Virtually Inseparable: Romance Abroad a Valentines Day Story by Frantzie Bazile
“You’re so lovely and delightful,” he said with the most charming smile I’ve ever encountered.
A friend introduced us—briefly—one evening two years ago. When I met him that night, he complimented me. He slipped into a British accent that sounded so nice it made me hot around my collar. He shook my hand gently with his thick, rough hands. That was the most of our short conversation except when he complimented my, what he called, “Erykah Badu-inspired” head wrap.
I discovered he lived in London, too many time zones away. I went home wishing I’d exchanged information with him. I worked hard to find him on Facebook like a sleuth and ended up with nothing. Since he was a friend with a mutual friend, I resolved to email her to ask if she could contact him asking his permission to exchange his email with me. He replied from her email:
Yes, of course you can have my contact details. Email: ___@________ London Phone: (___)-_______. You better holla at me though. Make sure you holla at me, Frantzie. Would you kindly send me yours? Thank you kindly.
His speech was so charming and genuine. My friend mentioned that he had asked about me while they were having dinner, right after an Erykah Badu song came on. I realized it was him sending messages from my friend’s phone and I replied thank you for the compliment that particular evening. We sent a few emails back and forth, until our interests waned.
Our messages grew scattered, but once every American holiday, or impending natural disasters like a snowstorm or hurricane, he sent me an endearing message always closing with his signature “Xxx”. His notes were so articulate, never flirty, and enchanting. He shined in his messages not recognizing his natural gift of charm. His messages were endlessly polite and sincere. Over time, as our exchanges grew increasingly sparse, I found myself in a relationship that took up my attention. He still drafted a conversation, even when I replied with one sentence: Glad to hear you are doing well! Sometimes, I forgot to reply at all.
My relationship ended and I began planting the seeds for my adventure. London was my first stop. I wanted to couch surf. I dug through my email rolodex, intently, looking for friends who had good-natured friends in London that were willing to host a stranger. I found our earlier friendly exchanges from two years ago. It had been more than eight months since his last message. And, I never replied.
I just wanted to give you a heads up that I am travelling to Paris. And, you guessed it, I’m making a pit stop somewhere in London. That is where you live, right? I would love to do dinner, lunch, somethin’! I just remember how awesome you were even if I haven’t seen you in more than two years.
Meanwhile, I’m looking for affordable housing options…
Without thinking twice, I clicked send. His charm and sincerity were unforgettable.
He replied a month later, Looking forward to seeing you again, actually.
There was intensity to the message that drew me in. I laughed. I didn’t over think why it took him one month to respond. And our—now innocent—flirty email exchanges resumed before my arrival a few weeks later. He promised to give me three hugs when I arrived and wanted to know who could be so foolish to let me out of their sights for one month. I was continuously flattered. Anxious to see him again, I wanted every aspect about my adventure to be a fresh start, brand new and shiny. I wanted to say yes to things I would have normally said no to.
I finally arrived in London. After recovering from jet lag, I had two short days to explore, sightsee and visit a traditional pub. I suggested we meet near Trafalgar Square. I wandered through the Square decked with people and pigeons. It was bitter cold and my tremble didn’t do anything to hide my nervousness. I sat by the fountain with legs crossed and wool coat buttoned to the top, waiting for him. I observed the teenagers standing on the edge and wondered if they splashed in the water during the warmer months like New Yorkers did in Washington Square Park. My mind wandered more taking in the drummer beating his hands on the conga in the cold.
I realized he was more than one hour late. I stared at my phone and he hadn’t called or sent a message. I sent him a message. No response. I imagined he stood me up considering we hadn’t seen each other in two years. Actually, we’d only met each other once. What an embarrassing story, I thought. I was dressed. I was excited. And then I was stood-up by a man who lived in a different time zone.
I walked across the street towards a nearby café hoping to warm up with some tea, deal with my disappointment, and gather my thoughts on what I should do next. Like a happy ending, he called when I stopped short in front of the café. He was near the Square and had a bad connection on the train. I twirled around and we burned minutes searching for one another awkwardly. We both grew increasingly impatient as we joked how expensive our call was going to be once we found each other, even if we were only talking for a few short minutes. I recognized him facing the National Gallery with his phone to his ear.
He spun towards me standing there with his hands hooked in his pockets. He was wearing a dark tailored suit. He looked thin, yet muscular and had a noticeable lean. His stance made him look unbelievably powerful and sexy. His eye contact was strong. He tilted his head slightly when he looked at me. His skin was dark and his teeth so bright and white revealing that charming smile again. I smiled back at him and we traded a half-felt, light hug with just a soft touch on the back. I didn’t think about it too much. After all, we’d only met each other once.
“You’re more lovely than I remembered,” he said with that accent and charming smile.
