The city of Cordoba finally came into view. It has been 20 hours on the bus from the North of Argentina but there is no better feeling than heading to see someone you like; every minute, every hour bringing you closer to where they are.
I must admit: I hoped I would meet someone else. Yes, I liked Fran, and yes, we had some sort of weird connection, but he would never be someone I would end up with. He spoke no English. He had never had a girlfriend. He wasn’t a real gentleman. I would never trust him to be faithful to me. There were many things that I just couldn’t and wouldn’t tolerate. When I pictured my perfect guy, I didn’t see him in my head. If I had met someone else, I would have probably reconsidered this trip. After all, I was heading to see someone I had no future with. There were two choices: either we would end up fighting and what we had before would be ruined by this new memory or I would get so close to him it would be more painful leaving. Neither of these seemed like a good option.
Yet, here I was – on the bus, knowing all this and also knowing that I wanted to see him. These two weeks, he was all I thought about. What’s more, he became a kind of friend too. He wanted to know everything about my trip. He wanted to help me with my new video. Our conversations kept me glued to the screen when I should have been out meeting new people, yet, he was the one I yearned to talk to.
I felt and looked horrendous, after our two sleepless night when I was attacked by bedbugs in the little village close to Bolivia. There was no way I was staying with him as he suggested I do. The other reason I was scared of staying with him is that now there would be no way for me to look independent. He would get used to my presence and no longer be scared to lose me. As I said, I seemed to care too much about how this guy felt.
So my German friend and an amazing confidante Tina (poor girl!) and I ended up booking a hostel in the center of the city. We finally took a shower, and I texted Fran to let him know I have arrived, but he was at the river outside of the city which put a bit of a dumper on my day. Why did he leave the city when he knew I was coming? After we returned to the hostel from fruitless shopping, I got a message from him offering to grab some food. Since I just ate, I offered to go drink something with Tina, his cousin and I. However, he didn’t reply for an hour. So this was it, I said to my friend, now that I was here he is no longer interested. I lay on the upper bunk miserably unable to do anything else but talk about him, tap my foot and check my phone every two seconds.
When he did reply, he was cold and told me if I wanted to go to a bar, I should just do it. I didn’t want to play these games. I want to see you, I told him. As soon as I did, he offered to drive back to Cordoba.
“Mia, please just say yes. You will kill yourself if you don’t” – told me my poor friend who has been listening to stories of Fran for weeks now.
I could hear his voice before I saw him. His strong Cordobes accent asking for me. His sun-tanned face grinning at me with the happiness of a child where I again tried to play it cool.
In the car, he explained the situation:
“I didn’t know what you wanted! I thought you were staying with me and then you switched to a hostel! You told me you were tired so I thought you wanted to sleep, but you offered to go to a bar with some other people. “
He took my face in his hands and kissed me. Just like that we were back in Mendoza.
That night after spending some time in the bar, mostly staring at each other, I went to his place – a high condo tower in an island of towers.
We spent the night together and he drove me to the hostel the following day, both of us dead from the night before. I ran back to tell Tina about my night, and slept for one hour before receiving a text from him asking me if I wanted to go to a city on the lake with him. He had to go for work and I would accompany him there. I was dead tired, but the thought of spending the day with him on the lake sounded great.
Mostly I had to accompany him to different places as he went about his job, so granted, I was bored out of my mind. There were many negative things about Fran that definitely outweighed the positive. On the walk, I talked about some guy, possibly trying to make him jealous though I can’t quite remember. All I remember is he suddenly decided it was a good idea to begin flirting with the girls at the “information” booth.
“You are obviously trying to make me jealous” I pointed out.
“Just trying to show you it can be done so easily.” He grinned mischievously.
He would kiss me and grab my hand, then withdraw and not crack a smile for a while. When he was like this I didn’t bother trying to play clown and entertain him. He wanted to be like this? I would do the same.
