Before you get your hopes up for lots of details about Byron Bay, I should warn you… this is a blog about a boy.
I love the rain. Rainy days at home always make me happy to be inside, snuggled up on the couch, drinking hot tea and reading a book. Rainy days at work also make me happy to be inside, and I’m pretty sure they promote both productivity and creativity. However, if you had told me in advance that it would rain for the entire week I was in Byron Bay, Australia, I would have been terribly disappointed.
As it turned out, it did rain. And it rained and it rained and it rained. And as it turns out, I love the rain in Australia too. We waded through ankle deep water in town to get burgers and beer. We took advantage of one night when the rain let up to hike out to the most Easterly point of Australia and see the Byron Bay Lighthouse. But for the most part, I just sat in a hammock breathing clean, wet, Australian air while the wind brushed my face with rainy mist every few minutes. Byron Bay was good for my soul. I put down my camera, picked up a book (or several), and wrote.
There was a giant teepee behind our hostel in Byron Bay where they boasted a full yoga schedule with multiple classes a day. I had never done yoga in a teepee before, and figured it would give me a good reason to get out of the hammock. I took 6 classes in 5 days, and struck up a friendship with the yoga teacher, a 30-something Australian surfer, who had just come back from a year in India. One day, after yoga, he took me surfing in the rain. We drove through twisting dirt roads on our way to the local’s cove. For a few seconds, halfway there, I remembered that you really aren’t supposed to take rides from strangers but I pushed the thought out of my head, and told myself that if anyone believes in karma, it’s the yogis.
I didn’t have a board so we had planned on taking turns with his, but the board was smaller and the waves were bigger than I was used to, so I wisely decided to sit this one out. I stayed on the beach and drew pictures in the wet sand, while I thought about a boy back in the States. A friend. Just a friend. For two years, my best friend. A friend my whole heart loved, but who I had given myself a million reasons to stay just friends with. (For the record, he had given me more than a couple of good reasons as well.) I sat on that beach with rain soaking my skin, my hair, dripping off my eyelashes and down my face like tears. I just sat there and watched the waves, my fingers tracing patterns in the sand. I watched as some surfers fought them, paddling when they should duck, getting washed back 20 meters, just to paddle the same distance again. I watched others whose swift, efficient strokes made it look easy. Rolling and ducking to avoid the turbulence and surfacing again on the other side of it.
I thought about the last two years of our friendship. The midnight calls to complain about relationships that were just so darn difficult. I thought about the gallant efforts on both of our parts to fight for things that everyone around us (especially each other) could see were doomed from the word go. How hard we had been willing to work on a relationship, not because it was good, but because our pride wouldn’t allow us to just cut our losses. And then I thought about the last seven days, how every night as the sun was setting in Australia, it was rising in the States and I would walk out to that hammock with my phone to facetime with him. Thought about how easy everything came with us, except for the decision of where to go next.
I laughed out loud when I had a SATC flashback. I could almost hear Charlotte saying, “I’ve been dating since I was 15, I’m exhausted! Where is he?” I didn’t feel that way. Not yet. Sure, I’d said it, and I had probably meant it after some of the more heartbreaking moments, but I was still having fun with it. I loved every minute of my vagabond life, not tied down to anything or anyone. I could tell there was something changing between us while I was in Australia. Something in the tone of our conversations. Something in the prolonged goodbyes before hitting the little “disconnect” button. But I wasn’t ready to acknowledge it yet. I knew then, and looking back had known for a long time, that once we crossed a certain line, we could never go back. And I didn’t feel ready for my last first kiss. So just like the stubborn surfers who couldn’t quite catch the rhythm of the waves, I just kept fighting it for months… until I stopped.
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.