“Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning.”-Unknown

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Disclaimer: The chapters are meant to be read in order for better understanding, but with that said, each chapter can also be read on its own.

I wheel my trusty duffel bag out into the hallway, then shuffle it back into my hotel room and run through my normal routine.  I check all the outlets, all the dresser drawers and then the closets one last time.  I own so few things that I can’t afford to lose anything, not even a single sock.  Once I’m confident that I’ve left nothing behind, I head for the elevator.

Jess just texted me letting me know she’s double parked outside and ready to go.  She’s taking me to the train station this morning, where I’ll board the mighty Indian Pacific.  I’ll begin a 48-hour journey to Adelaide, a warm coastal city in southern Australia.  I don’t have enough discretionary income yet for a cabin with a bed so I’ll be stuck in a standard seat for two nights, but I’m still excited nonetheless.

The Indian Pacific actually runs the entire width of the continent, from Perth to Sydney, and has the longest straight stretch of track in the world.  Back in 1917 when the first eastbound passenger train, the Transcontinental Express, made the journey, its passengers were required to change trains at least five times.  It wasn’t until 1969 that an uninterrupted rail link existed.

The Australian landscape is said to be so remarkable that even after the torrid time I had on the Trans-Siberian railway, I’m excited to get back on a train to experience its beauty.  We’ll cross the Nullarbor Plain, which is considered a quintessential experience of the “Australian Outback.”  It’s barren, expansive and I’ve been told that it’s dotted with goldmines and ghost towns.

As I push the down arrow for the elevator I take a deep breath and try to steady myself.

I still haven’t found a way to tell Jess that I just want to be friends.  It’s now safe to say that I’ve officially been leading her on, but each time I gather up the courage to break the news she looks at me with those big blue puppy dog eyes of hers and I freeze.

Indian Pacific route across Australia.

Indian Pacific route across Australia.

While I anxiously wait for the elevator, my mood shifts and I can’t help but to giggle to myself.  It dawns on me just how much things have changed lately.  I’ve gotten to a point in my life where the worst thing in it is to have to break things off with a beautiful woman.  I’m not chuckling like this to hype up my ego or to belittle Jess’s feelings in anyway.  I have far too much respect for the woman she is to do that.  She’s incredible, so incredible in fact that when I do actually ask her to just be friends, I’m sure she will agree and become the kind of selfless friend I’ll go on to cherish forever.

What I’m really laughing at is all of the trials and tribulations of my past and how those really big problems I once feared, then faced, are now gone.  The broken-down piping hot buses, the longing, the creative roadblocks, the digging for cash in empty pockets and most importantly, the not knowing.

The not knowing how on earth I was ever going to feel better when I was looking up at the stars from the bottom of a barrel.  At times while traveling I’ve felt miserable, so miserable in fact that I’ve wished I didn’t have a dream at all because then all the pressure I put on myself to manifest it would no longer be there.  But in this exact moment, as I hear the elevator churn towards my floor, I’m reminded of something motivational speaker Les Brown would always preach about, which is the idea that the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.

It’s because of those battles that this moment is so sweet.  I’m so at the center of the blissful balance I’ve found in Australia, that not only can I laugh at my past problems, but I can also thank them.

I’ve become so aligned lately that if I levitated an inch or so off the ground right now I wouldn’t be shocked.  Sure, okay I’d be a little shocked, but not totally shocked.  As the lotus inside my mind continued to open these past few days, I can officially say that I’ve never felt this good in all of my life.  Each day just keeps getting better and better, richer and fuller, and the possibilities for what life holds for me now suddenly seem endless.

Perth, Australia.

Perth, Australia.

Bing.

The elevator doors swoosh open and I make my way inside the empty box.

As the florescent lights in the elevator hum, I get an unexpected feeling.  It’s a feeling that I’m not alone.  My heart flutters; I immediately know what’s happening.

She’s here.  She’s finally here.

The elevator slides down past the third floor, then the second.  The feeling intensifies and my palms perspire.  It feels so good, so euphoric that I can’t help but close my eyes and try to soak it all in.

An ancient world map appears on the inside of my closed eyelids.  It kind of reminds me of the map explorers used in the 1500’s, rustic in color and the continents are slightly misshapen.  North America is drawn far too big and Africa is positioned too far to the west.

