This post was contributed by Steven Knollmeyer.
2016- freshly graduated from Pace University in New York City with a degree in Communications and Women Studies because that’s obviously the degree to afford rent in Manhattan, accepted a job offer at a pretentious white-washed startup that sold me on an avocado toast bar, and decided that I would treat myself to a cheeky month away in Brazil before entering the “real world.” I arrived to Rio de Janeiro naively believing that I was going to have a quiet 4 weeks reflecting on my life and volunteering at a nearby community in need.
Then London Lover happened. I lived in a house of about 25 other international volunteers run by a gorgeous man that I would bet my life savings of $42 and an expired MoviePass card was related to Ryan Gosling – well at least after my 7th street cart caipirinha.
He assigned us volunteer placements – myself and a lovely Scottish girl were assigned to refurbish a children’s music school in a nearby favela. We were told that another guy would be joining us as our third volunteer on the project but he had missed his flight and would be arriving late.
Enter London Lover.
London Lover had booked this trip with his then-girlfriend to “do good” together abroad. He was dumped before the trip and decided to still go alone.
Enter Hot Mess Express (hi – me!)
London Lover arrived late one night and Hot Mess Express had already downed around 6 of the aforementioned street car caipirinhas. When London Lover walked through the front door, in Hot Mess Express’s mind a spotlight and Hollywood movie grade fan immediately focused on him – dark hair, perfect stubble, the poshest London accent you’ve ever heard. As any normal human feeling attracted to another human would, Hot Mess Express decided in a caipirinha-fueled state that it would be wise to cook London Lover two heaping plates of shitty spaghetti with absolutely no sauce, no other ingredients, nor ANYTHING that made pasta edible.
I’ll spare the dirty details, but things happened later in the trip. We kissed. We slept together on a hammock under the stars with the warmth of a Brazilian night surrounding us. It felt good. It felt weird.
I’ve learned a lot of things when traveling. In this trip I learned about sexuality. Living in New York, I thought I was exposed to everything and had a full understanding of spectrums – I was wrong. Being on your own in a new place totally different than what you’re used to, surrounded by people you’ve never met and may never meet again, you’re allowed to be free and experiment with who you are because there are no stakes if you’re rejected. Traveling allows the person you didn’t know existed to come out, and even if they just come out for the short amount of time that you’re there, they still came out.
Meet Steven: Another twenty-something New Yorker that can be found anywhere tacos and bottomless mimosas are served. Keep up with him on IG.