By Kathleen Bradean
The first thing I used to look for in a hotel room was a huge tub. A shower with a bench was wonderful. I hate tile floors. Hard on the knees, you know. When you travel with kids, you have to get creative about sex. And no, going without wasn’t an option. Now we simply get them their own room, but when they were little, we weren’t comfortable with them being on their own. So I got to be quite the expert at stealthy sex in hotel bathrooms. I’d wait until the kids were deeply asleep and head for the bathroom. We’d use running water – filling the tub or running in the shower- to muffle the noise we made.
The trip that changed that was our first visit to Italy. Our hotel in Milan wouldn’t accommodate four, so we were forced to get a second room. The kids were on the same floor as us, but down the hall. Despite jet lag, despite the humbling challenge to my navigational skills (Did you know that in Italy, street names often change each block? I didn’t. Nor did I realize that street names were on the buildings at each corner, not on signs.), despite the stress of not being able to speak Italian, I was determined to have sex in a hotel bed for the first time in my life. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but sex while bent over an ottoman is a delicious substitute for a narrow, lumpy bed – even though it meant I was still on my knees.
After our night in Milan, we drove south to a tiny farming village in Umbria where my sister had rented a villa. The kids chose to sleep with their cousins, so we had a huge room to ourselves. It was too hot to sleep until the early hours of morning. I remember sprawling on the bed after polishing off bottles of lemoncello and grappa with my sister and brother-in-law. A horse clip-clopped down the dirt lane outside the villa. Several hours later it passed by in the other direction. R and I giggled as we listened to the rider serenade his horse. Giggles turned to kissing, kissing to petting, and finally to sheet-mussing. I woke the next morning to the sound of sheep being driven down the lane to their day pasture. It woke R too. Grinning a bit, well, sheepishly, we giggled again, and things progressed from there to a leisurely morning romp.
Eventually, we staggered downstairs. The kids were watching Scooby Doo in Italian. My sister, her husband, R, and I hiked down the lane into town for our morning coffee. The tiny café/bar/grocery was probably where the horseback rider had gone the night before. We took our little white cups of espresso out to the grapevine-covered patio. It was already hot, and for us, a drowsy sort of day. We all have high-pressure professions with long hours, and enjoy the challenges of our work, but that morning, we were content to watch the world amble past us and nod greetings to the farmers headed out to the fields. No one talked. My brother-in-law gently squeezed my sister’s hand. They shared one of those secret lover’s smiles. R kissed my hand and grinned at me the same way.
Since that trip, we’ve been to many other countries. Every other trip, though, we go to Italy. R loves Venice; I adore Rome. Every time, we manage somehow to have one intensely romantic moment even though we know better than to try to plan such things. Italy just brings it out in us. With all the world to explore, is it any wonder that we keep going back?