Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Vacationship

After two and a half years, I have a hard time expressing how exactly this relationship happened. Not because I've forgotten but because I've learned to downplay it. One thing you learn very early on when you're involved with a Cuban is that no matter how special you think your relationship is, no matter how unique and real and storybook-romance perfect it feels, nobody will believe in it. You learn to either preface it with apologies and admissions of all the possible worst-case scenarios or not talk about it all. No matter how love-struck you feel, if you want to avoid people giving you 'just trying to help' advice, you learn to appear logical and detached. The strange thing is, for me, in the beginning I didn't think I was particularly love-struck. 

I have always been the type to fall madly in love at first sight. I go crashing in and out of relationships with equal speed and intensity (and in both cases, usually while drunk). But with Juan (in no way his real name) it was different, I liked him...that we had established. And after we'd established that, we'd found a few more things we liked about each other in my hotel room. By the end of the trip, we had taken a scooter out to tour the area and search for flamingos, we'd joked around and made fun of each other a lot, we'd drank and danced and danced and drank, fallen asleep while cuddling, gone out to a paladar and eaten a meal of something, to this day, I can only describe as disconcertingly-creamy-ham. But the sum total of all this, in my mind, did not in any way equal love.

The remainders of the creamed ham meal
As we ate our final meal together, the aforementioned creamed-meat, watching the clock to make sure I got back in time for my airport bus, we talked about how we both wanted to see each other again. I told him I wanted to see Havana, that I wanted to see it with him. He said he'd go wherever I wanted to go as long as he got to be with me. I told him I didn't want us to make stupid promises, that I wanted us to be friends because I knew that lovers must come and go quickly for him but that friendship could last. He agreed that we should be friends, good friends, best friends even. I got him to write his email address and phone number down and gave him mine. I laughed at myself as I did and said to him 'You'll never call me will you?' He just smiled and grabbed my notebook again, wrote something inside and told me not to read it until I was on the plane.

Back at the resort, I hurried around saying goodbye to the bartenders, the wait-staff, my housekeeper, the gardeners, the life-guards, the band, the DJ, the dancers, the entertainment crew, telling everyone how much I'd miss them and how I'd be back soon. I saved my final goodbye for Juan (I repeat, not his real name in any way). We ducked behind a tree to hug, he reached down beside a flower bush and plucked, not a flower but, a dirty, dried-up weed from underneath it to tuck behind my ear...I cracked up and told him, with real confidence, that I'd be back soon. Then I got on the bus.

As soon as I got to my seat, I opened the notebook to see what he'd written. Just one, simple, misspelled sentence "I can't tell you 'I love you' bot I'll mess you". I immediately started crying as realized, just a little bit, that he may have already messed me.

The most romantic 'I don't love you' letter I've ever received