My heart on a platter of sleeves
Every time I go to Latin America, it steals a little slice of my heart and a portion of my liver. Soon, I'm going to have to gather all the little pieces into one place, so I can get on with things.
Providing emotional all-access visas to select foreign candidates (a habit of mine) does me no lasting good. The more incredible they are in bed and conversation, the more incredibly difficult it is for me to evict them from my mental real estate. In the long run, I end up with little more than ongoing lessons in flirtational Spanish. Sure, I've made a few valuable, lasting friendships, but now I want more.
I decided that this last trip to Costa Rica would be different. This time, I was travelling with my sister and fourteen-year-old niece, and my running off with some beach-brown heartthrob and returning in the middle of the night with chapped lips, messy hair and a foolish grin, wasn't the story I wanted them to relay to the rest of the family. Not every trip to Latin America requires a steamy romantic encounter, however tempting and served on a platter it may be.
I resisted. I did. My mother doesn't believe me, but my sister, who orchestrated the fiasco can vouch for me.
This was their first trip to Central America, and I intended to make them fall in love with it. I wanted them to talk about the basilisk lizard a stray kitten chased into our cabin, about eating fish eyeballs, about doing things that had never occurred to them, or me---the kind of experiences that would leave us changed, from which recovery is not possible, or necessary. All that happened, and of course, not as I'd planned.
We rented a cabin on the beach for a final lazy week in budget luxury ($40/night), and that's where my sister spotted him. All three of us in agreement, despite generational variations in taste, dubbed him "Hot Brown", and took note of his daily activities: diving into waves and resurfacing, tanned and glistening, and walking past our rented beach chairs in his wet trunks with milkshakes. I was content in objectifying him. It's nice to turn the tables.
My sister, however, who'd clearly been in the sun too long, was consumed by the idea that I meet him, convinced that he might be "The One" for me. She actually said that. She'd met him at the dairy bar, and now she wanted to be related to him. I moved her into the shade. I was determined to enjoy my final days on the beach without dealing myself anything more complicated than a crappy hand for Crazy Eights.
Obsessed, my sister eventually (with only 48-hours of our trip remaining) lured him to where I was napping on the beach, so I couldn't get away. I awoke to his nearly perfect English and the wet torso I'd been ogling. Had he not been so beautiful, so charming, so dryly funny and well-travelled, I'd have been really, really pissed.
Antonio is a hot, tanned teetotaling (nearly-forty-but-swings-twenty-six) private Spanish instructor (who has lived and taught internationally, from Spain to New York), and long-divorced-father-of-three (who maintains a healthy relationship with his ex-wife and spends lots of time with his kids), and thereby got the ultimate green light from my sister, who spent the day nudging me in his direction. Still, I resisted.
He joined us for lunch, swimming, sunning, cards, dice, pranks, sunset and dinner, and left long after the restaurant closed, just long enough to wear me down. When he ran out of excuses to stay with us, I panicked. He noticed, and I noticed him noticing, and he noticed me notice that, too. You know how that moment goes. Slice.
So, to make a short story significant, he'll either be here in a few weeks (because he says he wants to travel), or I'll be there by September (because I say I want to improve my Spanish). Unless, of course, it ends as suddenly as it began.