I was walking around the center of my strange city. I had told my mother I was going out to have a beer. When really I was just wanting to see what all was out in this city on a Tuesday night. I had already been surprised by a large handful of friends earlier that day, people I hadn’t necessarily thought of seeing. It had been great to see all these people that had spent that last four years dancing through my memories and dreams. And to suddenly have them in my present was a thought I just hadn’t found a way to wrap my head around. In the moment, I wasn’t sure where I was going, or if a beer would actually be involved in my night at all. But somewhere, there was something about to happen, I could just feel it, this warm sensation of excited nerves simmered inside me. Then I heard something that pulled my from my daze in this strange city. It was my own name. But who was calling it? I turned my head to focus my eyes on an image that shocked me so much, that I would have been less shocked to see my dead friend Kim standing there. It was a vision of my past. A person who had passed through my thoughts at least a hundred times. A man. Someone who had put his finger print in my thoughts about men when I was sixteen. We’ll call him Jose. He was my english teacher in the high school when I had been an exchange student in this strange city. He was teaching me how to say “Hello. How are you?” in my own language. At the time he had been so friendly, and I remember thinking he was adorable. His pale skin was close to matching mine, except it had an olive twist to it, a different tinge of pale. And his eyes weren’t the usual dark chocolate brown that I had become used to seeing in this strange city. They sparkled a light brown that was amazing and delicate that I couldn’t help but smile. We were talking outside of the class room one day and he cocked his head to the side and smiled at me. I smiled back. I remember thinking how friendly he was. It wasn’t it till he reached up and brushed an eye lash from cheek with his thumb that I felt my stomach jump, I knew he somehow felt similar to the way that I did. And then in that moment he said something I had only days before dreamt about hearing “Would you want to go out sometime?” Was he serious? Looking in his eyes I realized he was. “You’re kidding right?” was all I could think to say. I mean sure I’d thought about it, but he’s old, and I’m not. “Yes, come on. I am young. I am 26 years old!” Okay buddy that’s not that young, I remember thinking then. “I’m only 16!” I squeaked back. And that was essentially the end of that. For the rest of the year I avoided his class, I just plain skipped it, I had been so creeped out that I couldn’t even look at him without my skin crawling.
Well as I said to him then, I was only sixteen. And now, well I’m older, and a bit more experienced in life. Over the past few years I laughed at my younger self, wishing she could have seen that ten years difference isn’t as much as it might have seemed at the time. I didn’t ever expect to see that man again.
But now, when I was standing only feet away from him in this strange city. My eyes popped out of my head and I couldn’t help but laugh. “Lee! It is so good to see you!” I couldn’t even bring to words how funny it was to see him. I had kicked myself for letting the ten years keep me from liking him. And here he was standing in front of me. I knew that I had five weeks to see what could maybe happen with him. So with his invitation to join him and his teacher friends I followed him into a restaurant, we had drinks and chatted a bit. It only took twenty minutes and I realized nothing special would happen with this man. I wasn’t certain though, so I told him I needed to leave, and asked that he walk me home. After a few minutes of being persistent, he agreed but said he would drive me, and we would walk to his car. His car was halfway home for me, and walking with him was nice. He was conveniently parked near my first host family’s house, and I hadn’t been there yet, so I stopped for a moment to take it in, it was weird being back there. And had I not been with Jose I would have gone and rang the door bell. Jose pulled me over to where he was standing at his car. He placed his hands on my hips, and already I knew what was going to happen. I smiled for a moment looking at him. I knew after he dropped me off at home, I wouldn’t see him again, and I simply shrugged. He pulled me toward him so that our faces were inches away from each other. Our noses touched. I placed my hands on his chest to steady myself, and then in one moment, he kissed me. A voice went off in my head said to me “I’m baaack.” Kissing this man in front of me was just like being seventeen all over again. I had kissed so many people so many times in hopes of building something, of filling some void for my insecure seventeen year old self. But now at twenty-one with no void to fill, and my security intact, I pulled away from him, smiled, and then walked around to the other side of the car, and climbed in, then quickly got out of the car after thanking him when he reached my house. I came to Mexico to find the girl I used to be, the fun, crazy, cocky, arrogant little girl hoping to make it out of this adventure alive, when all I really found was that that little girl had grown up.