Must Love Travel

My luggage...
My luggage...

He must have a relationship with God.
He must be kind.
He must be funny.
He must be intelligent.
He must be ambitious.
He must be college-educated.
He must have the ability to create wealth.
He must be resourceful.
He must be open-minded.
He must be health conscious.
He must comply with my rule of no sex before marriage.

This is just a short list (in no particular order) of the “musts” for any man looking to make it past the first date with me. Who am I kidding? I like to eat, so I am willing to hang out with someone who offers good company and good food (no judgment, please). This is, however, a list of things that a man must have if I am to seriously consider him boyfriend material. There is a more specific, yet similar list of musts for being considered husband material. As if the list wasn’t long enough already, a few months ago while on a Saturday stroll through an outdoor market in the park, another must, one that should’ve been an obvious addition years ago, hit me right in the face.

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday when I decided to invite a young man out for some frozen yogurt and a nice walk through downtown. We’ll call him The Frenchman. The Frenchman is not actually French. He is from Haiti, but speaks both French and Creole. The Frenchman and I met at the gym. He was tall, dark, and handsome, PLUS he had that awesome accent, PLUS he spoke in what has to be my favorite language. It took a few months for him to even say “hello” to me, but once he did, the length of our discussions grew each time we saw each other during our workouts. During that same time, before he got up enough nerve to invite me out on a date, I had begun taking French lessons. Each week the teacher would give the group a new lesson along with words and phrases to practice and learn. I tested out my new words and phrases on The Frenchman. I was nervous at first, but as time went on I welcomed his corrections on my American pronunciation of certain words and, I beamed with excitement when he congratulated me on counting to ten and sometimes beyond with great French flair. I liked him. He said he liked me. Sadly, it took only a short discussion on a Saturday afternoon for those feelings to quickly dissipate, at least on my end. A red flag had popped up. It was one that could not be ignored.

The red flags had been present before. On the few times we had gone out, I noticed his hesitation (and sometimes refusal) to trying something that was new to him. During dinner on a Friday evening, it was the humus that made his nose turn up. On a trip to Starbucks, it was… well it was everything. For some unknown reason, I was left to enjoy a piece of coffee cake by myself. I don’t enjoy eating by myself when I’m not by myself. These may seem insignificant, but being closed off to new experiences is a non negotiable when it comes to being the next “Nicole’s boyfriend.”

But, did I mention that he was handsome? Did I also remember to mention that he spoke French? It may have also slipped my mind to mention that he too was tall and very muscular. So with this in mind, I made the decision, although aware of his shortcomings, to continue hanging out with him. It was a decision based purely on the superficial. That Saturday afternoon, however, forced me to face the truth about the probability of The Frenchman and our future as a couple.

As we walked through the park that afternoon, I decided to ask him a few questions about what he wanted out of his life, specifically his thoughts on traveling and living somewhere other than in Florida. Being from a different country and having mastered the French language, I was surprised when he informed me that he had never gone anyplace else except for Haiti and the US. Even his travels in the US had been limited to Florida. I was willing to work with this. I was confident that I could inspire him to become an impassioned explorer or, at the very least, think about a nice weekend getaway to somewhere outside of the state. But all hope was finally lost when he expressed that he had no desire to travel – in the US or abroad. He was fine being in Orlando and living out the remainder of his life here. Now, that wouldn’t work for me. Suddenly, his beautiful whiter than white teeth, his bulging muscles, and the way he referred to me as “mademoiselle” in his beautifully constructed French accent no longer had me spellbound. The curse had been broken. His disinterest in travel was to thank.

From then on, I understood how important travel and experiencing different places and cultures was to me, and how important it was that the person I would choose to spend quality time with had a similar passion. So now, in addition to asking about his religion, where he went to school, and what his 5-year plan is, I also ask about his travel plans for the year and what interesting stamps he has accrued in his passport. The Frenchman helped me gain a clearer, more defined image of my ideal mate. I don’t demand much, but above most things, he must love travel.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

ATWGs, is “must love travel” on your “list,” too? Please share below.

Tags from the story
More from Nicole E. Jackson

Food tour: 3 reasons to make it the first thing you do when traveling to a new city

When visiting a new place, the absolute worst thing I can do...
Read More