Arriving in Melbourne was bittersweet, but once the weekend was over, I felt more alive than I have ever had in a while. Catching up with some of my friends, and hanging out with Ash for a morning made me fall in love with Melbourne all over again.
It isn't hard to be in love with Melbourne all over again, and I even made an unconscious decision to not date unless I meet someone who truly aligns with my values and likes me as much as I like him. That wasn't hard - it's Melbourne, its filled with opportunities and things to do, plus, I have Ash as a distraction although he doesn't hang out with me enough.
A week in, and I have to present at a conference. And there he was, staring at me and me him. Let's call him Tay. We talked nerdy stuff over the weekend at the conference and get to learn about each other's work a lot more, but not of each other. It wasn't until a workshop on Monday that I decided to take the jump and asked him out for dinner.
We had dinner, we chatted and we got to know each other. We walked along the Yarra River and outside the casino, as the fire display comes on, we stood beneath the fire in awe and slowly, held hands. It felt right. We kissed and we hugged and we held hands and walked all around the city for the rest of the night - there were no judgmental stares nor were there any harassment. We said good-night and good-bye.
On his final night in Melbourne, we took a stroll along Federation Square and held hands. People walked past us and smiled, some nodded with approval but for all we care, we were in our own worlds. As we spoke of our past and our passions, we discovered our similarities - lots of them - our strange pet peeves and our interests. We also discovered we're both adrenaline and travel addict. But all good things must come to and end so after two beautiful nights, we bid good-bye and hugged for the last time before we both caught different trams home. He was to head to back to Sydney the day after.
I am not sure if being able to openly date someone of the same sex in public was actually more beautiful or was it the beautiful relationship we both have developed even though there was no formal relationship.
We didn't keep in touch.
About a week later, I had to fly to Canberra for a day, but was stuck there due to the ash cloud grounding all planes. I could stay the extra few nights in Canberra or I could take a bus to Sydney, a mere 3 hours away with a lot more things to do. So, at the very last minute, I booked a bus ticket and took the trip to Sydney. On the way, I arranged several meetings during the day with my friends and work colleagues. At night, we hung out. We'd hold hands, we'd share stories at the foyer of Sydney Opera House overlooking the harbour, Sydney skyline and the Harbour Bridge. We'd hug and we'd kiss and we'd laugh like there was no tomorrow. And then we'd talk nerdy stuff.
After two beautiful nights, we bid each other good night, not knowing what is going to happen between us nor have ever discussed it. But perhaps, this is all part of the adventure - it could work or it might not. All I know is, I don't think I had met anyone as caring and compassionate as him. And we haven't slept with each other either.