As we sat in the car, he grabbed a bit of fat under my tricep with a playful smile on his face. I did the girly thing and tried to hit him, but the truth is it didn’t infuriate me. I knew what he was after. He enjoyed the push and pull of our temporary relationship. He enjoyed playing around. There was a certain element of sexual tension created by that though I will agree – it is not a healthy one. But as he grabbed me and I hit him, the more I hit him, the more he enveloped me, with me wanting him right there. I think it was the element of dominance present in all our interaction and that was the other thing that kept me wanting him over and over again. He was not nice.
That evening, I checked out of the hostel and moved into his place.
“You know what” He told me as we lay in bed “I am constantly aware that you are gonna leave soon and it keeps me hanging.”
Sleeping with him every night, I grew close to him. The sex that started out so terrible, has now evolved rapidly. I loved the smell of him, the imperfections he had, his soft lips, his eyes as he looked at me, the way he touched me – both sensually and possessively. The way he tried to make sure I would get an orgasm (as it is really difficult for me), almost going so far as to organize a daily ‘activity’ so that I would feel comfortable with him. The selfishness he possessed in daily life was replaced to utter selflessness when it came to pleasing me. He would completely forget his needs just to focus on me. I think again, it was his love of challenge that also drove this need. Either way, I began feeling so connected, that when he would wake up to head to work, kissing me and cuddling close to me before he put on his work clothes, I would feel completely and utterly alone, missing him immensely. The loud lock of the door was always somehow a reminder that this, whatever it was, would end really soon.
He began calling me “his woman” after I cleaned up the house and cooked a meal the first day of our “life together”. Of course, the chicken didn’t seem edible to him, and I might agree it wasn’t amazing, but he was a complete machista when it came to certain things. In real life, I doubt I would have survived one day being married to him.
He would do certain things that drove me crazy. As we went out one night, I remember, he poured beer first to his cousin, then to himself and only then to me. I stared at him straight in the eyes:
“You have no manners.”
He ended up apologizing right away, enjoying my lack of tolerance. I didn’t talk to him after, a twisted enjoyment of a certain argument that would lead to makeup sex. And yes, that night, as we came back he lifted me up and carried me to bed. It seemed like he couldn’t wait long enough to undress me.
The other day, as we met in the center, he told me I was beautiful then shut down and walked around grumpy. The final straw came when we approached the car and called out to me like I was a cat.
“Do not call me like I’m an animal” I told him calmly with a strong edge to my voice. I was always careful to put my words simply (not hard since Spanish is not my first language) and be angry instead of wailing like a woman. Again, I ignored him in the car and he threw many looks my way.
As we got out, he kissed me softly. “I’m sorry.”
“Of course you are. You know exactly what you are doing.”
“I guess I am” He admitted.
“You like me getting mad, don’t you?”
“In a way I do.” He smiled. “I mean, that means you have your own rules, that you won’t take crap from me.” He didn’t want to push it far enough, but he definitely enjoyed the sexual tension, the certain drama that established attraction. Shouldn’t you already have attraction? Would ask most of you. Yes, we should have. We shouldn’t have played games, but Argentina is a country of games, the game of power and a certain part of me enjoyed it.
And the funniest thing is that even through all of this, he never truly pissed me off. While many nice guys I have dated in the past irked me so much, I would start arguments myself. I explained this strange phenomenon to him after his little argument. We loved discussing little psychological things like that.
“Exactly!” he exclaimed. “You see what I mean? When someone is too nice, you take advantage of them. It starts to get boring”
Did he try to make me jealous? I must say, Cordoba is a city of beautiful women and while you are always aware that there is someone gorgeous in front of you, you must not let it show. On Friday, we headed to his cousin’s condo for some pre-drinking. As the main character of my new video on a single guy in the city, Alex, his cousin decided to invite two girlfriends of his. One, Laura was gorgeous. I mean, as soon as I saw her my heart dropped.
