You forgot where you started, but you knew you sure as hell
didn’t want it to end.
You’ve lost count of the places you’ve been to, lost track
of the days on the road and hours on the plane.
You’re lost – so unbelievably lost – but with him by your
side, it’s not so much being lost as it is discovering something new.
And that’s just what it was – you were exploring the world
No guides, no schedules, no plans, no tours – just you and
him on a whim, spontaneous plane flights and car breakdowns halfway across yet
And if you woke up to grey skies and rain dotting the motel
windows, lips pursed as you said I wish
it wasn’t raining, he’d spin you so you’re looking at his hazel eyes
instead, smiling when he whispers then we’ll
go someplace where the sun doesn’t stop shining.
It was that simple – pack your bags in an hour, in the
taxicab, and you’re at the airport asking the receptionist two seats for your next flight.
You were just two rugged travellers who couldn’t get enough
of the world, couldn’t get enough of each other.
It was just you and him across countries, large backpacks
strapped to your shoulders with the bare necessities – mostly an assortment of
snacks and carefully stashed polaroids of you and him with the places and the
date scrawled messily underneath.
It was all you needed.
He’d kiss your suntanned forehead with soft lips and stare
into your eyes, fingers interlaced with yours as he leaned back on the airplane
cushions, broad shoulders taking up some of your space.
And half of the time you didn’t even know where you were going
– it wasn’t until you touched down that you thought oh, here I am, always knowing this
is where I’m supposed to be.
You’d watch the clouds clear from the airplane windows and
suddenly you’re bracing yourself for landing as another city comes into sight –
sometimes pointed skyscrapers, sometimes flat fields, always a new adventure.
And then you and him are off, tearing through the airport
like little kids, stopping only to grab a map and flag a taxi down, pointing to
the biggest pictures on the tourist guide.
You’d go to all the monuments and museums and famous
landscapes and you’d take those cheesy pictures of pushing the Leaning Tower of
Pisa or triumphant star at the end of the Great Wall of China and holding the Pyramids
of Giza in between your fingers with laughter as you tried to get the angle
There’s the tourist-heavy places where you and him with the
large camera strapped around his neck fit right in, sunglasses perched on your
heads and irregular tans from travelling between hot and cold, sun and rain.
And then there’s the places you got lost with him – he’ll
take your hand and lead you down some road to take a picture of an age-old oak
and before you know it, he’s leading you down a near-invisible path to the
streets that the timeless locals called home.
Those were the places you liked the most, you think.
Because then you’re really
discovering the place, you’re really hearing the chatter of different
languages and dialects, you’re really seeing the worn clothes and shingled
roofs of a place that people called home.
And Ashton’s there, he’s there with his tall figure and loud
voice, eyes staring in wonder through his camera lens as he takes picture after
picture; rain puddles with reflections of cracked homes and locals with chipped
You’d try the foods straight out of the ovens of the residents’
homes, none of that industrialized famous meals that restaurants so proudly
boast – family recipes and homegrown vegetables, spoons with worn handles and
He’d always to his best to discover as much as he can,
taking your hand and pulling you with him.
Broken English with the natives, dirty shoes in brand name
stores, farmer’s tan in the middle of a family farm, loose curls escaping a
thick knitted hat as he tried to catch snowflakes on his tongue.
And god, there’s
no way to describe it – travelling with Ashton was unpredictable and exhilarating,
sometimes frustrating, oftentimes with a smidge of danger, but always, always fun.
He’ll say he wants to try snorkeling and he’ll hold your
hand as he pets a manta ray, he’ll say he wants to drive across the country
then forget to fill up the gas, he’ll say he wants to go urban ziplining then
shout your name as he parachutes off a fifty-storey building.
There’s an abundance of sketchy hotel rooms – everything’s
usually spent on plane tickets – where the showers are too cold and the toilets
too covered in grime, the bed probably infested
with something and the windows slightly jammed open with a draft.
But there’s his arms around your waist and even though he
reeks of sweat and you swear you can practically smell his adrenaline and puppy-dog excitement, you don’t think you
could ask for better service than this.
There’s food that doesn’t always match your taste – Ashton what did you order oh my god is it moving
– and the occasional crashing at a house of someone that looks trustworthy
enough – you’ll knock them out if they
try anything, right? – but Ashton’s charm always guarantees you a couch and
a belly full of food at the very least.
He’s the first to hold your hand when you’re hiking – step on this rock babe, careful – head turned
back to make sure you were okay, running through everything with you – we don’t have to stay if you don’t want to –
and always more than happy to carry your backpack and you while he was at it – I’m Smash, I’ve got this.
He’s a stranger to every country but he’s no stranger to you,
and even if the world around you is a blur of languages you’ll never understand
and cultures that you’ll only ever skim on the surface – you’ll know him like
he’s the only thing you’ve ever been taught, you’ll understand him as if he
lived inside you.
He’s your home – right where your heart was.
And this is it, this is all you’ve ever wanted.
