Fuck Toronto

At the airport in Zadar, typing this out on my iPhone. Frustrating as fuck.

What’s even more frustrating is going back to Toronto. I began to feel anxiety about it a few weeks ago when it hit me that 16 months of traveling was about to come to a (brief) end, with me returning to where I’m from. 

You know what it is that’s stressing me out? It’s the people. Not the city, it’s the fucking people inside of it. Granted most of my friends in the world are in Toronto, the people I love the most, or whatever, the people I get along with the most. The people I like the most, can stand the most. Of course, of course that’s true — it’s where I spent 35 years of my life. Just based on the numbers alone, Toronto would have to be the city where I know the most people, hence like the most people. 

But the other side of the coin is this: it’s also the city where I hate the most people. Those that I despise. Who stress me out, who bother me, who keeps me up at night thinking, “Why am I friends with this person?” There’s a lot of them. Maybe half? 

Ugh. 16 months of not thinking about these people, or if I were to meet their counterparts in Asia, I had the pleasure of walking away, no harm done. “Alright, gotta go,” while they’re in mid-speech. No worry about looking rude or like a big meanie-face. 

God, that felt good, to not waste my life having to be around people I don’t like. 

That doesn’t happen in Toronto. I have to suck it up and take it. I have to listen to opinions and unprompted advices. Hear peoples’ philosophies on things I don’t care about. 

Okay, so, this isn’t an issue with Toronto. It’s more an issue with friends-who-think-we’re-closer-than-we-actually-are. Which I suppose makes it my own fault, that the relationship got to where it is. 

I bet someone will say this: “Well I love my life without traveling. I don’t need to run away from…” I bet someone will say that to me, when I’m silent and minding my own business and talking to a friend about an episode of the Simpsons. I’ll feel a tap on the shoulder and it’ll be someone who has a need to put down my lifestyle — and really, I try not to compare mine to anyone else’s, like, to each their own — and that person will say, “Oh yeah? Well I have this and you don’t have that,” a fierce, snarky comeback to something I didn’t say, that reveals more about them than me. 

I really don’t mind shit like, “Grow up and move back here and get a job.” That’s actually an okay statement. I’ll giggle and say, Naaaaah, and we’ll move on. That’s just a difference in opinion on how life should be lived, and everyone’s entitled. My mom says that to me every day. 

It’s the snarky ones, the ones that come over aggressively, sleeves rolled up, ready to fight. The ones that think they’re right and I’m wrong — or that anyone can be right or wrong about life. That I’m on the same race track as them and behind. That we have the same goals, the same endgame. 

That’s a Toronto thing. I don’t have friends like these in LA, New York, Hong Kong. Because I have the opportunity to not be friends with them. I had the opportunity to walk away. But not in Toronto, where relationships solidified with so many of the wrong people. 

I don’t need people to support anything I do — I don’t need cheerleaders in life — but goddamn, I don’t need detractors. And while most of the people I like in the world are in Toronto, it’s where all the stress in my life is. 

Unsuccessful Tindering in Dubrovnik

There was a girl on Tinder, a pretty Asian girl with a sharp chin and thin smile. In this part of the world – the white part – whenever there’s an Asian girl on Tinder and I swipe right, sooner or later we’ll match up. Not necessarily because we find each other attractive (although we need to find each other at least moderately attractive), but probably because we see comfort and solace in each other. We’re in this together.

Man, this girl was sharp. All of these quick-witted responses, dripping in the proper ratio of smirky sarcasm and light laughter. Like she wasn’t so sarcastic that she came off cynical and pessimistic (some people go too far), and she wasn’t so full of ha ha ha’s that she seemed overeager and idiotic (most people go too far).

I actually became frightened that she was too smart. I became self-conscious of my responses. Am I funny enough? Is this reply funny? No, wait, what’s a better word for…

We switched from Tinder to Whatsapp. She gave me her Australian number. Obviously a defunct number still attached to her Whatsapp account, as she’s been living in London the past few years. “Australia, then Singapore, then London.” “Ah, you’re in finance.” “I know, I know. So predictable.”

