, except the best thing about Anders was that he reminded me I actually do deserve it.
There are a lot of people who won’t understand the choices we’ve made, to choose ourselves over us. That’s okay. Our paths will converge once more, briefly, in July. I’ll visit Anders for a week in Malta, where he’s working the summer dive season up until he has to report to Denmark for the next chapter of his great journey. And then, once again, we’re going to go our separate ways with love.
But no matter, the road is life.
Such a beautiful sentiment. I’ve left someone recently and it was a matter of ‘we know that this cannot be forever, no matter how much we want it to be’.
I love the phrase “choose ourselves over us”. We often forget to look after ourselves.
Thanks Fiona. I think what others may mistake for selfishness I see as a very pure selflessness. Sometimes when you love someone you have to let them go.
Oh for sure. It is pure and utter selflessness, sometimes thinking about yourself is not selfish but you are considering how you actions will affect someone else.
Wishing you all the best in your fun May adventures
Good byes are always hard. Sounds like you’re both content with where your lives are going. Amicable and clear about your own futures but will always celebrate the memories.
Pretty personal post Alex! Takes guts to share it.
I like to take blogging back to its roots, when it was people sharing a real peek inside their lives and experimenting creatively with writing. That’s what I like to read, and I guess that’s what I like to write as well. Thanks, Shaun.
Alex and Anders I feel very blessed and honored not only to have met you both, but to of had the chance to ride with you.
Meeting people and spending time with them is always awesome, but when you get a chance to get to know someone and become friends is even more special and builds a deeper friendship when it’s done by horseback.
I send you both my love and blessings and to thank you for spending time with me the horses and my dogs.
You’re always welcome in my home.
Thanks for the kind words, Bruce.
Good for you & Anders. Always follow your gut. Mine has never led me astray. I was footloose and fancy free for years before I decided to settle down. It didn’t pan out – I’m still footloose and fancy free. I never married nor had children, but now that I’m volunteering at a local 6th grade school, I have more cool stories to tell the students than everyone else. I’ve met Jon Bon Jovi in a hotel hot tub in Atlanta, met Billy Joel in a Boston bar, met Sandra Day O’Connor through work. Blaze your trail and maybe someone will follow.
Sounds like quite the life 🙂 I haven’t had many celebrity encounters yet, but I’d like to think I’m working on a pretty good collection of stories.
Love this MCVK! “Blaze your trail and maybe someone will follow.”
Beautifully written, Alex! I can relate on a personal level because I have had relationships end due to the impending date of my departure to Spain to be an expat and travel. For people who don’t understand my decision, it can be a difficult ending, but for those who do, we simply go our separate ways with love the way you described it. Your description of this difficult scenario is the best ad most honest I’ve heard. Thank you.
Thank you, Mike. I think most wanderers at heart have to make a decision like this at some point in their lives.
Alex, I love this. I just found you yesterday, but I admire your commitment and I appreciate your style. Choosing yourself is so frequently such an unpopular thing to do, but it can be so rewarding. Congratulations, and I look forward to following your adventures.
Thank you Ashley. I always think back to that great Samantha quote from Sex and The City, when she’s leaving her longtime boyfriend and says, “I love you, but I love me more.” That always stuck with me.
I loved reading this!!! I am so happy that you found “romance” or a love and whatever may come, you made your decision with confidence, acceptance + love.
I am glad each of you decided to choose yourselves over an “us” and leaving everything open with a question mark anyway.
So many well wishes to you AND Anders on each of your next adventures!
Thank you Amy. We feel blessed that we can go our separate ways with no animosity and so much love between us.
I’m so happy to have read this. Time and time again I have questioned whether my (multiple) decision(s) regarding ending a relationship due to having different dreams of the future and travel have been right. With time I know that I wouldn’t change anything but sometimes I can’t help but wonder what if? What if I did up sticks and move to his country? What if I had decided to buy a round-trip instead of one-way? Would we still be together?
I’m really glad other people have the same feelings and I really hope that you and Anders continue to shape wonderful lives, however that may be.
Yes, romance on the road is never easy. So many factors, so many variables, so much passion. But that’s where the fun comes in! I hope in the end you are at peace with the choices you’ve made.
Sometimes an end date makes your time together all that more special. Sounds like a beautiful relationship, and that you are following your heart after all by continuing your travels.
Indeed, I am following my heart. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.
