"You should go." My tone betrayed the words. She knew I didn't want her to leave. It was past the first call for prayer again and she lived with her family. That wasn't it though. The longer she stayed and cuddled, the harder I knew it would be to eventually say goodbye. That morning I bought a bus ticket out of town. I wanted to stay another night, if only for another surreal sunset, but my heart told me that it was time for me to leave. As my bus was pulling out of the station I sent her a message to say goodbye. She said her English wasn't good enough to describe how she felt, but the truth is that I speak English natively and I still couldn't find the words. It was harder to say goodbye to her than to any other girl I've met on this journey, yet I knew I shouldn't linger.
One of the few "profits" for me on this trip came in the form of a Norwegian man who looked like a Norse god, with blue eyes and beautiful flowing blond hair. It was in an old government run youth hostel in the Sultanate of Brunei. I had spent twenty minutes circling the building trying to establish that it was the place, and to find an entrance, when a French kid showed up and helped me get inside. It was an old concrete building that looked like it was made by the Soviet Union and which was designed to host the entire school population of Brunei. When the government wasn't using it they let it be, and backpackers snuck in and slept there, each showing the next how to get in.
Though there were 200 beds in the building, the five of us that were there that night all stayed in the same room. We exchanged the usual information—where we were from, where we'd been, where we were going—and then the Norwegian guy started to talk directly to me. "It sounds like you're pretty open-minded and adventurous" He said. "I am" I replied proudly. "Are you looking for love?" He asked, in the manner of a genuine question, not a shady offer. "No" I told him. I didn't feel I was emotionally ready for a relationship at that point in the trip; my heart was still longing for women back home. Also, I didn't want to be put in the position of choosing between a potential partner and continuing my travel. "Do you sleep with the local women?" He continued. "Oh no" I told him. I had more fear about sleeping with the locals than I did about finding love. Angry fathers/brothers, women trying to "trap" me. Besides, I like women that are curvy and strong (in all ways) and I'm not one of those guys with "a thing" for Asians. "It sounds like you're not that open or adventurous after all." He concluded. I accepted his words with a nod and let them sink in throughout my trip. A lot has changed since that night over a year ago, and now I'm actively looking for love and more open to sleeping with locals, but only for the last couple months.
"OK Cupid?" An American girl I met a couple weeks ago asked after seeing the OKC icon on my phone. "Yeah, I do online dating." I told her. I figure; why not take advantage of the fact that I'm traveling all over the world and look for love wherever I'm going? And I do mean love. I never thought I'd like one night stands, and before leaving on this trip I confirmed that I didn't. Unfortunately, that's what I'm confined to these days. "Why don't you just bring your soul mate with you?" I would in a heartbeat... if I could find her... and she wanted to drop everything and travel. Or I could settle down with her. But she's still anonymous, so it's moot. She's not the girl from the opening paragraph—as much as I liked her, my heart told me that she wasn't the one. I think there's something comforting in the thought that there's someone out there for you, even if you'll never find them. It's depressing to actually try to find "the one" and feel like you're not getting any closer.
People often ask me "Don't you miss home?" I tell them "I miss having a home. I miss the things that go along with a home, most notably the stable relationships. Not just with women, with everyone." But I do miss dating women. I don't miss the game or the wasted time, but I do miss the result. When I say the "result" I don't mean the sex. I've had one night stands on this trip, but probably far far fewer than you think. Perhaps I've had a couple handfuls of women on this trip, though I honestly couldn't tell you exactly how many. Not because it's too many to count, but because almost none of them are worth remembering, and a few of them I'm glad to forget. Is that really even so many? How many times have you had sex in the last year and a half? Unfortunately I haven't had the privilege of sleeping with the same woman more than a couple times. The Vietnamese girl I traveled with for over a month? The German girl I met/traveled with a few times? No, I didn't have sex with either of them. In fact, I think there's only one girl I've laid which has been mentioned in any way on the blog.
