“God, you are so beautiful,” this young man whispered into my face between kisses.
“Thank you,” I muttered between breaths, his fingers brushing strands of my hair away from my face.
We were engaged in a clumsy dance of French kissing while taking our clothes off in my studio apartment in Vilnius.
It was a muggy September evening, the humidity and sweat in my apartment you could cut with a knife.
It was just an hour before that I was meeting with this person for a drink at a little dive bar outside of the City Centre near the Cathedral.
He was about five years my junior, but stood at a towering 200 centimeters (that’s 6’6”, for you imperialists) with an intellect of equal stature.
And he was gorgeous.
I invited him back to my apartment, just a short walk away.
Not long after that, we were doing that aforementioned dance which segued into a bedsheet tango while I breathed a prayer I wouldn’t die in the missionary position under his mass.
I repeated that dance several times that week and during subsequent visits to the city with boys no shorter than six feet, a package that makes you question what exactly they are feeding these men, and what seemed like professionally trained kissing abilities (still can’t get over the fact that I made out with a guy named Rostislav).
There’s another reason I travel solo and why I’ve always chosen to stay in private hotels and not hostels: to be able to wander around aimlessly without any expectations and to not be burdened by an itinerary. To be free to see whatever I want, walk as long as I want, eat whatever and whenever I want, and to meet people.
Whenever I travel to a destination, it’s almost always assumed I will hook up with at least one boy.
Some of these boys include a Dutch stranger I shared a hotel room with in London, my tour guide in Amsterdam, my 24 year old Taxify driver, a British military officer, a Hungarian of underwhelming sexual prowess, and an American Army man rooming at one of the nicest hotels in the city on the government dime.
That last one though – I am pretty multiorgasmic as it is, but the dude sent me on such a rollercoaster that I burst into laughter after #16 because I couldn’t take it anymore.
I laughed and giggled as I looked at our reflection in the ceiling mirror, my nails gently bedded into the skin of his sweaty, sinewy backside.
It was in that moment that I felt a happiness I had longed to feel since my years as a teenager with a burgeoning sexuality and an unquestionably poor self-image, because I was no longer that person.
Never in my life would my teenage self have ever predicted that I would one day roam the world and live a life no longer caring about the things within my sophomoric self-loathing that seemed to haunt me every minute of my day.
It was something I thought about while watching the sunset on the banks of the Neris River: I was suddenly this confident, sexually self-assured 32 year old who could enjoy sex without guilt and with strangers whom I would never see again, but would remember me as a fond memory as much as I remember them.
I don’t know if travel was the knife that cut me loose or that maybe I am changing with age, but I do know that my life – and all that I value in it – hasn’t been the same since.
Join Annika and many other fun, freethinking ladies in Girls Who Travel’s new love, sex, and romance subgroup: Hot to Trot!
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.