*The following blog post was published on the Travelettes website!!*

Dear Ex Boyfriend, Thank You!

I live in Los Angeles and my boyfriend had just relocated to New York.  I bought a plane ticket to visit him for his birthday in July; we broke up in June.  Shit!!  I’m certainly not gonna go to New York now and I can’t get a refund, so what am I gonna do with this plane ticket?  I guess I could go somewhere else, but where and with who?

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None of my friends could travel within my time constraints and I knew my family wouldn’t be up for leaving the comfort of their daily lives.  I guess I could go by myself, but people don’t travel by themselves, do they?  Plus, where am I gonna stay?  I spent all of my money on this damn ticket for his stupid birthday, not bitter by the way!

Cut to to a month later…

As I nervously walk off the plane, I comment to a fellow passenger about how cute her dog is and she asks me what I’m doing here.  I say, ”Well, I’m couch surfing, here in Portland…by myself.”  She tells me how she admires my bravery and how envious she is, and then she does something that would change my outlook on people forever.  She gives me her phone number and says, with a huge smile, “We should meet up and I’ll introduce you to all my friends.”  This simple little gesture helped me realize that I was going to be JUST FINE!

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Traveling alone from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon might not sound like such a big deal to many of you but in my 29 years of living, I had only left California a couple of times for work and I certainly didn’t do it alone.  My childhood vacations consisted of family car rides to the beach for the day because that was all we could afford.  Traveling was very foreign to me and definitely not something I ever thought was in my future.

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Needless to say, I had an AMAZING time in Portland and I met AMAZING people, most of whom are still close friends to this day.  I came back to LA with a completely different outlook on life.

I am done sitting around just waiting for things to happen!  I want to see what else is out there!  I want to see who else is out there!  I finally get it!  I get those annoying people that force YOLO down your throat.  I understand those wanderluster-ers (that’s a word, right?).  I totally get why someone would sell everything they own and ditch their high paying corporate job to backpack across Europe.

I am proud to say that I’m now officially a wanderer!  I decided to leave my life as an actor behind, pack up all of my crap, store it in my moms garage and embark on a solo road trip around the US (couch surfing, of course).  In other news, I just received my TEFL certificate (teaching English abroad), so who knows where that will take me.  For the first time in my life, I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know that I will fall in love with places, experiences and people along the way.  Am I scared?  HELL YES!  But even more than that, I am so unbelievably excited to start my new life!

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So you see ex boyfriend, if you didn’t break my heart, then I would have used that plane ticket to visit you in New York.  Instead I took a trip, one state over, that defined my future and because of that I have only one thing to say to you: THANK YOU!

Follow me @mandiwanders

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Song of the day: Portland Bound by Fruition

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