5.2
January 13, 2022

When I stopped Looking for a Mate, I unexpectedly Found One.

I was 33 years old when I decided I was done waiting for a travel companion.

I had traveled with friends and family throughout my childhood and college, but as an adult, this became increasingly difficult.

I fantasized about meeting a partner I could explore the world with, but I still hadn’t found him. What if I never would? In a panic, I decided I was done. I was going on my own. I was 33 years old, and I was declaring my travel independence. I would captain my own ship and explore the world. I was no longer waiting for my elusive first mate.

I wasn’t ready to travel to another country completely solo, but I also knew I didn’t want to go on a “singles” trip. I wasn’t looking for a hookup. I eventually found a 14-day group tour of Costa Rica that was geared toward “independent travelers.”

Perfect.

The group I would travel with was a mix of men, women, Americans, and Europeans, and nearly everyone was near my age. I was matched with a lovely German woman as my roommate. We quickly became friends. There was only one married couple in the group; the rest of us were on our own.

Our group got along well. Some got along really well. The first night, my roommate hooked up with our tour guide. They remained inseparable for the remainder of the trip. I was now in my room solo. But not for long.

There was an Englishman in my group with a quiet demeanor. We both liked Cuba Libres. We talked. We laughed. We clicked. I no longer spent my nights alone.

At first, we kept it secret. It was delicious sneaking around. We bonded deeply and freely. He lived in the United Kingdom, and I lived in the United States. When the trip was done, so were we. There was no worry about our future. As Costa Ricans say, it was Pura Vida. We lived in the moment.

At the end of our trip, he was to fly back to England via New York, which was a three-hour drive from my home. We built in a layover, and he spent three days with me in Rhode Island. We wanted more. We launched a cross-continental relationship. I went to England a few months later, and we talked every day or two through Skype while apart. My family and friends thought I had lost my mind. I had never been more in love.

We traveled through England. I showed him around the U.S. We met each other’s families and friends. Frequent flier miles led to free tickets. We spent my birthday in Spain. The immigration process overwhelmed us, and we broke up.

We got engaged in Mexico. He moved here one year later, and we quietly wed. We did it again in grand fashion a year later with our family and friends. We have a nine-year-old son.

And we still love to travel.

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Karen Oliver, Ph.D.  |  Contribution: 320

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