I was aware that he was observing her and at the same time conscious of my reaction. This was the moment I would not show any kind of jealousy. After a few moments of feeling a bit uncomfortable, I turned the situation around. I focused my attention on her and began telling stories about my experiences. Soon enough, everyone at the table tuned into my story. With all this attention energizing me, I glowed as I talked. I could see his face as he observed me. He found me the most interesting person there, it was clear.
His cousin struggled to find a girl in the club, and as he called one girl after another at six in the morning, Fran exchanged a look with me that said “poor guy. Thank God we are together.”
Weird? You might ask. What kind of effing compliment is that? Of course he should have eyes only for you. He has just started seeing you and on top of it all, you are leaving. And yes, you are right. Of course it’s a ridiculous compliment. But it was an honest one. Fran was a player. And him saying he could see no one but me said a lot.
I could feel he was falling for me. It was the fact that I was still this independent girl that would leave, travel by herself. It was the fact that I wasn’t from there. And the fact that as opposites, we still somehow clicked.
The last night, he enveloped me in his arms.
“I love how your passion for what you do makes you glow. You are so special to me.”
That morning I cried. I took out the old sarcastic letter I wrote to him, turned it over and wrote another letter.
He was at the station wearing a yellow dress shirt. I had tears building up in my throat and couldn’t wait to get on the bus so I could finally let them out. Those final minutes before you know you will never see this person again are the worst to bear. As much as you want, you can’t breathe enough of them. You want to hurry up time and just leave as it is more painful waiting it out, finding words to say. Nothing meaningful comes out anyways. He slowly kissed me goodbye, taking time to read me for the final time with his eyes.
“I’m really sad, Mia” he told me. “I will miss my little wife.”
With one final smile I got on the bus. I sat like that, looking at him through the dark windshield. A fountain of tears he wouldn’t see poured down my face. Suddenly the bus began moving back and all I remember is him smoking and looking at me driving away. An unexpected wave of pain covered me. I never thought I would get as addicted to him as I did. Driving away from Cordoba I couldn’t stop my tears. It rained the whole night. I cried most of the night until I finally tuned out and fell asleep. I felt so extremely alone. After a week of sleeping in his bed, inhaling his clean smell, his stubble against my skin I was now completely and utterly single.
Why was I putting myself in the same situation time and time again? Was I some sort of masochist, addicted to the finality of all my romances? I yearned just to have a boyfriend. Someone I didn’t have to say bye to, someone I could travel with and not from.
“I just read your letter” came the text “I feel so much emotion. I have no words. It was weird sleeping without you. No one woke me up because it was cold”
I was now in Uruguay, surrounded by beautiful Argentinian and Uruguayan men. It is not often you see so many bronzed, hot men in one spot, but here I was for the carnival. I finally distracted myself, yet sometimes the pang would come unexpectedly. I thought it would all be gone by now. Yes, I liked him, but the truth is there was nothing special about him. I doubt I would have noticed him among this football team of men.
“There is no point to any of it” we both wrote to each other.
“Actually” he texted “we shouldn’t even be talking by now”
“I agree” I said. “But I’m not sure I can just stop like that”
That night he sent me a voice message telling me nothing in particular, but that nothing in particular told me he missed me. I cried listening to it.
“You confused me” he wrote next time “I don’t know what to do anymore. I miss you. I want to travel with you.”
“You want to travel with me?” I asked “You can’t even come to Buenos Aires to visit me.”
I took a bus to Iguazu falls, then came back through Buenos Aires to stay on the seaside city of Mar del Plata when he texted me he might be coming to Buenos Aires in one day. Sure I wanted to see him, but changing my plans just to see him one more day before I had to leave the country for good seemed like it would cause me more grief than happiness.
