I should warn you that I'm basically putting myself on the couch in this issue - it's not really travel journalism
My week in Fiji was pretty non-eventful. Or rather, I should say, it was a non-event. I was staying in a fantastic 12 acre resort for an incredibly small amount of money. There were organised activities galore, free snorkelling on reefs, kayaks a pool, massages, beach volleyball…the list goes on.
The thing is, I find it so difficult to buy into and get involved in all these activities as a solo flyer. Given even one friend to encourage me I could have happily indulged in any and all of these activities. But this last week, as the population of the Mango Bay Resort waxed and waned, I found it harder than ever to cross the seemingly vast chasms in between tables in order to strike up conversations and make new friends, especially with the attractive, unaccompanied young girls that festooned the restaurant/cocktail bar every evening. I was going through some seriously misanthropic shit, imprisoned in my own feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. I spent lonely hour after lonely hour berating myself for failing to possess the easy charm and quick wits that I felt would surely lead me too socio-sexual fulfilment.
Whilst I realise that extremely brief friendships with fellow travellers and short-lived romances are hardly some kind of neurological philosophers stone; capable of healing my mental scars and empowering me with endless supplies of exuberant panache, some kind of intimacy would have delivered a much needed endorphin kick, a self-confidence boost and quite possibly someone to go scuba-diving with.
As it was, my feeble attempts at striking up conversation met with such a damp response that each interaction sent me plunging deeper and deeper into a vortex of self-loathing. ‘No point going to the bar’ I told myself ‘they all despise me’. Not that the vast majority of the people there had even been given much opportunity to assess me beyond the cheap Hawaiian shirt I had chosen to sport as my usual daywear, I determined that I had been deemed an outcast and set about projecting the aura of a misfit whenever I dared venture out of my hut.
My feelings of isolation were not helped by the fact that there were four dorms in total, three of which were at least half full, and then there was mine which I had entirely to myself. This further reduced my chances of effecting those random, low key domestic interactions that spawn most travellers’ friendships.
In the past I’ve not normally struggled in the romantic arena. In fact I’ve been very lucky to be involved with some incredibly charming, beautiful women. And some not so charming ones, but I usually found that out later. The thing is that 2009 was for some reason the year when every girl I met and expressed an interest in decided to crush my ego beneath her stiletto-clad meta-heel.
Potential love interest after potential love interest ignored or humiliated me in a chain of rejection so crushing that it led to me internally downgrading my sexual status from, admittedly hairy, champ to muddy chimp. It has got to the point now where I can’t remember what it was like to feel sexually confident. When considering my chances with a woman I feel like a joke, ugly and irrelevant, having been kicked out of the deep-end of the gene-pool by some kind of cosmic life-guard.
Sadly, despite having decided that love or even soulless rutting with anyone I’m vaguely aroused by is just not happening, I am a male human animal and I can’t switch off the desire. So when accident or some tirelessly charismatic social animal throws me in the path of some delightful creature or other I attempt to wheel out the charm. Now inevitably this plays out in one of two ways: either she is utterly disinterested from the off, or having made some kind of half-decent impression, I have no idea how to move the conversation on to actually being flirtatious. I am so scared of crossing the physical line, or even asking a simple question like ‘do you have a boyfriend’ that signals some kind of intent and being rejected once again that I inevitably choose to back away from the situation and go to bed in a sulk.
I dread to think what percentage of my waking hours are currently spent worrying about what a failure I am because of the absence of romance or sexuality in my life. It’s no surprise either considering how many physical and chemical processes are being but on hold as the primal urges of my DNA go repeatedly unanswered; and how much pressure society puts on us to be in a relationship of some kind or sexually active in a more casual context.
I always feel I’m at my conversational best in a sober, semi-serious situation where I can draw on my knowledge of science, religion, music, technology or politics to be interesting – to the few that find such subjects interesting. I’m not a quick-witted surrealist or master of the sarcastic put-down – not with near strangers, certainly. And I have never felt able to even have a one night stand without a genuine interest in and admiration for my playmate. These attributes do not a master of romance make – especially on an extended multi-stop trip. And oh how well I know it. But yet inside there is the constant yearning to be either this smooth, Bond-like lady-killer or to meet the woman of my dreams, marry her on the spot and start researching white-picket prices.
I suspect I am destined to remain frustrated – and lonely – for the near future. I’ve been trying to think of some kind of positive conclusion to round this out with but I think the most comforting sentiment I can think of is that the grass is always greener.
The grass is ALWAYS greener.