I messaged with her on the bus between Split and Dubrovnik, in between the times I was talking to the Korean in the seat behind me. I did a quick comparison between the two and the Tinder girl handily won, even though the Korean girl was right there, present, in person, in real life. What’s that saying, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush? I never went by that. I’d rather roll the dice on the 9/10 girl on Tinder than the 7/10 girl less than an outstretched arm’s distance away. Usually what happens is that I end up losing both girls, but there are worse things in the world than to go back to your hotel alone to watch Munich.

I got to my apartment rental late, around 8:30pm. I still hadn’t eaten all day. I quickly unpacked, then messaged her.

“Whereabouts are you staying? It looks like I’m in the suburbs. Is Old City the center of Dubrovnik?”

“Well it’s where I’m staying, so yeah, it’s the center of everything.”

“Of course. Well I need to eat so I’m going to head there. Wanna grab something?”

“Nope. I’m gonna go eat nowhere near you.”

“Ha ha, fuck!” I laughed aloud at this. It was such a plain, harsh rejection that it was witty. I could feel her smiling behind it. Ballsy move.

The next day, I walked 20kms for no reason, to what I thought was going to be a shopping mall to what I thought was going to be a decent beach and finally to the old city. Quite pretty, an almost fully intact castle. Or a city surrounded by castle walls. Aside from a bombing by the Serbians in 1991, everything looked generally the way it did a thousand years ago. Cobblestone alleyways and pubs and clothes drying on clotheslines above. Strange to see elderly locals running their errands, carrying grocery bags and pushing carts, through what’s basically now an adult version of Disneyworld.

I messaged again with Tinder girl. Not asking her out, but just to say, Hey look, I’m still around, I still exist. I was walking atop the city walls ($20 for 2km walk) while she was on a boat.

At night, I went out to eat. In case we ended up making plans, I dressed up. Well, it’s hard not to dress up as all of my casual clothes are either dirty, or in the trash because they’re irreversibly dirty. So I went out in my black G-Star jeans (raw denim), fancy Berksha t-shirt and red Converse kicks. That’s “dressing up” in vacation mode, man. Also a clean pair of underwear, one of the last ones I have as I refuse to do laundry before London in a few days.

We didn’t end up making plans – it was her last night and she had to spend it with her friend – so I rushed home to take my good underwear off and save them for another day, before the crotch sweat absorbed into the lining, before they would lose their shape and sag in the ass.

The next morning – my last morning – I asked if she wanted to eat ice cream while sitting on the old city wall. She declined, saying her friend wouldn’t let her. So I left on a bus without meeting her in person, but we still message so I can make her feel bad about it.

Korean Girl Loves Her Korean Grub

I met a girl on the bus between Split and Dubrovnik.

Halfway through the 4-hour ride, we stopped at a rest stop in Bosnia. She sat behind me and quickly exited through the rear doors to light a cigarette. I took notice of what she was wearing: flip-flops; weirdly-patterned balloon pants; a loose white t-shirt; plain white baseball cap over her simple ponytail. Korean? I looked at her small, almond-shaped eyes. Korean.

“You’re Korean?” I asked. She looked at me blankly, but in a blank way that only Korean women can do (I don’t know, but it’s, just, truth). “Hangook sadam?” Korean person? I pointed at her.

She answered in a flurry of Korean words, maybe half of them I recognized and then half of those I actually understood. “No no no! Na hangook mal mot hae!” I can’t speak Korean!

So began our meager conversation, me in my broken, elementary Korean, and her talking to me like I was retarded. Surprisingly, I got by. The words slowly came back to me, and the ones that didn’t, I quickly looked up on my phone.

She’s from the middle of South Korea. I never heard of the city, but on the back of the bus seat she pointed at an imaginary point indicating Seoul, another one indicating Pusan, and finally her city somewhere smack in the middle of the two.

She flew from Seoul to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia – I’m terrible with Korean numbers so have no idea when she came or how long she’s been here – and from there hit mostly the same island as I did: Hvar, Bol, etc. Now she’s on her way to Dubrovnik for (I think) 5 nights before flying back to Seoul from here (maybe). =

Or she could’ve actually said, “I like puffy clouds and elephants,” and I mistranslated the whole fucking thing.

