My separation was underway and I knew that the best way to get over my soon to be ex-husband was to get under someone new. This was a tactic that had worked well in my 20s, so what the hell? It was time for what I affectionately refer to as a whornado. A short, intense-yet-impactful event that occurs out of nowhere but leaves a significant mark and a “little” destruction.
I was still in Korea, so language barriers meant civilians were off limits for the most part. Which was fine since I was a bit lazy. I had to immediately chop off about 80% of the men I knew since they were married, too young, too old or were of a rank that would result in my removal from the military. Lucky for me, my group of friends also consisted of a few young, single, attractive and in-shape men that would easily fit the bill.
I landed on the perfect specimen for such a task. He was everything one could want in a rebound. Six years my junior, which was huge for someone that usually went for older men, but still within range that I wouldn’t feel like a creeper. He was smart and athletic with a strong work ethic. A West Point graduate still in excellent shape from years spent in sports and a college career as a decathlete. He loved Olympic lifting and had the body that clearly showed his athletic achievements. Dark hair, blue eyes and an olive complexion, similar to Zac Efron. He also possessed a boyish charm that would have been dangerous for me had I met him in my younger years. Being a bit older I was able to deter most of his charm.
We both knew it was a temporary “relationship” and yet every once in a while he would throw a line out and sly smile in a way that a younger me would have fallen for. On occasion he would make mention of us attending a future event together. One we both knew would not occur until well past our expiration date. I would roll my eyes, smile, and laugh at his suggestion.
To be honest, I am not even sure he realized when he did it sometimes. I think for him part of saying what women wanted to hear was just the reflex and part of his charm. He was exactly what I needed at the time. He was leaving Korea and heading to Italy for his next assignment. He made hot baths after long days for me, hot tea at night and breakfast in bed on the weekends. We meal prepped for the week, counted macros together and enjoyed our outings in Korea together. His looks, charms and intelligence made him exactly what I needed and exactly when I needed it.
I wasn’t concerned with anything serious at the time. I had far too many things to work out in my own life before even thinking about getting serious with someone new. All I wanted was a distraction and a little fun. The truth is, I wasn’t sure I would ever be interested in dating seriously again, at least not anytime in the near future. My entire focus was on me. My work, my health and my well-being, which for the time included the occasional few months long fling with a temporary guy.
To be clear, I feel neither guilt, shame or upset about the use of this man. After all, I was still an adult woman and, according to my checklist, this was a time that was centered on me. The few months spent with him provided the perfect escape from all the crap that had gone on. With no strings attached, I was able to enjoy partnership of sorts. I had a training partner that helped keep me on track even when it came to meals. I could run for an hour or two on the nearby trail while listening to an audiobook and not have to worry about then cooking dinner by myself if I wanted to eat healthy. I could experience all types of new things in Korea without someone wanting to stay in and play video games.
My life was becoming what it had been before. A life of new experiences, of wanting to learn new things, of enjoying those around me. To this day I am thankful to have had him in my life at that time. I expected nothing from him and he expected nothing from me. He was my own little escape.
Shortly after he left Korea and our last major exercise of my time in Korea was completed, I decided to take a quick vacation to somewhere new. I decided on an 8 day trip to Cambodia, because why the hell not, and because Elizabeth Gilbert had already beaten me to eat, pray, love my way to India. Besides I like my vacations a little darker it turns out. Cambodia was the perfect trip. To this point it remains one of my favorite countries to visit. I could easily spend months there and be happy.
While in Cambodia, I visited two cities and stayed at a mixture of hotels and hostels. I also spent time exploring areas by myself and took advantage of a private tour guide. I visited the capital city, Phnom Penh and stayed at a “western” hotel. I visited a place referred to as Silversmith village and watched artisans create a number of silver and bronze crafts. I explored the old capital and it’s various temples. I took a private guided tour of some locations and heard stories from the locals about the impact the Khmer Rouge had on their families. No one I met seemed unaffected by the war and everyone told their story without being asked.
I traveled on my own and stayed at a hostel. I hired a motorcycle and visited somber locations like the S21 prison and killing fields. The history and these sites should always be remembered, as a testament of just what humans are capable of. I took guided tours of Angor Wat and floating villages. I went on zip lines over an archaeological site that produced new and amazing views of the nearby temples. At night I traveled from my hotel or hostel to Pub Street at night where a hodge-podge of foreign travelers partied and drank at night.
After eight packed days in Cambodia the time came to leave. I did not want to go and kept thinking of all the locations I still wanted to visit. I returned to Korea and prepared for my return to the states where, after another short vacation to California and Florida, I would need to settle in to my new life in Georgia.
I will just add for those of you that have never traveled alone, do it. It doesn’t have to be to another country or across the globe. Just go somewhere you have never been before and go by yourself. Pick a place you always wanted to visit or find an event that you want to attend in a neighboring city and just go. Get comfortable with yourself. You are one of the best things you can invest in.