Finding Someone Who Finds You

by Laura Gardens

Work, gym, dinner, drink, TV, bed, repeat. I was spending weekends with the same friends, having the same conversations about the same people. A goldfish will only grow as big as its bowl, and I felt trapped in a shot glass. With a marriage in tatters, stuck in a career I didn’t choose, and no faith left to fill the hole in my heart, something had to change. Something big.

I took a cue from the trailer of the film adaptation of my favorite audiobook on my “must listen” list, and I decided one year: one year of finding myself, and I knew exactly where to look…

I was scared to travel alone, but as soon as you’re overlooking the Parisian streets, a tall glass of white wine washes those fears away. At least that’s what Amy, my surrogate, wrote to me in her first report. I booked my ticket without thinking of the meetings I’d scheduled for the next week, and I couldn’t get anyone to watch my Yorkie. And is it really so hard to defer Zumba classes for an indefinite period of time? 

A friend recently hired a surrogate to carry her child (the ovaries are fine, she just didn’t want the hassle). Luckily for me, one quick Google search later I found Amy, a woman who found her calling finding women looking to find themselves.

Amy spent her days walking through small towns in the countryside, exploring a culture rich in history that values long nights with friends, taking your time, and indulging in meals I’d only ever imagined (luckily Amy gave me detailed descriptions, yum!). Wandering, eating when you’re hungry, having coffee with strangers, time loses all meaning. In my old life, it was always go-go-go, on to the next thing, I never stopped to appreciate my surroundings. But when I finished reading Amy’s e-mail I sat back, closed my eyes, and for a moment I felt a peace and relaxation I hadn’t experienced since I was a child. Of course I had a lunch meeting to run off to with that bitch Margot, but it’s nice to know that if I had the time, I could sit like that for hours.

Next it was off to Bhutan, a small independent kingdom bordering China and India filled with Buddhist temples and travelers seeking a greater connection to the world. I originally wanted to go to India, but Amy had already been there. Sure, there were a lot more expenses and she needed to hire a translator, a Sherpa, and a trained dog for some reason, but this is a once in a lifetime experience! The sight of these grand temples with the Himalayas as background could leave you breathless. I’m pretty sure Amy must have taken a photography class, because I got every megapixel’s worth of karmic cleansing. As the monks explained to Amy and she explained to me, we are all connected, everything is one, so it made sense to spend a little extra for kayaking.

Last stop: Barcelona. Parties, drinking, making out with strangers and dancing until dawn, Amy checked off everything on my list (a spreadsheet I’d spent countless hours agonizing over with columns for my spiritual, mental, and physical awakening). Little did I know that somewhere between “touch a statue” and “learn to merengue” the fates added the name “Tomás” (I added him in at C42). Amy’s translations were rough, but she assured me that Tomás “encanta’d” me, and “quiero mucho.” I spent long nights dreaming of this pro fútbol player/salsa dancer/marine biologist and wondering why he needed all that cash. Our “fuego” burned bright and quickly, as I had to let Tomás go. He taught me how to love again, and my checking account had run dry.

All journeys must end, and after a long, eventful year Amy reached my “destination that was myself”, and I finally returned home (after a long wait in the Whole Foods line, I mean, don’t people understand the system there? For fuck’s sake it’s just colors and numbers. Is everyone a moron?)