Summer love: Worlds apart?
Competition: Share your summer love story
The winter in London was coming to an end and I was ready for new life.
Alone and broken-hearted after a failed relationship, I embarked, alone, on my voyage of self-discovery.
I had bought a one-way ticket to Hungary and knew where I would sleep for the first three nights. The rest was up to chance, an open ended journey of unknown roads.
Hamburg was where I met her.
The last of the northern German spring snow had fallen and the summer was playfully teasing the cold streets, from the ships in the Harbour to the seedy streets of St Pauli's Reeperbahn.
I was alone in my hostel recovering from the previous night's antics and I had a chance encounter, as so often happens when you open yourself to anything.
A young German man asked the same questions I had heard a thousand times before, the backpacker's anthem: "What's your name? Where are you from? Where are you going next?"
This led us to discuss music. He was playing a gig that evening and asked if I wanted to come.
It was my philosophy at the time to ask myself at every juncture: Why not?
So I was lead through a maze of dark streets to the festival and granted my complimentary tickets.
I bid my new friend farewell as he headed back stage and made my way, wearily into the concert hall. I was alone, surely the only Kiwi and surrounded by a language I could not understand.
I talked to a few people who replied in broken English and enjoyed the music.
The crowd hushed between sets and that's when I saw her. Our eyes met, and again. On the third time I mustered the courage to approach her and muttered simply "Do you speak English?"
Immediately she smiled and replied "Ja" and so it began.
She was from Hamburg and had travelled Australia as had I. Story after story seemed to end in uncanny coincidence. "That's the same hotel I stayed in - the one with the butterfly farm on the hill".
As the discussion flowed the music fired up again. To hold our conversation, she moved closer.
She was beautiful and the adrenaline pumped through me, making me feel dazed and dizzy as if my stomach was filling with golden syrup.
Things moved on quickly and in a matter of minutes I could not resist a kiss any longer. It felt right. The rest of the night we laughed and drank.
Early the next morning, I awoke to the face of an angel, already giggling.
We collected our things and walked hand in hand to the station. I had a train to Amsterdam, she belonged to Hamburg.
We ate hastily at small restaurant, traded numbers and said goodbye.
As I sat on the train, I felt like something special might be passing me by, a kind of energy that was neither mine nor hers that was leaving. I felt compelled to message her immediately. I confirmed my travel plans and by the time I'd reached Amsterdam, we had set another rendezvous in Portugal.
So it went on, each time we said goodbye we would arrange our next meeting. The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Portugal. Each time we met, we would take more time and get to know each other better.
She was so sweet and we could always laugh or talk about anything. I eventually began to love her.
Then came the bittersweet moment for me. It had been six months since I left London and I missed my family dearly.
We said a teary last goodbye at Barcelona Airport as the last of the Spanish summer set in a fiery sky. There was a sense of regret and finality to our romance. I thought I would never see her again.
I sat for 30 hours on my flight thinking about what might have been. On my arrival home, I greeted my family and settled into my post-holiday depression just in time for another rush of springtime.
We talked regularly and reminisced our beautiful time together.
Within a week of my arrival home she asked me if she could visit. I could not believe it, why would she want to travel 14,000 miles for me? We agreed on dates and she booked her tickets. 31 January 2014.
A new year, a new love?
An endless summer, an endless romance?
I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
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