In the 90s and the early 2000s, MTV had a hit documentary series telling first person POV experiences. Each episode derived its title from the story it told, for example “True Life: I have Diabetes,” or “True Life: I’m Getting Married!” My friends used to tell me if I was profiled on the show the title of the episode would be “True Life: I Fall in Love on Vacation”.
In past years, the trips my friends and I have taken together would inevitably begin with me meeting “the man of my dreams” on day one or two. He would then join our group for the duration of the trip and essentially we would be in a long term committed relationship. For.A.Week. The trip would of course end in tears, usually on my end, with the promise of texts, phone calls, Skype sessions and weekend visits. Big mistake. Huge. Trying to bring the relationship into the “real world” and out of vacationland causes the inevitable end, usually going down in a ball of gay flames.
On an Atlantis Cruise I fell head over heels in like with a handsome European dude on day one, party one. We quickly became inseparable for the the trip, even having our own “spot” on the ship where the two of us would spend time together when we needed a break from the big parties. How cute were we? (Vomit if you must, I completely understand.) Exiting the boat, my best friend and cruise roommate Jack, almost in tears himself kept telling us how sad he was for us. My new boyfriend and I made plans for me to visit him during my Spring Break, (I was teaching middle school at the time) roughly six weeks away.
We emailed daily, and on Valentine’s Day, the intercom in my classroom buzzed telling me a student aide was delivering a package to my classroom. Two minutes later, the door opens and I see a large bouquet of flowers floating on air into my classroom. Students erupt into cheers, and “oooh Mr. Dominic has a girlfriend.”
About a week before my Spring Break trip abroad his emails seemed different somehow, and were less frequent than the past weeks. Asking him if everything was ok, he assured me we were good and he was looking forward to spending time with me. A few days later I arrive in London, and while still in the arrivals section of Heathrow Airport my beau lays it on me that he “has met someone else and he thinks their relationship has the potential to turn into something special and obviously his situation has changed.” I felt like I had been sucker punched. Which technically I guess I was.
To make matters worse, his new BF worked in the gay district of London and apparently gave strict instructions to not bring the American bloke anywhere near his bar. After the initial shock, disappointment and anger subsided I tried to salvage a fun trip but staying with my now “ex-boyfriend” and spending all day together proved to be more stressful than enjoyable. Luckily I was rescued by an acquaintance from college who I met up with to have drinks with one night. Sensing the tension he texted me offering his extra bedroom for the remainder of my stay. Jumping at his generous gift a new trip began for me as he took me to dinner parties, bars and museums. I boarded my flight feeling much less heartbroken than when I had arrived. I am forever grateful to my white knight, Jonathan. #scrantonroyals
A few years later, during a weeklong trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts, I once again met “the man of my dreams.” As usual, he spends the week with my friends and I and of course we plan to meet in the real world, Atlanta this time. My suitor proceed to tell me he has to work for most of the weekend. He told me this after I arrived (I am starting to sense a pattern). Luckily, he had an amazing group of friends who took me under their wing assuring me it wasn’t me who was the problem, their “friend” really isn’t all that great of a guy. About a year later the Atlanta “ghost” sends me a text with an apology detailing that he had been suffering in silence from severe depression due to the death of a family member a few months earlier. He further mentioned that he hid it from everyone he knew. He profusely apologized for the way he treated me, even offering me a free ticket to come back and see him so he could make it up to me. I thanked him for the text and the apology, wished him luck on his recovery, and declined the offer of another visit. Fool me once…
Finally, a 50th birthday trip for my friend Will in Puerto Vallarta gave me the chance to break my cycle. Thirteen friends shared a beautiful house on the ocean, which came complete with a dog — that I somehow adopted for the week. I would walk him in the morning on the beach and he would sleep in the room I shared with my friend Phillip. We were the only two single men on the trip so I guess the dog liked the fact there were two beds in our room for him to sleep under, scaring us most nights when we stumbled in drunk forgetting he might be hiding beneath one of the mattresses!
I made a pact with my friends – no LOVE on this trip! The pact was unbreakable. Until the last night, the last bar we hit, I met a stunningly handsome Mexican/Canadian man who approached me asking if he could buy me a drink. Fast forward to me postponing my flight home an extra day to spend another night in PV with my new friend. Upon leaving, we made plans to meet in Mexico City for New Years. Once back on dry land, our emails and phone calls did not contain the same spark we had in PV, and we struggled to find common things to talk about. We mutually agreed that cancelling our upcoming trip was the right move. If I had a therapist I think he would call this “my breakthrough”.
So what have I learned, if anything, from all these failed “romances”? In more recent years my relationship free vacations for the most part, have been just as fun, just as crazy, just as relaxing and just as entertaining as the ones I just described, except with no tears at the end! And there have been trips where I could have behaved better, and made better choices. Each trip, each day we are given opportunities to do better, to be better and it is up to us to follow through and decide who we are going to be.
Next Spring I would love to go on another cruise. This time “True Life: I Fall in Love on Vacation” has officially been cancelled and is not up for renewal! Lessons learned. Unless I meet the man of my dreams. I mean, you have to give love a chance, right?