I asked how she got around Europe, alone, without any English. She pointed to her Google Translate app on her phone. Jesus Christ, every interaction with locals must’ve took quadruple the time. Though most of her hotels are booked online, as was her bus ticket –

(For this ride, I bought my ticket on the bus. Sometimes it’s pricier, but other times – like this one – I simply bribe my way onto the bus. The ticket should’ve been $30, but I gave the driver $20, did this little half-shrug/half-winkie thing that (somehow) signifies that we’re on the same team, we’re in this together, man, and he smiled from the corner of his mouth and pointed down the aisle with his thumb, like get outta here, ya scallywag!)

Of course, throughout this entire exchange I was wondering if I could sleep with her. She was attractive enough. Maybe 7/10? Good, clean, honest face. I don’t know what that means, like, naturally pretty without any make-up? I couldn’t see her body because of the loose clothing, but her appendages – neck, arms, ankle peeking out from the weirdly-patterned balloon pants – seemed slim, indicating that the rest of her body probably was, too.

But it’s the communication. The lack of communication. It was too tiring. Too exhausting. I know myself at this age, everything’s about convenience and level of ease. Maybe a decade ago I would’ve screamed, in my head, I accept this challenge! But in my mid-30’s? I was stressing out, sweating, just trying to think of the word food in Korean, to ask her if she liked what she’s been eating.

(Is it just bap? Do you just say the word for rice? Like, “Croatian bap jowah?” Do you like Croatian rice? I went with it and she seemed to understand, but she was also treating me like a retard so who knows.)

She told me that in her luggage she had: kimchi, bulgogi, seaweed wraps, burnt rice, seasoned perilla leaves, marinated beef brisket, packs of Korean instant noodle. I asked how she got this through customs and she said she shipped that luggage to meet her in Zagreb while she took the flight. Holy fuck, I thought I loved Korean food. Compared to Koreans (Korean-Koreans), I just have a casual work relationship with Korean food.

In Dubrovnik, we exited the station and waited for the local bus. At this point I would’ve hopped in a taxi, but she was clearly on a budget – she didn’t want to pay to use the washroom at the station – and I wanted to make sure she got onto the right bus to her Korean-owned hostel. Because I have to be fucking Good Guy, the fucking hero that puts girls onto the right bus in foreign countries that I don’t even know, and then be angry about it after. Why’d I wait an hour with her? What do I get out of it? Now I’m starving and my muscles ate themselves and and and! I think it’s less what I get out of it and more that I don’t have to worry had I left her. What is that, some bullshit Canadian upbringing?

Anyway, she said she was 33 years old. I told her she looked 20. I said I was 36 and she told me I looked 30. Then we sat there laughing at young/old white people.

Tall French Probably Thought I Was A Human Being

Is this sustainable? The way that I have these mini relationships that are distilled into a week’s time, valid only on whatever small island we would meet on? I’ve done this several times now – Hawaii, Bali, Ko Lanta, Crete – and I enjoy it. I like the structure. I like the short-lived commitment of it all. It’s like testing out a marriage, kicking the tires.

These things, you really need to dive head-first into. Just you and a woman that you barely know, practically living together, literally being around each other 24 hours a day. I can’t think of a better way to bond.

Well. Okay, for me, at least, since I’m built in this way, to have these quick bursts of love. Not enduring, long-lasting marathons of caring and patience and building a fucking foundation, but quick sprints. 100-meter dashes. I’m all fast-twitch muscles, reacting only to a loud, sudden starter pistol going off and ending in fanfare and a great big parade and a lonely ice bath in the dark change room underneath the stadium.

What the fuck am I talking about?

In Greece, in the first 5 or 6 days, Tall French and me fell into each other as much as any regular couple could. We went through all of the stages of a relationship in that time. The trepidation of the first date lasted for ten minutes; the honeymoon phase lasted a few days. The smooth, happy, rhythmic part took up the bulk of the week, and then tedium and annoyance and irritability set in afterwards. Then the break-up, where I would smile a big smile and try to convince her that it was an amazing experience that just doesn’t need to go further. Let’s not ruin the memory!

