If you want to get to know someone on the deepest level of their being, travel with them. But choose wisely. They are the first person you see when you wake up, the last when you fall asleep, and the one you’ll be problem solving with. Every. Single. Day. If you can’t return to Unconditional Love when it matters most, your relationship may not make it.
I consider myself blessed to have traveled with Gabby and Colton. And believe me, we all had our moments. We all had our own reasons for leaving home. We all had our own processes and needs. All of which we had to learn to respect and honor.
Although we had known each other for about a year prior, it felt as if we were getting to know each other all over again. All tiffs aside, we knew our souls were dancing in the European realm for a deeper purpose than our conscious minds could comprehend. And with the story I’m about to tell, I can’t imagine experiencing it with anyone else.
While still in Slovenia, we decided to rent a van. We wanted to go somewhere that public transport couldn’t. Given the expense, we all agreed, “We can’t fuck this up.”
Considering the weather was skin numbing at the time—rain in the low country and snow in the high—the moment our van guru, Žiga, suggested the we hit the coast and go south to Croatia for warmer temps, no questions were asked.
We signed the paperwork, saluted Žiga, tossed our shit in the van, and got ready for take off. And we took off right into the brick wall in front of us. We “fucked it up” in a matter of seconds. A little shaken but not deterred, we proceeded on our journey. Maybe, just maybe, Žiga won’t notice the bruised bumper.
After six hours of tricky navigation, cuss words and mood swings, we finally reached the coast. We intuitively drove up a windy hillside and reached a view point overlooking the Adriatic Sea. We parked the van here. Tired, hungry, and in a constant state of shiver, we ate pasta out of one pan, put on every single layer of clothing we owned, and tucked ourselves into dream land.
I awoke suddenly. I do not recall the time. I only remembering feeling a shift in movement. Then, Gabby awoke and let out a cry, “We’re rolling!” I instantly became paralyzed and prepared my mind for a very dangerous situation.
Gabby ripped herself out of bed to try and gain control of the van, but before she could, the tail end of the van slammed into a wall. No one got hurt, but our hearts skipped a beat. What surprised me the most, was that Colton remained asleep. Gabby awoke him in a panic to explain what happened. We eventually moved the van to safer, more secure place to once again rest our heads, and our hearts.
A good traveler understands the polarities of the experience. When things fall into place, the bliss is overwhelming. But when things get complicated and solutions are hard to find, it can feel as if you’re suffocating. Understanding, decisiveness and efficiency will get you through the hard stuff.
Our upswing came the next day when we managed to find a secluded beach in Croatia to enjoy the afternoon and evening. We wandered the beach. We lay in the grass. Together. Alone. We played with rocks and picked up trashed and watched a proper sunset. What a relief.
The next morning, we marveled Croatia’s countryside as we headed back to Slovenia to return the van. We convinced ourselves the van had a faulty break system and would somehow argue our way into getting our $300 deposit back. This was not the case. Not in Slovenia.
We had grey clouds over our heads and not many words to speak as we waited a couple hours for a bus to take us to our next accommodation. During our bus ride, I received a text from my father informing me about tourists being killed in Paris the day before. While I was experiencing one of the most beautiful days of my life, others were experiencing their most tragic. And the day before that, our own lives were under threat. This happens every single day. So, what do we do?
I immediately shifted my perspective. Fuck unforeseen costs—we are talking about life. I am alive, and so are my friends. Gratitude is the cure. If the mystery machine taught me anything, it’s just that.