Travel forces you to grow, there’s no doubt about that. Travel ripped off my clothes and scrubbed me raw like a Moroccan woman in a local hammam, splashing the sleep from my eyes as she flung buckets of tepid water at my face. It didn’t force me to grow in a #travelphotooftheday #livingmybestlife kind of way. No sir. Travel took me apart and taught me a motherlode about freedom, including that it wasn’t an escape from myself.
It was the 15th of December 2015. I sat at the window seat of a tiny Ryanair jet and traced our progress as we glided thousands of meters over the Strait of Gibraltar towards Spain. Two months earlier I had found myself on a ferry in the middle of the same strait headed in the opposite direction with Matthew, my brand new travel partner. I’d had no notion of the life-changing adventure to come; the lessons I would learn about trust, fear and gratitude, the courage I would discover in the ferry car hold upon arrival in Morocco, trembling as I gripped a hitchhiking sign; or that I would fall in love with you, with the gold-haired wonder next to me and with Life again and again. I leant my head against the side of the plane and my eyes filled with tears as you disappeared behind me. My heart both swelled with gratitude and cracked with longing