The movies make it seem like romance ALWAYS happens when you travel but that hasn't been my experience. Sure, flirting may come easier when you're away from home but genuine romantic feelings are elusive. But when Cupid does strike, far away in unfamiliar surroundings, what a magical moment.
I recently received an e-mail from a fellow travel writer that I met on a press trip several years ago that prompted a vivid memory of my ultimate travel crush. She cheerfully served as my wingwoman when I developed a massive schoolgirl crush on one of the officials hosting our group. My wingwoman is a married mom from the Midwest and I'm a childless singleton from NYC but we quickly bonded on my romantic mission.
When he greeted our ragtag group of writers, I noticed immediately that he was tall and handsome but our initial conversations were strictly professional. I asked him all of the appropriate travel blogger questions about the cultural and culinary delights of his region and he answered with memorized stats and facts. But the more we spoke, the more we laughed and veered off script. Suddenly, I noticed how beautiful his eyes were.
Like most press trips, our itinerary was packed but instead of feeling tired I found myself immediately searching the room for him at every activity and when he wasn't there my heart would sink. My wingwoman sensed the growing attraction between me and him. Like teenage girls, she and I would giggle while discussing the situation and anticipating what would happen next.
As the trip progressed, my conversations with him took a personal turn and I started to suspect that he also had a crush on me. He seemed relieved when I casually mentioned that I was single and he revealed that he was also unattached. I told him that I loved his town but I had one minor, and admittedly bratty, complaint - I was pining for a Starbucks Grande Chai Tea with Skim Milk and there were no Starbucks within walking distance of our hotel - the closest was several miles away in the next county.
The next morning the phone in my room rang and I heard that rich voice of his. "Miss Wanda, I have a chai tea for you. Grande with skim milk."
"Come on up," I calmly said but inside I was absolutely verklempt. It isn't everyday that gorgeous men appear bearing chai tea. More importantly, he showed that he had really listened to me.
I heard his soft knock on the door and, when I opened it, there he was - Starbucks in hand, a sweet and slightly nervous smile on his face. There was a brief awkward moment in the air where I debated inviting him in. Instead, I just kissed him on the cheek and said thank you. What were we going to do? Make out like teenagers for 10 minutes before meeting the group? (In retrospect, this sounds like an excellent option.)
Before I knew it, the trip was winding down. Since all of the writers had different flight departure times, he and his colleagues were assigned writers to drive to the airport. He drove me (coincidental?) and one other writer. Thankfully, she was dropped off first and there were about 5 precious minutes that we shared alone in the car. He thanked me for visiting and told me I was sweet. I thanked him for his hospitality and, of course, the chai tea. We pulled up to the curb and he exited the car to get my bag from the trunk. He then came around to open the passenger side door. I stepped out.
"Goodbye", I said.
"Goodbye, Miss Wanda."
I sensed it coming and then it happened - he gave me a soft and delicious peck on the lips. Quick but perfect. Sweeter than chai tea.
Best press trip ever.