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A very special day has come in the history of my blog’s existence. Today I’d like to welcome my first ever guest blogger, Roxy Jewell, a fellow romance writer who has a few words of wisdom on her experiences of falling in love abroad.
I remember my very last night of normalcy: the last September eve my then-boyfriend Joel and I slept next to each other. I was curled up to the side of our sad mattress—ensuring that worlds existed between us, that we didn’t have to experience that completely sensual—if practical act of sleeping next to one another; of giving ourselves to one another on an unconscious level. I had had enough.
And when I packed my single bag the next day (never had accumulated so much in that tight Brooklyn apartment), I gave him the only words I could: “I’m leaving. No, I don’t know when I’m coming back.” I swept toward Europe, then—that year during which I hardly knew my place in the world, let alone another language—because it seemed necessary that I try.
I had to try to live the life I’d always wanted to live; to experience the depth of emotion, of passion that existed beyond the boundaries of my own life. And try to experience life as a loner—as someone who didn’t “need” anyone else. Here’s what I learned out on the lonesome road.
1. I allowed my perspective to widen.
I avoided romance at first, as anyone post-break up would. I grew into a conversationalist, a sultry smoker at a Parisian bar with my eyebrows low and earnest. And as I spoke to each traveler, from far and wide, I soon allowed my Americanized perspective to widen, to grow. It was like I could hold many other lives in my brain. This, ultimately influenced my fictional work.
2. I learned to say yes to (nearly) everything.
One particular evening, stuck in a hostel in southern Italy and shrouded with a sea of writing work, an all-too-handsome Italian man stuck his head into my bedroom and asked me—so blasé—if I wouldn’t want to eat with his family that night (a man who ultimately influenced the character of Giovanni in To the Sky, of course).
When he asked, I looked at my watch and realized it was after midnight. But his question was earnest (and he’d been very flirty throughout my stay). And so: I did. I swept toward the small home at which his mother, his father, his aunts, his uncles had prepared a great Italian meal. I laughed, I drank, I sang out with that lively family. When he kissed me that night, the sheer romance of the entire evening enveloped me. I’ll never forget this, or any other experience while “seeking” this romance on the road.
3. I learned to see romance outside of the confines of “normalcy.”
Back in my southern hometown, I knew the routine: first dates, milkshakes, earnest kissing, engagement, marriage, etc. And yet: out on the road, every time I met someone who was attracted to me, who I felt something for, we had to live the full span of our “romance” within a few days, a few weeks (which was definitely not normal to me at first—but no less exciting). We only had these hours together, and thus: we dug in quickly, revealing so much of our soul. I experienced some of my most enriching relationships within seventy-two hours. They are parts of me, now.
4. I learned that the environment changes you. It changes them, too.
When I was out on the road, waging a “romance” with someone, I realized: we both brought alternate perspectives, alternate ideas (all filtered from our backgrounds).
However, the environment around us—the way the Parisians spoke to us at the bar, the way the light gleamed over Berlin, the way the sea air smelled in Greece—influenced both of us in really articulate ways. In those hours, we became different than we ever were before. In many ways, we knew we’d never be like this again. This was a single snapshot, a single pit stop on the road to our “final destination”—whatever that was going to be.
That person is the only person who remembers me the way I was in those hours; he’s the only person privy to the “person” I was during that time. That, to me, is especially beautiful: that nothing was ever finite, nothing was ever permanent. And yet: someone else in the world remembers it as if it were permanent—as if that was all I would ever be, all I would ever grow into.
Falling in love on the road was always easy. And then: mounting the bus steps and treading off to greener roads, to other cities was always easy, as well. I met so many different versions of myself, so many different versions of others. I fell in love with the world and its possibilities. Perhaps that is the greater romance of all.
About the Author
Roxy Jewell is a contemporary travel romance novelist and blogger at roxyjewell.com continually on the move, traveling from country to country, falling in love and feeling inspiration around every corner.
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Main image credit: triggercellhd