What No One Tells You About Falling in Love Abroad
This is not a good love story, let me just prepare you for that. It’s a story about having the world as your oyster, but only wanting one fish in the sea.
We met on a rooftop in India. I hadn’t even planned to go to Udaipur, but hours before, a girl I’d met at a hostel told me she considered it to be the most beautiful city in the country. I jumped on the next bus and arrived in the wee hours of the morning, sneaking up to the top level of the hostel to rest on a rooftop day bed. I managed to get some kip and avoided paying for the night’s accommodation, then awoke to the sound of a charming British accent.
“Whot are you reading thar?” he said, sounding well proper. I opened one of my eyes to the daylight and looked at the guy who had awoken me. He pointed at a book next to me, something written by Jack Kerouac.
“Oh, I tried to read that but it was too hard for me,” I replied.
“Too hard?” he asked.
“Yeah – the language is too difficult for me, I’m not smart enough to read Kerouac.”
The next few hours were spent throwing banter at one another. We quickly discovered that we were both freelance writers – myself an aspiring one, him an already successful one, specifically for my favourite publication, which I read religiously. We talked about writing, travel and music, and discovered that we had exactly the same taste in a very specific type of disco genre. My all-time favourite tracks were his all-time favourite tracks, and he even showed me an article he had written about my favourite song in the whole universe. Part of his job was to take all-expenses-paid trips to festivals around the world and review them.
We spent the next four days together. We travelled to Mumbai, hired a motorbike and drove to private beaches together, and made soul-connecting love. Then we had to part ways. I flew to Sweden and he flew home to England. On his way to the airport, he messaged me and said, “Hey Sam, I wrote you a poem.” It was the funniest and cutest thing anyone had ever done for me. Then invited me to come to a festival in Bulgaria as his plus one. He could have taken any one of his best friends, but he chose to take me.
I will never forget when the sun rose at 6am on the top of a mountain in Bulgaria. One of his DJ friends was playing Talking Heads’ ‘This Must Be the Place’ and we were literally sitting above the clouds. The fog created a blanket across the Earth below us and we held each other as we sat on top of the world.
After the festival, he took me to his 13th century countryside cottage in England for the comedown. It was the one of the most beautiful landscapes I had seen, and we spent the next week walking his dogs (Jack Russells, my favourite breed). He taught me how to be confident in my writing, and how to be confident in myself.
We spent the next four months together, dancing to the world’s best electronic DJs at festivals for free, writing when the festivals were over and seeing some of the most incredible locations on the planet. He took me to Switzerland and Bulgaria, around England and Croatia. I’ll never forget when we took a boat out to the islands off of Tisno, Croatia, to cliff-dive and kiss passionately in the ocean.
But all good times must come to an end. We had to say goodbye and I had to return home. My first night, I was jet-lagged, I couldn’t get a wink of sleep and I wept until the sun came up.
“We’re on other sides of the world Sam, how will this ever work?” he’d said to me. I was so confused. I thought the stars had truly aligned. What did he mean? We were both freelance writers and we had exactly the same taste in dance music down to the specific sub-genre. He had my favourite breed of dog and we had met on a rooftop in India. Surely it was all fate?
Then I forgot was one crucial thing – how to love the world. Suddenly there was a grim, grey filter across the Earth. I had forgotten how beautiful life was. It was hidden by heartbreak and confusion. I felt like he had changed my life, but it was so unbearable that I felt meeting him had ruined it at the same time. I didn’t expect to fall in love, nor did I expect the heartache when I returned.
People like to talk about all the cute love stories from abroad, but I wish I had been told about the brutal heartbreak. No one should ever make you forget about the beauty of the world around you. After time, however, the mist began to lift and my heartbreak began to fade. Not entirely — and it never will — but enough to remember how incredibly lovely life is. I soon began to realise the pain I felt was worth it.
I had moments that I will never forget, and I’ve changed to become a better person thanks to him. It’s so important to appreciate the times that you had and remember to remain optimistic and excited for all the times that are yet to come. I’ll never forget how we laughed together, partied together and loved together. I’ll always have that boy in my heart: I’ll never forget what he gave me and taught me, and for that, I owe him the world.
Cover by Amy Humphries