I look naked. I wasn’t. I promise. Here’s an awkward photo. Below’s an awkward story. All things in harmony.
I wish I could say that I was one of those flawless travelers. You know, those put-together, insta-famous wizards of photography, who manage to charm and entice common folk like me into thinking we can become like just like them and travel the world without abandon or constraint. But that’s just not who I am as a person. I’m more of the bumbling, nervous type who manages to look lost and confused almost any time I set foot outside my house. And this awkwardness likes to manifest itself when I’m traveling abroad.
So I’ve decided I’m going to share a story of one of my more embarrassing experiences I had while traveling abroad because we all like a good laugh/cringe don’t we? I’d originally planned to compile three of these moments into one post, but I’ll start with just one, so I can keep at least a shred of my dignity. Please do enjoy laughing at my expense, though.
This one happened in Rome, and to be honest, it’s one of those situations where I’m really not sure who it was more embarrassing for.
Peter and I were in Rome during the key month you want to go there weather-wise, which is the beginning of July. Needless to say, we were both sweating buckets on a daily basis. I’d taken to wearing only dresses while there since there really wasn’t anything else I could wear that I didn’t make me want to die as soon as I stepped outside into the lovely, welcoming 90+ degree heat.
Now, I know this probably sounds irrelevant and like way too much information, but I promise I’m going somewhere with it: my thighs touch when I walk. And my fellow thick thighed lady humans will know that the problem of wearing dresses in the heat is that as you’re walking around without pants to keep your thighs from making sweet, sweet love to each other, they rub together to the point where, especially if it’s hot and especially if you’re walking several miles a day, a lovely, burning chafing begins to appear. I’d planned for this and had been wearing spandex under my dresses to avoid it. But on this particular day, in a rush to get to Vatican City early enough to beat the crowds, I’d forgotten. This made for a very painful experience and a very cranky Chelsea.
Once we’d finished our morning extravaganza, I forced my boyfriend and I to walk back to the hostel so that I could have a quick change that would give my poor thighs, some much needed relief. We also thought it might be nice to have a little siesta before we went out to explore again.
Our hostel, like most, was a building that benefited from having an exceptional photographer for their website. The real life version was less modern and more dilapidated. As we walked into the quiet building, smelling the familiar smell of travelers come and gone (a mix of sweaty bodies, old, spilled wine, and dust), I felt as if there was a weird energy in the place that hadn’t been there before, but I shrugged it off. I think some part of my brain knew what we were about to find.
We chatted quietly as we ascended the stairs, wondering if our hostel mates were going to be there too, which might disrupt our napping plans. There was nothing particularly wrong with the two as we’d discovered when we’d chatted with them the night before. One was a girl who seemed to really like the sound of her voice and enjoyed relaying her travel stories more than any of us enjoyed hearing them. And the other was a guy who didn’t speak nearly as much, but looked at us all with a mix of disinterest and disdain.
As we got to the door, I found myself feeling the same weird energy again, my subconscious giving me another moment to back out, but of course, I ignored it in favor of finally getting my hands on those spandex. My thighs were positively burning. So, I unlocked the door and discovered what the weird energy had been all along.
Our hostel mates were there after all… but at the moment they were both in way less clothing than we needed to see them in and having such a hardcore make out session that I wasn’t sure that they weren’t actually trying to chomp each other’s faces to bits. Neither had bothered to even look up at our sudden, not at all quiet, intrusion.
Now I’m sure most people may have simply backed away, left and ignored the situation (which, to his credit, Peter did), but I was so caught of guard both by what they were doing and their complete nonchalance about being caught, that somehow I managed to convince myself that maybe there wasn’t actually anything weird about this after all. I mean, it’s not like they were having sex… they were clearly about to, but I could easily get in and out before they started that and without making this thing weird, right?
With that thought, I resolved that me getting my spandex was more important than leaving them some privacy to continue their shenanigans (after all, we’d all payed for a shared room and I wasn’t about to be kicked out), I walked into the room, feeling my face burning from more than just the heat, and began sorting through my suitcase for the spandex.
They took a little longer to find than they should have. As I rifled through clothing and the seconds ticked on, the shock began to dissolve to panic as I became relatively certain that I had made the wrong decision. What sort of weirdo was I to stay there in the room while they were clearly trying to get it on? Or were they the weirdos for continuing (and ahem, I could hear them continuing), as we walked in? Did they even know I was still here? And, oh god… did they like that?
I found the spandex. I put them on. My cheeks were still heated from embarrassment as I turned around to leave and discovered that in the time it had taken me to slip on the beloved shorts, the canoodlers had ceased their canoodling and were now staring straight at me. Neither, had bothered to cover up their nakedness. I tried to focus on making eye contact.
“Um… hello,” was the only thing I could think of to say.
“Hey, what’s up?” Was the reply.
We then continued to have a lovely conversation about what Peter and I had done that day, where we were headed next and how fun Rome was. And then, polite and awkward small talk over, I finally rushed out the room, feeling more than a little unsettled about the events that had just transpired.
By the time Peter and I got back that night, they were sleeping, and by the time we woke up in the morning, their suitcases were packed and they were gone.
Looking back, I have to say that I’m fairly certain I handled that entire situation poorly. And if a similar situation arose again, I would most definitely leave any future canoodlers to simply… canoodle.
But we have to look on the bright side of all of this and in the end, hey, at least my thighs were happy.
So, what about you? Do you have any awkward travel stories to share? Has something similar ever happened to you? Either share in the comments of link to a post if you have one. Lord knows I need to read about other people being awkward af to know that I’m not the only one…