Love & Travel

August 4, 2007 by

Travel Advice & Inspiration

Throw my ticket out the window, throw my suitcase out there too.
Throw my troubles out the door, I don’t need them anymore,
’cause tonight I’ll be staying here with you
–Bob Dylan

Sometimes people come along who knock you right off course, pull you so strongly into their orbit that you can’t remember where it was you were going or why you would ever want to be anywhere else but with them. At moments like that, you can choose to continue on your course, or find out what happens when you go along for the ride. Ultimately, isn’t that what life is? A crazy, scary, exhilarating journey that you can’t always shape or decide according to your own desires and inclinations.

I believe in love, and I know that you do too
And I believe in some kind of path, that we can walk down me and you
–Nick Cave

Now I am a seasoned solo traveler, who can walk into pretty much any situation and find something to enjoy and someone to talk to. But, amongst the adventure and excitement — the thrill and passion for new experiences and constant disorientation — also comes loneliness, and a wistful desire for a companion. Someone who can make the journey with me. A like-minded adventurer, who is capable of inspiring me and himself, who can follow his own passions and share them with me, and sometimes provide solid ground and a safe haven when I just need to curl up on the couch and be looked after.

Come sail your ships around me, and burn your bridges down
You are a little mystery to me, every time you come around
–Nick Cave

There is that myth of romance and travel, that it’s always glamorous and exciting. Which anyone who has left home knows is not the case at all. The constant re-orienting yourself, dealing with the physical stuff of life, finding the nearest food and laundry and other essentials, being in a new place, negotiating language and culture and expectations is part of the richness of the experience but it’s also draining and exhausting. To always be in a state of transit opens up a world of possibility but also cuts short the natural evolution of some relationships, which need to grow and mature in their own time. You can’t decide right here and now, yes. This is for me. This one I will stay for. Or maybe you can.

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Love, on the streets of Barcelona

There’s something about yearning that links love and travel on a deep level. Setting out on a journey from your home to find a place where you belong; people you connect with, or a way of making sense of the world, and your place in it. The desire for the exotic, to be stimulated and intrigued in ways the familiar doesn’t always provide. The challenge of creating yourself afresh in each new environment and situation. Knowing that you can find food, shelter and friends, that you are part of a greater human community, that you have something to offer the world. Being seen for who you are, in that moment, without the baggage of your history, past relationships and emotional expectations. To be totally free and at play in the world, responding to the people who drift into your life each day.

At times absolute freedom brings with it absolute loneliness, and with the ability to simply walk away at any time, there is a certain level of responsibility to tread lightly and move with grace through the world. You never know where the thin ice is, and what hairline cracks you may be setting off with your footsteps.

Maybe I’m addicted to the disorientation of the unfamiliar, and the transformative pain of having my heart broken. Each time it seems to uncover something even more pure and real, the deeper the heartbreak the further along the path of understanding it takes you.

I’ve left fragments of my heart all over the world.

There was the French-Glaswegian VJ who tempted me with a kiss in Helsinki, then didn’t really have any more to offer once I arrived in his home town, although we became friends. Then the Scottish media artist, a year earlier, also in Helsinki, who captivated me with his mournful dark eyes and poetic soul, and kept me longing for his attention until I realised that he was in love with someone else, and just had that kind of deep soulful gaze as a default setting. I made some nice artwork from that crush, a high-tech mobile wishlist… he’s also a friend. When he came to visit me in Slovakia, as we sat in the thermal baths with snow falling around the 18th-century basilica across the Danube, he turned to me and said ‘You do realise you’re not living a normal life, don’t you?’

‘Umm, no, not really until you pointed it out. Doesn’t everyone live like this?’

Speaking of Slovakia, the long cold winter was beguiled by my flirtation with Zoli, the bemused bartender who couldn’t quite work me out, but seemed to want to try. In our one private conversation told me that he thought I was someone who wanted to taste everything, to try all the flavours of life. Let’s not mention the gruff Irish factory owner who spent as much time as I did in the Green Pub, had a nice sardonic wit but didn’t live up to the hype. Then again, maybe they never do. Maybe the best romance is always a dream, then the bubble bursts.

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Yes Joe, the future truly is unwritten

A few years previously there was the non-affair with a grizzly-bear organic farmer and blacksmith in upstate New York, who I met through a media art project. We had an instant connection, found a sense of ease and joy in each other’s company, and he grew to depend on my presence at his farmstand and in the quiet country evenings… but again, no hot potato. At one point his neighbours staged an intervention – he was a dry, charming professor of Italian literature, she was a very lovely woman and Air Hostess, and after cocktails, chocolates and cognac he enquired as we sat rocking on the porch, ‘You’re not involved with X. are you?’ ‘No. But…’

That one ended in a screaming match on Avenue B on the Lower East Side, we’re not friends.

There was a momentary flash of mutual interest with a Finnish friend on my first trip to Helsinki, but he was sick and I was tired, and we’ve never followed it up. The first time I was in Berlin, that same year, the dishevelled doctor who wanted to be an actor drew me into staying longer than I had planned. We kept arranging to meet and then not quite making it for various reasons, until the last night of my trip, 3 months later, when he amused me with tales of the four women he was dating, but I wasn’t going to be the fifth. Although he was gorgeous, like an unmade bed you just wanted to fall into, the German George Clooney.

On another plane altogether is the urbane, charming peace activist and journalist who I hung out with for a week in Paris. I’m pretty sure neither of us felt anything romantic in the air, but we had a certain chemistry and were intrigued by each others mind and worldview. He took me on wonderful adventures, across bridges and into his secret city, and stays in touch with weird and inspiring updates from his international agent of peace lifestyle.

Many of us seem to suffer from the malaise affecting so many people all over the world, having both a highly romantic and sadly disposable attitude to relationships. This one doesn’t work out? Next. And again. The other problem keeping so many people alone is our idealistic romantic expectations and not being able to deal with the reality of a whole other human being, in all our messy glorious unique beauty and strangeness. Every person is a mystery to another.

There are so many different shades and textures of love, I think it limits us if we’re only able to express them through a ‘romantic’ relationship. Of course there are myriad forms of love for our family and friends, but I believe the subtleties of those really deep soul connections that we make in the most unexpected places with completely random people can be lost in transition without a place for them to be at home.

We need to find spaces that allow for all kinds of love to exist, and take shape in our lives with people who may not become lovers or life partners, but can be inspiring, nurturing and playful traveling companions. I am still learning this skill, and it’s a challenging journey to be on that demands a lot, but is infinitely enriching along the way.

Maybe these are the new continents we need to explore, the deeper feelings and untoward emotional currents that run counter to rational plans and logical thoughts. Let yourself go into the murky uncharted waters of intuition and desire, and see where they lead you. Perhaps you will find unexpected clarity in these travels, once you get used to a different way of navigating. You could find a home in the world, with your heart the solid ground.

Jodi Rose

Are you looking for love in all the wrong places? Perhaps you need an “I love you, let’s travel” gift strategyread on .

One Response to “Love & Travel”

  1. philippa Says:

    wow, great piece. and yes, now all the physical continents are open to us, perhaps it is the emotional frontiers of intuition and desire that need opening up. thanks for sharing these thoughts jodi.

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