This Summer Leave the Baggage at Home

Andrea Freedman

Every summer I think back nostalgically to my backpacking trip to Europe twenty-eight years ago. Although it was one of my most fun summers, even after all this time, I still think it could have been just a tiny bit better if I had not had a boyfriend back home to worry about.

Undoubtedly a whole new flock of teenagers and young adults eager to experience the world on their own first time will be heading to Europe or some other exotic destination this coming summer.

I urge all the young women out there, if you have a boyfriend, to seriously think about breaking up with him or putting your relationship on hold until after your trip. If it is meant to be between you, you will get back together when you get home; but you may never have this chance for freedom again.

Ask yourself if it is really worth it. Deep down, do you think at this young age you are ready to make a life-time commitment? If you are really honest with yourself, the answer will be no, or at least that you are not sure.

To all the moms out there, it is up to you to lead your daughters in the right direction, by talking to them and asking them to read this post, and ensuring that they are equipped with proper birth control and STD prevention methods – just in case.

Looking back, the guy I left behind when I went to Europe spent the summer waiting for me to get home; I on the other hand was branching out. It was my first experience being away from home with friends and no adult supervision and as far as I was concerned, it was only the beginning of what I hoped would be more travelling. I was in no way thinking of getting married or ready to take on the responsibility that comes with such a serious relationship. If only I had had the courage to be honest with myself, I could have saved myself and, possibly my boyfriend, a lot of heart-ache.

Even in those days, breaking up with someone for the sole purpose of being single on vacation might have been frowned upon, not only by a boyfriend, but also by parents, mine in particular. It would have implied that I wanted to be free sexually. It is too bad I was not strong enough not to care what anyone else was going to think.

I knew the guy I was going out with at the time would not understand. He wasn’t thrilled that I was going on the trip in the first place. I wished I could have talked openly about my dilemma with my parents, or at least my mother. Instead, I kept it to myself and stayed upstairs sick for three weeks before my departure date, throwing up and weak. My mother was right downstairs, trying to nurse me back to health. She knew how important this was to me. It had been in the planning for more than a year. What she didn’t know was the real cause of why I was feeling so ill in the first place.

It was not only the aspect of being free to have romantic interludes with other people that was the problem, but also the emotional side of it. If I called home to my boyfriend while I was travelling and there was one mistaken word between us, I would hang up the phone feeling anxious, when all I should have been feeling was fun and carefree.

It is not easy to find yourself with someone standing in your way. There is a feeling in the air that someone back at home just can’t understand, especially if he or she is the jealous type.

In a way, I guess the voice I had in my head of the promise I had made to stay loyal kept me safe. Nevertheless, twenty-eight years later, I would still advise young people travelling this summer to do it without any entanglements or complications to worry about back home. You may think I sound cold now, but – and I can’t believe I am about to say this – you will understand when you are older. I am not trying to suggest that all relationships are doomed or that none are worth holding onto. I am merely saying that at such a young age, and during what could be the trip of a lifetime, it is a shame to let anyone prevent you from enjoying it to the fullest.

As much as you think you are in love at the age of nineteen or twenty, chances are more than likely that you will not end up with this person in the long run. So, save yourself the grief and regret, and make the most of your travel experience this summer.

You may miss your boyfriend at some moments while you are away. That is okay and it’s also only natural. After all, they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. It could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to your relationship, even if you do happen to stray while on your travels. If not, you will not be sorry that you didn’t prolong things unnecessarily.

It is true you could risk him also seeing other people while you are gone, but the truth is – and you may not like this – he may do that anyway. Imagine how you would kick yourself then!

So, this summer, take it from a more mature, experienced woman and travel lightly. And remember, you will never look back and regret having too much fun.♠

 

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2014

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About andfreed

I am a Toronto based writer of articles, columns, essays and novels.

Posted on May 27, 2014, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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