So since it's Valentine's week, I have decided to get a little bit personal. This coming February 14th I will have a boyfriend, a partner, or whatever it is you are supposed to call it when you are my age. We are an unusual couple, I suppose, in that we have no online presence. You won't see pictures of us posing together on facebook or publicly available grand gestures, but just this once, I have decided to tell our story. Technically I am allowed to write this because it is also a travel related tale.... enjoy x
This story takes place in Riga, Latvia. It was an unusual day. I had spent the night before sleeping on the floor in London Stansted Airport (As you do!). I was running a bit behind the rest of my friends, who had arrived in Riga the day before. I finally caught up with the gang and over a few beers I asked my friend "What will we do tomorrow?" This was nothing strange or startling. We had travelled all over Europe together, Sweden, France, Poland, Austria... We agreed the take an open top bus tour.
The next morning we left the rest of the gang nursing their hangovers and arranged to meet at Riga's Freedom Monument. I spotted him from across square engrossed in a tourist map. As I approached him he looked up from his map and announced that he was "Throwing a curve ball". Instead of the tour bus, it was to be a day at the seaside! I wasn't dressed or prepared for the beach, but it sounded like a nice surprise, so I followed him to the nearest station and we boarded the train for Jurmala.
The journey took about 45 minutes, but I can't say I remember it much, other than that we had chatted the whole way about everything and nothing. Arriving at our stop, we dismounted with all of the local people heading towards the beach. We immediately saw a kiosk selling ice cream and dove right in. For some reason, I stopped to take a photo of us both eating our ice creams. I had an uncontrollable urge to capture this moment. I felt happy. Happiness was something that hadn't come naturally to me for almost a year. But there I was. Happy.
We strolled down towards the beach taking our shoes off and headed straight for the water. I instantly realised that I was standing in the Baltic Sea. Only 14 days before that I was standing in the Caribbean sea. That made me smile even wider than I had been before. (A guru in India would later tell me that at this very moment I found inner peace, but we haven't gotten to that part yet!). So we continued to walk along the beach, sometimes talking, sometimes in silence. It was during one of the quiet moments when I thought to myself "I wish he'd hold my hand".
Hold on. What? I had known this man for 10 years... What was happening? Was it the Sun? The Sea Air?
I put it to the back of my mind and we headed for dinner. I ordered a cocktail and when it was served to me in it's finery, I took a small silver sword decoration and hooked it on to my chain. I wanted a souvenir of this day. This very unusual day. As we returned to Riga, unsure of what to do, I kissed his cheek and then ran off like a mortified schoolgirl! I realised that it wasn't the sun, or the sea air, it was him. It was his gentleness, his laugh, the way he excitedly tapped my arm. It was very unlikely, but it was the start of something really special.