There are some nights you can’t sleep because you are so excited for what the next day holds. Every night of my trip, that was my story. But, my last night in Brela, it stood true even more than usual.
The next morning, Katie, David and I were boarding a bus up the coast to Split. And, I was going to go and find someone who had been a catalyst in getting me out of Atlanta and into the life I had been living. I was ridiculously excited, to say the least.
When I started my trip in March, I had only plan for certain. One thing I HAD to do before I returned to America.
I had met him the year before on my “30th Birthday World Tour” that took me through the highlights of Croatia.
When Katie, David and I arrived to Split, I had one goal to accomplish on our afternoon and evening there — to seek Simon. The man who said the right thing at the moment my mind was open to understanding the importance of his words. He had helped me to see how important LIVING was … to live for your dreams, your wishes, to embrace LIFE and to look back knowing you LIVED. And, for that, he needed at least a proper “thank you” for opening my eyes to what was really important.
Katie and I dropped our bags at CroParadise and I annouced I was going to find my Aussie friend.
“Do you know where he is?” She asked from her bunk.
“Yup,” I said. He had been working at the Fiesta Siesta’s bar and I was going to pull up directions on Hostel World to search him out.
I logged on to Facebook and was greeted with his status update: “Officially unemployed.”
“He isn’t working there anymore,” I said, the vision I had of telling him how he changed my life became more distant.
“What are you going to do?”
With resolve and determination, I told her I would just go and ask around. Split was small enough and he had been there a year — people knew him.
I set out and began my walk into the Old City.
People were everywhere. My eyes could hardly scan every face.
I have to find him.
I had never felt so intensely determined to ever tell anyone anything as I felt with Simon. Even if he didn’t care, I needed to tell him how much meeting him had impacted my life.
I continued walking and then my eyes caught a man, tall, sunglasses on, walking towards me, and eating a sandwich.
I recognized him immediately.
Oh my god, Simon.
My heart raced.
I walked up to him and stood in his tracks.
He stopped and looked at me.
“Do you remember me?”
“Simon, my name is D. You and I met last year on your first day of work.”
“Yeah …” he began.
“Can I buy you a beer?”
“OK,” he said and we began to walk to Charlie’s, Fiesta Siesta’s bar.
As we chatted, I found out I had been going the wrong way to even get to the hostels he had worked at … running into him was absolutely randomness. And a little bit of luck.
He looked the same. I immediately felt comfortable as the memories of our conversations last year began to come back to me with every step.
We sat at the bar with large Tuborg’s.
My mom had e-mailed me earlier in the day asking me if I thought Simon had any idea how much he had changed my life, if he had any clue of how grateful I was.
I opened my mouth to tell him and stopped.
Say it now, D.
The words I was about to spill were so laden with gratitude, with emotion, I didn’t know if I could utter them without tears spilling from my eyes.
“Simon, I came to Split to find you.”
“Yeah?” He asked, turning his blue eyes towards me, lips curling into his cheeks.
“You probably won’t remember the conversation we had last September, but I came here to thank you.”
He looked at me.
“We were on the beach last year and you said something that changed my life, that set me on this path and I want you to know how grateful I am that we had that conversation and that I met you.”
A smile crept across his face as I relayed our conversation and I told him my story of how drastically my life changed, mostly due to the words he had said to me.
“Wow, I am honored,” he said. “Thank you.”
For two hours we sat at the bar as he relayed his stories of working in Split and how our lives had been.
Later that night, after I went to grab some fish soup at Fife (where I met two of the world’s biggest cheating douchebags EVER), I went back to Charlie’s to see him. It was his second-to-last-night in Split before he headed back to Australia and I wanted to spend more time with him.
For the second time in the day, we sat and talked at the bar, which quickly filled with backpackers from all over the world. A true backpacker bar and awesome.
He introduced me to his friends — he had already told them my story of why I was in Split and what I had said to him. They welcomed me with smiles.
I had only planned to stay for one drink, but somewhere along the way, I began to have an incredible time. I was so happy. My life had come full circle since the last time I was in Split and now, there I was, in an old stone room, having drinks with the one person I never imagined would change my life.
I can’t believe this is going to be over in 20 days. I can’t believe I am here. This just feels right.
We walked back to my hostel and I thanked him again, arms wrapped around him.
I don’t think there are enough words to convey how grateful I am to him.
I kissed him on his cheek and he looked at me.
“I’m going to be cheeky,” he said.
Simon looked me in the eyes and smiled, then kissed me.
He pulled away, smiled at me, said he would be in touch, and walked back into the Split night.
I sat on the step of the hostel and smiled.
I felt light. Free.