Earlier, we decided to end things in Athens. We would do Crete and then Santorini and then head to Athens, where I’d go to work on a tight deadline and she’d go wherever. But as the week went on and we became closer and our relationship authentic, I think she thought – like any normal human being would – that things changed, that there’s no more set expiration date. That we’d have a new discussion and that maybe I’d follow her to Paris or she’d come with me to Croatia or we’d split for now but regroup in Costa Rica or Bangkok or Sarajevo or South Africa.

But I’m not a normal human being.

Can’t fault her, she doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know that something inside of my brain is broken and just because something – or someone – makes me inexplicably happy does not mean that I won’t throw it away for nothing, for a chance to start from scratch and work my way back up there. She doesn’t know that I’m at my happiest when I’m after happiness. That I’m comfortable when chasing things and riddled with anxiety when I catch them.

I could see the confusion in her eyes. “But we like each other and had an incredible week of sex and conversation and eating and lying on top of each other in the sun. Why would you do this?”

Because we made a plan, and I’m damn good at keeping plans.

Anyway. Isn’t it manipulative of her to try to change things? To turn our agreed-upon, one week tryst into something longer, wider, more permanent? For her to even attempt to derail me from my track, to make chaos of my short-term plans – isn’t that selfish? Childish?

Meh. Probably not.

Knife Beats Gun at 21 Feet

After a week in Greece with Tall French, I was craving male bonding. Drinking and talking about girls. So I met up with the ex-cop again, the mid-40’s surfer dude Californian who stands at, probably, 6’7” and has forearms the size of my thighs. We traveled through parts of Croatia — Split, Hvar, Bol. It’s unbelievable that I first thought he was some sort of gentle giant when I met him in Bangkok. I thought, If this guy gets out of line, I’ll destroy him; Judo-chop him out at the knees.

No fucking way. He would obliterate me with a swipe of his giant left paw, like a bored grizzly bear taking out a fawn, and I would go down hard and make an outline in the cracked pavement like fucking Wile E. Coyote. Even more frightening is that he’d enjoy doing it. His mouth would slip into a smile and his blue eyes would glow radiant while I gasped my last breath with crushed lungs and a red hand print on my face.

“So during the operation they had to remove, like, 2 feet of my intestines and…” I was half-listening to why he couldn’t eat that day, until he offered up this nugget.

“Wait, what? Operation for what?”

“I never told you? I got stabbed. Back when I was a cop. Guy stabbed me with a machete. In through the front and it hit my spine.”

“What the fuck. Stabbed with a machete? Not, like, chopped?”

“Stabbed. I was on patrol and there was a call about a domestic disturbance. Back then we were just one-to-a-car, so I said I’d go check it out while my back up was on the way. You’re not supposed to go to domestic disturbances alone — and, fuck, this is why,” he rolled his eyes, like, oops.
“—so I go and bang on the door. This is in Arizona, by the way. ‘Police! Open up!’ And I was looking through the screen door and see her just standing there — well, kinda like a screen door, you know, with those little holes? Like you can see through it but you can’t see through it, you know?” I didn’t know.
“Whatever, anyway, so I’m on the porch, banging on the door, trying to get her to come over to me. And she’s standing there looking stiff. Scared. She wouldn’t move and I knew shit was fucked up. Then from the corner of my eye, from the left side of the house, I see a blur…
“See, there’s this thing called the ’21-foot rule.’ It’s all science and stuff, and they did tests and found out that if a guy with a knife comes for you and your gun is holstered, if he’s closer than 21 feet, he’ll get you before you can unholster your gun, raise your arm, aim and pull the trigger. This guy was, like, 20 fucking feet from me. Like right on the fucking line, man. Another few inches and I would’ve beat him to it.”

“Mexican?” I don’t know why I asked that.

“Black. So he dove and stabbed me, and as I fell back I pulled the trigger 12 times — I had 13 rounds and I let go of 12 of them, just blam blam blam blam blam blam blam blam blam blam blam blam.”

“Holy shit.”

“Yeah,” He demonstrated with his finger how quickly he could pull the trigger 12 times before hitting the ground. “Yeah, so I’m lying on the porch bleeding all over the place and back-up came just in fucking time, man.”

“He tried to kill you — a  cop — over a fucking domestic disturbance?”

