Buon Natale, Part II

I’m just a girl, standing in front of a plane, asking it to take me somewhere far far away.

I was eight days into my solo Italian sojourn and I’d accomplished something I hadn’t achieved in the last eight months in LA: I had sex. Apparently when I’m feeling sexually charged I just need to hop on a plane with my passport. I could never imagine taking a guy home after shoe shopping at Nordstrom or trying on lipstick at Sephora. And yet there I was on a rainy afternoon, an American tourist alone in Italy, trying on perfume and picking up a man. Why is it so much easier to let your guard down when traveling?

The morning after our first night together the Italian went to work and I went back to sleep. We were up until 5am attempting to erupt Mt. Vesuvius, efforts ultimately proving fruitless, and I think that warrants a 9am nap. When I finally made it out of my Airbnb apartment that day, all I could think about was how I wanted to see him again. Even though the sex was average at best and only lasted 5 minutes at a time, I decided it was worth another try. After all, he was sophisticated, intelligent, and so darn charming. Was it loneliness or horniness? It’s difficult to say.

We messaged each other throughout the day and I told him if he still had any energy left after working all day then we should get together again. He mentioned he was surprisingly unfazed by the lack of sleep and suggested a spot he was sure I would like. Bring on evening number two. 

I experienced a pang of déjà vu as I walked toward him in the main piazza, our meeting point from the previous night. It’s such a turn on to be greeted by that accent and impeccable style. Are American men just lazy when it comes to fashion or are we just less sophisticated? I’ve grown so accustomed to skinny jeans, graphic tees, and lumber jack button ups that a tailored pair of pants, a sweater, and a tie on a svelte man was practically foreplay. To think there was anything left that LA men could annoy me with. Ugh, where was I… 

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Is this real life?

Mr. name-that-still-sounds-like-a-pasta ordered us a bottle of wine speaking only in Italian, and again I asked myself…

We walked along a narrow, cobblestone street until we came to an unassuming storefront tucked down an alley. The name of the place was Ragú and there were a total of four chairs inside plus one bow-tie wearing bartender looming in front of an impressive rack of local wine. Mr. name-that-still-sounds-like-a-pasta ordered us a bottle speaking only in Italian and again I asked myself, is this real life? After another evening of stimulating conversation and walks along the Christmas light-adorned porticoes we made our way back to my apartment. Less alcohol + less nerves should = better sex, right?

Yeah, no. The déjà vu followed us into the bedroom. He tried to change it up by insisting we start on the couch, and then the kitchen table, but here’s the thing – the location is irrelevant if the penis doesn’t function. Even if the penis was operating at a normal 27-year-old level, laying me down on a cold, precarious kitchen table next to a fruit basket piercing holes through my back skin was not exactly my idea of hot foreplay. We probably would have had better success if he just left his finely curated Milano wardrobe on and dry humped me. 

This game of romantic evenings followed by “for the love of God stay hard, penis!” went on for two more days. During that time we dined at quaint restaurants, talked about our families over martinis, and shared tales of traveling as we strolled down tiny cobblestone alleyways. He pointed out old insignia hanging over storefronts that stood the test of time, he told me where to go to find the best Italian coffee. He explained to me that the name of my Bologna street, Via Cartoleria, meant a small shop that sold stationary, and his mother worked at one when he was a kid growing up in Le Marche. But no matter how strong our connection grew, the sex was no match. And I wasn’t there to find a boyfriend.

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no matter how strong our connection grew, the sex was no match; and i wasn’t there to find a boyfriend.

Upon discussing my Italian love affair with friends, most admitted they probably would have given up after night two no matter how handsome he was or how good his taste in wine bars. I guess I was just determined to find my happy ending to this love story; make that two elusive happy endings.

Even though this story isn’t perfect, it got me thinking. For one, even though he couldn’t push the cream out of the cannoli, there were other pleasurable moments in and out of the bedroom that made the time worthwhile. We joked that we probably shared “a million kisses” over the course of four days. Well those are his words, that would never come out of my mouth but nonetheless swoon I did upon hearing those sweet nothings while church bells rang just outside. He also got the Steelers football game to stream for me after I almost erupted in tears upon realizing that the Italian internet was blocking my NFL Sunday ticket. And we stayed up late every night exchanging our favorite American and Italian music (since we weren’t exchanging fluids, ok I’m done, you get it- HE COULDN’T COME). My point is, I genuinely enjoyed our time together and even though the sex wasn’t exceptional his company, his anecdotes about Italian culture, and his treatment of me were. 

Second, after I said goodbye to him at the train station in Bologna - he was headed to his hometown to spend Christmas with his family - I reflected on my own patterns abroad. This was the fifth hookup I’ve had in a country that wasn’t my own since my single life commenced two years ago. I’m not dwelling on the bed post notches but instead the notion that I am much more comfortable interacting with men when I’m not in my hometown. Why? I pondered on the long walk back to my apartment through the old streets of Bologna. 

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Why spend money on a therapist when you could spend money on pasta?

Since I still don’t have a therapist but probably should, I’ll draw my own conclusions on this one. It’s very possible I’m more open when traveling because I’m not afraid of getting hurt. There is a clear expiration date and if he never texts me again it doesn’t matter, and vice versa. I’m impervious to his actions once I leave. There’s also no pressure for it to succeed or have longevity. At home, when a guy texts me for a second date or checks in to see how my week is going I immediately recoil and assume he’s moving too fast and long for my independence when I don’t have to answer to a man (it’s possible I have some leftover scar tissue but that’s a discussion for another day, maybe after I finally do get a therapist). 

Dating abroad is so much easier because there are no expectations of how I should act or what the outcome should be. Plus, hooking up with foreigners is fun. Is it just me? 

You can answer that while I get back to this plate of pasta, after which I look forward to a long night of sleep, alone.

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Hello my true lover.

Antica Trattoria Spiga

Via Broccaindosso, 21/a