André, Personal Development, Travel, Women

The End of a Beautiful Relationship

It feels weird to post this. I used to make fun of blogs because of this. Who the heck shares their whole personal life online? Do they think anyone cares?

It turns out sometimes people do care. About a year before I quit my job and started traveling, it was clear that a blog was both the best way to chronicle the journey and a good start to a life as a professional writer. Rogue Priest has been both, and for some reason it’s caught on. Every day hundreds of people read what I’ve written here, and some of you have become regulars, acquaintances, even friends.

Still, there are topics that feel weird to put out in public. Like relationships. I don’t care too much about my own privacy: if something in my life makes an interesting story, I’m happy to share it. But with a relationship, my comfort alone isn’t enough. The other party has to sign off too.

My girlfriend of the past year—let’s call her Anita—did sign off originally. After we met in New Orleans she asked if she could come along on the last 80 miles of my Mississippi bike ride, all the way to the end of the road and, it seemed when we got down there, the edge of the world itself.

The road to the end of the Mississippi. Photo by André.

The road to the end of the Mississippi. Photo by André.

Those three days not only cemented my respect for Anita, they sparked the beginning of a passionate relationship. The trip meant a lot to us both, and Anita was happy for me to blog about it. She even wrote her own account that I published here on Rogue Priest. I asked how to credit her, and she said to use her full name. We added a link to her professional website.

It was the first of many times that Anita appeared on this blog. With her permission, I wrote about our travels together and occasionally shared her guest posts. This had an unexpected effect: readers loved her. If this blog is the story of my journey, then its main character suddenly had a love interest, and people liked that. (So much so that when I continued on to Texas, Anita already had a standing invitation to visit from my kayak mentor—before I’d even met him.)

And that’s why I feel I should probably make this public: I’m single now. Anita and I broke up several weeks ago, peacefully but sadly. This isn’t something I would normally announce to the world, but since she’s unlikely to appear in any more posts I figured some explanation is in order.

I think it’s fair to say that the last year with Anita was, to date, the great love of my life. Of course, I’m a terrible judge. Like most people I think every love is the great love of my life. But usually I can see through that afterwards, whereas even now, looking back, I still view this relationship as different. It was the happiest I’ve ever been.

That’s not to say it was the easiest relationship. Not by far. My previous girlfriend in Minnesota was loving, encouraging, easy to get along with, and an unrelenting supporter of my work and journey. We didn’t argue much and when we did I felt heard. With Anita, on the other hand, we butted heads constantly: two stubborn, dominant, independent people who are used to getting our way. But I was happy. Perhaps, just like I quit a stable career to travel the world, I just do better with a relationship that challenges me.

I don’t really know what’s next for the Rogue Priest as far as love is concerned. I recently read Niall Doherty’s wonderful Cargo Ship Diaries, in which he writes that he refuses to start a long term relationship until he’s done traveling. I can see the allure: the first leg of my journey, up until I met Anita, was a free-wheeling period of short flings. It was fun. I guess I could go back to that—after all, I wouldn’t be the first adventurer to sleep my way across a couple continents.

But the truth is I believe in love. I believe in enduring, meaningful love.

In a different book, The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho writes that true love is a love that will wait, that will withstand even the long journey to follow one’s dreams. For a time I chased Coelho’s vision of abiding love. But truthfully, I’m not sure I want a love that will “wait.” I’m not sure that’s even healthy. I really dream of the woman who will be at my side while I adventure, the two of us adventuring together. Sometimes it’s her journey, sometimes it’s mine, sometimes we might even go apart: but what we both want is to wander, and to have a wandering companion.

I have faith—a wounded, messy drop of faith—that somewhere out there I can find a love like that. A love that spans the world.

Until then, my only project is to make myself into the man she deserves.

So, there you have it. An oddly personal post about events that most people wouldn’t even discuss on their Facebook page. But I think it’s right to record these things. I write about all sorts of people I meet on my quest, often very candidly, and it’s only fair to turn the camera on myself once in a while.

Thanks for reading. And “Anita,” if you’re still subscribed to these posts: this song’s for you. I’ll never forget you, baby.

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22 thoughts on “The End of a Beautiful Relationship

  1. Jackie Rose says:

    A love that spans the world.

    My last relationship was deep and full. He supported me and loved me in a way I hadn’t felt before, but I realized after nearly two years, I want someone who has their own adventure. Yes, I want to adventure together, but I want to support our individual pursuits of life and love too.

    Thanks for this post. It’s beautifully honest and you expressed something all adventurers, explorers and wanderers deal with with grace.

