If It Feels Right, Can It Be Wrong? – A True Story And Guest Post by Liesbet Collaert @LiesbetCollaert

Continuing my series of true stories, I’m delighted to welcome Liesbet Collaert, who shares her story of how life changed the direction she was travelling.

If it feels right, can it be wrong?

Although Liesbet leads a different life to me (read and follow her blog to find out more) her true story is one I gasped at even though I’ve had similar experiences. It makes me believe in fate even more and why we find ourselves in certain situations for a real purpose.

Will her story bring back memories of a familiar position when you read it? Has fate played a part in your life?

***

Liesbet and Caesar arriving in San Francisco

San Francisco. A fascinating city I only know from movies and guidebooks. So close now! I can almost see the Golden Gate Bridge, smell the salty air of the bay, and feel the breeze in my light brown hair. The promise of a new adventure causes my ear-to-ear grin as I hop into our small camper to grab a CD of dEUS, my favorite Belgian band.

After crisscrossing the United States, Western Canada, and Alaska in our truck camper for the last year and a half, my boyfriend Karl, his dog Caesar, and I landed in California. Karl’s friend Nik, a DJ, had invited us to share his studio-apartment in Oakland, as a base to explore SF. Nik also rents out two apartments in his house.

CD in hand, I enter the yard again and stop dead in my tracks. Two gorgeous dogs with fluffy tails had run up to me. I smother them with cuddles and praise.

“Hi, I’m Mark. And these two are Kali, the white one, and Darwin, the grey one.”

Liesbet with Kali and Darwin

I look up from admiring the wagging furballs.

My eyes meet those of a tall, skinny, short-haired, and attractive man in the doorway of apartment #1.

“Hello. I’m Liesbet. My boyfriend and I are staying with Nik for a week to visit San Francisco. Our home on wheels is parked in front of the house.”

“Home on wheels? Why are you living in a camper?”

“It lets us travel around with our own bathroom and kitchen and plenty of storage and provides much more comfort and security than dingy hostels and a backpack,” I tell him with an unfaltering smile and raised voice; telltales of the excitement I always feel when elaborating on my pursuit of freedom.

“I detect an accent. Where are you from?” he asks, after I had described a handful of places I visited while backpacking for almost two years on the other side of the world.

“I’m from Belgium, but I haven’t been back in a while.”

Mark seems entranced, which encourages me to ramble on about my passion. After some time of telling stories and trading questions and answers, he exclaims, “That’s incredible! I need to travel and find myself a Belgian girlfriend!”

I blush. It dawns on me that we’d been chatting for a while.

“Do you know what time it is?” I ask. An hour has passed. I rush to Nik’s place next door.

“Where have you been?” Karl asks.

“Talking to a neighbor, the one with the big dogs. He seems like a nice guy.” I hand my CD to Nik, who is always eager to discover new music.

Our planned week in the Rockridge area of Oakland turns into four, as all of us become friends and Mark unintentionally draws me closer and closer. Karl encourages my contact with the neighbor. “Soon we’ll be out of here and it’s just you and me again,” he says. “Enjoy the company!”

I embrace Mark’s presence until I crave it.

One night, the Hollywood-moment arrives… our first kiss. An arm around my shoulders. A fluttering body. Touching of lips. Mutual desire. He loves me back!

We never allow anything more to happen. Mark is a realist. He knows I am leaving Nik’s place shortly and that I am in a serious relationship.

Our dreadful last evening together eventually arrives. We hug strongly and kiss tenderly.

“I’ll come pick you up wherever you are, whenever you’re ready to leave Karl.” Mark’s parting words sound sweet. Is he serious?

Mark and Liesbet

That night, I lie awake, heart racing. By morning, it’s time to pack up the camper and leave.

I exchange glances with Karl. His eyes beam with excitement about continuing our adventures; mine reflect trouble and sadness.

I take the plunge.

“I can’t be with you anymore. My attraction to Mark has grown too strong.” I sound more determined than I feel.

Shock.

Karl stares at me with intent. “We’re driving to Mexico. We both looked forward to this.”

Silence.

Did he not notice my enthusiasm to continue our overland journey had diminished these last weeks?

I swallow hard.

Can I really give all this up? Our past explorations on the road? The year and a half before that, where he tried so hard to fit into my Belgian life? How about my American visa that will run out if I don’t leave the country soon?

The consequences of my impulsiveness finally trigger some brain activity.

Karl continues, “I love you. Caesar and I will miss you so much.”

