I can easily begin this story by pinpointing it back to that night when I met Esteban at that hole in the wall bar in – oh the famous city of – Hialeah. But no. My story began the day I understood what it meant to like a boy and its consequences. I was a little girl, can’t even remember what age, some time between 4th and 5th grade. I had discovered what it was to have my first crush, and oh boy was I in for a lifetime of disappointment. Men, I have come to terms with this realization, are not from Mars. They are nothing different from women, not made of a different material, not even privy of the knowledge of speaking a different language than us women. They don’t have big eyes and antennae, or funny looking bodies with long fingers and protruding bellies. No, men are just that, men, and there is no better way to describe it. They are that ever infallible tool to manipulate me into a metamorphosis of myself, into the never ending discovery that I am in fact, well, a fool.
When I am in love I turn into this all pleasing, all insecure bundle of nothing, that falls into pieces with the tiniest stimulus of a word. And please do not take lightly the word stimulus, I mean that in the most basic description of that word. They turn me into a stimulus-reactive junkie. It reminds me even of that common sight of a drill sergeant and a private: “Drop down and give me twenty!” And I – the stimulus-reactive junkie – drops down and gives him 25. Because oh I will never, EVER ( in Orlando’s famous Mara impersonation) be good enough for any of them. I know, I know, my dearest reader, you are probably thinking right now, “oh girl you are just preaching to the choir!”. And yes, that is exactly what I’m doing, preaching to the damn choir, that I, this woman of 35 with the mind of a 13 year old is, plainly and simple, the only culprit of all my men problems. I know this. I have to look at myself in the mirror everyday. But I ask you, no, I beg you, just sit down, and hear me out for a minute will ya? I will immerse you into the journey of my thousand men troubles and the why I can’t blame not one of them.
Let’s begin my fairytale with the ever famous words once upon a time…in a land, not far away at all, for I was born in Cuba, there was this little girl that loved her father dearly. I still love my father, yes, but now he’s a stranger that lives with my mom. I loved my father with devotion. He was the light of my days, my friend, my hero, and the terror inducing monster of my experience with men. I would have done, and still would do anything to make my father proud. But as soon as the word “boy” came around I realized that it was only the beginning of my nightmares. My father was very strict. So strict I would rather hammer my own toes than to bring a boyfriend home. I was afraid, no wait, I was terrified the first time I brought Lucas home.
Lucas: men problem number 1.
Lucas was a dream come true. The violin player, with honey curled hair and eyes like still light green water, and the Snow White skin with rosy cheeks and lovely lips. And oh yes, he liked me. Me? The ugly duckling? Me the skinny twig with no ass no boobs, big ears and crooked teeth? Oh but I was in heaven the first time Lucas kissed me. Now, Lucas was not my first kiss. I had had a less than half an hour make out session with a boy from middle school whose presence in my life was as flighty as the kissing session. So Lucas liked me. Oh me, oh my! Him, the violin god, every girl’s dream, the mystic boy that would sit nonchalantly in a bench at the park at the age of 17, and speak of Vivaldi, and Borges and good lord help me, of Ella Fitzgerald. Lucas was my haunting dream for years, and the reason why I traveled back to my hometown twice after I migrated with the hope of finding him again. And find him I did. But Lucas was/is a melancholic soul, troubled child of a broken home, dependent of his mothers every breath and word.
Trouble number 1.
If I am not your every waking hour obsession I am not happy. I, the stimulus-reactive junkie, have to feel a man’s undivided attention, full blown adoration and no less than worshipping love towards me at all times, or else I will be your biggest Hollywood’s drama queen. Yes, I NEED you, simple mortal man to tell me that you love me every second of the day. Because the second you miss a beat I will fall into this down spiraling insecurity tornado that will crush my bones, my soul and yours too.
So here I am terrified of telling my father the four most dreaded words: I have a boyfriend. Duck under the table, run for your life, your soul is going to burn in hell, I have a boyfriend. And the boyfriend lasted all but a month. My poor father. I’m sure he was just as terrified as I was. Here was his little girl telling him she likes a boy, and damn him he’s just going to take her away. But he didn’t.
I – have also come to terms with this fact – was Lucas’ worst nightmare. I was the biggest bitch Lucas would have in his life. I was mean, and cruel and manipulative. I led him to believe for years he was my soul mate. And maybe he was, but I’m too young to realize that still. And after I left Cuba, Lucas fell into what can only be described as a depression, all because of me, the ugly duckling. For this Lucas , I ask – as I have before – your forgiveness. I was young, stupid, immature and didn’t recognize the difference between loving someone and being in love. For this Lucas , I ask you don’t hate me for the rest of your life, as I don’t deserve any feelings from you. None. Not even hate.
To be continued…