Fifty nights, six months and a romance – that was my plan. A romance destined to teach me a language; a romance for a time, limited until the end of summer, a summer love with purpose. Inasmuch as it would evolve into one. But that’s exactly what appealed to me and that’s what I would know after my deadline.
Das Dating 3.0 – Die Zukunft des Dating
Das Dating 3.0 – Die Zukunft des Dating
Is it possible to enter into a relationship that only serves the purpose of bringing me closer to a language and immersing me in all its details? And based on this very contract? Can you find a partner who will go along with something like that? Someone who knows their time will be up at a certain point and is still willing to commit to this relationship?
It all started with a blog
And with two men as well as a truth that spread faster than I would have liked. And my desire to finally master perfect Spanish. It was the first day of April, it was getting warmer on Mallorca, the days were getting longer and the spring fever was awakening. After spending much of the winter in Germany pursuing projects there, I began to devote my time more to the island again – the island and its people.
I have always had a weakness for men and especially for how to wrap them around my finger. Likewise, making “more” out of a passion has almost become a tradition in my life. And thus was born the idea for what would clearly shape the rest of my summer: a dating blog.
So night after night I met Spaniards, Mallorcans and now and then tourists, engaged in the same conversations over and over again, sat in the same cafés and told everyone the same things about myself: my name is Hera Delgado, I’m a bondage artist, I live polyamory – that’s as far as I rarely got, because for most of my dates that was adventurous enough; hardly anyone had been confronted with one of my attitudes in their life so far.
For each evening, I arranged to meet a different man…
About each date I wrote a short video, which I put online, but increasingly I got the impression to tell the same story every day and began to get bored, almost wanted to give up my blog – until I had my date with Pedro.
Pedro was Mallorcan, young, attractive, personable and with a firm point of view of his own. I met him on Tinder. While many of the men who had appeared on my screen also disappeared from it just as quickly, I lingered on the image of him for moments. Actually, with his brown hair and hazel eyes, he didn’t match my type at all, as I always professed to prefer fair hair, skin and eyes.
Still, he was undeniably handsome. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much else about him. So I got all prettied up, put on my makeup, got in the car and looked forward to our meeting. He had invited me to his house for a coffee – when I arrived at my destination, I asked myself, as I often do in Spain, which of the letter and number combinations on the doorbell was his. Anyway, different countries, different customs, I said to myself….
Pedro was a very accommodating and attentive person
At the door he greeted me, led me through his apartment to the sofa, where I made myself comfortable with a blanket. Even if during the day it got steadily milder in Mallorca, the nights were still quite cool so that in the evenings, one was still cold indoors. I noticed right away that he had a very nice apartment, everything was extremely neat and I felt quite comfortable. We spent the evening having interesting conversations about Spanish culture and lifestyle. I enjoyed having such conversations where I got an insight into other customs and not least this was also a part of my project. So he learned about me, my lifestyle, and my ways of thinking, as did the many others I had dated before him. About how I felt it was a character flaw to live in a country and not know its language. That I loved diving for my life and enjoyed the weightlessness under water.
I told him how excited I was about being out of the ordinary and how I liked being around people with different approaches to life. And just like those before, his reaction to the subject of polyamory – a form of relationship in which multiple love relationships coexist simultaneously – was rather dismissive and disturbed, his whole demeanor towards me that evening primarily distant and cool in nature, but not in an unpleasant way.
I had a hard time overall assessing whether he was interested in me as a woman in general, and that in turn piqued my interest. I liked him with his determined and assertive manner, the prominent chin whose skin began to ripple as soon as he thought hard, and a burning curiosity about everything that was different from what he knew. With his curiosity about me. In him I saw the possibility of having found someone for my project. So I would have to make a bit of an effort, I was nowhere near pulling out all the stops.
After a while, there was a spark between the two of us…
We eventually met up again, spent time together, went on a few typical first dates and got used to each other. Our mutual sympathy grew.
