Kay Green, from Huddersfield, started a new life as a single woman at the age of 50 and embarked on an adventurous year touring the world. Here she tells how she met a special man on her travels in her continuing series Shoulders Back, Deep Breaths.
I’m in the Philippines at the moment; I’ve been here for several weeks. This experience, more than any other I’ve had up to now, has opened my eyes; it has challenged and humbled me.
I’ve been accepted into a family and their community, and despite the huge language barrier – and I don’t just mean a Yorkshire accent – I’ve been made to feel welcome and I hope I’ve given back
as much as I’ve received. I suppose the fact that I have at least three local kids, and as many cats in my place at any given time, is all the proof I need. I’ve been tested in so many ways while I’ve been here, and as a consequence, I’ve learned more about my strength and resolve and my ability to cope with feelings of isolation, intimidation, doubt, and how to sleep with one eye open so I can keep a look out for the cockroaches that like to wander across my bedroom ceiling at night.
I’m building memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. However, I still have so much to share with you about my time in Australia that I don’t want to rush headlong into writing about being here; but I will at some point, I can guarantee you that much.
In my last article I mentioned I’d met a man and I was surprised (but probably shouldn’t have been) at how many people contacted me to ask me about him and who he was. My friends and family
are used to me being single now and know that I’ve refused to commit myself to anyone.
I’ve repeatedly said that I wasn’t looking for a relationship, and I wasn’t, but when I met Phil there was a chemistry between us that I couldn’t deny. We first met for drinks one evening a week before I was due to leave Cairns. I enjoyed his company immensely, we made each other laugh and for me there’s nothing sexier than a man who I can laugh with.
He invited me for a motorbike ride up the coast the day after and from then on we were together almost all the time. Coincidentally, he was on holiday from work. He had intended to go to Bali but had changed his mind at the last minute; sometimes everything just falls into place doesn’t it?
I had a wonderful time with him, during the day he took me to see spectacular places that I wouldn’t have had the chance to see without him, while most our evenings were spent sitting on the beach with a bottle of red, talking, laughing and on one very memorable occasion – thanks to having my own personal ‘Dundee’ with me – narrowly avoiding an encounter with a crocodile.
I’d made plans to move down the coast to a place called Mission Beach the following weekend. I’d found a bargain online and planned to stay in a bungalow on the edge of the beach, surrounded by rainforest. Part way through our week together, he said something about not being ready for our time to come to an end, and I realised I didn’t either; so I invited him to join me for a couple of days.
He stayed for the whole time I was there. We had so much fun, the accommodation I’d chosen was beautiful and in the perfect location. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d enjoyed someone else’s company so much. We became good friends, it was easy and uncomplicated, and of course, it was just for a few days, we both knew that and we made the most of it. I was taken aback by how happy I was to share my time with someone else; I know who I am when I’m single. I’ve spent a lot of time learning what I’m about when I’m alone, and it was a revelation to me that I could be so
comfortable with someone else.
The days we spent together went quickly and it was soon time for me to leave again. My next destination was the Whitsunday Islands. I’d booked a week in a room in an apartment so I could explore that part of the coast and spend some time working, writing my book and keeping up my commitments to the companies I write for. As he drove me to the Greyhound bus station, we thanked each other for the time we’d shared. We agreed to keep in touch on Facebook, and wished each other luck for the future.
It was sad: I was sad. I have to confess that when I eventually got on the bus and watched him drive away I cried, but I was also excited about the rest of my trip. It had never been my intention to
look for someone to share my time with while I was away and I certainly hadn’t expected to meet someone I liked as much as Phil. I realised that this was just another lesson, learning to like someone and to still be able to let go, to move on without any regrets. I had a nine-hour bus journey to rationalise my thoughts and by the time I got to Airlie Beach late that evening, I was confident I was back in control of my emotions.
I’d used the Airbnb website to find my accommodation and while I’d been organising dates with Arel, the owner of the property I was to share with, I’d had a feeling we would like each other. I
wasn’t wrong; she welcomed me like an old friend. As I unpacked and settled in, she opened a bottle of wine. We spent that evening, and most of the others I was there, sitting on the balcony together.
I have no idea what it is about planning this trip that made me so lucky with my choices, but once again I found myself in excellent company.
The Whitsundays are beautiful. Unfortunately there were storms and heavy rain for a lot of the time I was there, but whenever I got the chance, I would walk for miles and explore. There were plenty of boat trips I could have taken to see the beauty of the islands, but due to the fact that I suffer from seasickness and my budget is limited, I chose to stay on land and admire the view from there.
One sunny afternoon part-way through my stay, I was sitting on the beach watching the world go by and it occurred to me how much I missed Phil. The intensity of the feeling surprised me. I texted him to see how he was; he told me he was missing me. I called him for a chat and when we were finished talking, we’d both admitted we would like to see each other again. I went home and booked myself a flight back to Cairns for three weeks later. It just felt like the right thing to do.
I’d made a commitment to a family in Tin Can Bay to stay with and work for them and I was looking forward to it very much. I had yet another tearful goodbye when I left Arel, but on the plus side I’m pleased to say I have another friend to add to my growing collection and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. As I took my 14-hour, overnight bus journey to my next adventure, I was overcome with a sense of freedom. I find riding away from one experience towards the next exhilarating. I realised how happy I was. I settled myself into my seat and eventually fell asleep with a smile on my face, which didn’t last long; have you ever tried sleeping on a coach?