“He was a scumbag, had all sorts of priors. He was on his third strike so he would’ve went away for good. That’s why that Three Strikes bullshit doesn’t work — if they know they’re going away for good, they’ll risk everything on their last one.”

“So it’s like, possession, possession, possession gets you the same as possession, possession, murder?” I asked.

“Well, not really.”

“What happened to the guy?”


“That fucker.”

“That fucker.”


Tall French in Greece, Part Whatever.

If I think about it from one point of view – that if Tall French didn’t show up, it would’ve been a week of me traveling Crete and Santorini alone, earbuds firmly buried into my ear canals during solo, anti-social dinners at old fashioned tavernas; taking necessary selfies at each place, beach, Cliffside resort; falling asleep reading my iPad since every single hotel had shitty wifi and therefore, no Netflix.

So from that point of view, it’s good she came. We split most things, car rentals and decent hotels and dinners where we ordered one main and twenty appetizers (though I had to coerce her to not be vegetarian for the week – any idea how hard it is to get a Muslim to eat pork? Well, I don’t know either, it was easy). We had lots of sex, lots of loud fucking that the neighbours must’ve heard but we just couldn’t stop, couldn’t hold back the ecstasy of it.

Let me talk about the sex more.

God, she has a porn star body. I hate that when I want to say a woman has a great body, I have to say she has a porn star body, but I suppose it makes sense because porn stars, out of any human beings on the planet, need to have perfect bodies made to grab and suck and fondle during sex. So that was her body. She’s not tight – there aren’t any rippling abdomen muscles and exposed veins – but she has definition on her stomach and wide hips and girly shoulders and these voluptuous breasts that hang just perfectly off of her clavicle. The perfect colour of a light-skinned Algerian or dark-skinned Parisian.

Everything was proportioned perfectly, in a comic book way: big tits, small waist, big ass, long legs. She’s how I used to draw women in my sketchbooks when I was a 14-year old teenager full or raging hormones, wishing I could put my mouth on a body like this.

She may very well have the best body that I’ve ever had sex with. She could be number one, but it’s one of those things where you can’t award 10/10 just out of principle, you know? 9.5/10. Half a mark off for curly hair (or something).

The way she had sex was to sit on top of me and grind, hard, in a back and forth motion (why did I say that, does anyone go side-to-side?). She would do that and I would match her movement, sometimes going the same way and sometimes the complete opposite, whatever my instincts nudged me to do. When she would bear down her hips, I would raise mine, and our fucking pelvic bones would be rubbing with so much friction that I swear I could smell smoke.

She would climax immediately, and then three more times, with more minutes passing between each successive orgasm. Often I would climax at the same time as her last orgasm, like some ridiculous Hollywood movie.

One time she stopped, mid-fuck, with tears in her eyes. She said she was scared. Third time this has happened to me. What is this? What sensation does a woman feel that makes her want to stop? The next time, we fucked through this wall, and she went from hard grinding to soft, fucking like we needed to be covert, silent. I sat up on the bed and she sat up on me, holding onto my neck and back so tightly that our bodies couldn’t move independently. We just sat there, undulating rhythmically. No in-and-out, no back-and-forth; just fucking to the small movements of our heart beats (really) with her speaking unintelligible French into my ear. It was like an artsy music video, fucking in the back of a Volkswagen in the rain, sweating, trying not to awake the people outside. Her eyes rolled back and she didn’t care about kissing anymore.

She came and cried at the same time. Cried.

We rolled over on the bed and she stared at me with her big, dark eyes with eyelash extensions and thick mascara. “I’ve never felt that before.”

“I didn’t really do anything,” I said. I hated being special. I never wanted to be the first anything to a woman.

I ruined her moment and breathed a sigh of relief that I did. I didn’t like the conversation and especially where it could end up. It was too real, too much. Too off my plan (what plan?). I just didn’t want it to be anything but two people fucking in a hotel on the Greek island of Crete.

She rolled over and went to sleep.

Tall French in Crete: Day 1

Tall French flew in this morning, but didn’t message me until early afternoon and only after I messaged her first.

“Are you alive? Did you make it?”

“Yes, just looking around the city,” she replied. Curious that she didn’t let me know she came in.

