The two are cuddled next to each other. He strums on his guitar in the middle of Bangkok Airway’s lounge. Annoying considering I want silence so I can watch “Shameless” and his hectic playing penetrates my headphones blocking my ears from outside noise.
She looks at him with goo-goo eyes. Clearly, in love.
Later, I am sitting at the gate, waiting patiently to board my plane.
A girl is sleeping, her Chuck-laden feet draped across a guy.
And, across the way, another couple exchanges little kisses.
I think back to elementary school … you know … when boys threw mud at girls and girls ran away crying.
They’ve conquered that. They’ve met their match. Sometime, somewhere in the world these people met their match. And now, they are sitting at the airport, putting that match-love-thing on display. They’ve overcome that “I’m single” hurdle and are in lovelovelove. Congrats, couples. You’ve done well.
Yeah, airports make me think about that shit.
I remember when I was growing up (a teenager) and my friends would ask me why I didn’t have a boyfriend. I’d shrug my shoulders.
No idea, I would tell them.
“Well, don’t you worry,” they would all reassure me. “You will totally find your one. And when you do …”
Like it’s my God-given right to meet my match. Like every single person gets that.
But, you know what?
At 33, I am beginning to think its isn’t my right to meet a guy to settle down with. That my story doesn’t involve being involved.
When I was a freshman in high school, I was in a play with about 20 or so women of all ages. I remember very clearly sitting outside one afternoon after rehearsal in Tacoma Park with a woman named Angie. She sat on a bench, smoking a cigarette, clad in a cotton candy pink skirt. She was 40. And single.
I remember feeling so sorry for her.
“You don’t want to be with anyone?” I asked.
“No,” she said, taking a deep drag from her Marlboro Light. “I’m OK with that.”
How can you be OK with being alone?
My teenage, dillusional heart went out to her. And, I promised myself I wouldn’t be 40, sitting on a bench, smoking a cigarette and wearing a cotton candy pink skirt and saying those words to a teenager.
And yet … here I am. Closing in on true grown-up life. Living as an expat in Chiang Mai, and the truth is this: I am that 40-year-old. Clad in a cotton candy pink flow-y skirt, telling people I am OK with that.
Is it true?
Yeah. Kindaofsortofnotreallybutsure. I mean, we are all dealt our hands in life, and some of us get fairytale endings in the form of love and kids and homes and such. My fairytale ending doesn’t involve that. If you asked me today if I would be at the airport with someone I love, my answer would be a staunch “no.” If you asked me tomorrow, my answer would likely be the same.
Does it mean I’m not happy?
There are nights when I sit up late with my friends, indulging in Sangsom, laughing, talking, relishing our shared bond of living life as an expat in Thailand. And, then there are the other moments. When those same people pair off, head off to their respective beds and I head home where I wonder … is there more?
Airports seems to have an effect on people. The couples. The love. The traveling together, experiencing things together. At times, I relish the fact that I don’t have to report to someone. I don’t need to make sure my decisions jive with someone else. Then, there are the other times. Like on my way to Samui, or other places, when I see the unapologetic displays of affection, and I feel my life isn’t up to par with the others passing me by. The ones who have their someone else. That they get to experience these amazing things, this amazing world, and are able to turn to each other and say “Damn. This is one of the most fantastic experiences of my life, and I’m sharing it with you.”
Does it get to me?
Then, I return home. To my house. To my life in Thailand. To the numerous blessings I am constantly showered with. It makes me feel less alone. And, of course, I hear from those with the “others” who bitch. Who moan. Who constantly berate each other for being too boring, being too hard-working, being too whatever they feel like complaining about in that moment … and I realize I’m lucky. I don’t need someone’s legs draped over me to give me meaning. To give me a sense of self. (Not that all of the people who are doing the draping or are the drapees necessarily find their definition of who they are in gestures or companionship either.)
Although it isn’t always easy, sometimes I think I have it easier than others who are with someone. Granted, who doesn’t want to embark an exotic adventure with someone they care about? Then again … I’m living the exotic adventure and I’m doing just fine.
What do you think?
28 thoughts on “Love and the airport”
Nice post. Being in an airport can definitely make you think a lot, often reflecting on your own life and comparing yourself to others around. I used to worry about these things too, not knowing that my true love was right around the corner and in a place I didn’t even think to look.
Don’t forget, though, that you are not 40, first of all, and not even close really as you have 7 years to go. Secondly, there are wonderful perks to being single. We as women have been instilled from previous generations that “you gotta find a man” and “keep looking for Mr. Right”. But this is wrong. Men don’t get this same pressure as far as I am aware. Why?
Women don’t need men any more than they need us.
Focus on being happy and enjoying your life and getting to know and love YOU and maybe someone else will come along who does too. Maybe not. Either way, you will enjoy your life. 🙂
Enjoy being single for now cuz problems come with relationships too. Imagine, for example, that you fell in love with someone who did not want to travel…at all! That could be an issue.