We both cry. Three years together is not nothing. I think about the good times we shared. Karl and his dog – and me, too – had been ecstatic when I showed up at his Maryland apartment, ready to roam North America. That was the summer of 2003. I had thrown a goodbye party at my parents’ house in Belgium and hopped on a plane. Little did I know I was never to return.

I remain quiet. My heart bleeds for him. Karl is a sensitive man who understands me and cares about me. We have the same passion: traveling the world on a budget. Yet, I crave more romance in a relationship…

Am I seriously giving up my travels for a man?

That would be a first. It’s usually the other way around. My gut knows how this predicament will end. My mind has nothing to add.

I face Karl and finally utter, “If I leave with you, I will want to come back here at some point.” It is the only conclusion I can muster.

I have fallen in love with another guy, the “guy next door.”

Mark with Kali and Darwin

“If that’s what you want,” Karl replies with a sigh, “then you should just stay.”

In the hours that follow we split the money from our communal account; I gather my belongings; and we discuss a contingency plan for the truck camper. I pet Caesar goodbye and give Karl one last, heartfelt embrace. Then, misty-eyed, I watch them drive away.

I close the door of Mark’s apartment behind me. Unlike other times when Karl and I returned his dogs after walking them with Caesar – today, I don’t leave.

My pile of clothes and gear clutters the corner of the bedroom. I settle on the bed with Kali and Darwin. My tears soak their fur within minutes. Mark has found his Belgian girl without having to travel; she appeared right on his doorstep. He probably thought he’d never see her again. Surprise!

Liesbet and Darwin

What will he say when he comes home from work?

What if he doesn’t want me here?

As usual, I don’t have a back-up plan.The rest of the afternoon, I cry. I feel bad for Karl.

I’m such a selfish bitch.

The front door opens. The dogs jump up and run towards their human. I stay behind in the bedroom.

“Hi, guys,” Mark greets Kali and Darwin with a sad voice. “I guess they’re gone, huh? You two don’t seem too excited to see me. What’s up?”

I walk into the hallway. My eyes sting.

Mark looks up.

“What the hell are you doing here?” His words crush me. I shuffle towards him. We hug. I don’t want to let go.

“I’m staying with you,” I whisper, as if he doesn’t have any say in this. Mark’s face relaxes into a smile. His grip tightens. I guess that means it’s okay.

***

Writer & Blogger Liesbet Collaert

Liesbet Collaert’s articles and photos have been published internationally.

Born in Belgium, she has been a nomad since 2003 with no plans to settle anytime soon. Her love of travel, diversity, and animals is reflected in her lifestyle choices of sailing, RVing, and house and pet sitting.

Liesbet calls herself a world citizen and currently lives “on the road” in North America with her husband and rescue dog. Follow her adventures at www.itsirie.com and www.roamingabout.com.

Connect With Liesbet

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Blog: Roaming About

Blog: It’s Irie

Amazon

Liesbet’s true story is taken from her new book, Plunge.

Book cover for Plunge by Liesbet Collaert
Plunge

Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.

Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.

Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.

Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?

Information/Purchase links

Buy on Amazon

For eBook versions worldwide

For paperback distributors worldwide

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My thanks to Liesbet for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Liesbet, please leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Do you have a true story you’d like to share on my blog? Contact me via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on the menubar.

More true stories…

Not Stupid Today – A True Story And Guest Blog Post by Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63

Please welcome author, writer and blogger Graeme Cumming to my blog. What words of wisdom or mistakes did you lean from your parents? Graeme shares a true story of an important lesson he leaned from his father while on a beach.

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My Accident: A Life-Changing Experience – A True Story And Guest Blog Post By James M. Lane @jameslanepm

I’m delighted to welcome James M. Lane to my blog today.


James is the writer for Perfect Manifesto, a blog about fatherhood, health and self-improvement.

My Accident: A Life Changing Experience

James shares a true story about an accident that changed his life.

When I read his story, it made me stop and think about some of the accidents I’ve had in my life and whether they changed me. Maybe reading James’s post will make you stop and think?


It was too damn early to be awake on a Saturday morning as I stumbled into the toilets, fatigued and beaten down, taking great care to ensure my flimsy hospital gown did not fly open exposing my nether regions.

One look in the mirror at my battered face was enough, the lacerations altering my soft complexion, the look of innocence stolen away overnight.

The pulsating rips throbbed on my face, with horrible bloody slash across the bridge of my nose being the centrepiece.

There is no going back from this.

As I thought how destroyed my face was, I began to cry.

I’ve looked better…

Earlier…

It was the same Friday routine, a job done 100 times before, trundling away the sentinel-like cages, filled with medical stationery, into storage for the weekend.