Next day, when I finally decided that I did in fact want to come back, he told me it was too late. The chance to come to the city has come and gone. The next morning I woke up feeling empty and missing him with a great ache in my body. How was I still feeling this? It was not possible. It was the fact that he was now distant from me. The regularity of our whatsapp messages: photos, nicknames, voice clips have started to diminish. I could visualize him going out to a club and picking up women, having sex with them in the same bed we shared. It was a painful visualization.
It was now me initiating most of the conversations. Yet, he still wanted to see me. He begged me to come over, saying we had a week left and could be together that one week. I just couldn’t imagine myself spending my last week bored out of my mind in his condo, waiting for him to come home from work. I wasn’t a housewife. I couldn’t imagine myself doing the exact same thing, of being with him, with now a more painful thought – I had to leave right after. Before, I still had plans ahead of me: travels, people and now there would be nothing else left. I couldn’t say goodbye once more, knowing I would never see him again.
I offered a compromise of sorts – he takes 2 days off work and meets me somewhere in between. If he was willing to do that, it wouldn’t just be me doing what he wanted.
He didn’t bother to reply to this request.
The night city of La Plata came into view from the window. Now I wasn’t excited or eager. I sat in the bus holding back tears each time I thought of Fran, with a feeling of nervousness and a big question in my mind: Why was I doing this again?
Alfie and I began talking two weeks before I had to leave back. I guessed it was my photos with Fran that didn’t make him too eager to write to me. So one day I wrote him, and then he started writing me and just like that, we re-established some sort of a connection.
I found Alfie attractive and sometimes even more interesting than Fran, but I wasn’t eager to see him. I wanted choice number 3 – not Fran, who would just hurt me, and not Alfie.
He lived near Buenos Aires, in La Plata and he invited me to come down for a couple of days. I started thinking about it. I knew he would offer me romance, some beauty during my final days in Argentina. We already knew each other. I knew he wouldn’t hurt me. But what if being with him would be a constant comparison to Fran? The kisses, the looks, touch – it wasn’t him I wanted.
I guess I didn’t want to be alone those last days. But repeating the same old with Fran just didn’t feel like the right option.
Alfie jumped up when he saw me get off the bus. We kissed each other. He looked the same: boyish face, tall and built, less bronzed than on vacation. Our conversation was really easy. Actually it was way easier than it was with Fran. He kept on asking me questions, I joked around. Maybe this was a good idea after all.
He took me to a Tapas restaurant where we shared the tastiest plates of food I have tasted since coming here three months ago. Meat, potatoes, bread and empanadas really quickly lost their charm. I think I was starting to turn vegetarian.
“So, let me tell you where I went.” I talked on and on, knowing I had to explain the Fran situation right away. “From Mendoza I travelled up North and after that came down to Cordoba. You remember Francisco, right?”
Alfie nodded, an ironic smile on his tight face.
“Well, I met up with him. He’s actually kind of a friend now.” I added really quickly.
Alfie laughed. He didn’t believe me.
“What?” I looked at him. “He is. You saw photos of us, didn’t you?”
“I did. I was really surprised. I remember you told me nothing happened yet I was seeing you all over Facebook.”
“I get it. It must have been weird” I agreed, not knowing what else to say. Really, there was no need to explain it to him. It seemed like both of us knew that this, whatever it was, was second best to something else. Maybe it was an energy radiating from me. Maybe it was him. The point is, it was far, far different from the first night out in Cordoba with Fran.
As we walked out on the street, Alfie grabbed me to him and kissed me passionately. Finally, it felt like we could let loose and get some sort of intimacy. Unfortunately, the rest was not so great.
His sister’s house was something out of 50 Shades of Grey: minimalist white and black, sparkling counters, huge spaces, enormous windows. As soon as we walked in he walked me to the sofa, pushed me on it and began undressing me. Moments later, I was against the wall as he excitedly rubbed himself all over me. Fran made very little sounds during sex, Alfie made way too many sounds. The groaning, the dominance, the “look at me” as we had sex, the disconnected look on his face all reminded me of a porn clip. It’s not that I felt cheap per ce, as he always made sure I was okay, and no, he did not use whips or hit me like the infamous movie, but it was zero enjoyment for me. There was a lack of intimacy, a lack of playfulness, a lack of sensuality that I experienced with Francisco. After we were done, I stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom crying. I started considering going home the next day.
