Puerto Escondido was a fishing village and surfing spot, but I did neither. The waves were so unnerving that I didn’t even go into the ocean. Everything unnerved me. On the beach, young boys sold roasted iguanas to eat. On the land next to our hut, two horses grazed, often with enormous erections, while I lay in the hammock smoking Mexican cigarettes, trying not to look.
Before I arrived, we had written letters, mine attempting to be literary, sexy and romantic, sent to the general-delivery mail list in towns he would be passing through; his a travelogue of meals he’d eaten, markets he’d visited, people he’d met, sketches of birds and a wooden box he was carving. I’d scan his words in a rush, hoping for something that would make my heart pound, and was always disappointed. On one of his prearranged calls from a pay phone, he’d said, “I like your letters a lot, but I can’t talk that way.”
I didn’t talk that way myself; I was just trying to poke something out of him, some sign that I held him in some thrall. I was smart, sure, and could come up with a zinger in the moment, and could even be considered arresting in a Virginia Woolf-ish way, but I didn’t feel dazzling. I needed him to be dazzled.
Because he — jeez Louise, everybody seemed to want him. From the minute he set foot on campus, it seemed everyone knew who he was. An art major, he was talented enough to score a grad-student sculpture studio as a sophomore. You’d see him riding his bike around town, seated casually erect, hands on his strong thighs or dangling gracefully at his sides. Nobody looked that good on a bike. And the way his hair fell across his beautiful face.
This was who I had come to Mexico to be with, and I felt that in his heart — well, I wasn’t sure what was in his heart, but I knew I was too hapless to be loved. I couldn’t even bring myself to order my own food when we went to a restaurant. Sitting at a table printed with a cerveza logo, I’d nod for him to order for me. Whatever he ordered, I barely ate.
I was hungry but not. I was the queen of constipation, not just my insides but my whole being. Life after college was supposed to get bigger, and I had traveled 2,000 miles so mine could shrivel into a hard little turd.