A World Winder exclusive by Guestblogger Brett Sills, Author of My Sweet Saga
The strangest things happen at three in the morning. When your thoughts are a chaotic concoction of broad confusion, inspired curiosity, and perceived clarity that make possibility seem infinite. In a bizarre way, the world has order at three in the morning. But by the time you wake up the next day, most of those conclusions either have escaped, or seem so patently absurd that they border on laughable.
But what do these thoughts have to do with travel?
To travel is to indefinitely immerse yourself in a heightened state of reality. It’s a unique sustained rush that is neither normal nor comfortable. And for someone raised on Hollywood’s portrayal of happiness, it manipulates as a mood elevator that constantly feeds either a sustained dream, or perhaps a grand delusion of some storybook, romantic ideal. The perfect drug for people who stretch beyond their reach in hopes of grasping on to something bigger than themselves. It’s impossible to think straight during travel. And, as a result, it tends to make the illogical seem logical, like the complexities of the world take a new form full of equations that have yet to be solved.
In other words, it’s like constantly being awake at three in the morning. When you’re convinced the entire world is asleep.
And it’s here that I met her.
It was just supposed to kill time during the latest bout with my frequent insomnia. But it quickly became a perfect storm of the two things that make me briefly forget I’m a cynic.
I never thought there was anything romantic about meeting people on the Internet. We’ve always been told that, anyway. People create entire tales to circumvent the question; in fact, I know some married couples whose friends and parents still don’t know the truth about their first connection. But after chance, real life encounters that inspired novels, and trust in the troubled that only lead to headaches, the safety of speaking with a faceless female through the World Wide Web was quaint and inviting.
She was Australian and living in Prague. She had just moved there. She barely knew a soul. After an immediate connection, both stories and pictures were quickly exchanged. And though the following may scare her, I knew I would visit her by the end of that conversation. How romantic it seemed from the darkness and stillness of my Hollywood apartment. It was three in the morning, after all.
But was it just the dream of wandering a European city with a pretty female that influenced that night’s seemingly crazy decision? After all, there’s little sexy about the information superhighway, right? Nothing romantic about zeroes and ones. Barely a thing that’s challenging about the ease. But there was something special about a boy and a girl speaking in real time, thousands of miles from each other, all because both were bored and just wanted to have a conversation. It was a completely random occurrence borne from the fact that I couldn’t sleep, and she had decided to uproot her hectic life down under. What if I had taken sleeping pills that night? What if she decided to take a walk instead of surfing the net? Timing influences more than we care to admit. Regardless, there was nothing calculated about it.
We continued to speak. Everyday. Instant messages became texts. Texts became phone calls. Brief seconds became minutes. Those minutes became hours. And suddenly it seemed like there was a constant flow of conversation during the eight hours that we were both awake. I loved her sense of humor, the way she laughed. We shared things. Lots of things. And, of course, I’m not ashamed to admit I adored her accent. And the way she haphazardly threw the word “hey” at the end of sentences to punctuate her thoughts.
She was hesitant; I was not. But feeling that our time needed to lead to something, travel plans were soon settled, and unavoidable expectations were set into place. And when only weeks remained before I was to fly to Prague to see her, different unforeseen pressures obviously presented themselves. After all, if this was to be a Before Sunrise moment, it needed a constant flow of excitement. It needed perfect conversation. It needed the unexpected. It needed the memorable.
In the weeks before I left, I casually dropped my plans during conversations with friends. And while reactions were varied, everyone was quick with a prediction for either the positive or the negative. But all constructed it as an all-or-nothing proposition, and all, for better or worse, embraced the thick fog of romanticism that enveloped it. They spoke of horrible disasters that would still be worth it. Or of equally epic successes that I’d remember forever. But no one saw it as something “real.”
Life isn’t a movie. But there are certain cinematic like time periods that can only happen while in foreign places. And regardless of the prism I originally viewed the trip from, I was getting to know a real person.
And it was a person I looked forward to speaking with. To seeing. The whole friendship, relationship, the entire thing morphed into something three-dimensional. And, because of this, those moments of nerves I dreaded minutes before meeting her in the lobby of my Prague hotel never really materialized. I knew epic disaster was impossible. As I hugged her for the first time, it felt like I’d known her for much longer than I had. As we walked through the streets of the old city, everything was natural. And when I kissed her in the rain in the middle of the Old Town Prague Square at three AM, I knew it was something more than memorable (Holy crap, that actually happened). When I asked her to come to Germany with me to continue our time together, she accepted.
Stories like this generally have frequent highs and lows. Climaxes. But ours was more like a constant. In fact, as I try to encapsulate all the memorable moments, I realize that they are far too vast for a simple blogpost. But between long walks through Prague (our feet still hurt), oversized, traditional chicken dinners while wearing equally large bibs in the German countryside (we are still full), walks through beautiful castles (we are still awed), numerous train rides where we annoyed other passengers with our endless conversation (they could have moved), unsuspecting intruders in our hotel rooms (this happened twice), a McDonald’s meal after an exhaustive post-midnight dinner search (when rainy Munich offered nothing else), and viewing some German reality television (we spent more time laughing than watching), it was truly like being suspended inside three in the morning. A long moment that only travel can provide.
I don’t know what the future holds. There are no crystal balls. I won’t pretend to know if there was any greater meaning to our time together. Such things are meaningless anyway. But I do know that the day after we parted, I didn’t wake up thinking our perpetual three in the morning was absurd. It was anything but laughable.
And I know one other thing.
I can’t wait to see her again (hey).
Brett Sills is a multi optioned screenwriter/freelance ad writer who would love nothing more than to move to Europe and sell fruit. He released his first novel, My Sweet Saga, which is available online on Amazon.com and all other major retailers.
More of Brett’s stories