Soulful Painter – The Cuban (2014)

portrait-painting-salsa-dancing-lr

Where did old-fashioned romance go?

My big camera slung over my sweaty blue halter top, I walked through the crowded club to the bar stand.

My Macedonian friend Ilena and I have just arrived to Cuba, on what I called the lame touristy vacation for Canadians. We were staying in the resort, drinking sugary Mojitos, Pina Coladas and cervezas (favorite foreigner word, usually accompanied by mispronounced dos); eating a variety of semi bland food and lounging by the beach with a book in our hands. All in all, it wasn’t so bad. All we needed was a mindless vacation and Cuba was the cheapest option.

Within fifteen minutes of arriving to the club, Ilena was already dancing close with a buff, dark Cuban. She seemed to have a thing for Pitbull lookalikes.

Dale! Mr. Worlwide

Dale! Mr. Worldwide. Mr.305

I told myself I would never get involved with a Cuban here. In fact, I brought my camera just so I could film an episode on the Cuban Lover and his pursuit of foreign, mainly Canadian women, as a way to get a green card. I thought these women were slightly pathetic and couldn’t fathom why they couldn’t see through all this romantic crap.

Now, walking through the club, I noticed quite a lot of attractive guys. Men from Argentina, Germany, Canada and yes, Cuba. But there was one guy that really got my attention. Tall, light eyed and dark haired, with broad shoulders and full lips. Yes, he was attractive, but there was also something quiet and serene about him. I literally craned my neck to look at him, but he barely noticed me among the crowd of people.

I looked for him, but realized it made no sense to search for someone I didn’t even know and focused on dancing. Just as soon as I did, BAM, I turned around and there he was! Seems that when you let things go, they somehow happen naturally.

What did he do? Well, instead of dancing like pretty much everyone else in the club, he just stood there – staring at the big TV screen, his arms crossed in front of him. Ilena and her dark man kept on grinding closer and closer to us. It soon turned out that the light eyed boy was friends with her Pitbull.

“Why aren’t you dancing?” I asked to him finally, yelling over the reggaeton.

“Oh, I do not like this music” He answered in bad English, then “You are Spanish?”

” Russian” I said, leaving out the Canadian part “And you?”

“I am Cuban”

Of course. He had to be. 

“Christian.” He stuck his hand out instead of kissing me on the cheek. “Mia”, I answered.

There we were – a foreigner and a Cuban. I was now becoming a victim of my own documentary. However, that didn’t stop me from dancing with him. At first he didn’t even hold my hand and danced at a distance, but soon we were close together, moving to the sounds of Cuban salsa. Christian wasn’t very good at salsa. He would turn me around awkwardly which would lead me to either hit him by accident or awkwardly shuffle around, unsure about which way to move. Sure, Cuban Salsa was different from the one I was familiar with, but I was starting to feel sure this white-washed boy wasn’t the epitome of a Cuban Lover.

We literally danced the night away, and with the words “Be careful, I might kiss you”, he did. So we danced and kissed some more.

At the end of the night, Ilena and her Pitbull – Mario, as well as Christian and I decided to head to the beach. There, as I conversation consisted of (let’s be honest here) not much, I still enjoyed the feeling of his big hands furiously trying to keep me warm, his gentle light eyes and his presence overall. I have been boyfriend-less for too long.

“You know” he told us “It’s not that I hate Cuba. I only wish I could see other countries to compare it to. How can you love something when you don’t know anything else?”

abstract-art-floral-tree-landscape-painting-fresh-blossoms-by-madart-megan-duncansonHe was an abstract artist, who lived in a city next to Varadero. He had a gallery opening in Havana the following week, but even so, he could only dream of leaving. We were told of a raffle where only a handful of people were allowed to leave the island. With the Miami lights so close, they could possibly feel them, Cubans were under the constant presence of America and the feeling of missing out on that something. Later, I learned they had barely any access to the Internet, let alone Facebook or Youtube. Most of the food was rationed by the government, meat was in very short supply,  many places denied.. with the majority people earning as little as thirteen dollars a month.

Barely four hours apart on a plane, Christian’s world and mine were vastly different. My regular conversations about travelling seemed out of place here. When I told him I was going to New York the following week, he could only look at me in awe. He has never even left the island. I instantly regretted mentioning the trip, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew I had the ability to travel the world; that most people did.

