I know the rules of the traveler’s game.
Don’t change your travel plans for other people, don’t change the course of your life, and don’t lose your personal targets from your sight.
But most importantly, don’t get attached.
I think it was only when I smelled your skin for the first time, I was doomed. It smelled like opium, and I couldn’t get enough. It was diving into the tall grass and rolling in it on a hot summer day, over and over again.
I know the rules of the travelers.
Give in everything you’ve got, but don’t take anything with you as you move on. Say what you want and be who you are — it doesn’t matter anyway — you most probably won’t see the people you’ve met ever again.
This puts things on ease — there are no expectations.
So when I saw you, I didn’t think anything, really. Your English was shit and you looked years younger than me. There was no way we could get it on.
Yet, I thought it could be fun to skip my meditation retreat. Meet new people instead.
It felt easy and merry. There wasn’t anything in the world that would blur that.
I had no reason to doubt it wouldn’t stay that way.
Sometimes, in encounters with men, I would let them make me happy; let them run the show. This time, I was really curious who you were. I wanted to give in and experience you.
The more I watched you and listened, the more I wanted to make you happy.
So when I touched you, I wanted to touch you properly, make it all about you, focus on every inch of your skin like an explorer.
And just like that, I forgot the time and space. And got it all back from you. Piece by piece.
I knew the rules of travelers. When we met in Malaysia again, I knew it was for the last time.
So I shut the voices in my head that reminded me of it.
There is no tomorrow, just today and now, and that’s the rule of travelers.
Perhaps that should be the only rule of life too. Because we are all travelers, after all, moving through life. Even if we don’t change countries, we’re never stationary.
Oscar Wild said: ‘Women spoil every romance trying to keep it forever.”
It was my biggest fear to become that.
With a deadline breathing on our backs, every kiss and touch was stolen. And when the honeymoon started to come to its end, the emotions thickened like porridge.
So when we sat on the train from Batu Caves and I felt your thumb on my back while I spoke to an American girl, I wanted to cut the conversation and close my eyes like a cat.
When I held your hand for a while on the street, I wanted to laugh aloud.
When I felt your skin on my skin as you laid your head on my shoulder on the bus stop waiting for Uber, I fought the feeling of attachment creeping on me.
Cool — that’s how I was meant to be.
My favorite moment was when I quoted Paulette from a film we watched — almost like a normal couple. I said: ‘Je te bouffe les couilles,’ and you replied: ‘J’adore ca,’ and kissed me.
I had to smile to myself when I thought about it. The age difference between us was too mad.
I knew there was a crowd of people awaiting us both on our trips.
I knew the rules of travelers.
And yet, I couldn’t help losing myself.
When I was leaving you in the morning, my chest was loaded with feelings I did not recall letting in.
The waking sun lit up the city, reflecting against the steel Petronas, making them shine like glorious metal monsters. The taxi played wistful Indian music.
‘Why did you leave it that late?’ The driver asked nervously when I said I needed to be at the airport at 8 am.
‘Sorry,’ I murmured back.
How could I tell him how hard it was to leave that bed?
I saw your hand groping for me in the dark. I touched your hair and then your neck.
I wanted the last dosage of opium.
‘Hopefully, we’ll make it,’ the driver said responsibly interrupting my thoughts.
I looked out of the window to see the city becoming smaller. I had no words for the driver that would explain that I forgot all that was important in the past four days. I was too busy to notice my breath became shallow and that my walk quickened.
I couldn’t tell the taxi driver I wanted to feel your warm body as you started to wake up. Hold out my lips to find yours and melt again into the softest bed in Malaysia.
I knew the rules of travelers. It was time to recall them again.
The morning light now flooded Kuala Lumpur and I knew I was about to break into shards. These will have to be glued in places again.
I leaned against the back seat.
I had to breathe out some space for new things to come.
It was time to open the palm of my hand and let the butterfly fly out. If I tried to hold on to keep it inside, my hand would get a cramp.
‘We made it,’ said the driver and parked at the departures entrance on time. He looked glowingly proud. ‘You’re lucky, young lady,’ he smiled at me.
I guess I was.
Au revoir mon petit. Bon voyage to both of us.
I took the backpack and walked out through the gate.
Read Two Love Letters: Part Two written by George Kolena