Luminescent eyes – that was the first thing I noticed. They were the colour of the Caribean sea on a sunny day. And they lit up his whole face. With his bronze tan and white smile, he looked like he just stepped off of the big screen.
I was in Puerto Rico with my dearest brother with whom we fought every day about one thing or another. The biggest argument of all centered around my video. Recently, I have started my own International Dating channel and part of my trip to Puerto Rico, besides getting away from the severe Canadian winter, was interviewing people to find out the whole appeal of Latin men to women. I was trying to find sleezy, over the top Latinos but all I found were regular guys who seemed just as lost about women as Americans.
After begging my brother endlessly about acting as the videographer, I decided I would take matters into my own hands and walked around the streets of Isla Verde to film taxi drivers and bartenders. And now, exhilarated by the thought of finally doing something with no help from anyone else I ran onto the kite surfing beach where my brother was hanging out near his kite waiting for the wind. Kite surfing was just as annoying to me, as my Latin man episode to him.
To help me out a bit, he pointed to a shack on the beach and told me I could interview one of the surfers there. From a distance I saw an attractive guy in a purple shirt and sauntered over to recruit him.
“Would you be interested in doing a video?” I asked with little hesitation. How much easier it is to start a conversation with a “real” reason for it! However, I literally couldn’t tear my gaze away from his sparkling eyes, that crinkled in amusement and some interest as he saw me.
“Sure” He answered in an almost perfect American accent.
“You are Puerto Rican?” I asked.
“I am” He smiled. Tanned and bright eyed, he looked like a beautiful mix of European and Latin. Something like a (non-gay) Ricky Martin.
We continued with the interview during which he confided in me (and the World) that Latin men make the best lovers and that Puerto Rican girls are his preference out of all women. At the moment, I was only observing him as a very attractive object for my documentary. I thought that if I had any ratings to boost, he would be the one to make it happen.
Once we were done, I tried to prolong our contact by telling him to look over the release form and asking questions as he started signing his name. Turned out Franko was of German descent, went to a boarding school in the USA and worked as a doctor, not as a kite surfing instructor as I initially thought.
He was extremely attractive in the way he held himself – self assured, calm and collected and at times he would look at me directly and a beautiful smile would spread over his face. What bothered me, however, was that he would also look into the distance when talking which made me mimic him and try to look away as much as I could, so as not to appear too invested. And he never offered to meet up even though I let him know I had no plans for that Saturday night. I might as well have written a sign on my head saying “Single and Looking”, I felt so obvious. Finally, just as I was about to leave, he asked me to take down his number so we could meet that evening. Still, it wasn’t like he asked me for mine.
Did I mention I had two days left? Oh fate, thou art unjust indeed.
Then, as I was sitting on the beach with my brother, he sat near us. Turned out they met prior to our Latin interview, and began discussing kite surfing since they were both obsessed with it. Though in the words of my brother, Franko was terrible.
“The guy just constantly goes against wind! How can you like someone who can’t learn to kite surf?”
Yep, going with the wind is definitely an important quality for a future husband…
Franko didn’t even look at me as he talked to my brother and when Alex got up to get something, he literally waited two seconds to leave himself. I just sat there, completely dejected. Both of us came to the conclusion that Franko might be gay. He did pay way more attention to my brother. Though at the bottom of my heart I knew – the guy likes girls alright, just maybe not me.
So why push it, right?
Well this is where my sense of reason fades away and the only thing that remains is the need to be with this person, regardless of the circumstances. It has been so long that I felt something as crazy and as instantaneous as I did with Franko, that I wanted to lose myself in the feeling.
That evening I was heading off to Old San Juan with my brother and we wrote to Franko to invite him out. Turned out he had a family function and only got back to me later saying he might not be able to make it. I danced salsa with another guy (who really liked me by the way) and desperately waited for the song to finish so I could check my message from sparkling eyed Franko. I have never known that salsa songs take like ten minutes!
While he couldn’t make it, he texted, he would love to see me at the beach tomorrow. I dismissed the message as him being very polite and not actually wanting anything with me and sat the rest of the night crying my eyes out of the deserted beach.
“Please” I said to no one in particular, possibly God, who is most likely too busy to listen to idiotic complaints like this “Let me at least be with him a bit, even if I get hurt.”
The next day I came to the beach more self assured and calm, which always works to my advantage. As I stepped out of the water in my bright pink bikini, I noticed a guy eying me not very discreetly. Turned out it was my luminescent eyed guy.
“Mia?” He asked. I looked up. “Sorry, I just didn’t know if it was you. Didn’t want to be a creepy Puerto Rican.”
He sat near me and we talked about nothing in particular until my brother called him to help launch the kite. Still, that look in his eyes at least proved he was interested in me.
Later on, as I was filming scenes on the beach he called out my name again. We talked a bit, during which I asked him to be a star in my video. Then I muttered about how dirty that must have come out.
“I am leaving to eat” He stood there smiling at me, his eyes lighted up by the setting of the sun. He usually looked so confident, but now it almost seemed as if he was nervous. At least I wanted him to be. “I would like us to see each other tonight.” Of course, by us he also included my brother. I felt he wanted to invite just me, but couldn’t bring himself to do it.