“Curious that you didn’t let me know you came in. Anyway, hungry. Wanna eat?”

“Eating now, meet later!”

She was up to something. I forgot about it and went about my day, walking the winding, cobblestone streets of Heraklion, Crete, in the mid-30 degree heat. Eventually we met up at an outdoor café off the main pedestrian drag near the water. We hugged – well, I hugged her and she remained stiff – and greeted each other with cursory conversation topics. How’s Paris? How’s Europe been? Boy, I sure miss Bangkok! It’s hotter here, though! No it’s not!

Then at some point she turned back into the defensive/offensive mess that she was months ago, before we kissed, before we had sex, when she was just a regular girl and I was just an ordinary boy and we didn’t know what each others’ genitals looked like.

Does that make sense that she was defensive and offensive? It’s exactly what she was like, and predictably so. She kept saying I’m too much of a planner, too organized. But when she realized I did absolutely no research about Crete, suddenly I was lazy, spoiled. I couldn’t argue because she was fighting both sides of the equation. This is how it went: she played defense so I went on the offense. Then she switched sides and I had no choice but to do so also.

We needed to go to the airport to rent a car.

“So let’s go to the bus station,” she said.

“I don’t know where it is; I took a taxi from the airport when I got in.”

“Why would you do that, it’s so easy to take a bus.”

“Because it was 10:30pm and I had bags. I’m not here for just a week like you.”

“Well it’s easy anyway and you’re just lazy and unadventurous.”

“What the fuck, it’s 11 euros. Who cares?”

“You’re just a fake cool guy.”

Jesus Christ, right? So we walked to the bus station. She only had a sense of where it was so I used Google Maps. I led us down this and that street while she would retort and tell me what her gut instinct said.

“Let’s just take a taxi,” I said, needing to piss badly.

“No, let’s take the bus. It’s so close.”

We were in the vicinity of the bus station when we saw a bus stop with an AIRPORT sign. A taxi pulled up to the curb to let someone out.

“Let’s take that taxi!” she said.

“No. We’re taking the bus.”

“But the taxi was your idea, I’m just doing what you want.”

“I didn’t walk all the way here just to jump in a taxi! Holy fucking shit!” I was extremely pissed at the logic. Maybe top 20 pissed moments of my 30’s.

On the bus, she wouldn’t let up. Kept saying that I should calm down about the taxi. You know when people tell you to calm down – especially when you’re already calm – you reply I’M CALM! and then they of course get to say, Then why are you yelling? It’s the oldest, shittiest trick in the book to maneuver your way to the power side of the argument (“I’m calm and you’re angry). It’s predictable and childish and dirty, and she pulled that shit out of her ass like I’m not a brilliant asshole who would see right through it.

“I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can get through this trip,” I said. I wasn’t even trying to hide it anymore. “You’re too crazy. I haven’t been riled up like this in months. I get along with everybody, man.” Her comprehension of English was too low to understand what I was saying. But she knew I was pissed about something so sat back and gave me glorious silence for 10 minutes.

We sorted the car out and took the bus back to the city. She hadn’t seen the fortress that jutted out into the water, so we walked there. We climbed up the wall and watched the sun set. It was a spectacular scene, pulled right from a movie.

Then I realized what was going on. Like before, months ago, she was nervous, and this is how she handled nervousness and uncertainty: by being a straight-up bitch (she told me this). So as we sat next to each other on the wall of the fortress, our chins resting atop our tucked knees, I kissed her on the cheek, and then when she turned her head, on the lips.

“Fuck, you’re a fucking handful,” I said.

“I’m a what? A beautiful?” she asked in her thick French accent.

“Yeah, whatever.”

We’re okay again.

Return of Tall French

Tall French girl wants to meet me in Crete. She’s been back in Paris for the past few months, needed a vacation and asked what my plans were. Actually, she messaged with, “You picked Thor in Bulgaria over me in Paris?”

“Well Bulgaria was on my route to Greece; Paris is back that-a-way!”

It’s funny how she knows me well enough – that during the daylight hours, I’m mostly an antisocial introvert – to tippy-toe the question. “I won’t invade your space and I won’t stick to your ass. I can do my own thing most of the time.”