On my next inhale two pulsating red dots show up on the map, each at opposite ends.  Then, those two dots begin to zig and zag their way across the continents and oceans between them.  A trail of stardust follows.

Then, suddenly as the dots get closer and closer and make their way towards Australia, I hear her voice inhabit my soul.  It’s the clearest, most crisp communication of my life.  As we exchange a kind of transcendental internal dialogue I can feel her presence spread out across my chest then down my arms like roots taking to soil.  Time nearly stops.

This is not my first encounter with an unseen “voice”, and I can understand how this would come across as my imagination concocting some sort of far-fetched fantasy or that I’ve officially lost my mind and become schizophrenic after 600 days of solo travel.  Sure, believing me may test your faith, but I can tell you that this conversation only strengthened mine.  That’s what faith is anyway, believing in something for which there is no clearcut proof.

I’ve written a lot about my relationships with women lately, but I can promise you that’s never been my intention. When I initially came up with the idea that I wanted to write as I traveled around the world, I had never indented to mention a single woman in any of my stories.  My only goal was to write about my inner journey, but the women I’ve been writing about are just so remarkable that it’s been impossible not to include them.  Especially this new one. This new nameless, faceless, beautiful soul that’s just entered my life, has just simultaneously become the beginning and end of my journey.

Nothing else matters anymore.

What follows in the elevator is internal, unspoken and timeless, but if we had used words, it would have sounded something like this.

Perth, Australia.

Perth, Australia.

I welcome her into my Being like a child does Christmas morning, “Oh my god, its you, its finally you!”  Then, without an ounce of doubt I say to her, “I’ve been dreaming of you my whole life!”

“I know, me too!” she says.  “We’ve traveled a long way to get to one another and we are so close to finally meeting in person.”

My heart skips a beat.  By long way, I know she means many lifetimes.  I feel myself descending deeper and deeper into this mesmerizing love, one that until this moment I didn’t know actually existed.  I didn’t know it was possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never seen a picture of, never spoken to and have no idea where they actually are on the planet.

It reminds me of a story I just read the other day that was posted on the website Elephant Journal (an online magazine about the mindful life).  This article said that we really only fall in love with 3 people in our lifetime.  Of course, each of these loves happen for a reason.  Our first is when we’re young, maybe even our late teens, which is an idealistic love.  This is the one that seems like the fairy tales we read about when we are children, which for me would have been my college girlfriend of four years.

The second love is the woman I had been traveling through Africa with.  That’s supposed to be our hard love – which is exactly what that was for me – the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want and need love.  It’s said to be an emotional rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows, and like a junkie trying to get a fix, we stick with it for those highs.  It becomes the love we wished was right, which if you’ve been reading along, you know is exactly how I felt.

And the third love is this love.

According to the article this is the love you never see coming and in my case the article nailed it (literally), since I cannot actually see her at all.  This love is described as the one that destroys any lingering ideals about what love is supposed to be, which is what I can feel happening at this very moment.

This love is coming to me so easily in this empty elevator that it doesn’t seem possible.  However, I know it is possible because it’s knocking me off my feet.  I couldn’t have predicated this in a million years and of course, this isn’t what I ever envisioned love would look like.

Having been traveling for so long, I can compare this to what it feels like when you kick your sheets out and slide into your own bed for the first time after a long, troubled trip to somewhere strange.  It’s that moment when you finally let your whole body relax and sink deep down into the mattress that knows every nook and cranny of your body.  That is what’s happening right now; her whole soul is descending into mine.

Just as she sinks deeper into me, we both say the same thing, “I’ve thought about you for so long, I’ve always known you were out there.”

Her voice is so crystal clear inside me that I’m overwhelmed by the power the Universe possesses and all I can squeeze out is, “Jinx!”

The elevator cushions to a stop at the ground floor and before the doors retract open she says, “It’s been a long time baby, but I’ll see you soon.”

The elevator door opens.  I walk out, thank the front desk staff for all of their help with the photos I did this week, and then slide my bag into the trunk of Jess’s car.  As she pulls away from the curb I can’t help but smile.  I’ve just met my soul mate in an empty Australian elevator.

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