Oh dear, I think I might be about to become a serial commenter…..one day I hope I’m able to communicate feelings in the same way as you do in your blog. Beautifully written, very inspiring. L
Thank you, Lucy! And please do be a serial commenter 🙂
Goodbye is always hard especially when you part on good terms. Looking at the positive side, at least you both had good times together and there are no regrets. You never know because fate is a funny thing. 🙂 God has its own arrangement. Glad you follow your calling and I look forward to more travel stories. 😀
Indeed, there are many many more travel stories ahead! I can’t wait to share all I’ve been up to in the US since leaving Central America.
July is not that far away. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and I am sure this is the case with you and Anders.
Well it is not so much the wait until July that is the problem as is the four years afterwards in which he’ll be tied to Denmark. But as I said, we are at peace with our decision.
Ha! I think it is hilarious that anyone would think they have a clue about anyone elses relationship from a few photos and blog posts! I couldn’t express the challenges, hurts, joys and triumphs of mine if I tried, and generally don’t. None of us know what is around the corner, we just wake up every day and make the best choices we can with the knowlege/experience we have. I am happy for you and wish you both all the very best!
Yes, writing about something as complex as relationships can be messy, but sometimes I find it very cathartic and challenging in a positive way. I like to remember I can write about something other than beautiful beaches 🙂
Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome, Janice… thanks for reading.
What a powerful post, Alex. Thanks for sharing and who knows what the future holds. This is such a clear example of your strength and independence.
Thank you Emily. I do like to think of myself as a very independent person, I think it is the greatest gift travel has given me.
literally goosebumps…. I totally understand your decision, but I do look further down the road sometimes and when things are meant to be, they happen later on. I don’t think you and Anders story will be over after you meet him in Malta! I feel lucky that Ben is cool with me going off on my own to travel, but I have so much to explore in India I haven’t wondered too far from him. He can’t come to American more than 3 months I think, and I think I get 6 in London- so far India is legally accepting us both unmarried so we’ll stay there!
Yeah I had issues in a previous relationship when my ex with UK citizenship was entering the US too often and his final entry in they gave him a hard time and a warning and didn’t stamp him for the full three months. It scared us straight but luckily we were headed to Thailand anyway. At the time I could only do three months in the UK as well but perhaps things have changed.
Loved your line on enticing pick up lines and seductive glances. You are reallyyy getting good with your writing and you have always been good at expressing yourself. Way to go!!
Thank you, I always appreciate compliments on my writing!
I just wanted you to know that I LOVED this post—and have had similar experiences while traveling. I always feel like my heart is split between two loves: the road and whoever I’m involved with at the time. It IS difficult, the magnitude of love we have for traveling but we would never have experienced the amazing things we have without it. Good luck 🙂
Yes, you describe it perfectly! It is almost like having a lover. Amazing how travel can be so seductive…
This is amazing writing Alex. Thanks so much for sharing this. The love of the road is very strong and I understand your decision but it must of been a sad one. Just know that we are all here to support you! We are all lovers of the open road so you could never have a more empathetic group 🙂
Thank you so much Jo, that means a lot to me. I truly appreciate your support x
“There are a lot of people who won’t understand the choices we’ve made, to choose ourselves over us.”
This is an incredibly powerful statement that I needed to hear. Thank you, Alex. Always enjoy tuning in…
Thank you, Krystle. Glad you found what you needed here today x
Goodbyes are always the hardest, most complicated aspect of long-term travel. You expressed this so beautifully, Alex.
Thank you Molly. It’s hard to do justice to something so heavy, I appreciate the kudos.
Now here is a statement about a lovely relationship:
“You know how people say, “He’s better than I deserve?” I would say the same, except the best thing about Anders was that he reminded me I actually do deserve it.”
You both deserve – we all deserve – to be reminded by our friends and lovers that we are worthy and cherished.
Yes, we all deserve it indeed. Yet sadly it seems somewhat rare to find.
Beautifully written, Alex. It takes courage to be true to oneself, but when you follow that feeling deep inside of you, the rest will follow eventually. I’m sure the future holds many wonderful things for you <3
Thank you Miriam, I’m sure of that right now as well and it is a really lovely feeling.
Wonderfully written! It is difficult to choose between the love of a relationship and the love of travel. For now, I still choose the love of travel over anything else. But I do wonder if that will change one day.
I wonder that about the future as well. But for now, it seems my path is quite clear…. the road it is.
Beautiful, but sad. And it takes mature people to come to the conclusion you two have, Alex.
