WARNING: this is a post about romance, serendipity, and vulnerability. If you prefer reading about my adventures surrounding my work in Liberia, this post is not for you. This post is a risk for me, as I do not normally talk about my relationship life to this extent, but when something as beautiful as what happened transpires, it would be a crime not to share. Anyways, here is a story of romance.
When it come to romance, at our worst we are awkward teenagers whose pimples appear just before that big date. But at our best, we meet a beautiful fellow adventurer willing to go on the best 3-country, 33-hour first date the world has ever seen.
My first night in Poland, I watched the romantic Christmas movie Love Actually. My final day in Poland, and I feel like my life is one of the plot lines.
It was a chance encounter on a bench outside a Polish train station, and the connection was obvious to us both. A few hours later we were laughing over steaming mulled wine under the twinkling lights at Vienna’s famous Christmas market and dancing to the drifting sounds of an opera practice at Mozart’s old stomping grounds. In the middle there was a 6-hour non-stop conversation about life, health, and happiness that weaved its way through small villages in Poland and Czech Republic, avoiding the highway tolls and creating a picture-perfect setting for hours 3-9 of what takes the cake as the best first date of my life.
Vienna was not supposed to happen this year. It was the day before I was scheduled to get on a 9 Euro(!) flight from Wroclaw, Poland to Bologna, Italy that I changed my plans and decided to head with a car share to Vienna the next afternoon. Then as luck would have it, that extra hour in Poland was when the soon-to-be accomplice in my Austrian adventures walked into my life.
What we shared was incredible, the time we spent exploring and getting lost wandering the beauty that is Vienna at Christmas time. The beautiful thing is, what we had wasn’t about physical romance (don’t worry Mom), it was deeper than that. At a gas station somewhere in rural Czech Republic I realized our connection was an authentic, raw, emotional one. We shared with each other our vulnerabilities, our successes, and our dreams for the future. The 33 hours we shared reminded me that romance and human connection can come in the most unexpected of places (ex. Polish train stations). I don’t know if those 33 hours will ever turn into anything more. But I’ve learned that when a chance encounter like this does occur, it takes a lot to be comfortable jumping past the small talk and into real life discussions faster than you have been told by society these things are ‘supposed’ to work. Austria was a wake up call, reminding me of the beauty that’s possible when truly open to spontaneity.
More on Europe in upcoming posts!