This past weekend I had my first Italian.
I know how that sounds…and I don’t care. Let’s for a moment, however, backtrack a bit.
The intimacy of touch
Last week I went out for a drink with a girlfriend after work. On our walk home we stopped at Lush, as neither of us had been in one for quite some time. I love many things about this chain, in particular, how sales associates at Lush help you test the products.
‘This is going to sound creepy, but I swear it’s not sexual’ – is how I prefaced another (and even worse sounding) statement to my friend upon leaving Lush, ‘but that sales associate rubbing my arm with body scrub is the most intimate encounter I’ve had since coming to Rome six weeks ago.’
While the statement was uttered partially in jest, it was true. The sales pitch by the associate at Lush with shower scrub and later with body cream (at my own request) was the most intimate encounter I’d had since coming to Italy.
Damn it, this just keeps sounding worse.
I can’t be sure that my realization upon leaving Lush was the catalyst for what would happen a mere 24 hours later, but it was likely a contributing factor.
Solo Travel & Social Inhibitions
I love solo travel and for me it is, really, the only way to travel. It provides me with the freedom to do as I like and make my own schedule. The one thing I have noticed, however, is the lack of physical interaction, which is a natural side effect of living and or traveling by oneself in an unfamiliar country.
Human touch is important and has a range of both physical and emotional benefits for people of all ages. Infants, of course, receive and require the most touch out of any age group, but physical interaction is important at any age. There are, however, certain societal inhibitions that get in the way because of the connection between touch and sexuality. An example of this is how people greet each other in different countries and cultures.
In my home country, the U.S., people greet by shaking hands; good friends will frequently hug each other when saying goodbye. Although it is rather un-American, I greet many of my friends with cheek kisses. While this is a far more standard greeting in Europe, many of my friends are from outside of the U.S., coming primarily from former Yugoslavian countries so this type of greeting is familiar to them and one I’ve become accustomed to and like.
Personally, I’m more comfortable with cheek kisses; it feels less intimate than a hug, which includes one’s whole body in the greetings. However, when I’m abroad for long periods of time and/or adjusting to a new place where I have moved (like I am now) I miss hugs. I miss the physical intimacy involved in my day-to-day interactions with people I know. I think this is why (well, one of many reasons) when I woke up in a bed other than my own Saturday morning, I felt no shame. Quite the opposite, in fact.
‘Every woman has a first Italian’
After a cocktailed night at the fountain in Monti where I spend a fair share of my free time, I found myself on the back of a scooter in route to San Paolo. For a brief moment I questioned my sanity, then I went back to enjoying the ride through Rome during the wee hours of the morning.
At this point, feel free to use your imagination.
The next morning I woke up next to *Gianni. This was strange for a few reasons:
- I was not in my bed
- I was not alone
As a woman who has been single for a year and a half, I have rules that guide my single lady escapades. I broke almost every one of those rules Friday night and I have no regrets.
What are these rules? Well, that’s for another post (see part II) but needless to say the rules I have created for sex, dating, and love have sprung from my experiences as a formerly engaged woman who spent the majority of her 20s in a long-term, committed relationship. As a single woman, I have developed a set of rules to ensure both my safety and sanity.
I had a great Friday and Saturday night with Gianni; he’s cute, smart, fun, and educated. It was nice to meet someone new, experience some physical intimacy, of the Italian variety 😉 and learn more about Italian culture. I had no intention of adding another flag ‘to my belt’, that just happened, in fact I hadn’t thought of it until Saturday afternoon when *Gianni was locking the door to his flat as he left to take me to the metro station.
‘You’re my first Italian’, I said having have just realized it myself.
Gianni turned, kissed me, and then with a smile said, ‘Every woman has a first Italian.’
Gianni was mine.
*Name changed for the sake of anonymity