Though, I will admit that I’m secretly hoping the Universe will find a way to bring you guys together again. 😉 The road may be life, but somewhere along the line you might want to share that road with someone else.
I do agree with you and hope life takes me there, eventually. I do love the feeling though, and I’m sure you can relate to this as a long-term solo traveler yourself, of knowing you can do it on your own. There is no greater freedom!
Ah, I love this. It’s so well written…you’re a really great writer. I’m definitely in a different boat than you. I’ve been with my boyfriend since college and he’s been my travel partner for many years. I’m lucky to have someone who’s as obsessed with seeing the world as I am. But had I not found him, I think I would share your outlook. It takes a strong person to commit to what you love and to choose oneself. Very beautiful post! Happy travels 🙂
I’ve had a few romantic partners that I’ve traveled with for short and long periods of time, and I’ve always loved those times! It is a special way to travel, I agree. But I’ve found my love for traveling alone and being fiercely independent has grown over the years as well. Both really have their benefits.
It is beautiful that you two can part with love and amazing that you can recognise so maturely that your lives are headed in different directions for now. Best of luck to you both.
Thank you Amy. We feel really lucky we are able to end things so amicably and with so much love and respect.
To be far too personal. I needed some of the words in this blog. Not that I’m ending a great love affair but just life stuff. Thank you for that.
That makes me so happy to hear Breanna, not that you are going through anything difficult of course, but just that you found what you needed here today. Best of luck with whatever life is throwing at you x
Loved this post, Alex. I think this might be the best thing you’ve ever written (not to throw shade at any of your other posts!)—it was so beautiful to read, even if there was a soupçon of sadness to it as well. I’m very impressed that you and Anders were able to deal with all of this so maturely and take such a healthy approach… Gwyneth had better watch her back! 😉
Ha, thanks Steph. I was chatting about the situation to some friends of mine and they were like, “Stop PRing us!” And I had to convince them I wasn’t harboring any deep animosity or covering up some messy breakup. Watch out indeed, Gwyneth.
Such a lovely read, I have enjoyed following yours amd Anders adventure, a shame it has come to the time where you are parting way, but exciting that it is not the final goodbye. It is a rare thing when believe can agree to out themselves first in love, it will be nice to follow if anything comes from your time together in Malta
I am really excited about my summer trip there… the perfect combination of a love of things I love 🙂
I love your raw honesty Alex. It’s sad saying so long to someone but if your happy with your decision then that really is all that matters. My mum always said to me each time I had my heart broken as a teenager and young adult, “if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be”.
Your mum sounds like a wise woman, Jen!
Oh Alex. I really admire the way you guys have made this decision and accepted that you’re following different paths for now. You are still young and you never know when your paths will cross again. Ok well you do..Malta..but after that..:-) Best wishes to you both x
Thanks Joella. I am very much looking forward to Malta x
Loved this post, thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us. Its (one of the reasons) why your blog is the best out there 🙂
You two are very brave to be honest with yourselves, and to respect yourselves and each other enough to follow the paths that feel right to you guys! We never quite know where life will take us, and honestly, what matters IS doing things “with love.” 🙂
Thank you so much for that compliment Jess, I’m blushing over here <3
this is a fantastic post, alex. quite beautiful, really.
Thanks Sherwin, much appreciated.
I think this is the most beautiful entry you’ve had, alex.
I love how honest you are in your post. It really provides the reader
a view on your life that most bloggers wouldn’t dare provide.
I think that you and anders are certainly not over, you never know what lies ahead for you two.
Malta will be an amazing experience, I’m sure. I hope that all is well in your world. Keep up the brilliant post! Also, have you posted on RTW travel?
Hi Sherwin, thank you so much your kind words. I have not done a specific post on RTW travel, as I’ve never really done a trip of that nature 🙂
I love how open you are about everything: the good the bad with all kinds of relationships. I really feel how honest each and every post is, making this blog so easy to follow and trust!
Thanks Kelsey, I’m so glad to hear that. I try to write from the heart <3
I absolutely adore the saying “choosing yourself over us” and understand how difficult it must of been for you to follow through. You can never truly say goodbye when it may not be the end. But wherever you end up in life, whether it with Anders, somebody else or a kazillion cute puppies wish you all the happiness in the world.