Havana

Havana

The first night Ilena and I went to sleep at 5 am and so continued the rest of our sleepless nights with the Cubans. During the day, we would lounge on the beach, reading a book, drinking coconuts filled with rum and of course filming. However, the interviews with the Cubans turned out to be quite fruitless. Most would easily talk about their sex appeal, sabor and the love of life and women, but when it came time for something more controversial, they grew uncomfortable. A bunch of lifeguards told me off camera that while some of the Cuban men did indeed fall for the tourists, many used the opportunity to leave the country. If there was a choice between a Cuban woman and a foreigner, the foreigner always won.

At night, I wished we could have turned the camera towards ourselves. Here we were – two Canadians, out with Cubans. We were embarrassed to even mention this anyone else.  Since there was no real conversation to be had, besides translation and simple dialogue, Ilena was only interested in Mario sexually. Christian seemed interested in me as a person – constantly asking questions. However, even though I spoke Spanish, our conversation was still painful.  Most of the time, I felt like an ESL teacher, taking a vacation from my teaching job, only to be teaching again – this time for free.

The first night they took us to a rock bar where foreigners screamed along to Alanis Morisette and ACDC. Ilena and I exchanged ironic looks before reverting back to our Cubans for more kissing and ESL. We then took a stroll in a night park, as if were on a high school double-date. Next night, they met us at an outdoor bar with roses, and Christian didn’t even let me get up to get a water. He wanted to do everything for me.

Maybe I was just another tourist for him, but I felt like it meant more. The way he gently and carefully touched me, the way his eyes looked at me… In a short while I grew used to him and he started to feel more like a boyfriend. That’s vacation for you. One week and you are in a serious relationship. Was I crazy over him? No. I wish I could have felt something resembling the Franko (see Puerto Rican) attraction, but in a way I was glad. There would never be a future for this. Even if I desperately wanted it. I would not be the Canadian girl I talked about. Nor did he want anyone’s help in leaving, he mentioned.

After the fourth night together, I got into the taxi with a veil of tears covering my eyes. We were seeing each other every day now, going to different clubs to dance. I loved his attention, his touch, his affection. That night he came to see me after sleeping for three hours. He had no strength to dance, only to watch me dance and hug me to him. He called my hotel room five times before I picked up. He told me he didn’t have any money to go out, nor did he like it, that it was the only way for him to see me. He didn’t try to grope me or attempt to have sex with me for five days. They were simple things, really, but they felt romantic.

“Look at yourself” said Ilena and our new friend Anna “We should put your camera back on you. Mia, we are here for a week! He knows you are here for a limited time, you know it. How do you know he didn’t do this before?”

“But I feel that it means something more” I pleaded. I knew I would leave, but I didn’t want to feel like I was one of many.

“What do you want? To take him to Canada?”

“Of course not! I just want it to be meaningful.”

“Then it is”

On Friday, Christian was coming to pick us up to take us to his city. He came an hour early and was hanging out by the hotel in some hideously bright shirt. Apparently he had the taxi waiting for us for a whole hour, after which we switched to a communal truck full of Cubans eyeing us with interest (and the Puerto Rican towel I randomly brought with me).

204bike_riding_learningHis city was not actually a city.  Roosters and horses took over the dirt road. Kids ran around shoeless. Crowds of people lounged around gossiping. We were in a full blown Cuban village. Christian’s mother worked in the airport (and was at work when we arrived), so he was from a fairly wealthy family. Even so, the house he brought us in really left an imprint on me. Mismatched furniture, Disney Princess pillows (even though they had no kids), rusty rocking chairs on the porch, random posters, a fridge filled with cans of all sizes… Granted, he had a flat screen TV and a laptop, so I suppose he definitely was from a higher class, but it couldn’t in any way compare to the Franko’s modern condo I last visited in San Juan. The two islands were so close but miles away in terms of development.

We ate mayo filled pasta and watched the home videos of shy teenage Christian, after which we headed for the beach were he took me snorkelling just off the shore. We swam past amazing underwater corals and caves, surrounded by big fish and I at that moment I genuinely felt happy.

Maybe many Cubans were unsatisfied with their life, but at least they lived closer to the nature and were more in touch with their bodies. Sun kissed, barely dressed, with fragrant tropical air filling their nostrils. It is no wonder romance and sexuality came so easy to them.

