Traveling is something that I have found only in the last three years, but I’ve found it’s something that desperately feeds my soul. But it’s not just the act of traveling, it’s the people at the other end who make it so worth while. It’s the adventure, it’s the spontaneity, it’s the unknown and it’s the knowing that I’m going to see someone I love. Seeing someone who loves me, who is my absolute happiness. But it’s not only my lover in the United States, it’s my best friend in London and it’s my love of being one with nature and discovering new unexpected cultures. The adrenalin rush of knowing that I’m going on a journey of seeing people who are happy and excited to see me, and places that are totally different to what I have at home, is what lifts my soul and spirit to heights I’ve never reached before.
Some of my favourite travels have been with my boys, but others have been when I’ve travelled solo. Snorkelling in the Pacific with my boys off an island in Fiji watching the real life tropical aquarium under us as we float on the surface would possibly be my favourite memory of all time. And a very close second was when I first met my lover…
I hadn’t heard much from him the week leading up to our first meeting as he was on a brother-bonding trip with his four brothers. At that stage, we were only starting to email each other as he felt that it might be risky, but most of our conversations happened on Skype or through the website we met each other on. So as he was without computer to communicate, I’d usually had a one line email from him once a day from his phone, as he hates to use the keyboard on his phone, but it was nice to see he was making an effort.
I’d booked a hotel in Albuquerque New Mexico, as I was coming in at 6.30pm. He was working the next morning a three hour drive away in Tucumcari the next morning, so it was decided that I would meet him in his lunch break the next day. Six hours before I left Melbourne I get an email… “Where will you be staying Monday night?” I tell him, but say that if I get a better offer, it could be changed. Three hours later another email… “I could meet you in Santa Rosa, it’s a 121 mile drive from the airport for you, and just a 55 mile drive from Tucumcari for me.”My heart was racing. I would be seeing him 15 hours earlier than I originally thought. I didn’t care that I had never driven a car on the other side of the road, or the other side of the car. That the sun would be setting when I arrived, so most of the driving will be in the dark. That I possibly wouldn’t have slept the entire 22 hour flight over. I didn’t care. I just wanted to see him as soon as possible.
My flight was segmented into three flights – Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Albuquerque, then approximately a 2 hour drive to Santa Rosa. At each flight change, there was another message or a chance to call him on his cell. It was so good hearing his voice on his cell. So sexy with his Texan twang. When I finally arrived in Albuquerque, it was 33 degrees Celsius (91F), a far cry from the 10 degrees (50F) I left Melbourne in. I had layered my clothes, so that I could strip off as the weather improved, but unfortunately not my shoes.
I went to the car rental place to pick up my pre-ordered car. There were three people ahead of me in the queue and nothing was going quick enough. While I was standing in line, I tossed up the idea about taking the standard compact I booked or take on the weekly special – a convertible Mustang for an extra $50 a day. I get to the counter and discover that there is a choice between a red, white or blue Mustang available – oh how American. I chose red.
I had built myself up about this trip as being the ‘trip of freedom.’ If the lover didn’t work out, I would just cruise the open roads finding out about the culture, the people and the enchanting secrets New Mexico has to offer. So I had to look the part and the car was the perfect fit.
I put my bags in the boot (trunk!), replaced my boots with my thongs (flip-flops!), sprayed on some perfume, touched up my make-up and made sure that my red camisole looked just right with my black bra underneath and my blue jeans. I jumped into the Mustang, worked out my bearings and the instructions he gave me and set off into my happiness.
His instructions read to make my way to I-25 North and turn down I-40 West towards Santa Rosa. When I made it to the I-40 turn off, it said I-40 West took me to Gallup, and I-40 East took me to Santa Rosa. From my studious study of Google Maps before my departure, I was sure that he had made a mistake and that I should take I-40 East. I figured that if the turn-off numbers wouldn’t go up, then I could just do a U-turn and make my way back. His next direction was to take the turn off at 375. I was relieved to see the numbers going up, but I was only at 190, a long way from 375.
I was high on excitement, but finding it difficult to keep myself awake on this long stretch of road. So many things to concentrate on – keeping to the right rather than the left, being bombarded by road trains and semi-trailers and sticking the driver’s side to the line instead of to the left like I was used to. I didn’t want to look over to see how the radio worked to keep me going, so I started singing songs to myself to make the time go quicker and keep my wits end. I reached Clines Corner, turn off 218a and my Garmin GPS said I only had 56 miles to go. But as I was going along, it seemed that each turn off was an indication of how many miles I’d traveled. Did he mean to take turn off 275 rather than 375? I guess I won’t know until I get there..
