My study abroad program boasted about “hands-on learning.” I had no idea how literal that would turn out to be.
While abroad, I did a project on the former First Lady of my host country. She is currently on trial for delving too far into the presidency– that is, while her husband was President, she effectively was, too. She allegedly fired people, sat in on confidential meetings, and committed other acts of treason that were not part of her job description as First Lady.
The same day I gave my presentation on the former First Lady, my classmates and I went to dance at a club in the hippest part of town. We’d had a bit to drink beforehand, and I was feeling good.
I was dancing and minding my own business when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see an awkward but handsome local guy. “Do you want to dance?” he asked me. I actually refused at first because I was having fun with my friends. But when he asked again, I found that I couldn’t say no to his puppy dog face, and I agreed.
“What are you doing in the city?” he asked as we danced. “I’m studying political science at the university!” I shouted drunkenly over the crowd. His forehead creased. “Oh really?” he responded, “My aunt is the former First Lady.” I think my jaw hit the floor of the club.
Thus began my relationship with the country’s former “prince.”
After dinner on our first date, we walked to the boardwalk and stood watching the ocean and listening to the waves. After a few minutes of silence, he turned to me and gazed into my eyes. Then he reached to tuck my hair behind my ear, and nothing. He turned back to the waves. “What?!” I thought to myself. I didn’t understand; I thought the date was going really well.
I turned back to him with a puzzled look on my face. I think he noticed my confusion and leaned in for the kiss. “Ahhh, here we go,” I thought as we made out to the tune of the ocean. In front of the water, with the crashing waves? Talk about a fairytale romance.
I had a homestay in which I shared a wall with my host parents. I was in a very religious country, so if you bring your significant other to your house you’re supposed to stay in common spaces with open doors.
One night, the prince and I went out for sandwiches. Afterward, he suggested we go back to my house. My host parents were already in bed, though awake with the TV on and the door open. I freely walked into my room while he tiptoed up the stairs and then shimmied across the floor through my open door.
Once we were in my room, I jokingly asked if he wanted to watch TV. “No,” he responded, calmly but sternly, as he grabbed me by the waist and began to kiss me. I honestly couldn’t believe that I had successfully snuck the former prince into my bed.
We spent the subsequent months of my time abroad wandering around the neighborhood hand in hand. We’d always take the same route, on which was a restaurant called “French Kiss.” When we passed it, we’d yell “french kiss!” and make out in front of the restaurant for all to see.
Somehow, almost every time we saw each other we’d end up back on the boardwalk. We were scolded a few times by neighborhood police for being too handsy in public. All in all, we just had a lot of fun together.
After some time, he started working in a store all the way across town. He lived far from me, and it was becoming too difficult to see each other regularly. We drifted apart after some time, and ultimately stopped talking. But he did write to me on New Year’s Eve, telling me his 2016 was better because I was a part of it.
The author of this story has requested to remain anonymous