A few days had passed, I was just sitting relaxed with a coffee alone in the city, when I suddenly received a message: “Mallorca is small”.
Many thanks to Anne G. Sabo’s book presentation “After Pornified – How women are transforming pornography” for inspiring us.
The sender of this message was Juan, also a Spaniard, whom I had met in the course of my blogging. I wondered why he was writing me right now, because he had not been at all pleased that I sent him a link to my blog after our date, and a little later he had all but cut off contact with me. He had been the first person I really liked, and his bright green eyes, which were all too often surrounded by laugh lines, had left a very special impression on me. I loved green eyes.
At about the same time, I received a message from Pedro, in which he now hurled the same accusations at me that Juan had already hurled at me, and cancelled our date for the same evening. He called me dishonest for withholding the fact that I was going to record a video of our date. I, on the other hand, was looking for the authentic reactions, which made it virtually impossible for me to tell the men about it in advance. I didn’t want to misrepresent her behavior.
Depressed, I agreed with Juan that Mallorca was far too small and everyone was somehow connected through third parties – including these two men – so there were virtually no secrets on the island.
Pedro and Juan – two men with interesting characters
Pedro had found out about my date with Juan and my blog through just such a connection and was now pissed. I tried in relative vain to calm him down – which I hardly succeeded in doing, but at least I managed to convince him to meet me at least one last time. A meeting to give me a chance to explain myself to him. It was the only thing left for me to do – I had grown too fond of him to lose him in this way: through concealment and unspoken accusations. I wanted to at least come clean with him before we lost sight of each other for good. I had never liked letting people go out of my life like that.
I went to see him in the evening. We argued heatedly, me trying to explain myself to him, desperately laying out my reasons and him making his opinion all too clear as his chin began to quiver with anger. From that I could tell he was really upset. I relented several times, actually sympathizing with his view of things and feeling guilty. Not unintentionally I finally pressed the tear gland a bit more than probably necessary – the day had hit me emotionally very hard as well – and my tears softened him, so that he finally took me in his arms.
He asked me what would become of us, a question that even if I could have, I would not have been willing to answer. I’m a relationship anarchist and I don’t label relationships. It would be too hard to know where a relationship begins, to where it is pure friendship, and what makes a relationship one. Sex? Feelings? Everyday life together? For me, I definitely can’t answer that question clearly enough, so I’ve left that concept behind.
When it came to sexual compatibility, we were miles apart…
Despite everything, or maybe because of everything that had happened that day, we found ourselves in his bed. Although this would probably never have happened under normal circumstances, I still didn’t care at that moment. What had happened would probably come between us from now on anyway and I still wanted to enjoy this last moment. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. Figuratively speaking, it was like I was sitting at the North Pole and he was sitting at the South Pole. We were as far apart sexually as was somehow possible – if I wanted to run, he stopped and if he ate, I wasn’t hungry. While he kept going to the right, I ran faster and faster to the left.
Yes, probably the bad feeling I got during that was also due to our weird previous argument, but we were both all too aware that we were absolutely not suited for each other in that respect and probably never would be. But he surprised me by saying: “Yes, it is always difficult at the beginning, you have to adjust to each other first”. While he looked over at me from the other side of the bed with a contrite look so under his tousled hair, hope sprouted in me.
Perhaps for the time being there should be a beginning and not an end.
So there it was: the relationship I had been looking for all the last weeks and which I had almost not thought possible to find with Pedro. It was still difficult for me to judge what kind of interest he had in me, although I was sure by now that he was interested. Until now, however, his true motives have remained a mystery to me – a mystery that I set myself the task of fathoming. Finally, the time was ripe; it was Monday evening, a busy day was behind me and yet I looked forward with curiosity to the rest of the day, my first night with Pedro. I felt a bit queasy, in the end I was not quite sure that I would stay, but the attraction of the new and unknown overwhelmed me.
