I can find the place in bits and pieces, now. It is when I am driving mostly -- driving or riding or looking at stars. We were so much in motion that summer.
Over curves and off of cliffs I almost believed, my stomach lurching before I learned to control myself, eyes straight ahead in spite of the lap beneath me. Six teenagers squashed into a Geo with only a rolling road of jungle and mountain ahead. We rolled past great green and grey stretches of tropical landscape and over miles of melting pavement, smothered in the wetness of the air. Little pink houses and windows without glass; large women and men with cigars riding horses, all tanned to a crackling brown.
I loved it especially at night when we could talk our driver into leaving the windows open, the AC off. The wind could whip through the stars that didn’t seem so far away just then, and we were floating. The moistness dissipated out to the sea, leaving us cool and calm. We were singing through that nighttime without words, and the silence and melody brought us together.
I remember talking with you one night on the roof, after everybody else had gone to sleep or back to the cabana for a drink. You had a flashlight and you gave me the tour of the stars that you remembered from your planetarium days.
You told me about your family, your lover far away at home, your life. I told you mine.
I think you told me more about me than about you, though. Your Christian ways saw through my pagan ones to find the sameness underneath, and while I shocked you more than once you never questioned, only listened for more, for the introspection to come and the thoughts that were all too familiar. Our hearts were the same even then.
Another summer, two years past, I am rolling over the hills of your New England home and I understand at last why the Puerto Rican landscape never made you carsick. You were raised with much, much worse.
I stand beside my lover in a grove in the woods and watch you take your lover’s hands. She has pushed back her veil and you are singing to each other. You had told me about this part. All of our conversations of so long ago come back to me, as does the sound of frogs and night-time and traveling. I have traveled a long way to be here, much longer than just the miles. And you came with me all the way.
The joy inside me is overwhelming, and I am constantly dabbing at tears. This came out just the way you’d wanted, albeit just a tiny bit harder than you’d planned. I daresay that I can say the same.
She is all you had told me that she would be.
Heading back for home, I close my eyes and let my lover take the wheel. I imagine I am back there and that the hills and curves are that much closer to what I know, smelling the salt of the ocean that has long since been washed from my skin. I watch your smile play across your lips, momentarily content, and lull myself to sleep with a Spanish lullaby.
Perhaps I am all you had told me that I could be as well.