dating, friendship, humour, online dating

68. Girls on tour

“Go on, send her a message.”

“No.”

“It’ll be fun! Look, she’s a pole dancer!”

“No, what’s the point? I’ll be going home soon.”

“That’s the point! Or what about this one? She’s cute.”

“Dammit woman, no! I don’t want to have empty sex with some stranger.”

“Fine.”

The holiday romance. It’s a slippery little bugger. It seems so magical in the books: star-drenched walks on the beach; coconutty limbs panting in hot sand; sea kisses, one hand tugging at the back of a bikini; Aperol and passione and tears at the quayside as you say farewell.

It’s a bloody sham, I tell you. The only holiday romance I ever had was when I snogged a spotty teenager and then watched him try on my bras. No Aperol for me: Here, have this bubblegum-flavoured vodka and touch my willy. Thanks, but I think I’ll pass.

So, I’m not sure holiday romances are for me. A holiday bromance though – reconnecting with family or old friends on an overseas jolly – is much more my jam. My best friend and I don’t get to see each other very much because she lives in Cape Town. Over the last 2 weeks, we’ve been renewing our friendship vows.

We listen to 90s pop songs in her rickety old banger, singing at the top of our lungs. We take her dogs out for pre-breakfast walks in pyjama bottoms and flip flops. We stay in a retreat with gardens so decadent it takes me 45 minutes to nip out for coffee because I keep stopping to smell the roses. One day we realise, shaking with laughter, that we both had orgasms that same morning.

“This friendship is out of control!” I wail from behind a cushion. “We’ve actually synched orgasms.”

We laugh and laugh and laugh until our cheeks hurt and our eyes water and we remember all over again why we became friends in the first place; why these trips matter so much.

One day we’re relaxing with a glass of wine when she says, “you never know, maybe you’ll meet someone on the plane.”

“Ha! Yeah right.”

When we say goodbye, we hug for a long time.

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I first see her when she sits down opposite me in the lounge in Cape Town. Then she drops into the seat next to mine at Johannesburg. We sit in silence for 10 hours apart from the odd “‘scuse me” or “sorry” as I squeeze past for the loos. It’s only when we get to Madrid and are wandering around looking for Transfers that we finally speak.

“Are you on the 8.25 to London?” she asks.

“Yeah, any idea where we’re meant to go?”

“Nope!” she laughs.

We get to know each other walking around Madrid airport, trying to unpuzzle all the foreign codes and zones. By the time we get to H zone, I’m eagerly jotting down book recommendations. Our chatting is so vibrant it punctures the dawn quiet, rousing passengers from their slumps. And then, just when it’s all going so well, she says:

“Do you live in London, then?”

“Yes, you?”

“Leeds.”

“Oh.”

We give each other a sad smile – c’est la vie – and wave goodbye at customs. No sea kisses or passione or panting on the beach, then. But this is progress – at least she didn’t ask to try on my bra.

Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash