100 pills for the girl he lost. 100 pills for the daughter he loved. 100 more to silence his fears. His knees buckled as they took effect. Though his body was slowly dying, his thoughts were still loud. His knees buckled as he made his way to the bathroom. He fell. The memory of a warm summer day came to life. The sun seemed so bright in contrast to the cold tiles he lay on. He braced his arm upon the sink as he pulled himself up.
Dark rings had formed around his eyes. Demons and memories danced around his reflection as he gazed into the mirror. He cupped his hands and drank deep from the metallic water. Unlived dreams of a daughter flashed in his mind. Her beautiful smile, dark brown hair, and those same eyes he saw only moments before but free of sorrow. His lips, despite the poison, were able to form the name “Jane”. She was perfect. All the good things he was, and everything else he wasn’t.
His arms failed him as he fell onto the floor again. His body was dying yet his spirit was still strong. He caught the sight of snow falling outside his window as he lay there. He saw a Sunday morning where he awoke to find “her” lying next to him. The wisps of hair hung like Spanish moss from her head. So beautifully messy and unkempt from sleep. He reached out to brush a tuft of her hair, only to find it replaced by the carpet of his hallway.
He pulled in tight his bible. Held himself close to it as he waited for those dark waters to pull him in. Dreams of that lady in white danced in his head as he waited for death. Her eyes brought peace to his faint breathing. He slowly forgot how to breathe. Gasped. And then closed his eyes. She would come tonight and take him away to that sullen oak tree in an empty field. Her arms would wrap around him as she lay him down in the field of gold and midnight sky.
His heart slowed as he laid down in the field beneath the tree. The lady in white stood close behind as lightning cracked in the summer heat. Her arms reached out for him as he lay fixed upon her gaze. Crack. He was still tucked in his apartment holding his bible. Crack. The lady in white drew closer. Crack. Morning light came flickering in through his windows. Crack. The eventide seemed so close to him now. The lady in white opened her arms and embraced him in her soft linen folds. She had won. Death had taken him. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack.
His heart stopped. Silence and darkness swallowed him. Eternity passed before him. Faint feelings came back to him. Memories of simple movements returned. He became aware of the fact he had a body. His lungs remembered how to breathe. And slowly, his eyes remembered how to see. Crack.
He woke up.
You hold my heart
When you hold my hand
Your voice brings
To an otherwise
Of your chest
To my eyes
I want to lay
In the grass
And count stars
The thanks I
To see you
Is the same
As picking up
It’s weird to stop and think. It’s always scared me. Those dark whirlpools of thoughts that tend to pull me down and drown me in sorrow. But for once, I am able to lean back and breathe. To think things through and be clean. Used to I was a hamster on a wheel looking out the window at the night sky. I would run going nowhere fast, thinking only on base needs and acting on instincts. Now the cage has been removed, I am outside in the night air, able to stop those cyclic thoughts. I am able to discern what is needed and wanted. To organize words into coherent sentences and plans. These are things I have been able to do for some time.
Looking up at the stars will never entirely solve my problems. Drowning thoughts and sorrows in empty bottles and cigarettes won’t either. But the ability to truly stop, think, and be clear of everything will. Just gotta take everything in stride I suppose.
“Date a boy who travels. Date a boy who treasures experience over toys, a hand-woven bracelet over a Rolex. Date the boy who scoffs when he hears the words, “vacation,” “all-inclusive” or “resort.” Date a boy who travels because he’s not blinded by a single goal but enlivened by many.
You might find him in an airport or at a book store browsing the travel guides — although he “only uses them for reference.”
You’ll know it’s him because when you peek at his computer screen his background will be a scenic splendor of rolling hills, mountains or prayer flags. His Facebook friend count will be over-the-roof and his wall will be plastered with the broken English ‘miss-you’ of friends he met along the way. When he travels he makes lifelong friends in an hour. And although contact with these friends is sporadic and may be far-between his bonds are unmessable and if he wanted he could couch surf the world… again.
Buy him a beer. Maybe the same brand that he wears on the singlet under his plaid shirt, unable to truly let go. Once a traveller gets home people rarely listen to his stories. So listen to him. Allow him to paint a picture that brings you into his world. He might talk fast and miss small details because he’s so excited to be heard. Bask in his enthusiasm. Want it for yourself.
He’ll squeak like an excited toddler when his latest issue of National Geographic arrives in the mail. Then he’ll grow quiet, engrossed, until he finishes his analysis of every photo, every adventure. In his mind he’ll insert himself in these pictures. He’ll pass the issue on to you and grill you about your dreams and competitively ask about the craziest thing you’ve ever done. Tell him. And know that he’ll probably win. And if by chance you win, know that his next lot in life will be to out do you. But then he’ll say, “Maybe we can do it together.”
