The beautiful thing about traveling is that it’s super easy to make friends. Everyone is likeminded and there to have a good time, so it’s pretty rare that you feel excluded or like the odd one out. Still, asking to tag along with an already defined group of travel buddies feels…awkward? Forceful? Kind of embarrassing in a lonely way?

From Day 1, I had wanted to visit Cambodia. My parents weren’t thrilled about me going there alone, so I put it on the backburner. When I met George, Chris, and Andrew in Hue, and realized they were hitting Cambodia next, I knew I had to put my big girl panties on and ask them if I could join their group.

Here’s how I popped the big question:

“Hey guys…I really want to go to Cambodia but don’t want to go alone, so do y’all mind if I tag on with you guys and then split? I won’t stay, don’t worry. You can say no if you want to. Please tell me no if you don’t want me to. Sooooo yeah.”

Never passing up the opportunity to make fun of me, they said no. But really, they said yes. And here is where the legend unfolds. Trying to verbalize/dispel the lingering weirdness I still felt about asking them, I said something like…

“Thanks! Ugh that felt so weird, like I don’t want to be that person, like ‘Oh, who brought Gary to the party?'”

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I pulled that name out of my ass. Regardless, from then on out, I was Gary. The boys took it so far as to make a drinking game out of it…if they called me Sarah, they had to drink. Nearly two months later, they still solely refer to me as Gary.

And secretly, I love it.