Sometimes it happens when your least expecting it. Sometimes there are many reasons why it’s not such a good idea. Then suddenly it develops a life of its own, so compelling that you just say “heck, why not. let’s try it out and see what happens.”
For me it happened after a solo work trip in England. I had allotted ten days after completing a project travel to explore England, Scotland, and Wales. I was flying out of Manchester and arrived there on the first morning train, one day before departure. I dropped my bags off and jumped on the tram to go back to the center of town.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw HIM.
My body was suddenly jolted, energized to the core, palms sweating… and I knew that now my plans of enjoying Manchester solo were over! He was 6’4”+, curly-haired, wore headphones, and carried a cloth-woven bag across his body. We both got on the packed tram and he offered me the last seat. I sat down and as much as I tried, I couldn’t look the other way. I just kept staring at him. This was so unusual, in that I had never experienced such a flood of primal, physical desire towards any human being ever. Often, when I was solo traveling (and solo at home) I would entertain intimate conversations, frivolous sport kissing, and sudden good-byes. Never had I been just bonkers over someone I had never met, or even talked to. He didn’t look at me once.
He got off the tram, and naturally I just got off too. No map; no plan. He was lost. He looked at me and said “Do you know where music?” My thought was- Good gracious, his English is limited and he’s looking for live music! My cool response was, “Sure, I know where the concert is. Follow me.” I stopped a policeman to get directions (a move which nearly sent him fleeing). After some confident navigating, we ended up at a LBGT festival in the heart of town. I met his friends and then of course I’m misaligned and foot-on-the-floor infatuated with a guy that doesn’t have ANY interest in girls. Pressure off, we danced and partied until the show ended and headed out for Chinese. He was from a tiny village in Slovakia and had been living in England as an au-pair for six-months. As we talked (and I filled in a lot of blanks to accommodate his broken English), I realized that WE were connecting. We carried on to an English pub and talked about all the off-limits topics (family, religion, politics) and personal dreams. After 5 hours, they closed and kicked us out. A few minutes later we found ourselves interrupted by our physical attraction and watched the sun rise together. We walked a few miles to my unused pension. I grabbed by bags, we exchanged contact information, reaffirmed moon-and-star cosmic connections, and I was on my way.
I replayed every single detail over and over during the 9-hour flight back home. What just happened? Suffice it to say, we did keep in touch with nothing more than a physical address and phone number (no email). He went back to Slovakia. We cultivated plans of reuniting. He wrote love letters and poems and called me regularly at 2 am Texas-time (when he was heading to work in Europe). I looked for work opportunities to be near him. I prepared my family for the potential future of visiting their ambitious daughter in rural Slovakia, milking goats on a farm. And then…I got scared and stepped away. Many months later after no contact, his 2 am phone call arrived on a night when my boyfriend (who I later married) was staying over. In the years that followed, I frequently wondered what happened to the handsome Slovakian that ceased my mind, reset my heartbeat, and spun my life around for awhile. And then I got a Facebook request 15 years later…