When I walked through the door to his apartment at 10pm, he asked me if I had eaten yet. For a Spaniard this was surely a normal and quite legitimate question, but I made it clear to him very quickly that I thought it was more than a little late for dinner – despite the fact that I hadn’t really been able to get much into my stomach all day.
Examining me, he eyed me with a piercing stare and disappeared into the kitchen with the curt announcement, “We’re eating now.” Inwardly, I heaved a sigh of relief and resignedly sat down on a chair at the round dining table. After all, I was in Spain and these were the usual meal times for a Spaniard. That being said, I knew how to behave when I was visiting someone.
He seemed very assertive and I didn’t like that about him at all…
A short time later Pedro returned from the kitchen with two plates of pasta. He seemed in a good mood and didn’t seem to have found anything unusual about my previous behavior. I asked him for a liqueur to go with the meal, he opened himself a bottle of red wine. “No,” he replied merely, “this is nothing to eat. You can have water or wine, everything else is later.” Now it was my turn to look at him searchingly. Incredulous that he had actually just said that, I decided to get a water. I was always dissatisfied.
Suddenly he stepped up beside me, set his wine glass down on the table next to me, and held out a glass of water. “This is my seat, you sit over there,” he instructed, pointing to the chair across from me. Sullenly, I got up, walked over, sat down, and began to eat in silence. By a hair’s breadth, I chose to head straight back to the door instead.
This is not at all how I had imagined it. I raged inside, but kept my calm on the outside. No one had dared to speak to me like that for years – he patronized me like a child and that absolutely did not suit me. No human being in this world had the right to tell me what I should and should not do.
It must have been quite a while when he finally asked me if everything was all right with me. Determined, I swallowed my anger, wrestled with myself, and replied to him that it didn’t matter.
Did I want to stay with him or get the hell out?
I had used the time of our silence to clarify some things for myself. How far was I willing to go? Was I determined enough to step out of my own comfort zone? If I were to take on this project, it was either all or nothing: if, I also had to completely immerse myself in Spanish culture – late dinners, disgusting sobrassada, coffee in the middle of the night and strange female image included.
And yes, it was me. My desire to learn this language had brought me to this project in the first place and even these adversities would not be able to hold me back.
Later that evening, as I was heading to the bathroom to get ready for bed, I realized I had forgotten to bring a toothbrush. For me it had not been really clear anyway whether I would stay with him or not.
From one of the cupboards Pedro took out a new, still packed toothbrush for me. It was bright green, not quite my color, but it was for me now. Teeth brushed, I finally snuggled into bed, Pedro close to me.
I felt a little uncomfortable with it, so it came that I slept the whole night rather restlessly and left the next morning quite overtired with him. I had left the green toothbrush neatly and hardly overlooked on his sink – it still belonged to him and not to me.
Six months of relationship still lay ahead, was he aware of that?
My next night with Pedro was not long in coming. A few days later, I was already driving from home towards my favorite sushi place. Knowing well that Pedro also loved sushi, I had suggested that he come to our meeting with his favorite food, hoping to please him and develop stronger bonds with me. I wanted to strengthen the relationship with him, because I already noticed that he seemed to be missing something in our relationship.
I also instinctively wondered if he was already aware of this too. I fervently hoped that this feeling would soon dissipate. After all, there was still almost half a year of this relationship ahead of us. But already in the run-up there were discussions again: he only wanted certain sushi from his favourite shop, but I wanted to buy it where I liked it best. Once again we were on the verge of clashing and before I was even really with him my mood was deteriorating. I still bought sushi where I wanted it – either he would eat it or he wouldn’t.
Irritated and with a grim look Pedro opened the door for me. Behind him, I saw a pile of papers lying on his usually neat dining room table, creating a hopeless mess in his apartment. He himself looked rumpled in a way that wasn’t quite tangible, his hair standing on end, his t-shirt rumpled, and his face looking kind of wrinkled.
“Are you okay?”, I actually asked him a little worried. Pedro immediately started swearing and getting upset; he had been in the middle of his tax return when I had just arrived, his head was still full of numbers and his mood was really bad. I swallowed, wondering what the evening had in store. A rather grim thought. I would come to know many more sides of him that night that I had hoped would be more hidden from me.
