By now it was late afternoon. Darkness was descending on the grey skies of Auckland, and having had no breakfast or no dinner the previous night I was entering advanced stages of starvation. I couldn’t leave the room though, not without him; I had to see what was going to happen. It was then that Martin tentatively enquired, "Would you like to go for a drink?" to which I replied with unladylike haste that I would.
Along the way we grabbed some much-needed food, and over some happy hour beers we proceeded with tales of the good, the bad and the very bad from our respective trips and those of other people we’d met along the way. We sat there talking for hours, all the while looking intently into each other’s eyes, leaning closer and closer with the passing time until our hands almost touched. Sometime in the midst of all this his hand reached over and held mine. How delicious it had been to touch someone again. My mind was sent reeling with it, and my body bathed in the long-forgotten sensations. I began to lightly brush his arm and he pulled back slightly; a moment of panic set in – had I done something wrong? Picked up false signals? What?
But then I looked up to see that he had merely been startled by my reciprocation and perhaps a little astonished himself at what was beginning to happen. As he stood up to buy the last round of drinks he kissed me on the lips with a softness and a tenderness that I would not forget. After that it was time to leave, and we both knew it.
We got outside the door and he said "If you don’t mind I’m going to give you a hug now," and we stood there in the rain, neither of us wanting to move until he said "This is going to sound awful but I don’t mean it that way – it’s just, it’s a pity we’re going to have to go back to a dorm."
I knew what he meant. I’d been thinking the same thing myself; he had no seedy intentions – but a world away from any friends and family, lost and alone in a cold city, we had found each other and the thought of being physically separated was not an attractive one. To hell with sex, this was the opposite of sex, this was soul comfort and an acknowledgement that no matter how long you travel or how hard you think you are and irrespective of how many people you can "pull," sometimes what you really need is a hug and someone to connect with.
Martin and I certainly found it that night. He arranged a single room, which I sneaked into. And we hugged and touched and kissed like we were the first people we had ever done this sort of thing with – and like we were the last people we would ever do this with.
Just for a night neither of us was alone, and we reveled in it. Sometimes we would simply lie there looking at each other, drinking the other in. One of these times I knew he had something on his mind. I thought to myself, "Say it, whatever it is, say it, it’s ok." My eyes must have asked the question for me; a minute later he quietly said, "You’re beautiful."
"And you’re wonderful," I thought, but my inhibitions betrayed me and I could not get the words out. Strange how even in situations like this we are conditioned not to give an inch, never to reveal how we truly feel, strangled by pride or fear. Instead I pulled him towards me and tried to let my embrace tell him what I could not bring myself to say…
And so the evening continued, and the evening turned to night and the night turned to early morning until we could stay awake no longer. Just a few hours later my alarm rang. It was time for me to continue on my journey and he on his. When I kissed him goodbye at seven that morning, we had known each other for less than 36 hours.