It’s amazing how just one conversation can get the wheels turning again.

I caught up with a friend last night and the talk quickly turned to travel. I shared my dream of making it back to Europe to explore the places that were left off my itinerary the first time.

Back in 1987, I was still living in Hawaii and very much a sassy 19-year-old, tooling around Waikiki in my beat up Toyota with my Class of ’86 graduation tassel hanging from the rear view mirror. I was stripping full-time at The Lollipop Lounge and living in a fabulous apartment on the water. I felt like such a grown up.

Little did I know my world was about to change.

In reading another hand written letter from [my then boyfriend] John, who was backpacking through Europe, I froze on his words: this place is amazing, you should join me. You don’t have to ask me twice.

After a few weeks busting my ass working double shifts at the club, I was ready. Armed with nothing more than my backpack, a used mountain bike (boxed up and checked in as luggage), and some cash, my sexy adventure was about to begin.

Traveling from Honolulu to London was an experience in and of itself. With each layover across the U.S., my excitement percolated thinking of the unknown happenings in store for me across the pond.  But even just people watching in the Dallas and New Jersey airports, I realized something inside me was changing. Having never left the island, I was unaware of how freeing traveling away from home could feel. I didn’t even realize how trapped I felt, living on such a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific my whole life.

A few hours and one breathtaking train ride from London later, I finally arrived. John was shacked up at a hostel in Newquay Cornwall (a surfing hot spot in the UK), shaping surfboards to earn traveling cash. Our reunion was spent at the neighborhood pub, with an overzised paper map sprawled out on our table. We tossed back a few pints, noted traveling advice from the locals, and devised our Eurail route.

The next few weeks were a blissful, scary, unexpected stream of events. We lived off warm beer, French bread, and outdoor sexapades in secret hideaways discovered along our cobblestone-trailed bike rides. We used our sleeping bags on the beaches in the south of France and Portugal, and bunked up in the youth hostels in Madrid and Paris. Madrid was especially memorable thanks to the Gypsy kids who mugged us directly across the street from the downtown police station. After affirming we weren’t hurt and still had [most of our] money left, we ran to the nearest watering hole to share an afternoon buzz and laugh about the irony of it all.

After I returned home to Hawaii, John made it up to Amsterdam then eventually found his way to a small island off the coast of North Africa, where he’s lived ever since. We email the usual holiday greetings from time to time and actually had a chance to catch up on the phone last year, which was a real trip! He says my accent is “so California” and I told him he sounded like a different person with his, on top of not being able to understand his slang. We talked for hours about our sexy adventure and marveled in the fact that it was 25 years ago. As soon as I heard his laugh, I was 19 again.

“Okay, now it sounds like you.”

I wonder if we’ll cross paths when I make it to Tuscany.

Here’s the part where you tell me: If you could pack up tomorrow for a sexy adventure, where would you go

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