I didn’t want to mess up his kitchen without being asked.
Quite hurriedly I crawled into the kitchen to prepare the sushi, as anxious as possible to let the still grouchy Spaniard arrive with his thoughts in the here and now. He would probably just need a moment to himself first.
But even as we ate, Pedro maintained his bad mood, as if clinging to it; he talked about how terrible his work had been and brought home all his problems. I was a little disappointed about that. I had assumed that my coming was to get him out of his hole and be an all too welcome break from the dreary daily grind for him. He, on the other hand, sank deeper and deeper into his bad temper and it took me a great deal of effort before he smiled for the first time that evening.
As Pedro began cleaning up after dinner, washing dishes and finishing his tax return, I asked him if there was anything else I could do. I didn’t yet dare to mess around in his household without being asked, everything was still too fresh between us for that. He instructed me to make the bed.
Puzzled, I looked at him. “What, why?”, I asked. It would only be a few hours before we went to sleep anyway – and an unmade bed in the evening didn’t mean the end of the world either. “Well, because it doesn’t look nice,” he returned, starting to make the bed. The man is a stickler for detail, I realized at that very moment, and I wondered how I had missed it so far: constantly in a bad mood, dominating his daily life, or holding on to the most useless little things just out of principle. And few things stressed me out as much as pointless pedantry.
He only ever wanted to have sex in the dark, it was very strange
“You still chose this man,” I reminded myself. I had known from the beginning that I would not be spared from problems. So I pulled myself together, followed him into the living room and made myself comfortable next to him on the sofa – even though it cost me some effort. Together we watched a film, the mood became visibly more relaxed and Pedro’s mood improved so much that I also forgot my moodiness.
“Do I have another toothbrush?”, I called to him later from the bathroom. Smiling, Pedro appeared in the doorway and pointed to the toothbrush cup where my bright green toothbrush was stuck next to his. “But of course,” he replied.
My heart sank at the thought of having my own toothbrush with him, and I immediately felt a little more at home. He was so sweet in that moment that I was almost willing to forgive him for his behavior all evening. Almost – why couldn’t he be like this more often; things would be so much easier between us.
Once in bed, I made it clearer than before what I wanted from him and much of it frightened and disgusted him. When he went to get a condom and turn off the lights again, I stopped him. The fact that he could only have sex in the dark was something I found impossible the last time; he was obviously uncomfortable with us looking into each other’s eyes while we made love, but I couldn’t take that into account now if we were ever going to get used to each other. That’s who I was.
The sex that night was better, but still not good. We moved slowly towards each other, the journey was arduous and neither of us really enjoyed it. It was as if each of us were trying to set sail from our own pole in the Arctic Ocean on a raft: it was freezing cold and uncomfortable, it was arduous, but above all: it seemed almost impossible, for the sea was frozen.
After the bad sex, I didn’t feel like it anymore
“No, you can’t leave yet,” he muttered the next morning as I was about to leave. Pedro hugged me tightly and pulled me to him as I took deep breaths. Once again I noticed what I had noticed the previous night: I just couldn’t smell this man, as proverbial as that seemed in our case. “Yes, I have to,” I replied, giving him a kiss on the forehead and leaving, even though he looked very cute with that scrunched up, sleepy look on his face and I would have loved to stay with him at that moment. But I was overworked from the whole last night, the bad sex, and his whole weird, pedantic ways. As I walked through the cool morning air to my car, I took a deep breath, felt incredibly liberated, and started humming softly.
It was Sunday, the sun was shining, the meat was pickled and the salads prepared, slowly the first guests were arriving: it was time for a barbecue. The mood was boisterous, there was alcohol, maybe a little too much for one or the other of us, and I was expecting a very special visitor today: Juan was coming.
