London was the first city I dreamed of visiting, as a child and as a teenager who’d never left the country.
In my fantasies, the United Kingdom was always my first pick – all of my favorite bands were from the UK, mostly from Liverpool and Manchester.
Then, finally, some decades later when I worked my ass off to afford my first trip there, I landed at Gatwick.
I was not impressed, to say the least.
And it turns out one week in London is too long for me.
I’ll spare you the details, but I assure you it is nothing I can actually pinpoint. It just didn’t excite me.
Oh, and playing hopscotch over rain puddles in August while a passerby shouts “‘EY, SUMMER, INNIT?”.
Very strange sensation.
I did get to create some great memories though.
Some months before my trip, I was in touch with a Dutch artist who lived in Amsterdam. We missed each other by a day when I left the Netherlands to go to the United Kingdom.
I guess several months of exchanging provocative photos and steamy text messages can drive a person to do crazy things because he booked a hotel in London last minute and rode a bus for ten hours just to see me.
My phone didn’t work outside of the US and I didn’t want to bother figuring it out, so we agreed it was best to meet at the hotel in the early evening.
As it happens, I got lost.
Some dodgy neighborhood in the Southeast of London which, of course, was where our hotel was.
It was 11:30 PM and rain began to pour down.
My god, I am going to get murdered in Crystal Palace for some penis I’ve never even met.
After some time, I noticed a very tall, probably 6’3” figure with a lean, athletic body walking towards me.
We both smiled as we ran to hug each other.
“Hey! Did you get lost? You took forever,” he said.
He was just as good looking in person as in his photos. A boyish 42 years old.
I apologized for my tardiness and we embraced each other once more.
He leaned back, taking a good look at my face while brushing raindrops and bits of my wet hair away from my eyes.
“You are so beautiful,” he smiled.
A peck on the lips turned into making out up against the bushes of the hotel perimeter, then a transition into grabbing at each other’s bodies, underneath our very rain-drenched clothes, and him leading my way to our hotel room by hand.
For 50 pounds a night, our room was as dog-eared as I imagined, but we had a bed and a working shower.
And shelter from the rain.
No time was wasted in getting our clothes off and doing you-know-what with his big you-know-what inside of my you-know-what.
Humidity created by us and by Mother Nature outside permeated the poorly ventilated room so much that it was hard to discern condensation from perspiration.
It didn’t really matter.
His thumb brushed my lip as I sat on top of him, letting the salted dew make itself at home across my taste buds which he would then take back with his tongue.
After all that, we took a shower together and somehow continued doing our little art performance in there, his long legs and all.
Through some acrobatic grace of a high power, I managed to straddle his thigh between my legs which he moved in a slow gyration, while gently washing my hair and kissing me.
Of course, I helped out a little by stroking him with a soapy hand which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy.
Two cogs in a well-oiled sex machine, we were.
So that was us for the next four nights in London together.
I wish I could say it was smooth sailing, but it was not always the case.
He could be the most exasperating brat, you see.
He seemed to thrive on conflict with women and it was not really a relationship he was interested in, unless we were fighting. I saw right through it, but I played along and he seemed happy.
Arguing over getting lost on the tube.
Arguing over the price of… something in the middle of Sainsbury’s.
Arguing over me not arguing with the barista for not taking back my wrong order (I wanted an iced latte. It was hot – I didn’t mind this).
“Are you fucking kidding me? Did you order this? Then why the fuck are you arguing with me?” “Because if you ordered something, then you should take what you want!”
“FUCK, it’s not that big of a deal!”
“You’re paying money for this, you should get what you ordered!”
When he later told me of his childhood, I realized that this was all some parody of incest and I was, in some way, like his mother.
But he could also be the most lovable person you could ever meet.
I got sick and while he wanted to stay with me in the hotel, I told him to go on and explore London. Before he left, he’d set me up with hot tea and everything else I needed to make me comfortable.
When he returned from his day out, he waited on me hand and foot.
When I felt well, he took me everywhere in the city from restaurants to museums to pubs.
On the double decker bus, we sat at the top like I wanted and he’d hold my hand while giving me little history lessons about various landmarks we rode past.
When my feet were in so much pain from walking, he carried me up hill, on his back, until we got back to the hotel.
When my purse strap broke at Buckingham Palace, he carried it the rest of the day until we got back to the hotel room later that night, where he fixed it.
One night, outside our window with nothing but the moonlight pouring into our room, a drunk group of people could be heard singing a beautiful a capella rendition of “Titanium” by Sia.
I sang along gently as I stroked his hair until he fell asleep.
You take your aim
Fire away, fire away
Shoot me down
But I won’t fall
I am titanium
Well. Maybe London wasn’t so bad after all.
About Annika: Annika is a native of Los Angeles, California now living in Gothenburg, Sweden. Working as a technical writer in the gaming industry, in her spare time, she enjoys cooking, video games, and sleeping. You can find her on Instagram as @travelingwhilekhmer.