Traveling Alone: Meeting Renee

As a whole, I think there is a negative connotation with being alone. Perhaps, many confuse being alone with being lonely, the latter being something not very positive. But as I’ve continued to travel alone, I’ve met some pretty interesting people, with stories that never seem to be less than entertaining. Here’s my story about meeting Renee.

I was in West Hollywood, California when I walked up to the restaurant that sat on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard. The big gold sign read, “PUMP.” From the outside, it looked over the top, and full of glitz and glam. Just what I needed.

I walked into the outdoor section of the restaurant and unexpectedly felt like I was walking into a enchanted tea party. Chandeliers and lanterns hung from the branches of dense century-old olive trees there were probably imported from some island in Greece. Walking through the garden dining area, had me feeling like I had just walked into a fairytale. The shimmering light, from the strings of crystals would catch your eye as you walked through the serene patio. I immediately spotted the ritzy bar that was nestled in the middle of all the enchantment.

As I went to sit down, I couldn’t help but notice how good looking everyone was inside the restaurant. It felt like everyone who worked here had just walked off the set of a photoshoot. Perfect hair, perfect tans, all wearing outfits that were meticulously matching and ironed. Thank god there was practically no humidity in California, otherwise the girls would be walking around with martinis in one hand and hair straighteners in the other.

I walked around the corner of the bar and sat down at one of the cast-iron stools along the bar. While there were probably a dozen people around the bar, it was just me and one other lady on our side. I looked up at the glistening diamonds that swung from hanging light fixtures in the center of the bar. But not even those flashy lights could catch my attention as much as the two male models, that somehow found themselves in PUMP Lounge work uniforms.

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“My god, who are you,” a lady catcalled me in a thick southern accent. Assuming she was talking to one of the bartenders I had just been staring at, I didn’t reply, but she continued, “As soon as you sat down next to me, I just felt like you were someone special,”

I turned and looked at woman who was speaking, “Who me?”

I couldn’t help but think to myself that in the land of Barbie and Ken’s, that I couldn’t possibly look “special.” If anything, I looked more like a cabbage patch kid.

“Hell yeah, you look like you’re somebody,” she said, totally inflating my ego, “My Name is Renee, it’s nice to meet you.

I couldn’t get over her southern accent. It reminded me of all the people I met from when I attended college at Belmont University in Nashville. It wasn’t a drawl, or even an accent, it was practically another language.

I had to ask, “please tell me you’re not from Tennessee?”

“Hell no, I’m from Kentucky. Let me guess, you hear a southern lady and you pick the first redneck place you can think of? I’m surprised you didn’t say Alabama or West Virginia. They are much trashier than Tennessee.”

I laughed, I could tell this night was going to be interesting, even if it was going to be just me and Ms. Renee from Kentucky.

She ordered another bottle of rosé for herself and I ordered a red sangria. Our drinks were quite the juxtaposition sitting next to each other. She had the entire bottle, and here I was, slugging back my champagne flute of sangria that was only filled to the top because of the 3 blackberries that pushed the sangria up to the rim.

She held up the bottle to her shirt and asked, “Can you tell I like rosé?”

Suddenly I realized her drink was the same color as her pink blouse. I didn’t realize she was so obsessed until she showed me pictures of her “Rosé All Day Partay.”

Yes, read that again, slowly this time.

I was positive that this had to have been the bougiest event that had ever taken place. She literally went out and bought hundreds of rosé colored flowers, napkins, plates, and glasses. I’m surprised she didn’t dye her perfectly straight, blonde hair, rosé for the evening.

But what else was a 40-something year old woman to do when she had nothing else to worry about?

She looked at me perplexed, “You look funny. Are you funny?” I chuckled, and before I could answer she continued to babble, “I’m fucking hilarious, but no one ever gets my humor. Tell me the funniest thing that has happened to you and I’ll let you know if I think you’re funny.”

I dug deep into my brain to think of something funny to tell her. I felt like the whole world was watching me and I could feel the sweat coming down my forehead. I really wanted to impress this strangely friendly, southern, and seriously rosé-addicted lady.

Immediately I thought about a story from when I lived in Tennessee. The one about my first date with a guy, who turned out to be a drag queen, who brought me to a club in a stolen car and almost got me shot 2 times, once by a cocaine dealer and another time by a 7-foot-tall cross-dresser in the back of said stolen vehicle.