I waved off his compliment with my hand and explained to him, enthusiastically, how much I wanted to see double London’s sights in half the time, since I was leaving in the morning. He ushered me forward and took me on the fastest guided walking tour. We stopped to take pictures near the River Thames, Buckingham Palace and The London Eye. We passed nearby Convent Gardens and it’s theaters. London appealed to me in its architectural presence and it’s people-watching, especially when we literally bumped into Jon Lithgow (from the original “Footloose,” “Harry and the Hendersons,” and “3rd Rock from the Sun”) walking on the Thames path.
A few short hours of sights weren’t enough, but it was enough to make me want to come back. We took a short break at The Thirsty Bear, a modern pub, laughed and had random conversations with drunken English men who thought we were black celebrities.
We talked about our lives, experiences, recent happenings, wishes and the first night we met. Finally, I’d worked up an appetite after our hurried stroll and more pints of beer than I could handle and we stopped for dim sum at Ping Pong in London’s Soho. I didn’t really know what good dim sum should taste like considering I’m from New York, but it was the best. We talked more throughout evening over dim sum and he ordered me a shandy. He told me how much he admired my head wrap the first night we met.
He mentioned how it was really hard to notice anyone else in the room that night. Indeed, he stared at me like I was the only person in the room and I liked it. It was getting late and I was concerned about getting back to the bed & breakfast where I was staying. He escorted me all the way home, riding the Underground with me and, walking me to the front door. At the front door, he positioned my face and we kissed for a few minutes. I pecked his lips a few more times before I thanked him for the nice evening. I watched him fade into the dark headed back to the train with that slight tilt to his walk. I struggled with the door, while I watched him walk away.
“Do you have it over there?” I heard him say— or something to that matter— from a few feet away. I laughed and headed inside.
Our walk home drove me crazy. I couldn’t stop thinking about him after that night. It wasn’t a date, but all good signs of a great encounter. I packed my things to head to Paris the next morning. I grabbed my phone and saw his text.
Let me know if you can catch up. I know it may be kinda tight for timing.
It was going to be tight, considering my train was leaving in a few short hours. I, regretfully, had to decline. We shared a few messages before my train for Paris departed and, thus, began our virtual friendship.
In Paris, we continued to get to know each other over Skype. We talked everyday around a specific time even while I wandered the city without an agenda. We each sent long messages back and forth everyday, mostly me sharing pieces of my adventures in Paris and him asking a lot of questions about my adventures. Regardless of how long or short the emails were, he always replied with his signature “Xxx.” We were virtually inseparable. Our conversations contained everything I imagined my perfect relationship would be. It was through his emails I discovered how kind, considerate and caring he really was, especially when he asked simple things like whether I’d eaten breakfast before I tackled another day of exploring. His messages expressed his desire to get to know me better and the more we spoke it became obvious to me that I had to see him again.
Within a few weeks, I was waiting for him, again, at Geneva Airport in Switzerland. He thought it would be a good meeting point and another city that I could add to my itinerary. I wandered through the small, yet stylish airport. I found a café with leather seats in the terminal and sat. I was too excited to order or open my laptop. I gathered my belongings and found a pole to lean on. I slid down and sat cross-legged. I took in the travelers rolling their luggage to the gate and the train, mothers dragging their children by the hands, and the different languages overheard. I was preparing to head to the restroom when he called.
I awkwardly straightened myself and saw him coming towards me. He looked exactly as I left him. He walked with the same lean, strong gaze, and his head tilted. It was almost similar to a pimp walk, but there was something magical about it. I couldn’t hold back my enthusiasm and wrapped my arms around his neck. He kissed my lips in hard spurts before I joked that I had enough and I needed air. We caught up on things, even though we talked almost daily, in the cab ride to the city. We went to dinner and I taught him the French I had mastered during my stay in Paris.
Our short time in Geneva flew, and it was time for me to head back to Paris to begin preparing for my travel back to New York. We continued to share messages and speak daily. We both agreed Geneva was THE BEST TIME we both had and that we didn’t want to say goodbye when the trip ended.
A few weeks passed and I was waiting in an airport in Germany for my flight to New York. I was boarding in less than ten minutes before he called. He made his personal declaration to call me everyday even though we were in different time zones. He said that we would chat more and he was happy to have made this connection. He told me he was so proud of my transformational journey and that he could only foresee amazing things next. Finally, he ordered me to keep writing.
I thought he was crazy, but he was right. I felt exactly the same and it was the greatest burst of encouragement I’d ever received from someone that I knew for such a short time. I was ready to hang up when I said, “Oh man. I just found 10 Pounds that I didn’t spend.”
“You have to save it for when you come back, right?” He asked.
I laughed. “I guess you’re right.”
It’s been two months since I’ve been back in New York. The giddy affection and butterflies never ceased, but it proved difficult to maintain constant long distance communication. It’s heartbreaking to watch our messages grow distant as they had in the beginning, but I wouldn’t change my experience. It was scary to go to a country, where you don’t know anyone, to meet someone you only know virtually. I embarked on my adventure to Paris to experience the city’s untouched beauty. Instead, I ended up meeting someone who left me completely enamored. What’s a transformational journey without an epic romantic adventure?
NOTE: Photo found via. I do not own any rights.