I turn a corner in the road and see the glimmering lights of a town ahead. The signs suggest it’s Santa Rosa, and yes, I’m at the 271 mile mark. Two miles to turn off 273, and another two miles to 275, the one I’m supposed to take. My heart is pumping a million miles an hour and the smile is not coming off my face. He asked me to call him when I was at the 273 mile mark, but my phone had no service. I just had to wing it, and I was already 45 minutes later than I suggested I would be because of the queue waiting at the car rental.
I make the turn off and see the Shell service station he wanted to meet at to the left. At least he got something right. I make a left, unsure of which side of the road I should be on, as there was no traffic in sight. I turn left, but yes on the wrong side of the median strip, only to realise after I’d done it that I better find the right side of the road before I have a head on with someone. Luckily the median strip was only 100 metres long, and I was able to duck to the right. We decided to meet outside Joseph’s diner, the restaurant in front of the RV park he had parked his 5th-wheeler RV. Most would say it’s a bit dodgy to come half way around the world and be meeting at 9.50pm in front of a Route 66 diner a stranger you met on the internet. But for me, that was part of the adventure. And if he wasn’t right, I had my Mustang and I would shoot straight out of there faster than the Road Runner.
I crawled along old Route 66 to find Josephs and see it at that last minute to make the turn into the parking lot. I got out of the car and tried to see a man walking his dog up and down the street, as that was his plan. I couldn’t see him. I didn’t know what to do, as my phone still didn’t have any service. I rushed into the diner to ask if they had a pay phone for me to make a call. The waitress hands me her cell phone and I called him. I told him I was out the front with my red Mustang. I thanked the waitress, completely forgetting to tip her in local customary fashion and rushed outside to wait by my retro car.
Out from the darkness, I saw a tall silhouette and a dog coming towards me. I walked up towards them, first greeting his dog, then looking at him. He gave me an almighty hug and a peck on the lips. He asked me to move into the light so he could see me better. He leant up against my Mustang with the street light above us, and said “WOW – You are so much prettier in person! How can you smell so good when you’ve just traveled 24 hours to get here?” Admittedly, he was so much more handsome in person than on Skype. He picked me up, lifting my toes off the ground and kissed me like lovers do. He was strong, his eyes were so magnetic, his smile just beautiful. We got in the car and drove to get something to eat, both of us too nervous to have eaten prior. He kept his hand on my knee as he drove my little fun car, looking at me with the most perfect smile.
We went back to his RV (his very luxuriously decked out RV), had our meal and a glass of champagne to celebrate our meeting. It was already late, and he had to leave at 7am to get to work in Tucumcari. We made love is ways that I’d never done before, but felt so right to be doing with him. It was magical, he was more than I could have ever imagined he would be. He was perfect.
So when I travel, it’s for the love of happiness I have at the other side. For when I come home, through those Customs gates at Tullamarine Airport, all I want to do is turn around and go back again. I come home to an empty house with either my boys with me or my boys still at school, work phone calls demanding me to be somewhere within two hours of walking in the door, and the stressed monotony of home. My happiness isn’t here. As no one embraces me with as much love and vitality as I get when I travel. My boys love me, and give me hugs when I return from days of travel, as I them, but it’s not the same…
There is something that is so powerful when someone loves you because they choose to love you, not because they are obliged to love you as family loves you. When someone chooses to love you, they love you because of your characteristics, the warmth in your heart, because you’re sexy and fun, because you’re an inspiration, because you are ‘you.’ It makes you feel good that you are loved for who you are. Family loves you because you have a responsibility to them, because you help them, guide them, give them life and opportunity, as your parents did for you. Sometimes you just want a chance to be ‘you’ and not the several different hats you wear for all your responsibilities. And that’s what travel does for me… I love the freedom and love it gives me, and I know that I could never be the best mum to my boys if it were ever taken away from me. They know that I come home to them being a better mum, and they know that I will give them every opportunity to have a global experience. The balance has to be right. I just know where I’d rather be.
PS Parts of this tale will be featured in my book ‘On the Road to the Best Orgasm Ever.’