“Sometimes it takes a wrong turn to get you to the right place.” ~Mandy Hale
Wednesday August 24, 2016
And there I was. It was nearly midnight. I was dropped off by the beach. Right in the middle of all the bars with raging music and flashing lights. Nearly anyone else would be excited at the prospects. Not me. I was tired. I was alone. Somewhere on a beach in Cagliari, Italy.
I had just had a nice dinner with wine with an interesting lad who lets just say I wasn’t vibing with so I decided to have him drop me off at the beach to sleep in the sand than at his house. He was being sketch about inviting me over anyway. I wasn’t feeling comfortable.
Uneasiness sank in as it usually does whenever I am forced with the reality that once again I would have to find a safe spot to sleep out in the open in a foreign country whose language I did not know. My phone was near dead. I felt a wave of intense loneliness wash over me.
I made this decision. It was the right decision. To come to this beautiful island in search of something. Beaches? Friends? Crystal waters? All of the above.
But at that moment I was beginning to doubt everything. I walked along the street that lined the beach. Every hundred meters there was another little beach bar with atrocious music.
I picked one that had a little indoor bit with tables and a wall plug. I ordered a beer and plugged my phone in and waited for it to charge.
I had booked the flight late last night. Spur of the moment. Left my beautiful friend in Napoli after 2 days of best bliss and perfect conditions. I had looked at a few pictures and talked to many people of the wild beauty Sardinia had to offer. The Caribbean of Italy. I had arrived in Cagliari with high hopes and the sunset behind the palm trees did not disappoint. But as the night wore on with my friend I decided this was not the route I wanted to take.
And once the clock struck 120 I decided I should wander down the road and find a nice place to curl up. As I walked I was followed by a few drunken creepers. Bad vibes. I continued off, trying politely to make them go away. I found a small stretch between two bars on the far end that were near closing and tossed my bag down by the little barrier fence that separated the sand and ground.
I couldn’t sleep. My mind raced. What if I made a bad decision? Maybe I should’ve gone down the coast to Sicily. Maybe I should’ve gone straight to Ireland.. It was the original intention after all… Or maybe I should’ve stuck around Germany…
I texted a few friends back home trying to get some friendly reassurance and small talk . They were busy.
The beach in front of me was empty. The stars and moon glittered above my head. The music down the beach was occasionally drowned out by the cheers of a lively, drunken crowd having the time of their life. I needed distraction.
I opened tinder. My boredom killer and began swiping to kill the time. I never have ever had intentions to use tinder except in these lonely moments. To distract my mind. It worked. I was amused. I ran out of likes. My battery down to 15%. None of my friends were responding. I put my phone away and curled up around my big blue bag and tried to will myself to sleep despite the street lights beyond the bushes behind me and the music teasing me with images of people having the times of their lives. I turned back around and tried to count shooting stars. I counted 5 then slowly drifted off.
I awoke shortly after to the sound of the machine that smooths the sand. It went back and forth and back and forth in the sand in front of me. The lights shining in my eyes. I sat up and pulled out my phone, unsure if it was legal to sleep on the beach, I pretended that i was just taking a break on my walk to sit and check my phone.
I noticed I got a message on tinder.
Lol! I thought. It said he was less than a mile away.. I bet he’s a bro somewhere on this beach with that music. Chasing tail. Gross. Maybe I’ll respond. See what he has to say.. It’ll be amusing…
And yes. He was on the beach. He offered to come down with his friend with a beer to chat. No pressure. Just friends and good times. I debated. This could be the restart that I needed… The beginning of a magical story to tell. Or it could be no good. The the safety and comfort of being here alone soon became outweighed the temptation of an adventure I desperately needed. He said he was coming.
Fuck it. Okay. So this was happening. And I was excited. I wouldn’t be lonely anymore. I could be entertained for an hour than go back to my safe spot to sleep.
I never went to sleep that night.
They came. I was intrigued. They had a very friendly, genuine, playful energy about them. They were energetic. Enthusiastic. Silly. We drank beers. We swam in the sea. In the moonlight. The water was warm and clear. I could see my toes in the sand beneath the water with the light of the moon.
I let them into my world. They let me into theirs. They grew up here. I wanted to hear all the stories of growing up in this paradise. One was leaving to his home in Bologna the next day and he was celebrating his last night in his hometown. Perfect.
We clicked. We talked of things and realized we had many things in common and our future goals aligned. It was a weird feeling. All of these bizarre conditions. Life has a beautiful way of coming together in the end.