  2. Coelho is right. Love can wait. The honest and genuine love can always wait. And why? For the simple reason because love, when given – not expected – is all about the one who gives it and not about the one who expects it. When you give love you are not concerned with what the other one does at the other end. You are not concerned with how, why, and when the other one receives it. You are not concerned with their premise. You are only concerned with how YOU do it. You tend only to how YOU love independently of how the other does the same. But this kind of giving love can only create magic between the parties involved if both are giving it and neither is claiming it. In other words, is there perfect symmetry in the relationship where the giving of love is concerned? If one gives and the other claims, then you can be sure it won’t work. It can keep you busy for a while, but it will not keep your heart warm. Good luck.

    • I agree with that vision of love, and it matches closely what another wise friend has told me. But in a way I think the “good luck” at the end is the most relevant part. I mean if that’s the way to have true love – total selflessness on the part of both individuals – then how common is that going to be? Am I wrong, or is that basically saying, “Love is only possible when two bodhisattvas meet”?

      • No, that’s not it. Again, if you have love to give, then you’re not concerned with how the other is fulfilling the same function of giving. The ‘good luck’ part was given in support to your accepting of and settling with what you have to do. The thing is that there is nothing that makes a giver of love happier than the act of giving love. In this sense, there isn’t any space for self-pity, nor indeed for self-mockery, as in saying to yourself in disbelief: ‘good luck with that project.’ It is not for you to ‘find’ another bodhisattva. Love doesn’t come labelled like that as it’s not part of any project of enlightenment. A giver of true love is not a stoic in the face of another who can’t wait any more, or even worse, who doesn’t get it. A giver of love gives love. Punctum. A giver of love is not one who hopes for the same, but one who experiences the same that is given, when it is given and even when it is not given. You must understand that true love never ever has anything to do with the Other. Once you understand this very simple fact, you will be able to stop telling yourself stories that more or less have a nasty cliché of closure at their basis, such as: ‘all loves are great loves,’ or, I’ll never forget you.’ Perhaps you’d like to read Jean-Luc Marion’s book: The Erotic Phenomenon. Enjoy!

  3. I’m sorry for your loss…I just had a long term relationship end as well and can empathize with your pain…I’m NOT going to give you any advice, too many people do this when they find out about your loss and for me, I find it shallow and crass. Thank you for sharing, I look forward to your continuing adventures.

  4. I am sorry to hear this Andre. I was happy for you and now I am sad for you. Like Aaron, I won’t give you any advice. A broken heart just needs time.

    Sending you my love,
    Faelind

  5. Odd. I was just wondering about this and had a sense something had ended for you. You both learned what you needed to from one another and so on to the next lesson. Much love over here from your old friend. I have been missing you of late.

  6. Alien Mind Girl says:

    This evening I will raise a respectful glass to the great value of all life’s loves, present and past, mine and yours. May you have sweet travels ahead in both life and romance.

  7. zwhit says:

    Very sorry to hear it André.

    To Next Chapters, no matter how bad we wish we didn’t have to turn the page.

  8. ==========
    Feeling your pain brother — may the worst of it pass quickly. Ten months ago, the wheels fell off what I had hoped would be my best and last grand hurrah . . . my perfect proof to the world, “I can DO this *love* thing!” We were together the better part of four years and, even still, when I see someone about her age who carries herself with such grace upon beautiful and strong legs, my heart skips a beat. Here’s the song I have learned to love to hate . . . hopefully it won’t torment you as much as it has (and does) me:

    And — for the record? I did NOT “let her go.” It was her decision that we couldn’t be together any longer. I still think about her every day but it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it did for so long.
    ==========
    There’s another great article out there (somewhere?) in which the author compares adventure and wanderlust to a temptress . . . one who is endlessly beautiful, irresistable and relentless . . . one who NEVER lets go; one who NEVER says goodbye. She’ll permit you to seek your temporary pleasures as best you can because the temptress knows she *always* wins our heart in the end.
    ==========
    sail4free
    ==========

  9. “I have faith—a wounded, messy drop of faith—that somewhere out there I can find a love like that. A love that spans the world.

    Until then, my only project is to make myself into the man she deserves.”

    I totally “awed” at that last line.

    Growing up I always dreamed of having a special love that I would share adventures with, and especially career. The career portion being inspired by the many examples I’ve come across of people who met and lived a long loving career in the forests they together greatly cared for. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who works and plays extensively in the woods that’s not with someone who does too, even more so when that person is female – they’re usually into having a bushbuddy lover who “gets them” because they’re not the “typical” female. Me being one of them – my mother would often criticize my wilderness habits as not being feminine enough. Lets face it, a dress isn’t something I’m likely to wear anytime soon – they just aren’t practical clothes. You will find me in a long tunic though – those make sense (see Vikings).

    I have no doubt that as you adventure on you’ll cross paths with someone who shares the same rhythm of life and find that you’re both of a feather who together can fly ever onwards to new beginnings.

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