I've turned down more offers than I've taken up, and I often find myself internally conflicted about making moves on women, usually for the same reason. No, not because I'm Casanova and there's a line of women down the street (ok, recently that has been a bit of an issue, but previously on this adventure it hasn't). Because it's not worth it. Because the meaningless sex is empty and usually only mediocre at best, and when it's not it's even harder to leave if my heart isn't telling me to stay. Unrequited meaning is even worse. So I often forgo.
But I do have needs. You'd probably be surprised by the amount of NSA (no strings attached) cuddles that I've had on this trip. They've come at different times in different ways for different reasons. "I can be a perfect gentleman" I've assured more than one lady who's taken me into her bed. Of course on one or two occasions I couldn't resist following that quickly with a raised eyebrow and "But I don't have to be." The verdict is still out on whether or not my wit does more harm or good. I've pondered alone and sometimes with one of these cuddle-buddies "Why isn't this more common or socially acceptable?" There's no doubt that humans need touch, and society seems to accept, if only by intentionally not looking, that people are looking for sex, so why isn't it conventional to look for cuddles? On the CouchSurfing website there's a field listing if it's a "Shared sleeping surface"—that's always one of the least reliable fields in the listing.
"CouchSurfing, isn't that mostly for sex?" No ...but, sometimes. I've personally never slept with a host, though the opportunity has arisen a handful of times. Both with men and women there's often an uncomfortable awkwardness in determining if the host/surfer is interested in having sex, and that alone prevents me from surfing sometimes. I've thought about putting in my profile: "I'm not looking for sex." But then I think Maybe I am? If I was into the host, I'd sleep with her. And I'm clearly not the only person to feel that way. There's new startups designed to remove the ambiguity. LoveRoom is like CouchSurfing but with sex implied. Skout is supposed to be like Tinder or Grindr, but for travelers. Unfortunately neither of those services are internationally popular enough, or fundamentally sound enough to be useful for me yet.
So where do I go if I do want to meet babes? To where the women I'm attracted to are. In Asia that usually meant where the travelers were. I could score all kinds of tail if I spent my time on the party beaches. But those kinda places aren't my scene and aren't why I travel. If I'm not gonna be experiencing the country I'm in at all, I might as well just go home (at least then I could see my friends and family as well). I just went to the town of Olympos in Turkey for specifically to meet women—unfortunately it wasn't quite the season yet. Another type of place that I'm not dying to go to but which in my experience is always packed with hot babes are catastrophe memorials. The Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, the Killing Fields in Cambodia and the Hiroshima Memorial were all packed with superfine ladies, but I just couldn't bring myself to hit on any of them. It seemed somehow... tactless.
It was easier when I wasn't looking for love and was scared of sleeping with locals. Now I have to balance travel and romantic interests, and I've got the burden of dating to add to the stress of travel. Maybe things will get better for me as I move into Europe and the style of women and dating are more familiar to me. Maybe some clever entrepreneur will create a CuddleSurfing or OKCuddle app. I guess I'm just gonna continue going through the world, trying to be good to it and to myself.
I Wish I Had A Child
I wish I had a child, so the art of pinball wouldn't die.
Someone to share my love with, to reach that rolling high.
Be it boy or girl, I'd love it quite a bunch.
I'd teach it to use, mostly one flipper at once.
I wish I had a child, someone to ride the ramps.
To rise to the level, of pinball's greatest champs.
I wish I had someone to share the greatest pleasure of them all.
The entertaining, interactive, elusive multiball.
I wish I had a child, for this reason alone.
To justify me having, a pinball machine at home.
This article, as well as a few previous ones, was written at the request of one of my readers. If there's something you'd like to know more about, please don't hesitate to write me an email and ask.
Sometimes I'm completely uninspired when it comes to the article titles and soundtrack (...and content), and sometimes I'm overwhelmed with ideas. The last soundtrack was a cop out. A lot of times the soundtrack has special meaning to me, or someone else from the story, which you may not understand. Choosing a track for this article was particularly tough. Strawberry Fields Forever, Shasta (Carrie's Song), Eye Of The Tiger, I Feel Good, Would You Go To Bed With Me were all prime candidates. Three Sunsets in Antalya was the runner-up title.Soundtrack: Change In My Life (m-pact)