I have never really known how to feel about fate. It has always seemed like a way to give up all control and choose to be a victim of circumstance, which was a concept I had trouble getting behind. However, since I started traveling, my thoughts about it have changed and I no longer think of it so pessimistically.
When you throw yourself into the universe without much of an agenda, you are essentially leaving it up to fate, or chance, or coincidence, or God’s plan… whatever you want to call it, whatever your beliefs would label it as. Things just start happening and, to me, it feels like you’re simultaneously an active participant and an observer. It’s a unique situation, both exciting and scary.
This faith that things are happening for a reason has become a way I center myself when everything else seems to be in complete chaos. Now when things don’t go the way I planned, it just seems like it’s a part of my story. It means that the world isn’t out to get me and that I’m not a victim – I just have to keep my eyes open for the opportunity that will present itself as a result.
There has been a much larger event in the past several weeks that feels like it is a part of my fate for this trip. I met a person who has had a profound effect on me. I wrote about him after eight days together in Portugal and, after that time, he invited me to visit him in Belfast, Northern Ireland. But, I was also terrified to go. We had the perfect beach vacation romance and I was worried it wouldn’t translate or, even worse, that it would be as good as I thought it could be and I would want to stay with him and end my trip all together. However, I saw the opportunity for a big adventure and decided to go to see him.
Mike picked me up in Belfast and welcomed me into his perfect little life with open arms. He chopped wood and built fires, cooked incredible meals, popped some homemade elderflower champagne (which I’d pay the big bucks for – it was amazing). I got to meet the lovely locals in his little village and hear about the Halloween bonfire and fireworks they were having. We walked around the green hills and saw Neolithic rock formations a few hundred yards from his house. We harvested gigantic beets from Mike’s allotment in the community garden. We got to make pancakes into shapes of surfers and listen to music in pajamas for hours. For the first time in months, I felt at home somewhere – with him.
After a few days at Mike’s house, we took a road trip down to Galway and around the villages in the area. We explored areas that neither of us had ever seen with no plans but to have an adventure. And that we did. We walked to the edge of the Cliffs of Moher and got lost on pitch-black mountain roads with no maps to speak of. Each day got better and better. Our time spent together proved that we were more than a holiday fling and that there was something very real between us.
This situation raises a lot of questions, given my long-term traveler status and our different nationalities. “What now?” is the main one I keep getting. It would be ridiculous for us not to discuss the very obvious implications that come from us having such an amazing time together, but it’s also insanely early to be discussing some larger future. What we decided was that neither of us felt right about stopping my travels. He wouldn’t want me to stop prematurely and he believes like there is a lot more for me to get out of my trip. I agree on all counts and am really looking forward to the impending Asia portion of my trip.
That being said, there is something special here. I feel at peace with someone, even when my life is full of question marks. That isn’t something I can take for granted, especially not after many years of up-and-down, drama-filled relationships. My happily married friend, Brittany, told me years ago that “With the right person, it should be easy” and that is something that has stuck with me. It finally seems believable and in-reach.
I left Ireland feeling something new. It wasn’t sadness or despair, like I expected. Instead, I was full of love and faith for the future. This person exists in the world – a man I never would have met any other way than at a beach bar in Portugal on my round-the-world trip.
Mike and I continue to leave things up to fate as I move along. That might seem like a bit of a cop-out. However, throughout our time together in both Portugal and Ireland, we have had numerous signs continuously popping up. They have become what I think of as a “comedy of coincidences.” We both notice them and laugh – wordlessly knowing that the universe is screaming something at the two of us. I take comfort in knowing that we have both been listening. And we will continue to listen.