Where it Begins
Once upon a time, I started dating. Again. Here is where this blog begins.
Quick back story: It’s January 2, 2014 and this girl has been vehemently single for 20 months. No men. No dates. No kissing. Absolutely no sex. Nothing but one platonic date that left me wondering if it’s time to explore chicks.
Kidding. Sort of. But I had made a very conscious decision, after 20 years of marriage and a fiery hot toxic relationship right afterwards, to be alone.
It was during this period of adamant singlehood that I met and fell in love with Italy. Whole countries don’t fuck you over–at least, not most of the time. Italy seemed like a safe lover. Then I met my Italian. And that became a whole different story.
Back to January 2. I’m in Rome, having a glorious time, when I decide to head to the Amalfi Coast for a day. Ever see Under a Tuscan Sun? Positano is where Diane Lane met her Italian lover and got her groove back after a messy divorce. I wasn’t looking for my groove, but I wanted to explore the charm of this dreamy coastal town. So I signed up for a tour.
Enter Max. Or in Italian, Massimiliano. Sexy, no? Even his name drips with a lusty swag.
Max was my tour driver and he picked me up from my hotel at 6:30 a.m. I was immediately charmed. Even before my ass hit the front seat of his Mercedes van, I was swooning. Seven other tourists went along for the ride, but I barely noticed. I was, for the first time in 20 months, infatuated. Mama mia, I was feeling all kinds of things I’d been missing.
He flirted with me. I flirted with him. We made googly eyes in the front seat of the van where my ass was firmly planted next to his for most of the trip, and by 8:00 p.m., Max handed me his Blackberry.
“I would like to see you again. How do you feel about that? Hopefully I won’t lose my job. Haha.”
“Yes. Of course.”
And that’s how I got my groove back. Kind of. Not really. But it is how I ended my 20-month dating hiatus. And please, I was in Rome with a sexy Italiano who wanted to take me out. How could I not? We went to a tasty little Irish pub in the heart of Rome, slipped into a cozy booth, and Max fed me some of the cheesiest lines I’ve ever heard.
“Max, what do you want to drink?”
“I want to drink your lips,” he said, his dark eyes staring intently at mine. Italian cheese drenched in a thick, sexy Italian accent. Guess what? It fucking worked. Pretty soon we were making out in the booth and we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. It became clear that our date wouldn’t be ending in this tasty little Irish pub.
Here’s where I need to tell you an important truth: I don’t hook up. I’m not good at it. I had once previous to this, right after my divorce and before the fiery toxic relationship, and it sucked. The sex, the aftermath–it all sucked. I knew then, I’m not wired for casual sex. If I sleep with a man immediately, I try to turn what was clearly just a fuck into a full-blown relationship. Which works maybe, what, one time in a million? If that.
So I told Max, “I would love to keep kissing you–but I won’t sleep with you. If you’re okay with that, would you like to . . . go back to my room?”
“Yes, of course. I won’t push you. Whatever you say.”
Okay, I see that smirk. Stop it. Let me finish the story first. Then you can chortle all you want.
So we did. We went back to my hotel, opened a bottle of Italian champagne, put on some music, and kissed. It was the perfect end to my beautiful Roman holiday with a sexy Italiano.
Until Max excused himself to go “wash up” in the bathroom.
What happened after that is very honestly a blur. Let’s just say it involved Max emerging from my bathroom naked, me saying “no, Max” at least a few times, my clothes slowly coming off as my “no”s became “well, okay”s, and in the end, really awkward sex. This is what happens when you cross an American woman who’s not good at hook-ups with a hot Italian who thinks all American women are good at hook-ups. Not-so-hot sex.
He left at 2:30 a.m., and I collapsed into a heap on my bed with a big old sigh of, “What the hell did I just do?”
I spent the next two days in Rome simply roaming around. Roaming in Rome after Bad Sex–sounds like a bad movie.
Max tried to contact me over the weekend, I found out later, by calling both my cell phone and my hotel. I don’t answer calls that show up “Unknown” and my concierge didn’t tell me about my missed calls until the day I left to go home, so I didn’t see Max again. But it didn’t stop me from doing what I always do (okay, once) after a hook-up: Start a relationship.
There’s a big time and distance difference between California and Rome. And a big ocean in the way. Minor details.
I returned home and our relationship began anyway. Besides Facebook, we connected on WhatsApp and started chatting regularly. He sent me pictures of Rome. I sent him photos of California. We left voice messages. Videos. We chatted on the phone. Skyped. He talked to me about his son, I told him about my kids. We kept in touch regularly and my crush intensified.
And then, a few months later, he popped the question.
“Will you come back to Rome? I want to see you again. You can stay with me in my house right outside the city. I will pay for part of your flight. Just come see me.”
I died. On the spot. Like, just fell over and died of pure heady blissful infatuation.
“YES. Of course!”
“Good! I’m so happy! But–I just need to tell you one thing.”
“Well, you should know–I have a girlfriend. But don’t worry! I can make the necessary arrangements and you can easily stay with me, for the whole week you’re here.”
I don’t remember what I said once I could speak but it was something along the lines of “but you fucked me” and “how could you” and “how long have you been with her” and “what am I then” and “you’re an asshole Italian player” and “I should have been smarter.”
His response was something along the lines of “you were so beautiful” and “I wanted to be with you” and “I don’t fuck around with just anyone” and “YOLO.”
And I died all over again. Two deaths in one conversation. This time it was from kicking my own ass for being so stupid as to fall for a stereotypical charming Italian player. Remember Diane Lane and the Italian lover who helped her get her groove back? Yeah. He played her too.
I spent the next several weeks recovering from my head-over-heels infatuation as well as my self-inflicted ass kicking. Several tears. Many sighs. And lovely conversations with understanding girlfriends who tried to gently tell me, “Sienna, you love these kind of men. You eat up charm like sprinkles.”
Damn it, if that ain’t the truth. I gobble up charm. Inhale it. Breathe it in and let it permeate my ever-loving soul.
To say that I was disappointed that my “20 months of no men” both started and ended with players is an understatement. I was kind of shelled, actually.
But I knew two things. One, I would recover. Fully. One thing I learned during those 20 months is, I will never need a man or a relationship to make me happy. I am capable of happiness on my own, and if I happen to fall for a player or two along the way, I’ll pick myself right back up and go back to just me. On my own. And I’ll be okay. In fact, I’ll be better. I hate that it took me over 40 years to learn this, but at least it happened. I’m grateful for that.
And two, it was time. I was ready to date again. Max may have been douchey to do what he did, yes. But I’m glad I did what I did–I allowed myself to feel something again. For 20 months, I had put up a wall to protect a very broken heart.
With Max, I allowed that wall to begin to crumble because I knew that, finally, my heart was healed, whole and beating strong enough to allow for the possibility of love.
I’m still in love with Italy. I’m quite frankly still drawn to players. I still want to sprinkle charm over every date I go on and eat it up like it’s freakin’ chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
But I’m happy. Single, sassy and oh so happy. And I wouldn’t trade that for all the stupid cheesy pick-up lines in Italy.