After making out all over the beach and water region, we finally decided to head back to his place. Ilena and I knew what it would entail. We have been thinking about it the whole week. During the day, she would proudly tell me she wasn’t planning on having sex with Mario; that she didn’t see the point. One or two drinks later, she was falling into her hands and talking about ravishing his body.

So yes, we knew what was happening.

They left almost immediately under the pretence of ‘sleep’ and I nervously hung around on the porch barefoot. Chickens clucked outside, kids ran around, the warm Caribbean sun warmed my darkened skin and I felt more carefree that I had in a long time. He came out of the shower, his hair wet and a towel around his hips. His gorgeous green eyes were brightened by the sun and he looked like he should be on the cover of a magazine, except he didn’t seem aware of it. I took the shower and began putting cream on while sitting on his bed. He sat near me. Soon enough we started kissing, with Sarah Mclachlan singing in the background.

Yes, my dear readers.  He put Sarah Mclachlan on to seduce me. Ilena told me she got Celine Dion.

I wish I could describe to you just how incredibly sexy he looked at the edge of the bed, as he looked down at me. Then he was on top of me, pinning me down to bed.  As kissed my body, I couldn’t help but stare at him and the tattooed underside of his muscles. He looked sensual and impish at the same time.

However, just as he was about to come, he stopped.

I turned to him “What’s wrong?”

His eyes were red. I continued asking, until I realized what he wanted to say.

“I really like you too” I told him and he hugged me tight to him. I don’t know how I figured he wanted to say this, except the incident reminded me of Luiz (see the Portuguese). Christian told me afterwards that the moment was really intense for him and he almost couldn’t continue. I know most of you will say “what a pussy”. Maybe he was. I guess an artist and a Latin create a hyper sensitive combination. But what about the men in North America who are too scared to look desperate, to feel needy, to look anything, so they put up a tough front? What is better?

Afterwards, he wanted to show me the sunset. We ran through the village, so we wouldn’t miss the sun going down and it seemed like the entire village stared at us. I felt like I was in a chick flick, but it seemed like the whole trip could have been filmed. I suppose the all inclusive package includes the romantic encounters tailored to fit your preferences. This for me, was probably one of the most favourite parts of the trip. The feeling of freedom and youth, the sun-kissed skin, the boy at my side.cuba sunset

He hugged me from behind as we watched the sunset and told me “I think no matter what, it is important to take time to watch the sunset”. However, not only do we not watch the sunset in North America, but we hardly look up from our phones on the way to work.

After our walk, we made more pasta.

“What do you think I need to put in pasta?” he asked me.

“What do you have? Mushrooms?”

“No..”

“Tomatoes”

“No tomatoes right now.’

“Ok, well do you have olive oil?”

“Mia, you are in Cuba. Don’t forget” he smiled.

“Just give me the cheese and ham then.” I offered.

Ilena and Mario came back from their ‘sleep’ and as I ran out to greet them with “Mi casa es su casa”, Ilena announced that I was probably drunk. When we moved the furniture to dance salsa, she said Christian was drunk also. I told her I was high on life, which she used to mock me consistently from that point onward.

I stayed at his house, but Mario whose crazy mother only let him host Cuban girls, denied Ilena to spend the night. He ended up taking her back. Christian’s bed was not comfortable, but I wanted to stay with him. As we lay side by side, he told me “You know, you put life back in me? I was not doing too good but you made me feel hopeful. I don’t know what will happen, but even if I don’t see you again, I don’t ever want you to change. You are really beautiful to me.”

“Will you come say bye to me at the airport?” I asked.

“Of course” he hugged me. “Thank you for asking me”

We fell asleep to the sound of the ocean. By the ‘sound of the ocean’, I mean a sound track he plays in order to fall asleep. The guy lives near the beach and plays ocean music.

Anyways.

The next morning we went back to the hotel, where he hung out on the beach since he was not allowed to go any further. At the end, I was tired of lying in the blistering sun and kissing him every two minutes, as he would stare at me soulfully. I missed laughing with the girls and speaking fast English with lots and lots of slang!

So when he finally went home I breathed out. I needed a bit of a break!

That night Mario bailed on Ilena(with work as his excuse), making her extremely mad and cursing “My Heart Will Go On” that played from a speaker on our way to the restaurant.

“He ruined Celine Dion for me!” she mock cried.