But as we lay in bed, him pressed up against me, I felt something for the boy. I mean, he was different than Fran, but I should enjoy the time with him as it was.
“If you have a diary” he told me later “Do you have a little space reserved for me?”
It seemed like he knew he was my second best and maybe that affected how this short trip ended.
The next day we spent at the pool, having an interesting conversation about everything in the world. We had so much more to talk about than I ever did with Fran, but missing was the flirtation and playfulness. He never touched or kissed me, but as we went upstairs we ended up having sex again. I was sure now – I wasn’t enjoying any of it.
He dropped me off to visit a girlfriend I met the same time in Mendoza ( who knew the whole story) and picked me up afterwards.
“Let’s watch a movie!” he suggested grinning to me as we drove back.
“Sure!” I exclaimed, feeling a little surge of emotion for him, this boy who I couldn’t really understand.
We lay down to watch the movie, my legs on his lap, but it was too long and he had to drop me off at the station at 6:30 am. A few hours in I told him I was tired.
“Do you want me to accompany you?” he asked, the gentleman he always was.
“However you feel” I answered, giving him a chance to step in. He had no problem telling me what to do in sex.
“I think I’ll finish it” he answered, resolutely.
I kissed him goodnight.
Fran would have continued it and we would have ended up having sex on the couch. Alfie did no such thing. Our kiss stopped short and I left across this empty house feeling equally vacant. I sat on the floor of the bedroom, crying once more. I didn’t want him. I didn’t want more porno sex with him. I wanted Fran, with his impish smile and his possessive touch. I wanted our messy bed, the messy sheets we changed together, falling asleep on his semi hairy chest, his puffed up lips in the morning.
I went to sleep alone and saw Alfie get into bed hours later. He knew I was awake yet didn’t kiss me goodnight or hug me to him.
“Do you maybe want to drop me off later?” I suggested in the early morning. I was dead tired and it would make little difference to him.
“No, it’s better we go now” he said firmly.
We talked about nothing in particular and kissed quickly at the end. There were no more beautiful words from him.
He did write to me when I returned to Canada but his texts no longer included ‘kisses’ or ‘hugs’ at the end. Whatever started out as warm, has finished with polite pleasantness. A girlfriend of mine looked at his face in one of my videos and said “But he’s cold, Mia. He’s impassive and emotionless.” I agree that this boy who seemed “good”, “romantic” and a “gentleman” now seems to me troubled and withdrawn.
And do you think Fran with whom I shared a bit of history acted any different? I was flying through the Chilean airport when I finally had a chance to connect my phone. He knew when I was leaving and yet, never had the decency to write me a goodbye text. Hurt, I told him so. He offered me an excuse of thinking of me and wanting to text me, but it was clear this, whatever we had, whatever connection we shared has extinguished.
This pendejo (asshole), as I called him warmly, who seemed my imperfect, sometimes irritating ‘bad boy’… yet someone who constantly inquired about my day, my plans.. who seemed part of my life there in Argentina, has proved to be just that – an asshole. A boludo. A selfish guy who, after not getting to see me again, decided it was not even worth it to inquire about me. To send one sentence. One word.
Now, writing this I am hurt. Editing his cousin’s video, I see his stupid, regular face and want to cry. I know this will pass. I know that a memory of him is the memory of my world in Argentina, of a life I will never experience. I know that his city stands somewhere, his apartment still the way it was when I last saw it, his clothes scattered all over the chair. And yet, while that apartment stands, I am here – miles away from him.
Good guy, bad guy. It is the person you find a connection with. And when you do, they are your guy. And that’s the best feeling in the world.
PS. And then Fran and I found contact again.