You have some insane strength girl! xx
Thank you Amy, that means so much to me to read. I really appreciate all the love x
What a lovely post, thank you for sharing this with us. I really admire you for being so honest and open, – you are one of my favourite travel blogger xx
Soffia, I truly appreciate that — and lets face it, I never get sick of hearing it 🙂
So beautifully expressed Alex. We so often lose sight of ourselves and what we ‘selfishly’ want. Wishing you both the best of luck in life and love, and travel!
Thank you so much Jade. You’re the best!
You are one smart mo-fo
Ha! I’ll take it…
I loved reading this… At the start I thought it would be rather sad but somehow it wasn’t at all. It was very beautiful and brave in a way. I know it’s hard to date someone from a different country. My bf is from NZ and I’m from Belgium, which is about as far away as you can go and this is one of the reasons why we are still living in China. For you and Anders despite having to let go of each other, I think the way you did\do it will always leave you with great and found memories so hurray for that.
Yeah, I’ve done the old live-in-another-country dance several times 🙂 Dating internationally is no joke — there should really be a support group!
Beautifully written, Alex!
Although I’ve been in a relationship for almost seven years now, I was never able to suppress my longing for distance: I’ve moved so many times, I studied abroad, I’ve been on a romantic getaway to Paris with myself — but my boyfriend has been waiting for me all this time. And only during the last few months I’ve started to realize that I don’t want to travel and start over by myself anymore, because sharing moments (good and bad) with someone special is what it makes it all worth it. I still want to travel as much as possible, but I want to experience excitement, food, and sunsets together now.
Best of luck to you both!
That’s a lovely realization to come to Julika and maybe someday I’ll make it there myself. I actually do hope so. Until then I am loving travel with my favorite companion — me! 🙂
This is so lovely. Good on you guys for choosing what’s important for you and still acknowledging how you feel about each other. And that he reminded you that you do indeed deserve it is something so valuable!
Thanks, Sam. Agreed, our time together was very special and like all great loves I’ve walked away wiser.
Wonderful post indeed, brimming with gratitude and zest for life! Even though you only can speak for yourself, but it’s great to see how the two of you seem to share the same philosophy and appreciate the shared moments that will become memories as a treasure.
I think each of us carries within a deep longing for love and a longing for life. These path may cross and intermingle every now and then, but the most important thing is to trust in the longing and don’t go astray…
Best wishes and may there always be space for another suitcase full of of memories or another curious hitchhiker… 🙂
Thank you Oliver. I’m glad that’s how this post came across, because that is how I intended. Always a great gift for a writer to know their work is being interpreted as intended!
Oh man, I have actually been in these shoes before and it was rough, but ultimately the best decision. Mine was from London and I couldn’t keep living there, he had a career and wouldn’t move to the states, so like you guys we didn’t break up so much as just…give up? just stop? It was really really difficult and there were a couple of desperate transatlantic flights in the year afterward. Very heavy, dramatic stuff.
Now I realize if it was meant to be, we would have figured it out, but we just weren’t motivated enough. We weren’t really all that right for each other in the end. Of course, if we hadn’t broken up I might never have started my blog, decided to backpack around the world and probably never would have been able to meet and fall in love with Mike! So stay strong, who knows what the future holds.
I never knew that story, yet it sounds so familiar — and I love the happy ending. (And the fact that I get to read about it all now thanks to that blog!)
I have always joked that I will know a guy is “the one” if I feel about him the same way I feel about travel! Glad to know I’m not the only one with that problem :). I believe the road doesn’t steer you wrong, so enjoy the many adventures & love you have coming to you!
That is a great gauge 🙂 Thanks Valerie.
this post has really stayed with me the past few days & i’ve found myself doing something i never do with blogs…i’ve re-read it! one of your best pieces of writing imo, alex. heartfelt but not melodramatic, thoughtful & perfectly succinct.
really enjoying your more reflective stuff lately — no one could ever accuse you of not having range! x
Thanks Becky, I guess I’m just in that kind of mood! And grateful you all are so willing to read whatever I throw at you.
I can definitely relate to this. My ex and I were expiration dating while we traveled SE Asia last year and it was definitely really hard to be on the road in a relationship that you knew was going to end. And it was hard to make the decision to move to London and watch our life paths diverge. But hard things happen, and sometimes that decisions that hurt the most are the ones that end up making us the happiest.
Love the honesty, Alex!
Thanks, Amanda. That definitely sounds like a tough situation and yup, it sounds like we can relate. Hope you are enjoying the new like in London 🙂
This is beautiful. You are beautiful, and wise way beyond your years!