Date the boy who talks of distant places and whose hands have explored the stone relics of ancient civilizations and whose mind has imagined those hands carving, chiseling, painting the wonders of the world. And when he talks it’s as if he’s reliving it with you. You can almost hear his heart racing. You can almost feel the adrenaline ramped up by the moment. You feel it passing through his synapsis, a feast to his eyes entering through those tiny oracles of experience that we call pupils, digesting rapidly through his veins, manifesting into his nervous system, transforming and altering his worldview like a reverse trauma and finally passing but forever changing the colors of his sight. (Unless he’s Karl Pilkington.) You will want this too.
Date a boy who’s lived out of a backpack because he lives happily with less. A boy who’s travelled has seen poverty and dined with those who live in small shanties with no running water, and yet welcome strangers with greater hospitality than the rich. And because he’s seen this he’s seen how a life without luxury can mean a life fueled by relationships and family rather than a life that fuels fancy cars and ego. He’s experienced different ways of being, respects alternative religions and he looks at the world with the eyes of a five-year-old, curious and hungry. Your dad will be happy too because he’s good with money and knows how to budget.
This boy relishes home; the comfort of a duvet, the safety stirred in a mom-cooked meal, the easy conversation of childhood friends and the immaculate glory of the flush-toilet. Although fiercely independent, he has had time to reflect on himself and his relationships. Despite his wanderlust he knows and appreciates his ties to home. He has had a chance to miss and be missed. Because of this he also knows a thing or two about goodbyes. He knows the overwhelming uncertainty of leaving the comforts of home, the indefinite see-you-laters at the departure gates and yet he fearlessly goes into the unknown because he knows the feeling of return. And that the I’ve-missed-you-hug is the best type of hug in the whole world. He also knows that goodbyes are just prolonged see-you-laters and that ‘hello’ is only as far away as the nearest internet cafe.
Don’t hold onto this boy. Let this boy go and go with him. If you haven’t travelled, he will open your eyes to a world beyond the news and popular perception. He will open your dreams to possibility and reality. He will calm your nerves when you’re about to miss a flight or when your rental blows a flat because he knows the journey is the adventure. He will make light of the unsavory noises you make when you — and you will — get food poisoning. He will make you laugh through the discomfort all while dabbing your forehead with a cold cloth and nursing you with bottled water. He will make you feel like you’re home.
When you see something beautiful he will hold your hand in silence, in awe the history of where his feet stand and the fact that you’re with him.
He will live in every moment with you because this is how he lives his life. He understands that happiness is no more than a string of moments that displace neutrality and he is determined to tie as many of these strings together as he can. He also understands your need to live for yourself and that you have a bucket list of your own. Understand his. Understand that your goals may at some points differ but that independence is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship when it’s mutually respected. You may lose him for a bit but he will always come home bearing a new story and a souvenir he picked up because it reminded him of you, like it was made for you and because he missed you. You might be compelled to do the same. Make sure that independence is on your bucket list and make sure it’s checked. Independence will keep your relationship fresh and exciting and when you’re together again it will forge a bond of unbreakable trust.
He’ll propose when you’ve breached your comfort-zone, whether it is a fear like skydiving or swimming with sharks or sitting next to the smelly person on an overcrowded bus. It won’t be with a diamond ring but with a token from a native culture or inspired by nature, like the penguin and the pebble.
You will get married somewhere unassumed, surrounded by a select few in a moment constructed to celebrate venturing into the unknown together again. Marry the boy who’s traveled and together you will make the whole world your home. Your honeymoon will not be forgotten to a buffet dinner and all-you-can-drink beach bars, but will be remembered in the triumphant photographs at the top of Kilimanjaro and memorialized in the rewarding ache of muscles at the end of a long days hike.
When you’re ready you will have children that have the names of the characters you met on your journeys, the foreign names of people who dug a special place in your heart if only for a few days. Perhaps you will live in another country and your children will learn of language and customs that open their minds from the very start, leaving no room for prejudice. He will introduce them to the life of Hemingway, the journey of Santiago, and empower them to live even bigger than both of you.
Marry a boy who travels and he’ll teach your children the beauty of a single stone, the history of the Incas and he will instill in them the bravery of possibility. He will explain to them that masking opportunity there is fear. He will teach them to concur it.
And when you’re old you’ll sit with your grandchildren poring over your photo albums and chest of worldly treasures while they too insert themselves into your photographs, sparked by the beauty of the world and inspired by your life in it.
Find a boy who travels because you deserve a life of adventure and possibility. You deserve to live light and embrace simplicity. You deserve to look at life through the eyes of youth and with your arms wide open. Because this is where you will find joy. And better, you will find joy together. And if you can’t find him, travel. Go. Embrace it. Explore the world for yourself because dreams are the stuff reality is made from.”