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

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Blog: Roaming About

Blog: It’s Irie

Amazon

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

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

Reviews

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…

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Graeme shares a true story of an important lesson he leaned from his father while on a beach.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

How A Journey Of A Million Miles Showed Me The Value Of Home – A Guest Post by Paul Ariss @PaulAriss1

I’m delighted to introduce Paul Ariss to my blog. Paul is a songwriter, screenwriter and new to blogging.

Guest blog post by Paul Ariss

Paul shares a true story about travel which gave me goosebumps when I read it because I knew exactly what he was experiencing.

Over to you, Paul.


Image Credit – Paul Ariss

In the early evening of Wednesday, 28th October 1987 I walked into a bar in rain-sodden Flagstaff, Arizona with Randy Jones, a two-tour Vietnam vet.

I’d met Randy hours earlier that day, just minutes after midnight in Albuquerque bus station.

Randy was a mad-eyed but good-hearted individual who happened to be stopping off in Flagstaff himself on the way west to an altogether different destination. Randy and I were polar opposites.

Probably fifteen years older but with a lifetime more living, Randy had fought the Vietnamese in the Mekong Delta and had spent the last two months in a cave in the Rocky Mountains killing animals for his supper.

I was a pasty-faced young English office-worker whose closest shave with conflict was with a drunk in an airport who’d subsequently fallen over his own suitcase.

Yet somehow, me and Randy hit it off immediately.

After getting off our Greyhound bus and booking into our motels we decided to find a local bar, and there we laughed about the cultural differences between the US and the UK, and I let him tell as little as he felt able to share about his time as marine.

Mostly however he was fascinated about my overwhelming desire to see the country that had demanded of him as a young man to go and fight but had largely abandoned him since he returned home.

We were joined after a short time by a huge bear of a Native American man who largely just smiled and kept his own council.

But it’s true to say this night I was restless and struggled to stay convivial. After a couple of beers, I made my excuses and headed back to my motel. I had an inexplicable need to be alone.

By now the late afternoon had given way to early evening and the darkness through my motel window matched my state of mind.

Keeping Hold Of The Promise To Myself

Just ten years earlier I had made a vow to myself that I was now just hours away from fulfilling. At the time of the promise I was unemployed, and giving £5 of the £7 per week Social Security to my recently widowed father for board and keep.

Contrary to the punk counter-culture so many youths of my age were immersed in at the time, I was spending my days listening to the Eagles and dreaming of the open highways of America.

But I was a dreamer without substance. On the day I signed on for social security benefits, I was two-thirds of the way through an 18-months stint of unemployment.

Drenched by a steady drizzling rain, I needed something to aim for, something so far removed from my current situation to be almost too ludicrous to consider.

And then it came to me. I made the decision that one day I would get to The Grand Canyon.

Geographically it was over five thousand miles away from my small town in north-west England, though metaphorically it felt closer to a million. But right at that moment the thought of eventually getting there made the day feel that little bit more bearable.  

And so it was, with a decade of steady employment behind me and a modest but committed savings plan I had enough for the journey and sufficient fire in my belly to make the trip.

My anticipation had remained unquenchable and here I was finally about to satisfy that first.

So why was I so downbeat on the eve of seeing one of the most stunning areas of natural beauty on earth?

When The Final Step Is The Hardest

I was lonely. Not for company, but for home.

I had been travelling on buses for nearly three weeks criss-crossing from one exciting destination to another on a plan of my own volition taking in New York City, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, Nashville, Gracelands, Dallas, Denver; almost every day a new adventure, a new place I’d always heard about but never thought I’d visit.

Yet now, the day before reaching the destination I had planned and saved for over a decade, was the time I most wanted to be home.

The irony was crushing. I sat on the floor of my motel room and wept. Just a little. This feeling wasn’t what I had planned for.

I turned on the TV, a recording of Billy Joel live in Russia from two months earlier, the first rock star to play there post-Glasnost. Though not a massive Billy Joel fan, his energised demeanour helped fire me up.

“Don’t take shit off no-one”, Joel told an ecstatic crowd, each one no doubt loving the feeling of finally being able to let loose after a lifetime of social repression.

Oddly, a spark re-lit within me, enough to pick my emotions up off the floor and settle them enough to sleep after my long day of travelling.

I awoke the next day and pulled back the curtains to a welcoming early sunrise.

A slightly worse-for-wear Randy joined me for breakfast, telling me how the Native American had carried him back to his motel room at 2am. It seems I was right to have left early!

Randy saw me get on the shuttle bus that left for the Canyon.

Image Credit: Paul Ariss

Less than two hours later with a barely controllable anticipation I walked through a huge double door to finally see the most incredible, majestic wonder I’ve ever witnessed.

I smiled broadly and said hello to the Grand Canyon. We had finally met. I had travelled the millionth mile.

Image Credit: Paul Ariss

It had been a long, long journey but worth every step.

Later I thought about Billy Joel, performing so far from home yet feeling a kindred bond with strangers who had lived a life so culturally at odds with everything he knew. And I thought of my new friend Randy who had met someone in me who had expressed a feeling for his own country he had maybe lost something of over the years.

I thought of the Native American whose forefathers had their land ripped from them by Randy’s ancestors, yet felt the simple human instinct to carry him back to where was safe.

And as I turned away from the Grand Canyon at the end of that day my mind went back to where this had all begun and where for me the greatest riches still lay.

Home.


Writer and Blogger Paul Ariss

Paul started off as a lyricist in a song-writing partnership, before branching out into writing scripts. He’s now back to music, writing and recording solo material.

As a songwriter Paul has had songs published as part of a partnership, and as a solo writer has reached the semi-final of the UK Songwriting Contest and had a track chosen as Pick of The Week on a New York based online radio station.

As a script writer Paul has had material used on BBC radio shows on Radio 2, 4 and 5, and has been short-listed in two major script-writing contests as well as working as a Shadow Writer on Channel 4 comedy-drama Shameless, where he also contributed to its online platform.

Paul is new to blogging after getting the blogging bug in May 2020. He plans to increase his output very soon! His blog is called Songs and Scripts and Dunking Biscuits and can be followed by clicking here.

Songs from Paul are now on Spotify and all major streaming platforms have music videos to accompany them on YouTube, all of which can be accessed via his song-writing Facebook page.

Click here to follow Paul on Facebook

Click here to follow Paul on Instagram

Click here to follow Paul on Twitter

Click here to follow Paul’s blog


Have you ever encountered the feelings Paul shared in his guest post?

My thanks to Paul for writing this guest post. If you have any questions or comments for Paul, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.

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