Ha ha. I feel kind of bad that she thinks she needs to ask in that manner. But she’s actually right for doing it this way. Though maybe a bit too far when she asked, while discussing a road trip around the island, “Will we rent two separate cars? Can we just share one?”

Am I that … obvious? I typically hide that side of myself, leaving people to think that I’m extremely social and always up for company. That I’d never turn down a good party or a stiff drink. And then I’d casually make my escape, usually passively, ie: ignoring messages, while I hit the gym or read in a park or watch Netflix on my bed.

Maybe because when we were in Phnom Penh, I kept disappearing on my motorbike during the day, ignoring all of the Frenchies’ messages and then reappearing in the evening, showered and clean and wearing a freshly pressed shirt and jeans at whatever lounge we were meeting up at. They eventually knew to not bother making plans with me during the day. I had my own shit to do.

Or, she’s just being a girl and being cautious to not scare the fucking shit out of me by coming on too strong. Good girl, that’s how you do it. I’m sure my aloofness is driving her insane. I’m sure she’s used to men begging her to join them on a Greek island for a week. I don’t know, I’d kind of just rather eat street food and read books and write stories.

I don’t mind either way. I’ve been around people for a week now so could use the break. Typically, for every one day I’m around people, I need 5 days alone. Though I’m always alternating between I wish I knew people in this city with Holy shit, I need to be the fuck alone. That’s like time passing while traveling as well: I’m always either killing time, or running out of it. So that’s the reason for my aloofness: I’m just sick of people right now. If this were 10 days ago, I’d be more enthusiastic.

I should be more enthusiastic.

After running around solo in these romantic European cities where I’d be eating at a sausage stand next to a candlelit patio full of couples, it’s a blessing to have someone to eat with in a seaside restaurant on Crete. Or on the cliffs of Santorini. It’s a damn good thing I have someone to drive the circumference of the island with, especially when that someone is a tall, French woman who loves adventure water sports and Korean men who ignore her.

Thor Says: Don’t Get Married

Thor had a tumultuous, colourful life. He used to be a police officer – and standing at 6’8” with forearms the size of my thighs, probably an effective one – then ran a scuba dive shop, then quit everything to move out here. Not here, but like me, to nowhere. Or everywhere. Whatever.

He’s 43 years old, so young enough to drink more than me (I can’t drink anymore, man) but old enough to give me hints about life to come. Some very frightening things.

Very Frightening Thing:
He’s been married twice. The first time was a Vegas shotgun marriage when he was 20 years old. A stupid, rash decision that lasted a good 6 years. Then he married another women for 9 years or something. Whatever, the point is, he said he’s done with marriage.

“You’re done because you don’t believe in it?” I asked. “Or because you need a variety of women?”

“Because I need a variety of women. Because I need the best woman I can possibly find, and whenever I find her, of course within years or months or weeks, I find someone better. It’s just neverending.”

“Oh shit, that’s exactly like me. I need the best woman possible; I can’t settle for less than I think I can get.”

“If you take a good, hard look at yourself and you truly, truly believe that that’s how you are, then you should never, ever get married. It won’t work for you and it won’t work for the girl. It’s just bad news all around,” he said, matter-of-factly, while swirling his spoon into his ice cream.

This is the first time I ever thought of that, if I was just meant to be single. I always thought I was meant to be married, to have a family. But there’s what I think I want and what I truly am capable or incapable of. That’s a frightening thought, that I’m meant to be alone. That my personality of always trying to top whoever I’m with will prevent me from being happy with a single woman.

That’s frightening as fuck. That’s a nightmare. That’s my life’s quest turned into something unachievable. That’s me dying with pangs of regret.

But how do you change this? How do you stifle ambition? Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? I’m ambitious, and not in some douchey, dickhead way where I think I deserve riches and a Porsche and a 22-year old wife. My ambitions are realistic, they’re just to beat myself by inches every year, that’s it.

What the fuck am I talking about? I was supposed to write the bio of Thor.

So he’s this monstrous, poster-child of America, but a gentle giant. That’s what I pegged him as. But he explained to me that it wasn’t until two years ago that he became happy, calm, chilled the fuck out and grateful to just participate in life. Before, for the first 41 years of his life, he was angry and violent, and that’s scary as fuck if you saw the size of his goddamn hands.

