It’s been nearly a year since I’ve published a piece on this blog and honestly, I’m getting hot flashes of anxiety as I type out this first sentence. I feel like a fallen child star clawing her way back to relevancy, praying that you’ll take me back. It’s my first time in a long time, so remember, please be gentle.
My friends and I ventured off to France and Spain for 2 weeks this month, hoping to Eat, Pray and Love — but really just the eating part as none of us have stepped foot in a church in years; my travel gal pals have boyfriends and I’ve wholeheartedly embraced singlehood, as evidenced by my perpetually prickly legs. So when the EU (European Universe) decided to present me with all three, I wasn’t quite prepared.
While I can write endless sonnets about the crêpes and croquetas and tell you about the breathtaking views of the côte d’azur that make me believe there must be some world beyond this one, I know most of y’all like to hear about matters of the heart. And luckily today, I am happy to divulge.
I’ve found that Vacation Erin and Pharmacy School Erin are quite different. A vacation version of me would do something like make out with a Swiss sailor at a Parisian bar (cannot confirm nor deny) while the latter would stop and realize that Switzerland is landlocked and that SwissHottie25 is a loser who sails around on a lake. Though Pharmacy Erin will blog about throwing caution to the wind, believing in love and never settling for less, admittedly it’s difficult to practice what you preach.
I try to be candid in my writing and while I don’t like when my friends try to connect every sentence to my life, every piece of writing is inspired by something or someone. And seeing how I usually write about dating and relationships, I couldn’t write honestly unless my messages were along the lines of, “Give up now ladies, your prince got lost at the strip club and ain’t coming home.” Needless to say, after a string of uninspiring first dates, I was getting cynical and my writing was becoming unreadable. (Really, I have 2 unpublished articles in my queue that are insufferable and are set to be published 100 years postmortem).
When you’re freshly single, you’re like a prize fish. Your friends will assure you that a great catch like you will be snatched up in no time. But after a while, when one, two, three years pass without a viable love interest, fish reek. Your friends’ well-meaning compliments are served with a side of pity and criticism. Your standards are too high. You should try online dating. You should get out more. What do you mean you won’t date a guy because he looks dirty? Greasy hair is fleeting, but true love is forever.
After a while, I started to believe that maybe there was something wrong with me. Perhaps my friends (and aunts and grandmas) were right and I was setting my standards too high. I no longer trusted my own judgment and wondered if my dream guy was right in front of me all along. I would analyze my friendships with boys and tried to imagine dating them; he makes me laugh and has all his teeth — is this my one true love and I’m just too blind to recognize it? Has watching countless romcoms skewed my view on relationships? Are butterflies in stomachs a thing of the past, reserved for youths who would hurry home after school to spend all afternoon IMing their sixth grade loves?
I apologize in advance to any readers who prefer sassy over sappy, but it took a serendipitous encounter with a blue-eyed German in Barcelona to remind me that attraction and chemistry are not overrated. It’s not something that can be forced and certainly not reserved for Nicholas Sparks movies or doe-eyed teenagers. One minute I’ve got my stretchy buffet pants on and am ready to binge at a tapas bar and the next minute I can’t even taste the food because my stomach is all knotted up. Then the next thing I know, he’s following me to Madrid and while everything’s moving fast, it never feels rushed or foreign because with one flash of a smile, I forget that I’m 3700 miles away from home.
Maybe there was something in the bottomless mojitos or the sweeping views of Barcelona atop Parc Güell that rendered me unrecognizable, but for once, I am living what I write. Though I’ve told you to let your guard down, to tell a guy you like him, to live a little recklessly, these were pearls of wisdom that I personally struggled to live by.
I’m usually reluctant to open up to new people because it’s exhausting to pour my heart into one person just to have them leave as quickly as they had come, yet with full knowledge that I’d be leaving Spain in 4 short days, I was surprised by how easy it was to reveal the oft hidden corners of me to this stranger. And though he worries that his English isn’t vast enough to express and understand every nuance between us (because we’re both sooo complex and deep!), it was the quieter moments that touched me the most.
Only time will tell if this international connection can transcend the Atlantic. And though I’ve arrived back in New Jersey, for the first time, home feels a little bit farther away.[Photo cred: Sweeping views of Barcelona, by German Boy]