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I turned 32 yesterday and in 32 years of my life, no other birthday registered such a high number of greetings and wishes from people out there.

It is a sign. Of my will to get out there and create a familiar environment for my future, of my ability to connect just a little bit more.

I’m very happy about this. And moved.

Coming back from Vietnam was much harder than I expected, but I’ve learned something now and I hope I will remember my lesson for the next time around: any time a milestone comes and goes from my life, I should expect turbulence. Just like moving from earth to sea up in the air, adjusting is troublesome. This happened after Oberstdorf, a full week of terror and depression, and it happened again now. A week, seven days. Then the sun peeps out again.

Seven days and nights are probably what I need to get my head back in a different present, and mostly in a different future, where milestones are still missing. A sort of white page syndrome, where the vastness of possibility ends up squashing you rather than proving your freedom.

Then one by one the breadcrumbs you left behind find you again, they show up and poke you just enough to let you lift up your chin and look, instead of shutting your eyes tight and plugging your ears.

I’m afraid Vietnam didn’t teach me much in the end. It was not the kind of journey that enlightens you and changes your point of view on life. I suppose, the anticipation of the journey was the most important part, the part that helped me survive when the rest wasn’t enough. It was a beginning, a readers’ digest. It will probably help in planning my next trip to Asia. Just like the first time you meet someone from online dating: it’s rarely about the person itself, it’s much more about knowing what to expect next time and avoiding the most common, tragic mistakes.

Then you can start sowing new crumbs, if the others feel insufficient, if in the end other than natural beauties, the things you appreciated mostly in Asia were temples. So you buy books on Buddhism and meditation, finally. As much as I am curious to try, I find myself a little resistant to many of the concepts. In the end, just like with everything else, it is going to be necessary to adjust the theory to reality to find a good balance. 

It is in this environment, that I start dating again. And for the first time I am wondering about the nature of dating itself. The main thing about dating is that it’s supposed to be fun. And meeting different people, especially people you have only been exchanging a few giggly and playful messages, is supposed to be a lot of fun.

But as most of the things in life, it comes in black and white. You can go for months at a time without a single invitation and then all of a sudden, you’re supposed to juggle three to four different people.

And I wonder: when is it too much? From my experience, it is extremely rare to get that vibe from someone met online, so I am not really worried that it might get crowded. Still, what if it happens? I suppose I am just prodding my sluttiness, which for all intents and purposes has never been properly woken up and interrogated in 32 years. There has never been a chance. I have never had to refrain from snogging or sleeping with someone since those interested showed up rarely more than once a season.

Being single is supposed to allow you to do just that, snog and sleep with whomever you want, whenever you want, regardless. Because you don’t owe anything to anyone but your own self, so unless enough is enough for you, keep ’em coming.

So what is the fuss all about? Nothing, really, just maybe the fact that lately I have come across a couple of very promising individuals. And maybe I’ll never meet them, and probably no spark will ignite and on and on and on goes my mental rambling. I am probably way too attached to the idea of missing a chance. And really I shouldn’t be bothered because I shouldn’t even think about establishing a relationship with any minimal trace of meaning.

Some people have the ability to stir something inside of you that is more than harmless hormones. They plant in the back of your mind the idea that there could be a connection lurking there, hiding in the shades. It’s beside the stupid concept that you cannot actually like someone if you’ve never even met them. It’s not even necessarily sexual, that’s the big problem. Because if it stays that way, you’ll have a new wonderful friend, but if it turns out it is, you’re screwed. It’s just a couple of sentences here and there, an attitude, serendipity really, that makes you think you’d like to hear from them just that moment, and your phone magically rings.

32 years old and counting… does being hopelessly romantic have an expiry date?

Last day in Vietnam.

I’m worried about going home. And anxious about the flight. It hasn’t happened in so long, I honestly don’t know how to deal with this. I am scared of being scared. I get anxious at the idea of being frightened. It’s a stupid loop I can’t get out of. I suppose it might have to do with my return home. Because now the future is blank. I used to have very precise milestones to reach, goals to aim at. Go to New York, relax after the end of the competing season, go to Vietnam. Now there is nothing. Sure I am going to start training again in a month, but it all looks empty. I don’t have a project. I’m going back to my same old life with no purpose, tired of being so far away in an unfamiliar and unwelcoming country, yet not ready to go back home. I long for my own bed, my own shower and the cleanliness and safety of drinkable running water, but I am scared at the prospect of what awaits for me there.

The void, the expectation.

I haven’t seen Albert of course. I thought about him now and again, I hoped somehow he would be on the ground while I was here, but nothing happened. No text, no e-mail, nothing. I don’t know if we ever will see each other, or will continue writing blindly forever about this country that joined us and kept us apart when we were closest.

And going back home I will have to resume my contacts with Darius and Andrew. The prospect of having to break cover after so long is scary. I don’t know if they’ll even be interested in hearing from me again, everything might have turned upside down in two weeks. Or maybe it has for me while time stopped for everyone else trapped in their everyday reality.

I don’t feel different. Other than knowing now that I survived Asia, my first trip without my ex, my first journey in a less than perfect country, No offense to all the Vietnamese out there,

I am afraid to have walked backwards. I feel extremely vulnerable and somehow abandoned. Rarely have I felt this alone and in such need of physical intimacy. Nothing of the sorts met me here in Vietnam. I had hoped, strongly, but it wasn’t there. It’s never there. It won’t be there back home. That is also why I don’t really know what it is I am going back home to, other than my beloved pillow and some fresh lettuce.

There was a baby on the plane today, six months old, half Westerner half Asian. Her father was holding her but was painstakingly clumsy and inattentive. Equally the mother was painstakingly anorexic and pathologically overprotective. And the baby girl was the sweetest thing alive. I am not sure exactly how my brain processed all of that, but it got somehow filtered and it did not help calm my nerves.

I find myself again longing to be part of a couple. I shouldn’t but I wouldn’t know how to prevent it and avoid it.

I haven’t been at the top of my mental shape these last few days. Again I felt trapped in a life I am not that comfortable in, I felt trapped in a body I am not that comfortable with and mostly in a mind that does not make either thing easier. I felt inferior to others more than I have in a very long time. I looked at others with envy as they wore dresses that fit better than mine, I looked at others all paired up with wonderful and handsome boys and men I have never had and probably will never have in the future either, I looked at others so much better looking than me.

I try all the time to fill up that void with things I do I can be proud of. Does it work? I am not sure, somehow I am proud, of my skating, of my language skills, of my photography, of my cakes. But to what point what I can do defines what I am, who I am?

I need some time of peace and quiet. Away from the constant honking, away from strangers trying to get my attention and my money, away from others who try to steal everybody else’s attention including mine. Some time alone, some time when I can write and cry alone without indiscreet eyes of valets in the hotel lobby or travel mates to pretend to be fine to.

Sometimes I wonder what’s best. If I should rather burst in tears every now and let dark emotions flow free of restraints to purify my mind or hold back and try to pull myself together and prevent to break down every time I feel like doing it, just as E. Gilbert suggested.

I would have liked to spend some more time at a temple. That proved to be much closer to impossible than I would have thought. I should follow that lead back home.

So many things to do, so little time, so little money, so many words unspoken, tears unshed, hugs ungiven…