He went on a trip to Asia and – exactly like me – saw how people who had less than him were happier than him. That flipped the first switch in his head, in a long line of switches that are toggled when you go from North America to Thailand. Now he’s running around Sofia, Bulgaria, buying laptops for charities, making sandwiches for the homeless. His aim is to give back to the world, balance out the karma of the generous life he had in a rich, white suburb outside of Santa Barbara. He’s not a goodie two shoes, I mean, he fucks 20-year old Bulgarian waitresses at burger joints when he can, but he doesn’t lead them on. He doesn’t hurt them directly (they may hurt themselves, but he can’t stop that). He’s just this generous, happy guy who picks up the cheque and never wants to be married again.


Begrade to Sofia; Thor and Wispy Hippie Indian Performance Artists

I took the night train from Belgrade, Serbia to Sofia, Bulgaria. In my 6-person car, there was me, Milan from Slovakia, Hillary from Hong Kong, Bern from Barcelona, and Chris and his shy girlfriend from Germany. We boarded at 10pm and by midnight we were all drunk on the cheap red wine that I brought, and Milan’s homemade Serbian liquor, Rakia, made in someone’s bathtub. He had it in a plastic waterbottle with a squirt lid, which obviously had a past life as an Evian bottle.

By 1am, everyone was asleep except for me and Milan, and we drunkenly walked through our first-class sleeper car to the economy steerage cars on the end of the train. After hearing so many of his stories, I was curious to see gyspies. We would pass them and Milan would nudge and whisper, “There, that’s one. Look, there’s a family there,” and we would crack up at how unstealthy our entire operation was.

I woke up at 10am after rocky sleep, the sun glaring into my eyes and my mouth dry from drinking 60% homemade alcohol. We arrived at the station 4 hours late, exchanged Facebook contacts and separated.

Thor came to pick me up in a weird Mercedes with Keri driving and Sergei in the back seat.

I met Thor in Bangkok in April. A fucking massive giant standing at 6’8” with long blond hair – hence the nickname – he was friends with the Tall French girl, who was meeting him after Thai class for lunch at Cabbages & Condoms around the corner from school. I jumped in as did the French Couple, who I was just getting to know. We spent just a few hours talking, but got along quickly because we’re normal human beings without extreme personalities and that’s all long-term travelers really need to get along. He’s also from Southern California and loves Korean BBQ, so 50% of our conversation was based around where to get the best charred pork products.

The beauty of the Internet is that relationships no longer stall out when you can’t meet up in person. They’ll still grow while people are in different parts of the world. So with similar aspirations (none) and senses of humour, we kept in touch throughout the months which is why I’m now in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he calls his temporary home because a 10-day trip somehow turned into 2-months, oddly.

We drove to a few caves and waterfalls, ate a massive amount of killer, killer grub, and drank more rakia. A two-night weekend felt like a week and now his friends feel like mine and we have more photos taken with a selfie stick than we care to admit.


In Belgrade, I was packing up at the hostel — it was the first time I ever stayed at a hostel since I was just quickly passing through the city, though I rented out the entire room with the bunk bed and no washroom – I met a girl in the kitchen, a cute, wispy Indian girl emanating a hippie, fairy energy. She was making herself a salad and I remarked on how fresh it smelled, after eating nothing but meat and cheeses for a month. Before I even introduced myself, she was sticking a forkful of cucumbers and tomatoes with feta cheese into my mouth.

Katie was from American (I think) and then moved to Switzerland for work. She was a performance artist and something something. Big eyes, big hair, big teeth (like all cute Indian women). We had a quick 20-minute conversation while I was packing my bag and she was making her salad, before I had to catch my train. But in those 20 minutes, we held eye-contact for 18 of them. One of those nice, airy and bright moments that come and then flitter away forever. She was traveling west while I was on my way east, but we discovered that when I’m in Costa Rica this November visiting The Swiss, she may be in Nicaragua. So we traded Facebook contacts, planned to meet in a few months, and I thought, well, a beach in Nicaragua’s a good as place as any to have sex with a wispy, hippie Indian performance artist, I guess.