Adventurous Kate’s delightful post about her 10 international love stories inspired me to write my own. Kate shared her exciting vacation flings, and the good, the bad, and the ugly side of love. For all 10 accounts, she didn’t let her audience know where her adventures took place, but listed all the locations, so her readers had to connect them to the stories. The travel blogger credits part of her idea to Ariadne’s Thread.
Before you read my post, you should also know that I have never really vibed with or fell in love with someone from my own culture. My reasoning has always been that these men would not be able to show me a lot of things I’m not familiar with or put me out of my comfort zone to make me learn more about life. My infatuation with Germans never went beyond a few puberty crushes.
So anyway, now I hope you’ll enjoy these 100% truthful anecdotes about my worst hangover, my first kiss, and … *peaks_through_hands_over_face* … Tinder dates. You’ll find the cities in which these stories took place at the bottom ?
1. Road trip with a stranger
In a city known to unfortunately regard black women as prostitutes, I never expect to find lanky, nerdy looking white dudes killing all Latin dances at the Salsa club my date and I choose for this Wednesday night. Because he is not familiar with the steps and music, we move on through light, but ice cold rain to find another place. A club trying to charge $10 – cash only – with the rudest bouncers fails to interest us as. A basement with two separate music rooms – rock and Hip Hop – also isn’t convincing.
We almost give up until we accidentally stumble across this underground jazz club in the same basement. The cashier takes our coats and points down a hallway with black walls with a few signed photos and dim lighting. Hand in hand, we follow his directions and land in a room which could compete with the coziest jazz establishments I imagined to be in New Orleans.
The small space is as dimly lit as the corridor with the exception of the stage to our right. The slightly elevated platform barely fits the three musicians and their instruments, a piano, a cello, and a bass plus the main singer, who recognizably originated from the US. The band entertains an audience of mostly couples and one triplet of male friends, who all turn their heads to the two new guests for a few seconds.
Comfortably, the small room with its red, faux velvet seats and small wooden tables fits 30 individuals, uncomfortably probably as many as 50, but we are not even 20. This small number of people makes the experience even more intimate for us while we listen, his arm around my shoulder and my hand resting on his thigh.
During the break, the singer approaches each of his guests thanking them and asking where they’re from. In this international city, barely anyone is a native. When he reaches us, he poses the same questions but also inquires how we met. My date and I look at each other and chuckle. I let him answer, curious what he’s about to say. “In school,” he claims calmly but I can see the smile on his lips. The singer seems to believe him. I have to hold back what would have been a loud laugh.
My date and I actually met on Tinder two weeks ago. He got me with: “You seem to travel more than I do” and pictures of foreign places I had never been to. Because we were separated by a two hour car ride, we called each other every day and spontaneously planned a trip to this city we both wanted to see, he for the first time, I for a second time. Three days before our trip, we were able to meet in person for about two hours. That was enough to be sure that we would not kill each other during this three day out-of-the-country adventure but I haven’t seen him since then.
2. You don’t know which country I’m in? #boybye
You were always just for show. To show you off to my classmates and parents and other people that I, too, finally could have a boyfriend. A boyfriend with a car who would pick me up from school in front of everyone on top of that.
We had met online, went on one date and decided to be in what would be my first relationship ever. When I told you “Love you” I felt as if I was lying to you, but I still played along to keep up this image of a great relationship for everyone but myself. I wanted to feel loved, to be accepted, I wanted to go on double dates and do couple things.
When I left for my two-week vacation in another country with my family, I knew I was going to break up with you after I returned home. Why I didn’t do this before, I don’t know.
You didn’t text or call me for about five days until I finally received a message from you: “How is [insert wrong country here]?” You really had forgotten what country I was in. I knew that you were not meant for my world traveler heart. I did not even reply. #boybye
This led to me falling for a local from the other country, which would turn into my first REAL relationship ever (teenage problems).
To this day, my brother recounts the scene of you and I breaking up. He halfway laughs about, halfway scolds me for it. I had called you to my house and did not even let you in. I made it short and quick (and cruel?) and as you stormed down the steps my brother remembers looking into your distraught face.
3. Never say never…
Clouds hide the stars. My sweat glands produce in full effect as my ankle long blue jeans and my blouse stick to my skin. At least my clothes save me from the multitude of what I consider the only unnecessary insects in the world – buzzing blood suckers.
The darkness makes it impossible to observe more than the following: The eatery I find myself at consists of white and red plastic chairs and tables underneath a cover protecting its guests from tropical rains. The ground was is not asphalted, but a composition of dirt, sand, and rocks decorated with food residues claimed by a few stray cats, bottle caps, and wooden skewers that once held fish, chicken, or beef. Depending on the winds, the smoke of the grill turns towards me entangling itself in my hair. Thanks to the color of my skin, I am the only obvious outsider here.
The waiter brings two plates: One is loaded with beef skewers and tomato, onion and chili salad and the other with fries. Neither utensils nor napkins are in sight. The waiter comes back and stands beside me without uttering a word. I keep talking to my date until I become uncomfortable because the waiter is not moving.