Christian had managed to ‘get’ the money to go to a club with me (most likely from his mom, since there are no drug dealers to be had) but I told him I would meet him on the hotel beach. The poor guy came for two hours. He was burning up with a fever, but he sat by me as I practically fell asleep on his chest. He offered I go home with him, but I declined. I didn’t want him spending money he didn’t have and I loved the feel of my hotel bed.

Ilena told me she was convinced he cared for me . While she was hesitant at first, she grew to like Christian and his open feelings for me. She called us the over-the-top romantic couple or Aventura (a famous Bachata band) and said we could be annoying as hell.

He was at the airport the next day. I wrote him a letter Ilena poked fun at in the bus (since it was written in a red pen and on the pages of my girly diary..) I knew he would appreciate it, especially because I was sure he would do something similar.

Mario worked at the airport so he was there, trying to make peace with Ilena, who was starting to behave like an angry Cuban woman.

“I don’t want to talk to him!” she told me and marched right past him. But as soon as he created a separate line for us and gave her a rose over the counter, her anger began to melt. My face with a huge smile plastered on it didn’t help either. I mean the guy made a separate line for us! Some Canadians followed us, only having to move to the next one right after.

Soon after, as her and Mario were kissing and discussing the difference between shorts and pants,there was an announcement that the flight was delayed by two hours. Excited, Christian offered to go to his house. The idea was crazy, yet kind of sane, since all my luggage was already on the way.

There we were again. Chickens, children, beautiful sunset, me with my huge bag and jeans. I met his mother, who hugged me and fed me with the most fattening food ever, consisting of mayo, deep fried fat (yes), fries and a milkshake.

“If you stayed here and ate that, you would become like the rest of the Cuban girls – fat” he told me. “And then I would stop liking you!” he added as a semi joke.

my arteries!

my arteries!

His mom had beautiful light green eyes and I felt like we were all a family. With the same dark hair, green/blue eyes and tanned skin, we definitely resembled each other in a slightly creepy way. We chatted on the porch, and I even got some time along with Christian to lock the door and have sex for one last time.

I know he spent his last money on the taxi to the airport, but he wouldn’t accept my money and when time to leave arrived – he put his sunglasses on. I burst out crying in front of a customs officer who seemed to understand. I am sure I am not the only foreigner to leave Cuba in tears. After all, Cubans and foreigners is an old story.

In the airport, I opened the envelope he put into my bag and saw he gave me his ring, a letter written in Spanish and his childhood photo. These were simple gifts that didn’t involve any money, but that were made by hand and that told me he genuinely cared about me. Apparently he wanted to make me a mix CD, but even after collecting all the songs, he had to go to another city just to get the actual disk.

In North America, we have everything but it seems most of us no longer make any real effort to romance each other. Emails are replacing hand-written letters. Facebook chats are replacing emails. Downloaded songs and Youtube links are replacing CDs. We can get flowers on every street corner, deliver them with a click of a mouse and create a custom card in a minute.

But we are too lazy to pick up the phone and call someone to wish them a Happy Birthday. We don’t even need to remember it. Facebook can do both for us.

I will not say I came back enlightened, because that’s a cheesy overstatement. But at least for a little bit, before settling into my routine, I feel like I have gone back in time, back when romance was simple and direct. Back when there was no such thing as “cheesy” or “corny”. Back when we didn’t have to pretend we didn’t care or were the least interested party. Back to when you could simply enjoy the sunset and not worry about Instagraming it later.

I think the women who go to Cuba and fall for the Cubans are not pathetic or desperate, they are just tired. Tired of being independent. Tired of playing games, Tired of the coldness with which they are treated. They want to be seduced, they want to be “the one”, they want to be romanticized. Sure, in men’s opinion, women worked hard to feel independent, but at the end of the day, we all want someone to write us a beautiful romantic letter.letter-from-william-love-1923_love-family-papers001

Not a Facebook message.

 

 

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Momentary Illusion – The Puerto Rican (2013)

446011_f520An quick obsession. A quick fantasy. Then waking up.

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.

Isla Verde Beach

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.

Livin’ La Vida Loca!

“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.

Kind of like that, but with dark hair.. and no flower

Kind of like that, but with dark hair.. and no flower

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.

Old San Juan

Old San Juan

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.”

Wish granted.

Enjoy my child. But only until the morning!

Enjoy my child. But only until the morning!

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.

Feeling alive

Feeling alive

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.

3327755224_7dece8071c_b

Cobbled Stone Streets of Old San Juan

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.

Fantasy

Fantasy

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.

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Reality

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.