The conflict with Pedro had brought me back into contact with him, which I had been very happy about, despite the dramatic situation. Juan’s likeable, cheerful manner and his unusual sense of humour had appealed to me even then. Since we hadn’t seen each other for too long, but had only kept in touch via messages since the scandal with Pedro, I decided that he couldn’t miss my party either. Something about him undeniably drew me in.
Of course, to keep the playing field level, I invited Pedro as well; both men knew about each other, about my blog, and also that I would rarely limit myself to just one man.
I really didn’t start that fight on purpose…
I waited anxiously for their first meeting, curious how they would react. They behaved as they always did: Juan laughed a lot and Pedro stink-booted along, giving instructions on what to do. It was also a completely new feeling for me to experience these two so different men in direct comparison with each other. They didn’t like each other, that was obvious, and yet they were both forced to spend time together if they wanted to be with me. I flirted with both, sometimes giving my favors and attention to one and sometimes to the other, and only very sparingly dispensing tender gestures.
What could not be said of the other two: their competition with each other was so obvious, always alternating while talking to me, they tried to touch me: to touch my hand, my leg or my arm, looking me in the eye. It was like a game, it was almost too over the top to be real.
In the evening I saw them both off before they went home, but left them in their uncertainty. Of course I had wanted to goad her, not unintentionally fuel the conflict. I didn’t want to lull either of them into too much security just yet. And finally, I wanted to have my fun with the action too. I, too, wondered who would ultimately be able to convince me….
Excited, I packed up some of my things that I would take with me to Pedro’s, including a sleep shirt of my own. So far I had always slept in his clothes, but I figured it was about time I put something that was really mine in his household.
Should I still go ahead with the project now?
I was in high spirits as I drove down the path from my house in the last light of day, even though I knew we had some heavy conversation topics coming up today. The day before I had written him a message and tried to tell him that his dominant behaviour went against my grain. Full of incomprehension, he had only replied with “Explain yourself,” which had been all too typical of him. So hopefully today we would have a clarifying conversation about his behaviors towards me. Unfortunately, I was less than optimistic that the impact of this conversation would actually make a difference. However, I saw this as my only chance if I wanted to keep this project going.
Of course, his first question when I arrived was whether I had eaten anything yet. I replied in the affirmative. He looked a little sad about it and led me into the living room, where on the coffee table, along with candles and wine, a couple of canapés could be found. A warm feeling flowed through me, he had never made so much effort before and obviously he was also in the best of moods today, because he beamed at me warmly.
“And he made us supper!” thought I, touched. Together we sat down while he ate and I even softened up to try at least once. Real Mallorcan bread, I noticed. Very tasty.
He was a pedant, he wanted and could do everything better
The TV was on, Real Madrid was playing, Pedro was cheering and I snuggled up to him. He was happy about my cuddliness, I enjoyed the feeling of everyday life that came up between us – something that tended to be unusual for me, since I usually strongly disliked the stink-normal everyday routine – and he also seemed to be very comfortable with it. We had both tried to get past the getting-to-know-you phase as quickly as possible, which is probably why we were spending nights together pretty quickly.
Suddenly – Real Madrid had just had a chance to score – Pedro jumped up from his seat, cursing, and climbed onto the ottoman. In general, it was impressive how much he had cursed the whole game, Spaniards seemed to be blessed with sufficient talent. Somewhat absent-mindedly and completely fixated on the game, he explained to me that his sudden change of seat was solely due to the fact that the sound quality of his Dolby Digital Surround System was the best at this exact point in the room. I realized he was going to be squatting in that uncomfortable position for the rest of the game and I rolled my eyes, knowing full well it would go unnoticed by him anyway.
During the half-time break he started pouring me wine and although I told him very clearly that after the events of our barbecue I didn’t want to drink any more alcohol until further notice, he insisted because the bottle was already open now. Stupid pedant! I shook my head but surrendered to my fate and agreed to drink that one glass. We’d talk about it later.