Thanks Ligeia! 🙂 You are so right! And, I definitely am happy. Being single is great, airports just really make me think about stuff like that though. I think that being in a relationship definitely has its downsides, for sure! And, I could NEVER fall in love with someone who didn’t want to travel. Could you imagine the conversation? “So, honey … I’m thinking about heading to Iceland for a few weeks and driving around … you just going to stay home?” NEVER. ❤
I can totally relate to this. At 36 I’ve started to think that a long-term relationship may not be in the cards for me. Although I’ve never really written about it I have dated quite a bit on the road so I’m not alone, but I become more and more comfortable with sharing moments with people and then walking away because I have to travel somewhere else.
But yeah when I look at people who have the googly eyes I’m a bit jealous – until I look around and see ten other couples fighting.
Exactly! It all looks rosy to outsiders. Thailand is pretty hard in terms of dating. I’ve met a few guys, but it CM is so transient and often times, it is hard to really have feelings for someone because they won’t be there very long. Those walls go up …
I really liked this. I love watching people in airports, in the clean light saying goodbye or greeting each other.
Not single, but at 32 and married for 8 years, I don’t have kids. And I am getting a lot of pressure and it’s really confusing because it’s the one thing I don’t know. I don’t know what NOT having them looks like because everyone I know is buying houses and settling in.
Is there more? There is always more. There is more for all of us.
There are so many paths to take and I think loving where you’re at right now could be the answer. Of course, this is advice I need to take too. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!! 🙂
Naawww, my heart sank a little as read this. I do not know what your future holds, but I do know that you can do what you like, and then change your mind as often as you like. So as for the promise you made to yourself as a kid, you’re not obliged to keep it.
…..actually are oblighed to keep the part about the smoking & cotton candy pink skirt !!!
Ha ha!! Very true — I can do exactly what I like, and change my mind as often as I’d like 🙂
i love this post. Makes me realize that not everyone is obsessed with pairing off
Great post! You deserve love whether it is from yourself or someone else! But more importantly from yourself! 😉
It’s important to enjoy your life whether it be with someone, on your own (but with friends)
or completely, but happily alone.
You’re doing an amazing job of living an incredible, meaningful, and fulfilling life!
I LOVE YOU TWO SO FREAKING MUCH.
Same here: 40 single…wanna meet? Joking 😉
Seriously: Beautifully written. Even from the male side of the story, we can be single and feel just fine!
Thank you!! I appreciate that! Are you in Chiang Mai??
My fridge (erm — my parent’s fridge, as I don’t have my own until I find myself that next post travel apartment!) has been filling up with wedding announcements lately and causing me to experience some of these same emotions. I’m happy with the off-the-path path I’ve chosen, but the grass is always greener. We each find our own ways to make our lives fulfilling, and even though you can’t help but wonder if you’ll ever have what those couples have, they’re likely wondering the same thing about you and your independent, exciting life! Keep living it up girl, and you never know what the future has in store!
The grass IS always greener, very true. I wonder a lot about the path I have taken and how my life would be different if I had stayed put in America, etc. All of my friends back there are married, getting married, pregnant or have kids. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I ever will have that … or if it is even what I still want at almost 34. Thanks for the encouragement. I really appreciate it!
Ah, airports. Petri dishes of human emotion. You know…. it’s trite but it is true. There is no loneliness as deep as the one you feel being with the wrong person. There’s nothing like the happiness that comes from realizing you are content alone.
Very, very true.
Oh airports – they sure bring out quite a bit. I don’t ever feel lonely on a trip (when I’m traveling solo) until I’m stuck on a layover for a couple of hours and no one to talk to.
They definitely do! I tend to do OK in airports, until I see those annoying couples, then I get irritated and want to throw my shoes at them. 😉
There’s too much pressure in life to be a certain way, be like everybody else. I’m 24 and single and even now people won’t stop going on at me, asking when I will have children. etc. I don’t bloody know – knowing that I want to travel sort of puts me off getting too serious anyway. If that makes sense! X
You are absolutely right, Hayley! I get asked all of the time why I am “still” single an don’t I want to have kids, etc. Of course, down the line I do, but right now I am loving my life just as it is. 🙂
I’ve done it both ways—together with the wrong guy and 30+ years with the right guy. I truly believe that a person probably should not be looking to be part of couple until one is ok being on one’s own—-I mean, really honestly believing that s/he is perfectly capable of taking care of his or herself financially and emotionally. Then, if Mr./Ms. Right happens to stumble across one’s path—-who knows? It just could work.
Exactly!! I couldn’t agree with you more!
I really like this post. Its crucial to enjoy life alone or with someone.
Thank you! I agree!
Fantastic article! I am 31, single and was just travelling thinking the same this while I people watched. As the last single in my group of friends …it’s nice to know there are others who share the same perspective and experiences.
Your blog makes me want to quit my PR job and head out to travel again! Thank you:)
Hi Kate — thank you!! You should quit your job and head out again! Come to Thailand!