When I rolled into my apartment, I was hit with a feeling of total emptiness (and not just because my roommate had already gone home to Calgary for the holidays). This was an emptiness that was new to me at the time but that would become an all-too-familiar post-Cuba-feeling over the years. It felt like somebody had simultaneously hit me in the stomach with a wrecking ball, turned my skin inside out and filled me up with a frozen yet completely effective painkiller. I assumed this strange combination of extreme pain and total numbness was just a symptom of exhaustion and flopped into my bed. But every time I closed my eyes, Juan's cheshire-cat grin floated up out of the darkness. I cursed his 200 glowing teeth and waited for them to fade away so I could fade into sleep. Sleep eventually did arrive (and lasted well into the afternoon of the following day) but the visions of that ridiculously charming smile of his were not going to be wiped away so easily.
|At about 3am, the smile-visions transform from happy memories to toothy hauntings|
After a few hours of this I decided I might as well try emailing him, just to say hi, tell him that our time together honestly meant something to me, that I seriously wanted to come back. I knew that he didn't really have much access to email, just a very occasional visit to the 6CUC an hour computer at the resort. I reminded myself that he only made a few CUCs a day, that a lack of response wasn't a sign of anything other than the reality of his financial situation. That I shouldn't be surprised or hurt if I never heard from him again. That I should just enjoy the memory of him and not ruin it by hanging on.That I should...
He interrupted my thoughts with an email. A run-on sentence clearly written at top, limited-internet-access speed. He told me he'd be waiting for me, that he'd make my next trip even more perfect, that he missed me.
I jumped up happily and ran to retrieve the beach thistle from the garbage. At that point I had no idea what I should be clinging to... I just knew I wasn't ready to throw anything away.