Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Movie Is Never Just a Movie

Ok, so I feel like I am returning home an entirely different, improved and somehow younger person. So since I think I have completed a chapter of my life (with just the epilogue to write) I will now not worry so much about linear time and just write about what is in my head. There are stories, amongst my time at sea and even before which I have not yet written about because, well, they are just f*cking embarrassing but the fact is they are also funny and so, here goes. This has become a cautionary tale upon the sea…amongst those I was willing to share it with. There was a certain gentleman with whom I had a rather, I thought, innocent flirtation, not really even a flirtation, just stupid banter between friends. But apparently it struck a chord because he asked me to go out. Cool, what did you have in mind? A movie…nice, that sounds fun. I put on some comfy clothes to hang out with my new friend and off I go. I show up to his room and we pick a movie. He has a lovely cabin, much bigger than mine, which isn’t difficult since I live with a roommate in a broom closet; he even has a small porthole so we can see the ocean a bit. We choose a movie and he invites me to snuggle up next to him…awww, nice. Now, upon my original invitation, I did mention that movies are nearly Pavlovian for me and it is a guarantee that at some point I shall fall asleep, but he seemed agreeable and even invited me under the blankets to get comfy! We start to watch the movie, actually a series of British comedy shows and his arm finds it’s way around my shoulder. Snuggles. Yeah for friendly snuggles. Ok, this might be more than friendly snuggles. He turns to kiss me on the cheek and then his hands begin a bit of unexpected exploration. Ok, didn’t anticipate this but I’m leaving myself open to new experiences so I just sort of go with it. His mouth finds mine and his hands find the bottom of my shirt, ripping it from my person. Ok, now this is all a little surprising. My breath is coming fast now as his hands continue their expedition of my undiscovered country and I realize we are now skin against skin; not sure when that happened; he was wearing a shirt when I arrived, wasn’t he? I start to protest and pull away a bit and he pulls me towards him and tries to remove my remaining undergarments; his fingers exploring deeper into my mystery. I begin to audibly resist, saying things are moving a little fast for me but he does not seem discouraged. Now, to be clear, don’t worry, this is not a rape situation; I was never in danger and I could have stopped at any time, but as I said, I was leaving myself open to new things and I was just a little fascinated to see where this was going, but when it became clear that things were going too far for my comfort level, I put the brakes on. But apparently I was just a bit too late, he couldn’t stop himself and, sorry to be graphic, but he came on me. Not my finest hour! And then he got up, walked away and…started brushing his teeth. Um, what the f*ck just happened? I sit for a moment waiting for my head to clear, then look up say, “So, what just happened?”

“One night stand, like you wanted.”

Um, what? Now, I’m a bit intrigued. Ok, first things first, “Can I have a towel?” Practicality was overriding curiosity. I was feeling kind of cold and vulnerable…and trapped.

Handing me a towel, “Yeah, you wanted a one night stand.” I don’t recall this. “I did?” “Yeah, all that flirting…in the bar…your etchings.”

So now I’m just fascinated by this weird misunderstanding and me being me, I fall into reporter mode. “So, is this your thing?” “Do you ever have relationships or is this what you do?” I’m kind of wishing I had a note pad or my laptop because now I am truly fascinated. He assures me this is unusual but I am skeptical.

“Um, what are you going to say about tonight?” he queries. Now this is revealing. I mention that I like to keep my personal life personal, especially on the ship which seems to be staffed entirely by rejected tabloidists and paparazzi.

He says it’s up to me but it is clear that there was a plan forming. Now, not going into too much detail because I’m already quite embarrassed as it is, I was pretty sure based on some up close and personal interchange that I was not actually the first person he’d been with that day. So I was certain I didn’t want to relive, over and over this humiliation amongst my colleagues.
“Look, I’m married.” Wow, the word hits him like a brick. I won’t go into the full story but the evening did not go well from there. I try and reassure him that the marriage is failing and he’s done nothing wrong. Next day, I send him a text asking if he’s alright. Nothing. I write him a little note of apology for the misunderstanding saying I’d like to take him out for a drink to clear the air. No response. I am concerned maybe it has such impact because he is young but over the next few days it becomes clear that he is not distraught that he has sullied a married woman, he is distraught that he cannot tell anyone. He is upset that he has lost bragging rights. I’m worried about having shattered this young man and he is vexed that his numbers are off. I was a one-night stand with a sloppy second who is offended he can’t tell the world. My last night aboard, he refuses to even make eye-contact. What a douche! Lessons learned. 1) A movie is never just a movie 2) A one night stand is just a sticky back and a walk of shame. 3) I’d much rather just hold out for love...or two stripes!

A Return to the Beginning

It is my final La Spezia and I have returned to this place that has meant so much to me. FIRENZE. Though I have spent little time here, you have left a mark blazoned on my heart forever and with each footstep upon these dark, cobblestoned streets I am drawn back into reverie of a wonderful, magical time when I conquered a giant, found love in a foreign city and witnessed the magical transformation of a city in lights. Twice before I have been to this beautiful city by the sea; once with my husband and once with Mr. Darcy. But this isn’t just about remembering the past. Today I forged a new milestone. I have achieved Florence as an independent, self-sufficient, confident woman. I didn’t even need a map to traverse these streets; just the heart and soul of an adventurer…and a romantic. This is the perfect end to this sojourn, not a final destination but a rebirth. What better place to celebrate my renewal than the very birthplace of the renaissance? In a few minutes I shall return to the bus and the small crowd of willing followers who shall shadow me back to the ship. I know it has been but a few hours in this amazing place but I know I return transformed by my brief holiday. I love life. I love myself. And I love the bittersweet melancholy of this new, single existence. I put a coin in the mouth of the “little piggy” and twice it misses the grate before landing. I suppose it means I shall return but not without a struggle. That’s ok. It will simply mark the next chapter. Read on, my friends.


It’s funny now how I can drift so rapidly from nostalgia to anticipation and back. I have had such a wonderful and healing experience here in the Mediterranean; lost a love, lost myself, found myself and rediscovered love in the most unexpected of places. He said something to me which was so powerful and so true. “It’s nice being with you because we’re not working things out or sorting through issues with each other. Everything that we have been through has led us to this moment. And when I’m with you, I’m just with you.” I feel it so viscerally I wish I had said it myself. I don’t think I’ve ever truly been with anyone where I wasn’t sorting things out-not since many years ago, at least. And though this may be fleeting and finite, the impact of it shall be my lifetime; and it just might not be so finite as I thought. Whatever happens, we shall forever be in each other’s lives and hearts in some capacity and forever there will be the memory of one lovely month and one amazing week, unblemished by time or toil. In our memories we will always be in love, young and vibrant and romantic. Perhaps that is better than the reality. I suppose it remains to be seen. But for now, I am once again inspired by romance and beauty and love. And there is no looking back! Was she here, I think my mother would be proud of how I have embraced this grand adventure of a life.