The jetlag has almost been processed.
“Finally!” , I thought.
My system had not responded well to the many changes in my eating and sleeping patterns and I was having trouble to get back in tune with my own familiar home. So an end to this misery seemed like a welcome treat. But as the jetlag slowly faded away, I was also, reluctantly, losing touch with that wonderful holiday state of mind.
After a full first year of dates with my love, we decided to take it to the next level: a real vacation, together. We both needed some sun, an empty mind and a regenerated soul. Our destination was set to Tulum in Mexico. It was a choice we both easily agreed on and the fact that we, as a couple, had made our first big decision together, gave us a sense of maturity.
Still, as I arrived at Charles de Gaulle my nerves were as high strung as ever as I suddenly realized that a notorious early bird – me – was waiting to board a plain with a notorious latecomer – him. Visions of missed flights, failed bookings, disappointment and a variation of frustrations started materializing in my mind. Mixed with one more emotion: Fear. We hadn’t physically seen each other in over 2 months. Somehow I was afraid that something would have changed between us.
Visions of missed flights, failed bookings, disappointment and a variation of frustrations started materializing in my mind. Mixed with one more emotion: Fear.
But as I was sleepily queuing along with my fellow travelers all sense of fear and worry suddenly disappeared when I found his dark eyes gazing at me. I could breathe. He had made it on time.
And nothing had changed. Champagne, hot cashews, an excess of service… dating an American Airlines employee certainly has its perks, to say the least, and I welcomed and fully enjoyed all of this wonderful extra care and attention. Leaving aside the arrogant security crew at JFK airport, we could call our first journey a succes. Arriving at 2 o’clock in the morning, location numero uno was a glamping tent where even the rock-hard mattress felt like the biggest luxury ever after our long travel. This “being one with nature” woke up the nudist in me but while I started to walk to the shared showers my other half urged me to please control my enthusiasm. I do believe I can be a bit over ambitious at some times…
Waking up in a luxurious tent somehow has a very ambiguous feeling to it. The level of comfort is so high you can hardly refer to it as your classic ”going camping”. On the other hand, a simple air-condition seemed too big of demand. I decided to counter the increasing morning heat by dipping into the campsite’s pool but somehow I ended up at
a table at FLOW, the local restaurant. (I always follow the smell of food). FLOW represents everything about what the Tulum tourism is all about: ecological, trendy chic with a lot of attention for healthy food and local produce. Trimmed and trained ladies with perfect beach hair and huge designer sunglasses and massive ‘Acai Bowls’ in front of them. I would have signed up for the beach hair and I must admit, the trimmed sixpack did appeal to me. But not the bowl. I was starving and worked my way through a portion of eggs, bread with hummus and a ginger lemonade. My type of hippy chique! after all, I was on my holiday, dammit!
I refuse to restrict myself and miss out on this local deliciousness. Meanwhile my other half had joined me for breakfast, still sleepy and bewildered. I decided I would best leave him and give him some space. You should know, we express our enthusiasm in completely different ways. He will prefer calm and dreamy walks and a small chat with the locals. I, on the other hand, will go for uncontrolled skipping and hopping, singing out loud and checking out everything at the same time.
These opposite personalities actually caused some tension the first days into our holiday. We had already checked in to Villa Clarita – our Airbnb we would call our home for a week – and we were somehow still out of balance as a couple. Ok, to be fair, I have to admit this was mainly due to my nervous and overactive pondering mind. I had seen our trip as a test. As a confirmation wether we would be a good fit together or not. The pressure of this was tangible as I was constantly fluttered around him, looking for confirmation and attention until we had to just sit down and address what was going on. Words were spoken and tears were shed. At first over my fears but eventually out of relief. He made perfectly clear that it is absolutely normal that we haven’t found our balance yet and that a discussion doesn’t mean there is a lack of love between us. Our love has to cross many borders on a daily basis. Reuniting will always need some getting used to before we settle back in to who we are. Our colorful personalities might tip the scales occasionally but it shouldn’t have to be a problem and as we found our compromise, the next days evolved into a beautiful rhythm and a perfect balance.
I learned to sense when he was looking for room to wander around. He understood when I needed some action or needed exploring and joined me during those moments. For example, he joined me to the scooter dealer. Not a journey without risk. Those who know me are aware that the word ” clumsy” is a heavily understated euphemism if you would chose to describe my physical personality. But eventually the lust for adventure always wins from my clumsy fears and I ended up diving head first into whatever scenario I’m getting myself into. Like renting a scooter. The dealer had little faith and was wary of my skills. I obviously ignored all his safety instructions and after a good 5 minutes we were out on the road. The wind caressed my skin as we experienced the freedom of racing around. From coffee bar to ruin, from cenote to beach house. This was amazing! For the first time we felt the real Tulum vibe en we loved it. For example, you need to visit Eufemia at least 1 time – or 3 times, in our case. This beach-bar with playful vibes serves cocktails, nachos and overly delicious fish tacos with a backdrop of crashing waves and cheerful beats.
The wind caressed my skin as we experienced the freedom of racing around. From coffee bar to ruin, from cenote to beach house. This was amazing! For the first time we felt the real Tulum vibe en we loved it.
KiBok was another steady halt on one of our rides. Iced latte in the morning, a crispy cigar at sunset. I wanted more! And I wanted it now!
But time is relentless and unforgiving. As we approached our final days, my love suggested we should take a small pitstop in Philadelphia on our way back. Outsmarting time by adding time, if you will. But mostly just to give us an extra 24 hours together. I managed to set aside my fear of sudden plans being changed and decided to ride the wave of discovery one more time. Philly was Amazing. The first signs of springs arrival had just hit the city and made it feel enthusiastic, fresh and crisp. We could feel the city’s relief that the sun was back in action and the energy of this place had overpowered me. We stayed in a hostel in the old part of Philadelphia and were surprised by the young energy we found here: there were small new ventures everywhere that vitalized the area. Beauty-shops, cigar-dealers, young designers, lunchspots,….. I almost felt as I was back home in Antwerp. The only difference being te immaculately clean streets…
That moment arrived. The moment we dreaded. Time had caught up with us again and duty called. My love needed to return to Manchester and I was expected to go to Schiphol. There were no more tricks we could pull to postpone what was coming. We spent our last emotional hours together as best as we could. Joking, to lighten the mood. We also came to the conclusion that we both actually could live together, quite happily actually. Considering we both would have to make small compromises. We realized that cooking together or listening to music together is done with an equal amount of love like facing adventurous travels together. That conversations and mutual respect for each others – very different – personalities would guide us through the most difficult situations. No relation runs as perfect as any tv-shows likes to portrail. Each has his own story, his own past, his own luggage. All these element gravely affect how each individual experience the concept of love. Long distance relationships are not “doomed to fail” – a piece of opinion everybody is convinced of and can’t wait to share. We just love. And we love each other. We own the right to be gullible, to trust blindly and to feel life’s buzzing and constant vibes. To feel the sun. To feel the love. To feel each other.