“Holy shit dude, that’s not even funny, that’s sad as hell. No wonder you wanted to make sure I wasn’t from Tennessee,” she laughed as she tossed back her glass of rosé.

“Okay, are you ready to laugh your cute, firm-lookin’ ass off,” she said giving me a wink.

I nodded my head, ready to be entertained in the least.

“Okay, so, don’t freak out, I’m in my 40s, I know I look 25 but yes, I am a middle age woman.” She flipped her hair, smiled and continued. “So, I’ve been married for the last 15 years, to a very prominent business owner back in Kentucky. He has a lot of social influence, and a pretty important image within the city. No kids, but we enjoyed life together. About 5 years ago, I came across some Polaroid pictures in his night stand,” She gulped the last bit of her glass and refilled it with her bottle. She winked at me again, as she took another sip.

“Well aren’tcha gunna ask what was in the pictures,” She asked.

I played along, and responded, “Yes, oh my god, what was in them!”

She nodded at me, thanking me for allowing her to continue telling me, “Well, I opened the night stand, and I was in shock. They were pictures of my husband and another man.”

My jaw dropped. I’m not sure I was expecting that.

“In the pictures, they were doing sexual things with, of all things, cucumbers. Huuuge freakin’ cucumbers, from my own freakin’ garden,” she took another sip, “So here I am, in West Hollywood, staying at The London Hotel, blackmailing my husband and loving life.”

She signaled the bartender, “Hey mister, can we get two cucumber martinis,” she looked at me to reassure me, “and don’t worry, these are on my husband’s guilt money.”

 

Dating On Vacation: Miami

 

 

People always seem to be surprised when I tell them I date when I go on vacation. The truth is that, Love, isn’t just in your hometown. When someone tells you there are millions of fish in the sea, they mean in the entire world, not just around the corner from where you live. When you travel to a place you’ve never been to before, you should completely immerse yourself into the community and the into culture–that means meeting new people. You’ll be shocked to find out that you have a lot in common with people you’ve never met before. The guy next to you has had his heart broken. The girl ordering coffee in front of you just lost her job, and she’s trying to keep some sort of semblance of her daily routine. Everyone has a story, everywhere you go. When you start becoming open to the idea of meeting new people, you’ll start to realize that dating on vacation is just like dating at home–only better. It’s better than dating at home because, well, you’re not at home. Most likely, you’re not stressed about your job, you aren’t worried about money, and you’re hopefully in a place that makes you happy. I can’t think of a better environment to date in than on vacation.

Everyone always asks, “How do you meet someone on vacation?” The answer is simple, the same way you meet people at home. Whether it is talking to people when you’re out, or that you’re going on dating apps, there are plenty of single people out there. The key to successfully dating on vacation is knowing what you want. Are you just looking for fun, or are you looking to spend some time with someone special? Being transparent with what you want can definitely help you both not send any mixed signals. In Miami, I began talking to a guy named Alex. He was staying in the city because he would be running the 2018 Miami Half Marathon two days after I met him. What started off as just talking over the phone, became something more. He invited me to dinner the next night. Knowing I was an Italian, Jersey boy, he picked an Italian restaurant called La Locanda in South Beach. Both of us had never been there before. When we were seated, we noticed the overwhelming amount of Italian that was being spoken. He spoke both English and Spanish fluently, and I spoke English and French. Instead of leaving, we sat down and attempted to speak Italian. We tried something new–and we tried it together.

Trying new things, in a new place, with someone new is not only fun, but I truly believe it is the key to happiness. Its confronting the fear of the unknown and then feeling accomplished after you’ve tried it. All night, as we got to know each other, we laughed over our horrible attempts at reading Italian entrées off the menu. We had such a good time together, that Alex had asked me out for a second date the next day. Of course, I said yes. Together the next day, we walked along the ocean in Miami, and we took pictures of everything the city had to show us.

“Look at that, Daniel” he would point and say to me in his exotic Spanish accent.

Showing me around, not only allowed me to experience Miami more intimately but, I really began to get to know him more intimately as well. I struggled to decide whether I was falling in love with Miami, or falling in love with him. There is no doubt in my mind that there is something special about meeting people when you’re on vacation. It becomes more than just a trip, captured in photos you’ll eventually post on social media when you finally get the time to. That city, that trip now becomes a moment in your life that will forever stay within your heart. “But how do you say goodbye,” everyone asks. The answer is once again simple–you don’t. A little piece of you will now remain in that city, always yearning for your return. No “goodbyes,” only , “see you soon.”