No more dull worries of if you remembered to buy milk or pay
your rent, no early morning drags out of bed and same old paths, no more
mundane routine and waiting for Friday night.
You’re living under the same sun and seeing the same sky,
but god, now your life was something you were actually living.
Writing your names on the inside of a paper lantern before
releasing it to the night sky in Taiwan, the echoes of your breath in an empty
historic opera house in Siberia, giving elephants baths in Thailand, smashing tomatoes
in his face during the tomato festival in Spain, discovering every last crevice
of the Lost City of the Incas in Peru, falling asleep on his shoulder as you
ride the bullet train in Japan.
You’ve lost count of all the things you’ve done with Ashton –
things people only dream of, things people spend their lives wondering and
wishing – and here you are, two free spirits who scattered themselves around
this great world that they called home.
The list goes on and on and the polaroids grow and grow –
hundreds upon hundreds of you and him, faces together, staring off, when you
His frizzy curls during the downpour as you walked through
the Summer Palace in Beijing. His tanned skin against the green mountains on
the shores of Mekong River in Laos. His glinting hazel eyes beneath the layers
upon layers of clothing in the Antarctica snow. His dimpled laugh as he dances,
picture a blur from his movement, pure carefree joy during the Brazilian
Carnival. His long fingers pointing to a pub sign in Ireland, a beam on his
face. His wild curls in the wind along the Boulders Beach in South Africa.
Your eyes drink it all in, your lips taste it all, your skin
savors every touch.
The northern lights shining in his eyes when stares at you
instead of the sky in Finland. The feeling of his hands on yours when he holds
you tight on a rollercoaster in the middle of India. The little intake of his
breath just before his lips meet yours when you’re on the peak of a mountain in
There’s no limits for the two of you, not for the world, not
for your love.
Dog sledding in Alaska and picnics on the hills in Scotland,
hang gliding in São Conrado then
slow-dancing on Victoria’s Peak in Hong Kong. Climbing El Potrero Chico in
Mexico, whispered stories in your ears next to the stone Moai on Easter Island.
running, running to catch a train to Paris in St. Pancras station, running to
make that last jump off the cliffs of Jamaica with Ashton’s arms around you, running
to avoid the rain in Hawaii, running all around the world but always running
with Ashton’s hand in yours; running and running but never running out of
laughter, of memories, of love.
no matter where you are – sacred temples or mountaintops or bustling cities –
Ashton loves you, the one person he wants to see the world with, the one person
he wants to spend forever getting lost and being found with.
could be on a plane to another country or underneath a waterfall or swimming
through the ocean or trekking the dessert but Ashton’s love never changes no
matter where you are – his eyes still glimmer whenever he sees his girl with a
smile on your face at a mountain conquered, flowers woven in your hair and dirt
smudging your cheeks, scratches from branches on your calves and mosquito bites
on your arms.
loves you like no other – in the snow, in the rain; breathless underwater in a
deep sea scuba hunt and nothing but air to catch him on a skydiving fall.
timezones and last week’s dirt under your nails, breaking sneakers and uneven
tan lines on your skin; Ashton loves you to the moon and back and fifty times
around the world.
seen thousands of people with hundreds of stories, but none of them make you
smile quite like he does.
seen millions of stars dotted across the night sky, interlaced with colours and
glimmering by the moon, but none of the shine quite as bright as him.
tasted food that were made out of things you didn’t know could be edible and
you’ve pronounced names of places that washed you with something excitingly foreign, but nothing even compares to
the taste of his lips on yours, his name in your mouth, no matter how many
times you’ve run your tongue over it.
slept on musty motel beds and worn couches of families’ homes, but nothing
matches the warmth of home, of Ashton’s
arms around you at the end of every night no matter where you were.
were discovering the world with him.
with his hand in yours, it’s almost like you’ve never left home.
Maureen Corrigan reviews the 10th anniversary edition of Jacqueline Winspear’s English mystery, Maisie Dobbs, set during WWI:
“Rereading Maisie Dobbs has made me appreciate anew its subtler strengths–the strengths of a mystery that does a really fine job of playing within the traditional boundaries of the genre. It’s Winspear’s command of the period detail of Maisie’s Georgian and World War I world, as well as Maisie’s own quiet smarts that make the novel compelling. Born working class, teenaged intellectual prodigy Maisie toils as a maid in a London townhouse until the day her aristocratic employer catches her in the library reading the philosophical works of David Hume and sends her to Girton College at Cambridge. I know, I know. This fantasy of benevolent despotism is as bad as the more cloying aspects of Downton Abbey. But, the occasional sentimental weaknesses of Maisie Dobbs are more than offset by the novel’s sober awareness of all its heroine must give up in order to make her class climb. When young Maisie leaves the scullery for university, one of her fellow servants comments that: “Fish can’t survive long out of water… .” Indeed her solitude puts Maisie in the alienated company of every other first-class detective from Edgar Allan Poe’s Auguste Dupin onward. ”
1907 St. Pancras Train Station, London via Topical Press Agency / Getty Images