I was tired of being patronized…
Shortly after, he asked me what I had meant by my message that he was too dominant. Without understanding, I asked him, “You really don’t know?”. He looked at me cluelessly and shrugged. “This is what I mean,” I said a little louder than I had intended, pointing to my wine glass and talking myself into a rage: “You’re always telling me what I should and shouldn’t do, and you’re always patronizing me. That doesn’t suit me at all!”. He started to explain himself, rowed back and tried to make me understand that it was all just funny of him and not meant bad at all. However, I did not let myself be fobbed off so quickly, explained to him that his jokes were absolutely not met with approval and that I did not really approve of this behaviour on his part because of the language barrier that still stood between us in such cases. Despite his defensive reaction, I hoped that I had now put him in his place and that such behavior would not degenerate further.
After the soccer game we went into the kitchen, Pedro turned on the coffee maker and I sat on the sideboard. We started talking about sex. The way it was going with us so far, it wouldn’t be able to go on for me between us, I made that clear to him; I was into kinky things and despite the taboos he revealed to me, there were also some things he was willing to try out and which he wasn’t entirely without curiosity about.
So we got out our pickaxes and started hammering away at the ice surrounding us, hoping to cut our way through the miles of ice that surrounded us. If you ever imagine actually being in a raft in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, having to slog through the ice and sitting frozen through in the cold, you might get an idea of what a long and tedious expedition you have ahead of you. And how close you always come to giving up.
Did another world exist for him at all?
Admittedly, the subject was complex and my Spanish was nowhere near good enough for all these details. Nevertheless, when he switched to English more and more often, even for simpler matters, I reminded him that we had a deal: I would spend time with him and he would speak Spanish with me in return. My demand was clear: he should stick to our agreement, after all, he was getting something from me too. But he also made his conditions for our relationship very clear once again: it was not primarily about sex for him, that had also become clear to me in the meantime. For him, I was like a window into a whole new world, an adventurous world that he wanted to know.
At my questioning look, he explained that he was like a horse that had spent its entire life in a stable. The stable was nice, there was always enough food, there were no dangers and he felt very comfortable there. The stable was his comfort zone, as it were. He didn’t even know that there was a world outside of this stable.
One day, however, someone opened the window and he could see the meadow, the flowers, the blue sky and the sun and everything out there seemed so tempting and so attractive to him that he just kept standing in his stall, thinking about the meadow outside and what it would be like there.
He longed for the adventure of exploring the world outside his stall and suddenly I came, taking him by the hand with the promise of showing it to him. But despite the curiosity he felt, he loved his stable, it was his home and he would return to it every night and never stray so far from it that it went out of sight. He wasn’t one of those horses that ran as soon as they left the barn and never looked back. And he felt inside that I was just such a horse.
I didn’t get any compliments from him, but I did get sex…
As I pulled my sleep shirt out of my bag, Pedro looked at me and flipped back the covers. Underneath, folded neatly next to his, was the shirt of his that I had slept in the last few times. “I saved your t-shirt for you,” he said a little shyly, and it was one of those moments where I liked him so incredibly much for what he was doing.
I was torn and didn’t know what to make of this man as a whole. There were moments like this where he was so sweet and adorable, but then there was the rest of his persona, the everyday Pedro, that repelled me more and more. And he wasn’t in love with me at all, I was sure of that.
His feelings for me were at most as pronounced as my feelings for him; he didn’t compliment me, didn’t write to me on his own, and apparently rarely thought of me in any other way – just as I would have done with him, had it not been for this project. I slept with my own shirt on, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave it with him the next morning.
Juan also didn’t make me wait long after our barbecue to want to see me again. At home I mixed salad dressing, Juan had already gotten the rest of the ingredients and he had a head of lettuce, a can of corn, tuna and mussels waiting for me to make my salad from the party again.
I had déjà vu with Juan…
“See, other people come with a bottle of alcohol, I come with a bottle of vinegar and oil,” I greeted him as I stood outside his door while he hugged me laughing and kissed me on both cheeks. Right behind him, his dog stormed through the door, a scrunchy-faced pug named Jack who jumped up at me, tail wagging, and kept trying to get my attention. “Two minutes,” Juan smiled apologetically as he looked down at his pet, shaking his head.
