Monday, June 11, 2007

Two weeks from today -- God willing, si Dios quiere, inshallah -- I will be in Santo Domingo with Andre. I'm thinking back to our time together in mid-March to early April. So I wrote this long stream of consciousness, which I will be brave (or foolish) enough to share with you:

Andre, I can never forget all our great memories together and I look forward to a whole month this time... Remember the little fruit juice place where that crazy guy said you don't look like a Haitian because Haitians are so ordinario. I still can’t believe they leave up graffiti that says "Haitians go home" and no one paints over it... And walking along the tide pools at the beach near Cabarete where Maya pranced and played and rode horses the week we met Khadija and her daughters and Hubert... The guy who acted like you must have hit me or something after we saw Maya's puppies and I couldn't stop crying and you had to explain the whole story to him... Cramming into guaguas (vans) and laughing every time we stopped and more people miraculously crammed in too... And that crazy ride in the back of the truck up the curvy mountain road with 20 others, including the cute little girl, her very young dad and her very fat grandmother and everyone's baggage. You were the nervous one, but at least I didn't sit up on the edge of the truck... Getting ripped off by taxi drivers whenever we forgot to ask the price first, because foreigners get special rates -- and you were guilty by association... Getting rude service at the panaderia (bakery) -- they're rude to everyone, not just foreigners -- and leaving empty-handed on principle and worrying you would be mad at me for preventing you from enjoying the best bread in Santo Domingo, but instead you told me I did the right thing... Making you sleep in the noisiest hotel on the whole island, right beside the cantina, with the stinky bathroom and the radio that came on with a switch... Riding horses to the waterfall with Don Manuel and little Antony and you being too chicken to get under the waterfall, but making me do it over and over again until you figured out how to use the video camera... Agreeing that the fish soup, mofongo (mashed plantains) and that creamy weird tropical fruit smoothie called zapote (mamey) were the best things on the menu at Gran Jimenoa, even though you normally prefer the meat and fries which I don't... Teaching you ping pong for the first time and watching you get better and better. You claiming you already knew how to shoot pool (which I find hard to believe since you didn't know how to hold the cue stick or rack the balls), but watching you get better and better at that too... Watching you do your 100 push-ups every morning, 10 or 20 at a time, while I did my stretches... Keeping you at the racquetball courts in Santo Domingo for hours after you were already exhausted, because I still wanted to play everybody. Then running through the pouring rain at night to the crowded bus stop where the guaguas were too full to stop for more passengers, so we waited forever, drenched and tired, and still you loved me... Climbing the crazy abandoned house on the hilltop above Constanza where we had a bird's eye view of the whole valley... You picking up a basketball game on the street with the biggest boy and me getting to watch you move and sweat and impress me... Me losing it in the apartment on the Conde when you proudly presented me with a brand new skin-tight hootchie mama outfit. And how I actually learned to wear it and feel good about myself after all. How smart you were and how insecure I was... My weight is up again and I'm feeling like crap again. It's amazing how dependent my mood is on my weight. Or maybe my weight fluctuates depending on my mood. Which came first: the chicken or the egg?... And driving around the streets of Santo Domingo at night in Hubert's rental car and we're all going crazy with Nena's chu (left) chi (straight) cha (right) directions and Hubert's wild stories and Antonia laughing hysterically and me videotaping the whole thing and you just being you, sweet and mellow and happy... And that most memorable 50th birthday which began running hand-in-hand through the empty early morning streets of Sosua, then jogging on the deserted beach, accompanied by a friendly dog, and ending the day with a Passover seder with 200 Jews including my good friends Robin and Joe and all those kids... And me having to pass out Maya's memorial programs to everyone who she met in August. And you not sure how to console a grieving mother, but letting me do what I had to do... And taking pictures of ourselves everywhere we went so the U.S. Immigration Services will believe that we really are a couple and not just another desperate Haitian trying to get a ticket out of poverty... Climbing around the old fort along the river in the Colonial Zone and you asking me to photograph you with the tanks and jeeps and telling me how you'd always dreamed of being in the U.S. military and me telling you how I'm a total pacifist, but if that's your dream you should do it and you saying that you couldn't do it now because you wouldn't want to be separated from me... And that amazing Sancocho soup, tostones (fried plantain) and chinola (passion fruit) juice that Doña Edi prepared for us. And Margarita's son the doctor wishing he could wake up speaking perfect English and you wondering what kind of doctor he is... And using public internet cafes and still writing each other even though we were side by side... And inviting 14 friends to Pizza Hut my last night so I could say goodbye to everyone at once... And running around the Botanic Gardens with Antonia and Nena, the wild and crazy police officers that Maya and I met at the caves back in August, and acting all silly and taking my favorite photographs of us... And that first moment when I came down from room #7 at El Beaterio, fearing that the Haitian desk clerk had not understood me and told you to go away instead of come up, wondering if it were my lack of Spanish or his, and then seeing you there in the lobby and knowing it was right and perfect and I was so glad I'd traveled so far and done something so crazy and risky. That first hug eliminated all my doubts... Taking turns washing our clothes in the hotel room sink and hanging them out to dry on the windy rooftop with a view into the neighboring courtyard... Meeting Junior for the first time and liking him so much, which made me love you even more for having such good taste in friends. Meeting your cousin Patricio for the first time at the buffet breakfast and hanging out with him for an hour or two while you went to the Haitian embassy, hoping your passport was ready, but getting another disappointment instead. Patricio told me that he's noticed a change in you and knows you're in love and he seemed to feel good about my intentions and my sincerity. Because no one who loves you wants some older, white American woman to come down for a good time and then leave you. And I loved how everyone who knows you cares so much about you and they all assured me that I had found a good man. Your neighbors Miguelina and Leiny especially. Because women know. We've all suffered with men we shouldn't have given ourselves and our hearts to. So they know how lucky I am to have found you, how lucky we are to have found each other... And jogging around the Plaza de España with other joggers in the early morning before the sun has a chance to get going full force, and stretching and doing cartwheels afterwards, just to be sure I could still do them... And sitting at the corner table of that nearly empty romantic restaurant and listening to that Dominican guy sing gospel music in English because he thought we were both Americans... And you making friends with all the children in the streets and with little Ernesto on the bus ride to Salcedo and me thinking what a great father you'll be someday... And going to the Maribal Museum and having the great luck of meeting 82-year-old and still stunningly beautiful Dede, the only Maribal sister to survive Trujillo's assassins. I'd already read In the Time of the Butterflies, the most famous book on the subject, so I bought two others, which Dede autographed... And playing volleyball near the surfing school on Cabarete beach, also on my memorable 50th birthday. I didn't feel old that day at all. You made me feel young and happy and alive and optimistic about my next 50 years with you... And me and my sunburn and silly sandals that made me trip and heat rash and reading glasses and you still loved me... And walking hand in hand through the streets and stopping to kiss and nobody even caring that we are the oddest couple ever: first world-third world, black-white, old-young. And me worrying that you would be shorter than me, and you letting me worry that you'd be shorter than me, but instead we look each other eye-to-eye. I know how high you can reach because I can reach the same height. Even our feet are the same size...

And then I wrote some mushy, romantic stuff that I won't repeat in a public blog. And this isn't even half our memories. I'm wondering how long the list will be after three months... or three years... or three decades! Wouldn't that be something, if we were still together (and still alive) when I'm 80 and Andre's a dashing 60?

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