Wanderlust: On Failing Plans & Learning To Move On
I arrived on The Big Island on the night before New Year’s Eve. It was the cheapest day to fly and even though I would’ve preferred to spend the holidays with family and friends, I really wanted to start my travel adventures on a fiscally responsible note. Which also made me decide to get on Craigslist and find a room to rent, instead of simply renting a hotel room. I found one in a neighborhood about 40 miles south of Kona’s airport. When I got there, a guy in his 30s, who resembled Jesse Pinkman from “Breaking Bad,” greeted me and took me on a tour of the house. It was a beautiful, multiple story home on top of a hill with a great view of the ocean. My room had a fantastic, large window through which I could see the dark night sky, completely covered in glistening stars. And bonus, the place was cheap. I fell asleep that night, staring out of the window into the endless universe, with a huge smile on my face. I thought I was definitely winning.
Then, at around 4 a.m., an abrupt knock on my door woke me.
“Uhh … yeah? You need something?” I sleepily croaked.
“Can you go with me to my doctor’s appointment?” the Jesse Pinkman lookalike inquired through the closed door.
“Um … I guess?” I responded, completely unenthusiastically. I mean, I had just moved in. As unexpected and odd as the request was, I didn’t really feel like I could say no.
Jesse instructed me to be ready in five minutes and to wear a sweater, because it would be chilly before sunrise and the beginning of our adventure required a five-mile hike to the bus stop. I eased out of bed and got dressed with my eyes still half closed.
“You ready?” I nodded and we began the long walk to the bus stop.
As we trudged along, Jesse revealed bits and pieces of information about himself. He thought he was dying. He had two kids he was not allowed to see with two women who had restraining orders against him. He hated his parents. And he spent the majority of his time locked inside his house, playing World of Warcraft. Initially, I tried not to judge. I turned a blind eye to all of the obvious red flags because the comfort of having a place to stay — even if that place was shared with a questionable character — won over the uncertainty and discomfort of having to further explore and look for another place to stay. And hell, I was pretty jet-lagged. So I let this all slide.
Needless to say, turning a blind eye did not work. Over the course of the next few weeks, I listened to his angry rants about hating the world, especially the women in it, and watched him become increasingly erratic from mixing pharmaceuticals with alcohol. I decided I had to leave. Our tenant-landlord relationship had to come to an end. Except, emotionally, I was not ready to move on. Despite the fact that our dynamic was unhealthy, toxic even, the last thing I wanted to do was find somewhere else to live. I let myself get too comfortable, too dependent on the idea of stability. I had been in the same kind of scenario many times during my solo travel adventures and even in my life in general.
There is no choice more difficult than the decision to end a relationship, of any kind, and to move on. The fear of the unknown paralyzes you and sometimes you get stuck, because sticking with what you know to not be working can still feel safer than the uncertainty of trying something new. Often times, there’s the fear that you may not find better. It is precisely that attitude that lead to my complacency and allowed me to continue to share space with an individual who was not positively impacting my life. It is how we can grow dependent and comfortable in abusive relationships, or even those relationships that we know will never work or will lead to heartbreak or hardship. It must be human nature to seek comfort and stability, even sometimes in the absolute wrong places.
When I woke up early one morning, packed up all of my stuff and left without a word or a trace, I was going against that nature. I walked the five miles down to the main road, alone, not too sure where I was going next but certain the next place would definitely be better. And it was. I bought a tent and some camping supplies, then made my way to one of my favorite beaches on the island, frequented by pods of dolphins not too far from shore and mama whales giving birth to their babies in the distance. After I set myself up, I sat near the shoreline, had a glass of wine and congratulated myself for having the balls to move on. I was proud of myself for trusting that what comes next can be better.
The time I have spent on the Big Island has been so exciting and adventurous, but it has also been uncomfortable. Every day, I am forced to learn this lesson over and over again. I meet new people and constantly have to decide whether or not I will continue to engage them, or when it’s time to break away and do my own thing. It is rarely an easy choice. I reside in new environments, for a few hours, a few days or even a week. On a day-to-day basis, it can get tiresome. Sometimes I crave stability. But most of the time, I’m pretty excited to see what changes are next. They remind me that plans can fail. And when they do, it may simply be time to move on.