Upon entering his apartment, I immediately noticed how badly it stank of dog, which I instantly teased him about. However, to the chagrin of Jack, who had to spend the rest of the evening on the terrace because of this – actually, he spent it sitting in front of the terrace door with reproachful looks or looking in at us with sad eyes from his crumpled face. Juan led me to the kitchen where I found everything I needed for my salad and immediately got to work.
Meanwhile, Juan set the table and asked me what I would like to drink with my meal. “A coffee,” was my reply. Skeptically, he looked at me. “It’s not a drink with food,” he said. “Not again,” I thought to myself, shrugging my shoulders and replying, “So what?”. Shaking his head, he began to grin, winked at me, and set about turning on the coffee maker.
Inside, I was doing a dance of joy. “Well, there you go,” I thought to myself, thinking of another man who would surely have reacted differently to these statements.
Talking to Juan was a pure pleasure
The whole time Juan laughed, almost choked on his food and radiated such a good mood as usual, which reminded me once again how great I actually thought he was. During the meal there was not once an awkward silence or a strained conversation as I knew it from Pedro. I loved the conversations with him: they were interesting, full of wit and charm, and it was so easy.
I could have talked to him for hours – if I had understood more. The truth was that as much as I loved talking to him, I couldn’t muster the concentration to do it that day. I had been diving in the morning and my brain was still blocked by nitrogen. But he took it with humor and only laughed all the harder about it.
Although it went very much against the grain, I finally pulled out my mobile phone and used my translator – or rather wanted to use it – which eventually failed due to the poor mobile internet connection in his village. Of necessity I asked him for the WLAN password, which he had placed on the fridge so that everyone could see it. He reasoned that sooner or later every one of his visitors asked for it.
So I tried to dial into his wifi after dinner, but couldn’t find the network, so he came to help me. He stepped behind me, close to me, and put his hands on my hips. Refrigerator? WI-FI? My interest was gone within seconds and I could only focus on his hands on my hips. Taking a deep breath, I tried to keep my cool. It felt so good and so right the way he touched me and I wanted most of all for him not to let go of me at all. However, I tried not to let him feel it so strongly directly.
I would have liked to have hidden myself at that moment…
Relaxed, we sat down on the couch together a few minutes later, I snuggled up to him, and it wasn’t long before he started kissing me – and suddenly I got super shy, wanting to crawl under a blanket. I even became quite silent, though I was normally an exceptionally articulate person. But suddenly my mouth was dry and I could hardly get a word out. For a brief moment, I even felt the urge to hide in the closet, as childish as that sounded. Especially because it had been clear to me all day what was going to happen that night.
Which eventually happened – and the sex was breathtakingly beautiful. It was nice how he kissed me, it was nice how he touched me and it was nice to look into his green eyes. I just had to know if I could smell him, so I nestled my face into the crook of his neck and took a deep breath. He smelled insanely good! While I absolutely could not smell Pedro, I liked Juan’s scent even after sex, as he lay sweaty and exhausted beside me.
As I took a seat on the sofa again, freshly showered and dressed, I could already tell it was going to happen again. And the time after that as well, before I finally tore myself away to drive home, after all it was getting late by now. But it was certain that next time I would spend the night with him.
Sex with one was totally different than with the other
While the sex with Pedro had been as if we were at two different poles, with Juan it was as if we happened to meet at the same spot in the Sahara. Like we were the only people in the same place in an endless desert. It was like a hot summer night, a sky full of stars, like a sandstorm and a long-awaited rain. As if the two of us were chasing the next mirage – on and on; hand in hand and with the same goal.
“I really don’t want to go,” I whispered to him as we said goodbye. “Hey, hey, hey,” he muttered, “you can’t have everything on the first day.” He smiled at me. We had a first day.
