Alone. Surrounded by people but isolated by emotion and experience you can’t share. Held back by unfamiliarity and language. This is what it feels like to be hurting overseas. But it’s OK – like I said before, the Universe has your back.
You probably just read the first part of this story, in which I describe the intestine bursting force of the Universe sucker punching me in my ‘Happy Place’. If not, you should… go do it now, I’ll wait.
Ok then, let me continue.
After the serious let downs I’d experienced, and the interior earthquake of emotions that thundered through me when the very Bad Thing happened, I wasn’t exactly a cheery bopping happy chappy. Dealing with the aftermath just made life feel worse. On top of it all I had even more passport issues to sort out, and stress was flowing through me like it was being pumped in via high-speed IV. It was my last day in Turkey, a country that I love and still plan on returning to soon (though for different reasons), and all I felt was low. Meh. Bleurgh. I think you get the picture.
Then I went for a walk through the streets of Fethiye. And the Universe gave me a hug.
People just smiled at me. Everywhere. Everyone. It was like they all got the message that I needed some toothiness sent my way. Bar owners and restaurant staff stopped me to chat, even though I had never met them before. I walked into a shop to buy a pressie for a friend, and the attendee was so friendly and so impressed with my Turkish I felt as if I had come over all fluent in the language. I was slowly remembering what I love so much about travelling, and about life – positive human interaction. And I do love it so. I am one of those people who just go around meeting strangers and making friends and chatting with people in bank queues. It’s fun, and an automatic cheer-er upper.
I sat down at a bar and ordered a Shisha (Nagila/Hubbly Bubbly). The next hour or so was spent in lovely conversation with the manager – we laughed and chatted and spoke nonsense. I remembered how much I like being alone, because it gives me the perfect opportunity to meet new people. To reach out with a kind word and a silly joke and break down the ‘stranger’ barrier. By the time I left I had the offer of a job teaching English in the winter time, and had been given ‘friend’ prices on my order – let’s just say serious discounts For The Win.
The final squeeze of the Universe’s embrace came as I was walking back to the café where I was staying, with friends of friends. The hours I’d spent alone, combined with everyone’s general friendliness and the sweetly cheerful streets of Fethiye had already served to calm my mind and ground me. I was starting to get excited for the next leg of my journey, and to spend a few days holidaying in Rhodes (organised by my fantastic mum). My friends and sister had stepped up, and sent me love and support from across the ocean when I’d managed to chat to them via the elusive WiFi. Things were already better – and then life got beautiful again…
There was a man standing in front of a monument, taking a selfie; he was alone, DON”T JUDGE HIM – the selfie becomes a necessary evil when you travel one-man. I walked up to him and offered to take a picture– he was so happy that a stranger had just reached out to help. He was very sweet, and he was also deaf. I took a few pics, before smiling and handing his cellphone back. He gestured to me to join him, and smiling widely he took a selfie of the two of us. I introduced myself I can spell my name in sign language) and was rewarded with a fantastic and heartfelt hug. He hopped on his bike and cycled off while waving, and I carried on my now merry way.
I realised, my friendly reader, that I was feeling crappy because of other peoples actions. Because plans had fallen through and people had let me down, people had broken my trust. And while I was in the Pirate Bar I had relied heavily on these people to explain Turkish life and conversation to me, to feed me, to make sure I didn’t die. I had forgotten that I was kinda kickass myself. That my experiences and my happiness are not dependent on one or two people – they are dependent solely on me. Through the kind words exchanged, the smiles given and received, the simple act of helping another, I remembered that life is beautiful, and that I am part of that beauty. That I can create joy for other people too. And I felt energised by this. It wasn’t even a case of “Fuck them, I am awesome.” I just came back to the moment, to my reality, and the other situations weren’t as important anymore. They still sucked, but I could see right past them to the brilliance of new adventures waiting to be had.
Once the Universe gets its message across, I think it does its best to help you recover in a healthy way. To not forget the lesson, but to soothe the pain and heal the bruises.