The weekend, that unremarkable event where I did much of nothing expect watch DVDs and write commentary for penny review sites.

Each towering cage was pushed into the storeroom with unskilled aggression, ringing out one by one, with a spectacular crashing noise as metal clashed with metal.

The room was crammed, the last bit of space for the prescriptions sat within a tight corner.

Not knowing better, I applied force to get the cage flying over the ramp, where it snapped against a dip in the ramp, falling forward with a deathly clatter.

Expletives came into my head and straight out of my mouth, as the pressure of making a 5 o’clock finish was on, and I was unable to elevate the heavy load alone.

I grabbed my colleague, Umar to assist with battling the weight of the cage.  He helped to steady the burdensome load pulling upwards, as I endured metal digging into my skin as I pulled upwards, getting it back to its upright position.

In a moment of naivety I’ll never forget, I repeated exactly the same action causing the fall in the first place, with the notable exception that I was on the other side attempting to jimmy the wheels over the dip in the ramp as Umar pushed.

Big mistake.

The cage veered towards me from the momentum provided by Umar, a bit too much, plummeting downwards, same as before, expect with myself in the way to slow the fall.

I moved most of my body out the way, so I didn’t end up trapped, shifting the remainder of the cage off with my knees.

My immediate thought was how close I had been to serious injury, but then a dull stinging from the impact rung through my face, but I was okay… or so I thought.

Blood began to seep off my head, I held my hands to stop it, a futile action as it was coming too rapidly to clot with a compression.  I looked down at my hands to see them covered in red.

The storeroom floor was cover with one big bloody puddle, with a few handprints for good measure, in a scene resembling a Tarantino movie.

After…

I lay in a bed that was not my own, with nothing but a few home comforts hastily thrown into a bag in a last-minute panic.

Staring at the ward ceiling, I became lost in my own thoughts in this cold, unfamiliar place.

I wondered what ‘normal’ people my age were doing, the ones with a social life, the types who always scared me as they always seemed so confident and sure of themselves.

Did they really have it all figured out? Or were they just as terrified as me not knowing what they wanted from life?  Did other people fear deep down that they are doomed to spend their life achieving nothing?

Exhaustion eventually caught on, sending me into a deep sleep.

Morning…

Sounds of voices in the bed opposite roused me from needed rest.  I had a pressing desire to pee, but didn’t dare move for feeling like I was interrupting a very personal conversation in a very public place.

Instead, I lay still and listened.

“You make your choices in life, your poor decisions have led you here, if you keep behaving like this, you might not be so lucky next time.”

The consultant’s lecturing words carried over as the patient responded muttering incomprehensible words, as family members occasionally interjected trying to justify his actions.

I interpreted the conversation to understand that the youth had been fighting, another young ego getting too drunk and making mistakes.

The words made me think of my own situation, I wasn’t getting into late night brawls on a Friday night, but it was my decisions, or lack of them that had got me here.

If I nearly died yesterday, would you have been happy going out like this?

Not likely!

Laying in a hospital bed for most would ruin their weekend, for me it was the most I had done in months.

My reflections turned to my dead-end job, lack of friendships and prospects.

I knew there was more than this, I knew I could be more than this.

Changing…

The next few weeks I did all the tedious things required to fix up a broken face, while thinking what I wanted.

I dreaded going back to work, not for the job itself but because I knew I would be the centre of attention as it’s hard to stay inconspicuous when you’ve been clobbered with a 200kg industrial cage and left blood stains all over the building.

People talk, they always do, and when they learned my experience had changed me, I was seeking more in my own life, their own insecurities kicked in, belittling my abilities to do anything else.

Apparently, I was too afraid do anything that would better my existence.  This just drove me even more.

With time my face healed up and I felt more optimistic that I would not have to live the rest of my life as a disfigured monster.

This was followed by giving in my resignation to go to University, a decision that shocked the doubters thinking I would never leave.

Did I nearly die?

Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic, maybe my accident wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but I like to think it nearly did take my life, as that feeling has always motivated me to keep striving to be better than yesterday.


James M. Lane is a dad of two, husband, project manager and the writer for Perfect Manifesto a blog about fatherhood, health and self-improvement, founded on the belief that everyone has the potential to be better than yesterday.

Writer and blogger James M. Lane with one of his children

Connect With James

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My thanks to James for writing this guest post and sharing his true story with us.

If you have any questions or comments for James, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.

Have you ever had a life-changing moment? Get in touch with me if you’d like to share the details in a guest post.

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