July 13, 2015

Taking Out The Bullet (Or How To End A Love Story)

Memories may be more real than reality.

Santiago, Chile.

The first two mornings I ate breakfast and talked to the maid. In the afternoons I took a bus and rode the metro to Bella Vista to walk around and look at the city and the people, Chileans smoking and talking and kissing on park benches and in cafes, restaurants, shops, Chileans working and living and breathing the thick mass of smog hovering over everything. When she got off work we'd have dinner and talk, go to her room or mine and kiss and talk some more and fall asleep.

The third morning she was crying. She told me about a feeling of being choked, of being trapped. She couldn´t sleep. I held her hand and said: whatever you need.

We left for Valparaíso.

The sky was clear and cold. We talked about travel and American politics and when we arrived we took pictures, rode the funicular up a steep hill and checked into the hostel. We ate big bowls of soup for lunch with whitefish and mussles at a restaurant on a hill by the port. The boats bobbed while docked in the cold gray water, the sky and clouds now cold and gray too.

We met Felipe and Felipe at a restaurant at the bottom of the giant hill near the center of town. We ordered a carafe of fresh juice and wine and played cards. Felipe told us a story: he fell in love, with an Israeli, and it lasted six weeks. The Israeli left for Argentina and it broke Felipe´s heart. We drank more. Played cards. We ordered another carafe. We started talking about sex and the other Felipe told us a story: he had sex, an orgy, with five other guys and it was completely different from the pleasure of being with just one person. We drank. Talked. We ordered another carafe. Felipe and Felipe smoked from a machine that vaporized pot. Me and Jose were drunk, Felipe and Felipe were drunk and high too. We drank more and I waited for Jose to squeeze my leg, to put her arm under mine, to kiss me on the lips, on the cheek, to show Felipe and Felipe, no, we´re not just friends but fanatically in love, a love you only have overseas and over time, a love that waits, a love that can never change. We split the bill, walked up the steep hill. I passed out on the bed while Jose sat on the floor and drank mate, cup after cup of mate.

We came back to Santiago a day early. I moved to a hostel and the next day Jose brought me my bag.

I walked to the top of Cerro de San Cristóbal where a giant white statue of la virgen, eyes cast down, looms over the city. I walked down the hill as the sun sat, the lights of Santiago emerging like illuminated pinholes in an ink-black pincushion.

She told me an expression once: it´s better to take out the bullet then to never know how it may have turned out.

I can´t say I believe this. I really don´t know if I believe this.

But we took out the bullet.

Now it´s over.

Three years ago we walked to a street corner in the zócalo in Mérida, Mexico. It was night, our last night after ten intense days and nights together. I hailed a cab, put my bag in the trunk and looked at her and hugged her, kissed her, a long kiss, before saying goodbye.