I Moved Countries For a Holiday Fling
I’d only ever seen my grandma cry once, back when I was 12 and my grandpa died. Yet eight years later, as I walked towards my departure gate, I looked back to see that I had brought tears to the eyes of one of the strongest women in my life. It was a very dramatic “goodbye” for my three-hour journey across the Tasman where I, with my holiday fling turned long-distance boyfriend, would begin what I thought might be the rest of our lives.
I’ve never believed in love at first sight. Looking back to that week in Thailand, I can’t recall what it was about the guy that caught my eye, for most of the memories were lost to the dark abyss of an excruciating hangover. There was nothing special about him, but I fed into the attention he gave me after being the punching bag of my parents’ recent split. We’d spent the best part of eight days together, and that was all it took to grow attached.
“I’ll miss ya kiddo,” my phone blinked at me as I crawled back to my room after completing a round of emotional farewells in the lobby of a Chiang Mai hotel. Despite him telling me he was “keen to stopover in Aus” on his way back to Christchurch, I was completely convinced I was never going to see that guy again.
Two months went by and, much to my surprise, he ended up in Melbourne for a (very) short and (only moderately) sweet 24 hours that did not go to plan. I picked him up from the airport and drove us to the fancy hotel I had booked in the city, only to be turned away after an issue with the booking. We ended up in a cheap motel that had recently changed management after being used as a brothel not long prior, according to the staff at the breakfast buffet the morning after.
We killed our last hours together on a beach, where we slept together under a bright green sarong that he bought to gift to his mother – a sure-fire way to set the precedent for romance.
I was still very much in fling mode when he later jumped out of my car, mid-traffic-jam, and ran across the airport to avoid missing his flight. I didn’t have time to put the handbrake on, let alone walk him to his gate, when that feeling hit me harder than the car door slamming shut on my ’07 Holden Barina.
I still didn’t label it with the L-word, and was annoyed by how often I checked my phone to see if he’d messaged me. But the more I talked to people and had responses comparable to, “Sounds like love!” I could no longer avoid the fact I’d fallen for him.
We were back-and-forth visiting for almost 12 months before we had the “What are we doing?” talk. I don’t remember how it ended up on me to cross the ditch. The initial plan was for him to come to Australia, but his role in the New Zealand Defence Force outweighed my casual job as a supermarket check-out-chick. I think part of me didn’t believe he’d ever really make the move.
The plane wheels had barely hit the tarmac before he went back to work and our honeymoon phase hastily dwindled.
Growing up in Melbourne I had known cold, but I hadn’t been so familiar with Christchurch cold. Especially during winter in a tiny old flat with no insulation and a single shitty heat pump to keep the house warm. Our first “date” in my new hometown was to the local Macpac to buy myself some thermals, where my boyfriend and the sales assistant turned their small talk into an inside joke at my expense about the weather.
Packing all my stuff into two suitcases and moving overseas for someone else didn’t seem like the worst idea at the time. But at the age of 21, and without a hint of direction in life, that should have been my first sign that I wasn’t ready to play the house-wife role.
It didn’t take us long to figure out we were both on two completely opposing paths. His career and desire to build a house didn’t leave much room for me, and I was putting pressure on maintaining the fairy-tale romance we had in Thailand.
We coasted along like a middle-aged, better-off-getting-a-divorce couple, growing less and less fond of each other as a feeling of mutual burden grudgingly morphed into bitter resentment.
We were going downhill, and fast. Arguments turned into screaming matches, and what I thought was love now felt nothing more than volatile attachment. I regularly wondered where my Prince Charming went. The guy I showed off to my friends, who I proudly boasted about falling in love with and moving overseas for, was slipping away – and I was becoming a person I didn’t want to be.
I stuck around for 12 months before finally walking away from something not meant for me.
Holiday flings are fun, but it’s a different game fitting into each other’s lives once the novelty of being in a foreign place wears off. Sometimes memories are meant to just be memories. And sometimes people are meant to be left in the places you meet them.
Cover by Azlan Baharudin