I said bye to him, filmed a bit, then came back to find him still standing there smiling in an adorable way.
“So” he said “do you still want me to be the star of your video? What do I have to do?”
“Hey, you know what you can do?” said my brother coming up “You can go pick up girls on the beach and Mia can film you.”
I almost smashed the camera in my brother’s face. Of course the guy can pick up girls. All he has to do is look at them with those gorgeous eyes and smile charismatically.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea” I stated. “Technically it should be me he is picking up. I am the host after all.”
We decided maybe we would film something later on and stayed around flirting like there was no tomorrow. Hah, finally I knew for certainty he was interested! The feeling was incredible. The only thing that I really didn’t enjoy was how part of his flirting involved telling me all Latin guys were “built like Black guys down there.” Obviously that’s not true and clearly he meant himself and wanted me to find out. Coming from a doctor, I didn’t appreciate it. I thought he would have more class than that. But at that moment, any desire of his to attract me was welcomed by me. I just wanted him to like me.
We finally parted an hour later. Though my brother was invited, I let him know this trio of ours would be awkward and he should conveniently feel tired so I could leave him at home. He agreed but not without some fuss.
“You know what you are getting yourself into!” He pointed at me as I was doing my makeup back at the hotel. “Don’t cry tomorrow when you get hurt. It’s like banging your head against the wall over and over again and not learning!”
I knew I would get hurt. I was confident I would cry. And I still wanted this. As I sat there, waiting for him, my hair pulled back in a ponytail and my skin glowing from the sun, I felt alive. Anxious, sad, curious, excited, yearning… Every feeling was heightened. I think that all life is comprised of moments. Little moments, significant moments.. but at the end of the day, maybe that’s all we will remember. I think I will remember these moments the most. The ones where my heart beats quickly.
He picked me up in a silver Mercedes and we drove to Old San Juan, where we walked out to walk a cobbled street to an outdoor bar. So far, the conversation lacked emotion.. Sure, he told me about his childhood, asked me questions about mine, even gave me some history on San Juan.. But he didn’t smile, hold my hand or even look at me much. It felt quite official.
But as we sat down at the bar, without even starting to drink, our conversation quickly turned into personal. We talked about our love lives, families, wants, dreams… And at one point, when he asked me what I looked for in a guy, I tried my best not to blurt out – you. But I think he figured it out. As I looked at him: his slow smile, intense gaze, the fact that he bore an uncanny resemblance to Stefan (see the German), I knew I was head over heels. Though now I think I was just obsessed, just as someone might be over an actor in Grey’s Anatomy. Fitting, no?
He even told me he used to take Xanax for anxiety, as he used to get very anxious while studying for medical exams. Apparently he didn’t share this a lot, so I felt he could confide in me.
He said that he wanted a relationship, children, that he would provide for his wife, but she could work if she chose to. I laughed and actually said “Marry me”, to which he responded with: “Move to Puerto Rico.”
As we had another drink, he told me he didn’t want me to leave. He would come and visit me in Canada. I gladly accepted the proposal.
As we walked over to the other bar, he repeated it over and over.
“I really don’t want you to go”
“Me neither” I sighed.
Then that thought escalated rapidly, and he proposed something I hoped for desperately.
“Stay here for a few days” He offered. “I can pay most of your ticket and we can travel.”
“You are crazy!” I exclaimed. At the moment, I felt like I was in a chick flick. This was the perfect night, with a gorgeous guy, in a foreign country and he was offering me to stay! I could fly.
“I know, but it would be great. We could travel the island. I do have to go to my family’s place for New Years, so you would have to come with me.”
“Are you sure you are not just saying this because you are drunk?” I asked.
“No, I thought about this yesterday and I am sure. I will talk to your brother and we will make all the arrangements”
And now he was offering me to meet his family. This was incredible insanity and I agreed immediately. Finally, it seemed like my life was getting somewhere. Maybe he was “the one”? Now I cringe when I write this.
He told me he liked me as soon as he met me that day on the beach and I told him I felt the same. We kissed and kissed… But what surprised me was there were no fireworks in our kiss. Thinking about him, I expected a gust of passion. This was just… okay.
And then I got drunk. I am Russian and can drink without losing my head or blacking out. I don’t know how I got so wasted off of three Cuba Libres and one shot of rum, but I don’t even remember getting to the car. What I do remember is him opening his car door so I could puke out the water on the street. He was extremely sweet and supportive about the whole thing, holding my hand, kissing me on the forehead and telling me he has seen way worse. This is the worst state I have ever been with with a guy. And him, out of all people!
We had to also pick up his sixteen year old cousin. I don’t even want to know what he thought of me when I barely squeaked “Hola” before running for the bathroom.
“You are staying with me” he told me as he parked the car.
I just wanted to go home and sleep but at this point I was in no state to argue. Or to stay in the car any further. I wished I stayed classy.. Well as classy as I could be at this point and ask him to drive me back, but I felt so much closeness between us, I naively thought it wouldn’t make any difference.