It was a beautiful feeling. I ended up following them down the road to get another beer and watch the sunrise. And the sunrise did not fail either. It light up the whole sky behind the sea. The colors all around the sky changed slowly, pale in color at forest and then the sun burst through, casting brilliant light all over the land and sea.
People were waking up. Joggers were jogging in the sand. People were swimming laps out in the distance. A few men came out with their fishing poles. People started to come with beach blankets and chairs to catch the morning rays before the sun grew too hot. A snorkel made his clumsy way into the water and out to where it finally got deep enough to crouch down and go under. We watched the world wake up and start their day around us. We both were still clutching our half empty beers. Not quite wanting to finish them because that would mean we had none left.
By this time it was just me and my tinder match. (Lol) His friend had gone home just as the sun was rising because he had work in the morning. Together, the two of us laughed about the crazy way we met. We talked of this and we talked that. We gazed in wonder and the sunrise. I couldn’t have asked for any better way to spend my first night in Sardinia. We swam again. Instead of the glimmering moonlight, we were surrounded by brilliant sunshine and warmth of the rising sun. My fondness for this beautiful stranger grew. I wished he didn’t have to go home in the morning. I needed him to take me to those secret spots the crystal clear beaches. The water caves.
Someone to have a drink with. We had some coffee at 8am so I could charge my phone and figure out where to go next. He had to go home and pack and hang with his family before he left.
We parted ways, saying we’d see each other in Bologna. That I would stop by on my way out of the country. I’ve done crazier things for less.
I went back to my spot on the beach from the night before. Now the beach was crowded with families and friends soaking the morning sun. I tried to nap but it was much too sunny and hot already. A group of boys were playing football near me. I flipped over onto my belly and watched. They laughed and argued and played, shouting in Italian in their little speedo briefs.
I never slept that morning. I dozed a bit here and there, took a dip in the water, still blown away at hoe crystal clear it was. More than one person had told me that this beach was the least pretty of all the ones on the island. I was excited to see more.
I still wish my friend wasn’t leaving today. Wishing I could have my own personal tour guide. Still getting over the fullness and happiness in my heart at our encounter dripping with serendipity.
I got a response from a Couchsurfer saying he could offer a place for the night but wasn’t able to get off work til 1030. We made arrangements for me to meet him later at the train station close to his place 20 minutes outside the city.
I walked back to the city. Partway there a man started walking next to me and began chatting to me in Italian. I tried to tell him that I had no idea what he was saying. Sorry sorry.
He continued talking. He edged closer to me as we walked. He grabbed my hands a couple times as he said something. I ripped them away. Bad vibes. He touched my leg twice, jabbering in Italian. I jumped far away. He edged closer. At one point, he asked, in English, “you want make baby? Bambino?” Horrified I said “no no no no no no”. There were only cars around. No people. Empty buildings. I crossed my arms in front of me as if to say “no. Don’t go there. Off limits”
He laughed and shook his head muttering in Italian. He started slowing down a bit so he was right behind me. Staring me down. I walked quicker. Occasionally he would speed up, his elbow nearly touching mine and rant again about something crazy. I went into the nearest store. I saw him out the window, lurking, waiting. I busied myself with trying to find the perfect coconut water to buy. Thankfully there were at least 8 different varieties. After about 15 minutes of wandering in this tiny shop he was gone.
Walking through the city, I noticed I got a more than a few of those creepy guy looks. The “undressing you with the eyes” look. Sending shivers down my spine. I shook them off by walking up and up to the top of the city to get a breathtaking view of the city sloping down to the sea below.
At least I met two people with good energy here. One which I felt that instantaneous “I wanna know this guy” Vibes. I can’t look back on that night without a smile. That crazy chance encounter. The sunrise. The zip zap when one of us said something that connected with another.
It’s the little things. Little signs that show you everything’s going to be alright. That wherever you are, you are meant to be. Everything happens for a reason. Lessons. Blessings. Shining stars to guide you in the night or beautiful strangers to keep you from being lonely.
Thank you so very much for saving me that night and insisting on bringing me that beer 🙂 that is certainly one of the nights that I will remember forever. A pure, genuine friendship. Act of kindness that I will never, ever forget. ❤️ you know who you are!
And tomorrow I take a bus to an even more beautiful beach to get lost and sleep under the stars once more and see what the universe has in store for me…