I did pretty well Thursday afternoon after Claudia flew away. Or at least I thought I did. Then Nick dragged me out of the bar and told me he wasn’t buying my cheerful act. Said he could see it in my eyes, how as soon as there was a lag in the conversation, I always looked down. He told me I should go for it. Told me I was a fool if I didn’t.
Friday morning I was back to deluding myself that I was going to be okay, my journal entry full of hope and positive stuff. I at least realized that our original plan, where she wrapped up her job in Switzerland in six months and then joined me to travel around the US, wasn’t going to work. I was dying after less than 24 hours. I was never going to make six months apart.

For some reason people at the backpackers’ resort that I didn’t really know kept asking me how I was feeling and I got all kinds of sympathetic looks from staff and backpackers alike. Being delusional, I thought there was something wrong with all of them.

But then the afternoon came and I fell apart. (I’m telling you, this was a seriously humbling experience.) All kinds of out-of-control feelings and self-destructive urges swept over me, one after another. I wanted to scream and rage and cry and punch things until my hands bled.

From my journal that evening: “Why am I going off like this over a woman I’ve known a week? What am I doing? I’m terrified. I’m mad. I’m stupid. What makes me think I can make this work? What do I have to really go on? How in the hell can I expect her to take me seriously once she’s 10,000 miles away? Like her ex-fiance is just going to go away. You don’t go and live with someone for six years, almost marry them and then just get over them in a few months. Don’t I know this? She’ll probably go back, see him, realize that I was just a thing, and there I’ll be with a ticket to Zurich in my hands and a sign around my neck that says I’m an idiot. I should just blow it off now and cut my losses before they’re too big.”

Whew. It still hurts to read that stuff.

Making it worse was that I tried to call Claudia that night (I’d steered her to the backpackers that Nick and I stayed at) and couldn’t reach her.  More from the journal: “What a pathetic fool I am. I just want to hit myself and blast and pull the shell over me and convince myself that fuck it, I don’t really give a shit. It’s me and it’s only me and that’s the way it’s always been and probably always will be. I’m the only one I can absolutely trust.”


On Saturday morning I had a huge emotional hangover. I was just wiped out. A shell of myself. I felt like I’d done ten rounds with a trained bear. (Do people train bears for that sort of thing? Cause I have a feeling they’d be really good at it.) I felt brittle but much calmer.

I went back to deluding myself, but I wasn’t able to delude Nick.

Saturday night we’re in the resort bar and I think I’m having a pretty good time, all’s good, I got a handle on this, and suddenly he’s dragging me outside again. He basically kicks me up and down the sidewalk and yells at me. What he’s maddest about is the walls he can see that I’m erecting between Claudia and me. He says things like, how much did you trust her when she was here? Then how come you’re being so stupid now? Finally he holds out his hand and says,
“Give me your credit card.”


“Give me your card. I’m going to call right now and book you the next flight to Cairns. You have to go to her.”

But that’s crazy.

“So what?”

Numbly, I give him my card. He goes to the pay phone and books me a flight for the next morning. Then he goes back into the bar and finds someone who’s got a car and tells him he’s giving me a ride to the airport bright and early the next morning.

Morning comes and I crawl out of bed wondering if all that really happened. But there’s Nick and there’s my ride and an hour later I’m in the air, flying for Cairns via Sydney.

There’s been no chance to call Claudia and see how she feels about this. She’s been out on a dive trip all weekend. All I know is where she’s staying and that she should get back into town at the end of the day sometime.

I check into the backpackers and I’m a wreck. Oh my god, what have I done? She’s going to think I’m a stalker or at least completely pathetic. Since the front desk won’t give me her room number or even confirm she’s staying there, I end up standing out front of the place and waiting, all the time suffering serious mood swings. Panic attacks, really.

Right around dark I look down the sidewalk and there she is, coming my way. For a moment the clouds part and the sun shines.

Then it all goes dark again.

She’s walking up with this guy and they’re talking and laughing together.
Part 7