Excerpt, Part 1: 'Around the World in 80 Dates'

ByABC News via logo
March 31, 2005, 6:26 PM

April 5, 2005 — -- Author and travel and travel journalist Jennifer Cox appeared on "Good Morning America" to discuss her new book, "Around the World in 80 Dates." In it, Cox recounts her effort to find Mr. Right by globetrotting from country to country and date to date.

Here's an excerpt:

This Time Last Year

Settling into a steady rhythm of drinking, crying, drinking, crying, I became aware of the music for the first time: "Stand by your man, give him two arms to cling to " I glared at the radio: I've always hated that song. My feeling was that if the only way a man could remain standing upright was by leaning heavily on you, surely it was best just to let him fall right on over. But since today was the day I'd discovered Kelly had been cheating on me for pretty much the five years we'd been together, I let out a long, ragged sigh, too exhausted to cry anymore. It was also the day I had to accept that maybe there's a little bit of Tammy in us all. I really loved Kelly. Which was surprising because he actually wasn't that lovable. He was very sexy -- one of those dark, brooding types, with piercing green eyes and a tangle of curly black hair. He was tall and strong, with a gentle mouth and a chest broad enough to do a week's ironing on. But he was also self-centered, secretive, and moody. The kind of guy who sits in the corner of a bar, smoldering over a beer and a shot. For some reason I was drawn to "the difficult ones," and Kelly was as difficult as they came. A man who would sooner eat broken glass than tell you where he'd been, what his plans were, or if he loved you. I have no idea why I kept trying, when he'd wanted to go to parties on his own, stayed out late, kept a phone number with just an initial next to it. In fact, for some reason it made me try harder. Over our five years together, as Kelly morphed into Clint Eastwood, I increasingly turned into Coco the Clown, pulling out all the stops to entertain him, make him feel involved, get his attention. I did the emotional equivalent of driving a small red pedal car around the ring of our relationship, frantically tooting on my little horn as bunches of flowers popped out of my shirt and small men in orange wigs emptied buckets of custard down my trousers and twanged my big red nose. It was not dignified. And, ultimately, it was pointless. I knew in my heart we would only ever share a "now." Never a future. Then I rang the number with the initial next to it, and our "now" was over.

As soon as I split up with Kelly, I went straight to the airport and got on a plane to New York City. The experience of being in New York is like stroking a man-eating tiger: As much as it scares the bejesus out of you, for those moments it allows you to touch it, you know you are blessed and immortal.

And on this occasion, like every other I'd been there, New York uplifted me. I lost myself in the markets, boutiques, and coffee shops around Greenwich Village and Harlem, whacked softballs in the batting cages over at Coney Island until my arms sang. Being in the city didn't cure my heartache, but it distracted me and stopped it getting worse, and for that I was grateful.

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.

It was one of those whimsical decisions that only makes sense after you've done it. I'd just graduated from university and had no idea what I wanted to do next. Going to Australia on my own for three months suddenly seemed the perfect solution: It would be both an adventurous challenge and the chance to think everything through.So I flew into Perth, Western Australia. And virtually the first thing I did when I arrived was to call Peter and split up with him. As crazy as it sounds, I needed to go to the other side of the world to do it: I wasn't there to watch him fall apart, knowing it was my fault and still caring about him. And because I didn't feel wracked with the guilt I would have felt at home, I got over it far more quickly (as did he). I was free to fall madly in love with Australia, and I stayed, traveling all over Australasia for the next six years.