For me, relationships have always been a cause for pain.
Attachments and expectations lead me down a path to worry and resentment. I had never really been able to separate the pleasures of intimacy with the need to build something upon it until I experienced a real fling. I’m still trying to learn from those magical three days.
It was as cliché as it gets. I met K in the mountains of Monteverde, Costa Rica. He was blonde, tall and handsome. Full of life, he walked as if dancing.
The first day we met at our hostel, I walked down the steps, smiling with the sun. He was walking up, and met my smile. We saw each other intermittently throughout the day, talking about our latest activities from zip lining to hikes on suspended bridges. That night we sat out on the porch with a couple of other travelers, scratching the surface of each other’s mysteries. I was leaving early the next morning for Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side.
When he talked to me, he got really close and I could feel his excited energy. There wasn’t time to dwell on a lost opportunity—another adventure awaited the next day. We hugged and said goodbye. Maybe he’d head that way soon, but more likely, we’d never see each other again.
I woke at 5 a.m. to catch the earliest bus to Puerto Viejo, saying goodbye to the mountains between two cloud canopies. On the bus ride there, I buddied up with another solo traveler from Australia. We found the infamous Rocking Jay’s hostel, every inch covered in decorative mosaics made by travelers throughout the years. But Australian friend didn’t stay there, and I found myself alone again in a gigantic hostel.
Maybe two days after arriving, I was sitting by myself, writing in my journal, when someone plopped down next to me, uncomfortably close. Perturbed, I turned to see that it was K, grinning at me. He said he hadn’t heard of the hostel and had just gotten off the bus when a man asked him if he needed a lift and brought him straight there. That man happened to be Jay, the owner, and we laughed at the strange coincidence…or was it?
For such an outgoing, personable guy, I figured he’d want to mix and mingle with all the travelers, but he seemed content spending every moment with me. We grabbed breakfast together and then rode our bikes to the beach, sharing stories and telling each other things that most people withhold until a considerable amount of trust is built.
Everything was beautiful. The roads were wide and accustomed to bikers; giant vines wrapped about the trees and thrived in a lush wilderness where birds sang all day. It was like beauty cast a spell, making even the strangest of our confessions romantic details of our past.
I had one more day in Puerto Viejo, then back to San Jose to fly to New York. After two days of his coy advances, which I allowed but didn’t return, I woke up and thought it’s either going to happen or it isn’t. Last day, last chance.
As we lay on the beach, I thought for that moment my life was perfect. The ocean was as clear as the sky. The near future when this trip would end was an eternity away…and we kissed.
We spent that day and night as if we’d been together the entire trip; a couple on a romantic getaway. We never spoke about what was actually occurring between us; we never mentioned our feelings. We just were—no attachments or expectations for the future, no words to muddle our little time we had left.
The next morning, he walked me to my bus and we kissed goodbye as if we’d see each other later. It was the best goodbye I’ve ever had. So long Costa Rica.
Author: Fay Bartow
Editor: Evan Yerburgh