More nothingness, and then I remember him getting me a new toothbrush, water and his T-Shirt. I put it on and sank into his huge bed. I was awoken out of my stupor by his kiss, or was I awake before it? I can’t recall. All I know is that we were kissing, and then he was kissing my body. Please don’t judge me girls, as I did begin to give him a blowjob. Honestly, I don’t know what was wrong with me! I knew I wasn’t going to have sex, yet I was doing this? I didn’t finish it and he pretty much jerked himself off. How romantic this evening was.. Wow, indeed. Of course at this point I was naively thinking we would have many more moments, seeing as how I was staying and everything.
We slept the whole night in each other’s arms. Even in the morning, every time I would turn over, he would follow suit with his arms around me protectively. I woke up early, both dizzy and confused: was I really staying longer with him in Puerto Rico? I was dying to.
As he woke up, he tried again to make a move, and when I said no concluded aloud : “We did not have sex” as if that wasn’t obvious then proceeded to get out of bed, to go to the bathroom. At one point, I actually thought he was gonna come in with breakfast, but he came back and told me I could get dressed. He just wanted to finish playing Fifa video game with his cousin and then we could go.
No mention of the ticket.
We drove back uncomfortably. His hand was caressing my knee but I knew that he was just doing it to be polite. Whatever he said or meant last night was gone just like that adoring look in his bright eyes. My heart sank. He didn’t even have to say anything, but I wanted to make sure anyways.
“Those were some crazy things we said last night…” I looked straight ahead, afraid to look at him.
“Yeah. I mean.. we don’t know each other so well. Maybe it’s better if we stay in touch and I come and see you in Toronto” he threw me a look and caressed my knee again to make me feel a bit better.
All of the images of us dancing on the beach, bronze faced and carefree, just like visions of me sitting at the table with his Puerto Rican family suddenly vanished and I now knew – I would be back in the winter tomorrow morning. The surreal dream he has shared with me was only that – a dream. I would have stayed if he simply said the words. I suppose some things are too good to be true. Perfection doesn’t exist and he was definitely not perfect. The way he quickly discarded me showed just that. No apology, no sincerity.. I felt like we were now strangers, and hey, we really were all along.
“Are you okay?” He turned to me as I sat there staring into space. I tried to say something, anything, but I was just at a loss for words.
“I’m just tired. Sorry” I smiled.
“We will see each other at the beach, won’t we?” he kissed me a brief goodbye.
Once he was out of the hotel room where he dropped me off, I sat on the bed and began wailing. Sure, I barely knew the guy, but how often does it happen that you fall so hard for someone and feel like your dreams have finally come true just to have it all gone the very next day? I’m sure most of you have been through worse.. but it still didn’t lessen my pain. And now I was leaving this beautiful city for minus twenty temperatures, while he was still here – tanned, beautiful and able to look at as many bikini clad bodies as he wanted to.
My brother, a smug know-it-all, just laughed when I recounted the story to him. “What did you expect from a Latin guy?”
I did see Franko on the beach. He approached me by kissing me as a boyfriend would do. All of the kite surfers watched us with smiles. They all knew about my project and my fleeting romance with him. I played it cool, following my brother’s advice to be happy, but I feel I smiled too much and was too peppy, so much that even he got a bit thrown off. In reality, I have only consumed one dry bun full of guava and cheese. I didn’t care what was in it, as long as it could stop the dizziness. I had no appetite. I was anxious. But I wouldn’t show it.
Parts were okay. We took photos of each other. We kissed under the towel. He came by to look for me a couple of times. I gave him a massage. He told me he wanted me back with him at his condo. He looked at me with some emotion, though it was difficult for me to predict what it really was. I couldn’t figure him out. I was addicted to his face, his manner of talking, but I knew this would be the person that would drain me emotionally. But what did it matter? This would be the last time I would see him.
At the end, he simply walked up to be and kissed me.
“I wish I met you earlier. Stay in touch” and walked away leaving me standing there completely dumbfounded and at a loss for words.
On the way to the airport, while crying my eyes out I received a text which said “Already miss you!” Sure, it made me cry with joy, but at the bottom of my heart I felt he didn’t mean it.
I wished him a Happy New Year next day, while at a party back in freezing Canada, where I couldn’t stop thinking of this weird bright eyed boy. He only replied to my text message today, two days later.
You know, I think I finally reached a point in my life where I can say – you are not worth it. Obviously he doesn’t even live here in Canada, so that’s a given, but even if he did, it would never work. Sure, he makes my heart beat, sure he looks good on paper, but at the end I want someone who wants me. Someone who would ask me to stay and not back out of it. Someone who looks in my eyes and actually sees me. Someone with whom I don’t have to play the game of who cares least. Someone with whom I feel a genuine connection and so far I have not met this person.
But you will be the first to find out when I do.
PS. I will also refrain from getting into bed with a stranger. Be it a gorgeous one or not. Some things are better be left a mystery and I think I have learnt from my mistakes never to repeat it again.