One-word Prompt: Tourist

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Photo credit: Martin Vorel – “Childhood friends”

How romantic would it be, if you would say to me, “Be with me, get a one-way ticket, and let’s explore the world together”.

We could go backpacking, like high school graduates taking their gap year. Like high school sweet hearts, feeling excited and nervous on our first overseas trip. Our hearts and minds filled with curiosity and anticipation, wondering how the “outside world” look like. We are young and free. We believe we can take on the world – it’s us against the world. There’s nothing we can’t achieve, as long as we have each other. We don’t need a lot of money because there are many things tourists can do without spending any or much money.

We prefer to be identified as “travellers” or “adventurers”. “Tourists” sounds superficial. As if it’s a word for people who go abroad just to check off famous landmarks off their lists so they could show off to their friends and family through photos. Cheap thrill of saying, “I’ve been there” or “I was here”. They bring nothing but weight and souvenirs back home. Nothing concrete. Nothing tangible.

We aren’t like that. We love to learn about different cultures and meet new people. We make friends everywhere we go – with fellow couples, groups, or even solo travellers. We believe everyone has a story to tell, and we hope ours inspire them, as much as theirs inspire us.

Sometimes we travel by a rented car, singing along to One Direction’s “Live while we’re young” playing loudly in the radio, yelling our lungs out to the lyrics, because we want to. Sometimes we hitchhike and travel with people we would never expect to meet. The group of musicians heading to their next gig, that truck driver on the way to make deliveries to the supermarket, that adorable old grandpa that love sharing life lessons so much. At times on trains where we talk to random families sitting beside us or join in the fun of a party group heading to some cool cities. At every place we are, we are never tourists. Instead, we belong. We are part of that community, even if it’s for a short while.

We go to parties, festivals and concert with our newly acquainted friends and make more friends. We sing and dance along to the good music provided by the bands. On some occasions, you let me sit on your shoulders so I can have a better view, because, as what you have always said – “you’re short”. We meet new people, make music, photos, fun and love together. When I said “make love”, I don’t mean like sex but more of spreading positive vibes through our laugher and inclusivity. Anyone can join in the fun with us, can sing and dance along to music. No judgements. You can be who you’re in front of us and we’ll accept you for that. Despite being in crowds and among people, we know that we are still very much paying attention and looking out for each other. We make sure that we both are having fun and never have a moment when one of us is neglected. Perhaps we talk more to the people around us than with each other, but we know, we always have each other in mind. Even in the crowd, we still shine so brightly and stand out so much in each other’s eyes. We communicate, not through words, but the small gestures. Like you putting your arms around me bringing me closer to you even though you seem to be engrossed in a conversation with some other people. Me casually putting my hand and leaning my head closer to your chest even though I am laughing at some jokes someone else has made.

At other times during our trip, we would travel like newlyweds, living in our own lovey-dovey world, without a care of the world. Sometimes stealing kisses of each other, and sometimes falling into long passionate kisses – stopping mid-way while walking down the streets with shopping bags or ice cream, while waiting for the trains, any time (basically every minute and every second because you’re too irresistible and we are so in love). As if time has stopped, we travel at our own time and pace. The world around us continues to turn, while we freeze in time sealed with kisses. We thought ourselves as superstars and everyone is probably envious of the love we are sharing. We travel around the city or region on a rented Ferrari. Running at 190km/h on the German autobahn, with the wind blowing and sun shinning on our faces. Playing in the car are some random songs from the radio stations. Occasionally, I will ask you to play one of my favourites. The one that you introduced me to. Cro’s “Einmal Um die Welt”. I love the lyrics, like you telling me to just go on a world trip with you without a care. And when I ask you to repeat the song, you would go “Whattt?!”, but still play it nevertheless.

You are the one driving because I don’t have a license. You always ask me to get one and when I said “no”, you would say I’m full of “Ausreden”. We bicker about little things like this, but I know, even if I’ve a license, you would love to still be the one behind the wheels. You love control because you’re “the man”.

We walk into stores selling household materials, like IKEA, Muji, and that famous one in Copenhagen which I’ve forgot the name of. We would buy a thing or two for our new home, maybe more. We walk into the section selling kitchen ware. You remind me of your favorite Asian dishes, “Beef Redang”, and asked me to learn to cook it. I said “no” and you made a sad face. I pinch your cheeks and try to change the topic, but make a mental note to learn it and surprise you when you’re back from work one day. You said I should “manage the household”, because, well, you’re “the man”. Although I always value gender equality, I wouldn’t want it any other way for the power dynamic in our relationship. For you, I’m willing to be the woman behind supporting you. I guess that is love. No wonder people said “love is blind”.

Sightseeing and having dinner at luxurious restaurant. Perhaps on one of those sky high restaurants with a view or one over looking the Hamburg harbour that offers a great view of the sunset. Next, we drive up to the hill top to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city. The lights shine brightly in the dark like million of stars. We look up to the sky only to have thousands of diamonds looking back at us. We don’t need to talk. Because, again, it’s sufficient to just have you by my side. We’ve the world when we have each other.

We try to keep ourselves silly awake so we can catch the sunrise in the morning. Sleepy we might be, it gonna be worth it when we are greeted with the beautiful view at the breaking of dawn. And it feels great to be the first person each of us see in this beautiful brand new day.

On other times, we travel like old couples, enjoying life after their retirement. We travel at our own pace. We will check into what the Germans called “Pensions” and enjoy the serenity quiet towns could offer. Hand in hand, we sit by the lake watching the ducks. Weather has been cool even though it’s spring and soon going to be summer. Finally we get to enjoy a bit of the sun. We share an ice cream together.

We will swap the Ferrari with a more classic model. Maybe a Mercedes C class or a mini cooper. We still love listening to Cro’s “Einmal um die Welt” in the car during our road trip. Maybe it’s just me and you just go according to my wishes, even though you said you love control. On more sentimental days, I request for “Country Road”.

We walk down the busy streets slowly, as if we are in another space that is separated from the he active individuals rushing pass us. We are not envious of them for being young, because we were young once. Instead, they are envious of us, for being able to love for so long, and still loving each other as if we are falling for the first time. Age doesn’t equate to maturity. While we might be more matured in our thinking and world’s view, sometimes you’re still pretty childish. You will still tease me for being short and tell me, “let me know if I’m walking too fast because I’ve way longer legs”. You still get annoyed when I tell you that you are abit sunburnt on your cheeks. Except that we don’t challenge each other in running on empty streets anymore. At this point, we prefer not to disturb the tranquility of the place and just walk and explore slowly. Still with your hand in mine, of course.

We have been on our first road trip and I hope we have the next. Yet in our first road trip, I’m more of a tourist, where you drove me around and show me your country. We are tourists in the places we visited somehow.

And while I hope we could be closer, at the end I realised, I am still alone. Still a solo traveller. Still a tourist.

I’m waiting for someone to stay in my life, and me in his. Not to just be a tourist.

And before that happens, if that ever happens, I need to continue to travel.

And I hope one day, I will no longer be a tourist, but a dweller, with someone who would say to me, “Be with me, get a one-way ticket and let’s explore the world together”.

Tourist

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