You may have seen me standing silently, my eyes never once daring to leave, for even the smallest moment, the glossy, photo-rich pages of the travel magazine held tightly in my hands. You may have stopped for a second and observed how I seemed to you so distant there in my stillness, so entirely consumed and captivated and altogether unattached from the ordinary scene surrounding me – amid the stacks of a familiar bookstore, perhaps, or sidled up to some random magazine rack that had beckoned me out of a forgotten errand, if only for that fleeting minute. You may have wondered what new journey my mind was embarking on at that very instant or what memories of past adventures were being stirred as I was swallowed up in the alluring images laid out before me.
You may have noticed the simple, hand-woven bracelet around my wrist, a favorite trinket brought back from a voyage long past, or the well-loved t-shirt I wore displaying the faded emblem of some undoubtedly exotic destination. You may have allowed your gaze then to move down the line of tattered denim to a pair of brown, worn-in boots that looked like they too had more than a few stories of their own to tell. You may even have entertained the notion of interrupting the reverie to ask me about my travels, knowing first-hand the rare thrill getting to recount your escapades to an actual interested audience can truly be. You may have imagined how my face would light up, my heart would quicken, and my smile would stretch from ear to ear as I would enthusiastically oblige, grateful to have actually encountered a soul who shares an appreciation for real-life adventure, even when it is only vicarious. You may have pictured how I would try to coax a laugh with my anecdotes or elicit a gasp or a chuckle or a raised eyebrow, even, with tales of my many crazy misadventures.
You may have anticipated how I would also want to hear all about your exploits, every detail. You may have suspected that I would want to bask in your excitement as you told me about your latest trip to some incredible, envy-inspiring place very likely to be on my bucket list. You may have considered how unreservedly enthralled I would be as you confessed to me that every time you hear a particular song you are transported back to that breathtaking moment when you reached that incredible waterfall after a long and arduous hike or the sensation you felt as your very hands explored the stone relics of some ancient civilization. You may have sensed as you studied me how I would delight as we discovered our mutual love of rock and roll and of the magic of music in all its diversity – how the only real rule to what music we listen to is simply that we like it, regardless of any label anyone else wishes to place on it.
You may have, even in that moment, recognized in me a kindred spirit, a fellow traveler on this exciting and endlessly unpredictable road of life – a road that we both know can only be trekked armed with a ready laugh and the wide-eyed curiosity and hunger of a child. You may have envisioned how we might one day find ourselves hand-in-hand, exploring some entirely new destination together – pausing in silent awe and clinging to each other as we drink in the spectacular beauty and wonder of where our humble feet were so fortunate to stand. You may have expected how I would be there, present in every moment with you, because that is how I choose to live. You may have pondered how, no matter where we were or what we were doing, I would always make you feel the familiarity and security of home – that I would forever be a refuge for you and you for me. You may, too, have mused at the array of predicaments we would undoubtedly get ourselves into and how I would try to calm your nerves and even get you to smile as we were about to miss our flight or as our rental car blew out a tire in nothing less than a torrential, monsoon rainstorm, because, after all, the adventure is found in the journey and the excitement in the unexpected.
You may have understood as you saw me standing there that I was the type of man who, despite all of his lofty aspirations and chronic wanderlust, comprehended the immeasurable value of people and of experiences over material possessions; the value of a life rich with relationships and quality time shared with those you care about; the security and indescribable comfort found in a simple, mom-cooked meal; the always easy conversation of irreplaceable, childhood friends; and the unparalleled joy of coming home to the uncomplicated and incomparable warmth of one’s own bed.
You may have perceived in my very appearance that you don’t hold on to a man like me – you let him go and you go with him, and he’ll do the same for you. You may have supposed that a man like me would respect and appreciate the fact that you too have grand ambitions and maybe even a hefty bucket list of your own. You may even have noted that that strong sense of self, that independence, and that mutual respect would be what would truly bring us together – that those things would be the very cornerstones of our relationship and the foundation of our unity. You may have appreciated then that I was also the type of man that, while his feet may have desires to visit a great many places, his heart has only ever desired to be in one – to dedicate itself unfalteringly to one woman (a woman whose feet would be willing to walk where his would walk).
In that simultaneously isolated and infinite moment, you may have caught a glimpse of a particular tomorrow with all of its still boundless possibilities and contemplated whether that unassuming, seemingly unremarkable man before you, thumbing far too captivatedly through his travel magazine, might have a place in it, and you may well have realized in that instant that his shoulder is only a virtual arms length away. All you need do is tap on it…