I actually had to be in New York for work, so in a way it was good timing (if such a thing exists when you're talking about splitting up with your boyfriend). But then again, I worked in the travel industry, so it wasn't that unusual for me to be heading off somewhere. I loved traveling and had been determined to get a job in the industry from the moment I discovered its unerring ability to make me feel really good. This was especially true after an ugly breakup. Some say that time is a great healer, but I discovered years ago that it's actually travel that quite literally moves you on. Staying on the crime scene of an awful breakup is the worst thing you can do: too many painful memories and reminders. I subscribe to the "pack up your troubles" school of relationship recovery, and let me tell you, it works. It had been almost by accident that I'd learned travel mends a broken heart. I was eighteen and William was the first big love of my life. We were at school together and shared the kind of pure and trusting love only possible when you have yet to experience that first deep cut. When William dumped me out of the blue for Melanie (a girl who shopped at Miss Selfridge, who had never even been to Glastonbury), I was completely unprepared for the shock. I spent that whole summer after my exams moping around, crying on my best friend Belinda's shoulder, making her come for long walks so I could tell her (again) how awful it was and how I was never going to get over it. But when, at the end of the summer, I left home for Leeds University, I was really surprised to discover that out of sight really was out of mind. Here I was in a whole new place, with no painful memories. There was no danger of bumping into Will and Mel in Leeds; I didn't have to go to our places on my own or have people drop into conversation that they'd all been out together the night before. So, free from constant reminders of my old Will and his new girlfriend, I got over him and on with my life.
All thanks to the M1 motorway and National Express buses. But my lesson in the healing power of travel didn't end there. It was my next boyfriend who taught me that travel makes things easier for the dumper (as opposed to the dumpee), too. Peter was the guitarist in a band I sang with in Leeds, and we lived together for most of my time at university. He was gentle, kind, and very cute. But sadly, as time went on, it became increasingly clear that "gentle and kind" wasn't enough. I really didn't want to hurt him -- Peter didn't deserve that, plus I remembered how bad it felt -- but as much as I loved him, I felt restless and the need to move on. But I couldn't end it. I really tried: I'd psych myself up, telling myself I was going through with it this time, but at the last minute I'd think about how upset Peter would be and I'd lose my nerve. Actually, a couple of times I did end it, but Peter persuaded me to give us another chance. I was hopeless: I just couldn't face his heartache and make a clean break. Until I went to Australia.