Thanks Erica. Much love <3
“I’ve never heard a more enticing pickup line than a departures call at JFK, and I’ve never known a more seductive glance than the one of a new country out a plane window. I’m not ready to give any of that up.”
This is so beautifully written, Alex! I often say that the hardest part of this life is that the more you travel, the more you will always have to miss.
That is so devastatingly true, Katie. And I’ve been feeling that a lot lately. It is hard to say goodbye to people and places.
Alex, I admire your honesty and bravery – and maturity! The nomad’s lifestyle isn’t always an easy one, with so many goodbyes to be said along the way, but you will re-connect in some way. And if not, you treasured the moments you had together.
Go, girlfriend! 😉
Thanks, Kat. From the many comments here it seems this is a bridge every traveler at heart will have to cross someday. I’ve loved reading all of your insights! x
Your ability to so poetically word things I couldn’t even begin to properly verbalize never ceases to amaze me. Great memories often come with a bitter side as most times you can never relive them, but I’m sure you’re thankful to have those memories. Cherish them and continue traveling the wonderful path called Life!
Thank you Kristen. I am continually amazed by the wisdom and warmth I find in these comment sections! What would I do without you guys?
Aww, this bought a little tear to my eye. You seem like such a sweet couple, but you are right, if you want different things out of life, then there is no point in staying together. I am sure you will always be great friends and who knows maybe once he finished his masters you can travel together once again.
We never know what the future will bring, indeed. I have a habit of trying to plan too far into the future but right now I’m trying to focus on the present!
OK, I know this is for the best–and that you’ll see each other again–but I feel like a piece of me got broken up with simply through reading this/following your love story. Now excuse me, while I go mourn (and drown my sorrows with bourbon)…
Ha, I wish I could join you for that drink. Started watching Nashville recently and have been thinking of you!
Also, I feel the need to point out that Scott and I were once an “expiration relationship,” too. Then didn’t see each other for seven months. Then did. Then the rest is history… =)
The road is life. Very powerful quote. I had a similar situation of parting ways with my ex (for what I thought was forever), then 8 years latter we were married. Things have a funny way of happening and roads can converge later on.
Glad your story had its own happy ending too, Roxanne. Thanks for commenting x
This is such a beautiful way of describing what I’m sure is a really complicated and difficult situation. You never know where life leads you, but even if it doesn’t lead you back together, it seems like you’ll have many great memories to look back on! 🙂 xo
Thanks Maddy, you summed it up beautifully there x
This post resonates with me so much. I met a guy while travelling, we had an amazing time together, but now that we’re both back to our real lives, logistics mean a long-term relationship just isn’t going to work. What I’m curious about, is how the hell you’re being so mature and together about things? Even though I’m accepting of my situation, I’m still currently bursting into tears at half hour intervals. Any advice?
Hey Samantha, that’s tough and I’m sorry you’re going through it! I think the reason I can be so even-keeled it that, well, first of all this is a written piece and so you can’t read tears 🙂 But also I had a lot of time to accept our situation since we knew it was coming for over a year. And I just try to focus on the future and all the amazing travel I have coming up, because as I wrote here that is the love of my life. Good luck, girl.
I read this post when you first published it, but I just came back to it tonight.
I live in Taipei, and this past week I had someone I care about very much come visit me in Taiwan – an old boyfriend. Very quickly though, we both realized on that trip that even though we care about each other an unbelievable amount, our lives are decidedly taking us in different directions.
After I dropped him off at the airport yesterday, I came home and looked up this post again, and it brought me some comfort despite a sad heart.
We give up a lot of things to travel abroad or live overseas, and even though I know in the end this is the right decision and the experience is worth it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt like hell.
I just wanted to let you know that even though is an old post, I still love reading your words. They truly helped me tonight. Thank you.
Hey Katie, this warmed my heart to read this morning. I know it’s a sad story, but there is something universal about this specific kind of pain, and that makes it easier to endure, don’t you think? Sending you lots of good vibes from across Asia today xo
Somehow I came across this post while randomly clicking things. This is such a beautiful brave post. Can you translate into a short film? I’d watch the sh*t out of that. Also (this entirely inappropriate) Anders is damn fly.
Ha! He is. I was a lucky girl — and I like to think he was a lucky guy 🙂 Now I’m not much of a director, but I’d happily sell those rights for a film 🙂