My eyes must have had the biggest question marks in them as I look helplessly at my date. He tells me I’m supposed to wash my hands. Only then, I make out the plastic jug and the bowl the waiter is holding. Despite this and despite today being the day of my grandmother’s death, the date is going well.
A few days later, a guard of the street corner I always pass with the dog I’m taking care of while her owner is on vacation, stops me as usual to inquire how I’m doing. He then proceeds to tell me that he’s in love with me. He knows the difference between the English “like” and “love,” he claims. He wants to be my boyfriend. I explain that I do not want a boyfriend from his country.
About five days later, I stand at the airport saying goodbye to the man for whom I am head over heels by now and who is from this country. The man who had to educate me about washing my hands. The man who bought me yogurt as a dessert from a barred corner store after our beef skewers and fries because in his country, nobody eats something sweet after savory meals.
4. Wet kisses
Little did I know that when I took this overnight bus to a foreign country by myself at the age of 14, I’d meet the biggest crush of my teenage years.
You had these mischievous brown eyes that hid your dangerous secrets but into which I could stare for hours. There was a strong chemistry between us and you intrigued me because you were not like the guys in my home country. Your language was completely foreign to me and you did not know English, so our mutual friend had to translate whatever pubescent cheesiness we wanted to exchange – whether she wanted to or not – the latter was probably the case.
I was not even old enough to drink and I definitely shouldn’t have been at a bar; however, in this country, as long as you looked old enough that didn’t really matter. That’s also why our mutual friend, who was ten years older than me, took me to a restaurant which had once been an old railway carriage, to meet you and her other friends.
This happened at least twice, and by the third and last time, shortly before I would leave again, you offered to walk me back to her house. It was raining – a cold fall, not a summer rain – and neither of us carried an umbrella. You offered your arm so I could lay my hand on it and be closer to you. We laughed a lot during this short walk back, trying to communicate with our hands and facial expressions. When we reached our mutual friend’s house, you pulled me in and placed my face into your hands. You then looked into my eyes, closed yours and gave me my first kiss. We locked lips in the rain for a short while before I had to go into the house. I left the next day without seeing you again.
My love letters to you after this visit stayed unanswered. I cried a lot over these unreturned feelings but when I heard that you had discovered your affinity for alcohol and other drugs, I thought it was for the better.
5. “Sounds like the beginning of a horror movie…”
The summer sky was gray and a few light drops of rain land on us every once in awhile. The four of us cross the street from the train station and pass a few dull, monotonous high rises in the outskirts of this European city before we walk straight into a forest on a gravel path. Us two girls in the back, the guys in front, one of them with a huge Rottweiler, the other with a sixpack of beers.
“Where are you taking us?” I ask my friend from LA, who, coincidentally stays in this European city at the same time as me. I had known him for at least five years, but we would only see each other only twice a year at our mutual friends’ get-togethers.
“Well… Two guys take two girls into the forest. There’s beer involved. Sounds like the beginning of a horror movie, eh?,” my friend answers.
At the end of the path stands a small cabin with a cozy porch on a huge, fenced plot of green land in the middle of the hill, with a lake at the bottom of it. We enter the house and meet the wife of my friend’s friend, their newborn, and another mutual friend of theirs: Tall, cappuccino, and handsome.
The mutual friend and I lock eyes only for a split second, then shy away, but already in this quick moment, we know where the afternoon and night will lead us.
We spend the rest of his remaining 18 hours in this city together, at the beginning with our friends, later by ourselves. Our severe intoxication makes our time even more intense before our hangovers decide to kick in. We both agree we want to see each other again soon.
Two weeks later, it happens, in another European city; however, all the magic between us has completely subsided from his side and I am extremely confused. After all, he had taken an hourlong train ride to meet me. All of this may also have had to do with a strange Facebook post (*cough … ehem … stalk … cough*) from his “ex-girlfriend,” which he soon after deleted – two days before we saw each other.
6. How often can you run into one another?
The first time my friends and I saw you two, three of us including me thought you were quite attractive, especially once you started conversing in your proper English accent. You stayed in the same apartment as us and were about to leave when we saw you and your cousin. Our groups quickly introduced before we parted ways.
That following late afternoon, my friends and I were walking along the beach promenade, where we passed you. Either you didn’t notice us or you were too shy or you did not want to talk to us. But we didn’t talk to you either.
When my friends and I went out in this city’s famous party neighborhood, we ran into you again. This time we talked and spent the whole night dancing before all five of us squeezed into a taxi to our apartment building. I was going in for a kiss, but you just turned your head.
The next day, both of our groups spent a few hours at the beach together, this time it was planned.
The day after that, one of my friends and I ran into both of you again, in another part of town. All good things come in threes, apparently – that’s how many times we had now ran into each other randomly at various locations after our initial introduction.
Nothing ever happened and sometimes I still wonder if you like guys ?