I was 22 and had managed to: flunk out of third-year engineering, get fired from an international firm for being too carefree and amidst all this tension had decided to fly to Amsterdam on a one-way ticket with no intention of going home anytime soon.
I had with me the following items: 5 summer dresses, two pairs of Converse, a passport, a cell with no sim, a bunch of shirts coupled with a pair of jeans, a packet of Tim-Tams, half a jar or Pringles, a wad of cash and a soon to expire American Express.
My rationale behind leaving my carefully structured life in Australia was simple. I had none.
After years of pushing myself that extra mile to attend that networking event so I could meet industry professionals and staying up till 2am trying to unsuccessfully understand the Fourier Transform equation in an attempt to save my grades that semester. I had finally snapped.
I knew I was pushing my body and mind to disturbing lengths. But I couldn’t stop. My OCD to become that successful 20-something independent woman who lived in a studio apartment in Manhattan, forced me to test my own limits.
So I decided to pack all of the items I deemed necessary, with only 6 hours to prepare and left my logic at the door.
In less than 48 hours I found myself at a shot-bar drinking Jello shots off a Russian backpacker. That’s when I first caught a glimpse of his gaze.
The dim lighting combined with the thick haze of Marijuana created a veil of tension between the stranger and me.
I made my way across the dancefloor but stopped abruptly for a second. Somehow logic had snuck into my carry-on and continued to play the role of an overprotective parent. Don’t do this again. Be reckless and carefree with your freedom but not with your men.
However, my alter-ego decided to play the role of a devil’s advocate. But isn’t the ultimate definition of freedom one’s ability to make reckless decisions based on their own intuition?
In the span of 10 minutes, I found myself leaning into the stranger and laughing candidly at some joke about how Australians supposedly get their kangaroo license at 16.
So you can guess which side won that argument.
The hours continued and the energy between us was so intense you could practically smell the hormones in the air. I knew he wasn’t good for me because as I was walking to the bathroom earlier that night I caught a glimpse of him making out with another exotic brunette, his palms sliding carelessly up and down her lower back as he tried to get a hold of her rational thinking. I guess he just had a thing for hot messes.
At that moment I knew that he was going to take me to heaven and hell all at once. Everything from his three-day-old stubble to the tattoo of his family crest on his bicep screamed no.
But all I saw was passion and adventure.
We started our slow dance in the middle of the dance floor, completely oblivious of the rest of the world. So what? My partially sober conscious said. If they wanted a show we might as well deliver. At exactly 11:30pm he grabbed my hand and started to walk me out. His palms, slightly rough with callouses indicated at his reckless lifestyle. But partially sober me didn’t care.
They say a lot of us make some of our most regrettable mistakes when we’re drunk. However that evening it turned out to be the complete opposite for me.
As we stepped outside the bar and the smell from the shattered Jameson bottle hit my nostrils, I gained clarity like never before. I realized that if I continued to go down this path with this guy the outcome was never going to change. I’d wake up the next morning filled with immense regret and pain knowing that I shared my chamber with a stranger to feel a sense of acceptance for a night.
Only a fool repeats the same steps in hopes of obtaining a different outcome.
So that night under the soft red glow of the Red Light District. I let go of his hand, blew him a kiss and turned around in the most dramatic fashion because if I did have a cape on. It would’ve looked magnificent under those streetlights.