I took the motorcycle to pick Juan up from work. On the way there I suddenly got all excited, I was nervous about how our first night together would be.
I got into his car, leaving my motorcycle until the next day. “Long time no see,” he teased me. Our last meeting had been yesterday, after we hadn’t seen each other for five days before – it had seemed almost endless and I had assured him several times that from now on we would avoid not seeing each other for such a long time. And I had kept my word.
Juan didn’t have many women before me – I noticed that
Together we made our way to Palma, where we would later go out for sushi together. Before that, however, we took an extensive walk along the beach – including some interesting and spicy topics of conversation. We talked about sex, about how few women he had slept with and how many girlfriends he had had, he asked me about my preferences and I honestly confessed to him that they would only scare him away at this point.
Nevertheless, I slowly felt my way forward and cautiously revealed some first things to him that were relatively innocuous. The conversation continued for the next few hours: during dinner I told him about Pedro, about how he was already upset again because he had found out about me and Juan, about how Pedro generally had a problem with my way of life, found me dishonest, and about how I wasn’t sure at the moment whether we would ever see each other again.
But to be honest, I was hardly bothered by it – in fact, I was almost glad to be rid of him; if it didn’t mean that Juan would automatically take his place and that it was equally clear that he would be the one with whom I would have to end the relationship in October. Because that’s what my project was. Only much later would I learn the true reasons for Pedro’s behavior – as incomprehensible as it might seem to me at the time.
Just “bye” and it’s all in the past?
“You know that from now on you’re my boyfriend and we’re going to be in a relationship until the end of October right?” I smiled at him. As was my way, I presented him with a fait accompli. And apparently he went for it.
“And then, when the time comes, you say to me, ‘Thank you Juan for teaching me Spanish, it’s been nice with you. Bye.’ And it’s all over?”
He looked at me almost aghast, he had understood exactly what he had just gotten himself into.
Once home we had sex – again it was terrific, but still I slowly and playfully tried to steer him in the direction I knew I would like even after the phase of great infatuation.
I slept badly that night, Juan close to me, hugging me tightly the whole time. However, I was not used to this and although it felt beautiful and comfortable, I kept waking up from restless dreams. I kept thinking back to how excited he had been when I told him I was in love with him; to how, during dinner, he made me feel completely understood and also accepting of how I was; to how he delighted in each of my compliments. I just felt insanely happy with him.
In retrospect, my time with Pedro was wasted…
In the morning he said goodbye to me with the words: “Now you can count the hours until our next reunion”. “I don’t know yet when we’ll meet again,” I acknowledged coquettishly, secretly wondering when he would get back to me.
April had gone by far too quickly and I had given away far too much of my time to Pedro in the process. I was unspeakably glad that this had now come to an end; from now on I would waste no more time. Over and over again my thoughts now began to circle around Juan, I missed him when he wasn’t with me and when he was there I could hardly get a clear thought out of my head. We experienced intense hours together, of which we both could hardly get enough. And it was perfect the way it was. It was the absolute perfect start to a relationship that I knew its end would not be nearly as perfect and was steadily approaching. The closer I got to him and the more I fell in love with him, the more I became aware that the clock was ticking. I very much hoped that I would make good use of the time – no, actually I believed it quite strongly. What other choice would I have!?
Juan and I met for dinner, once again at our favorite sushi restaurant in Palma. What a coincidence that we both shared the same passion for the same store. It had been my suggestion to go there, because I loved that restaurant, and he almost fell off the wagon, because it was his favorite Japanese place too.
Once again, too much time had passed since our last meeting and happy to finally have him with me, I threw myself into his arms. We were boisterous, laughing together and he was joking in his own unique way – teasing me as he always did. It couldn’t have been more beautiful if I hadn’t at the same time been overcome by a very peculiar melancholy, which he obviously felt as well.
Our conversation turned, lost mirth, and once again circled around the topic I really didn’t want to think about. The issue he’d been trying to come to terms with for days and still couldn’t make peace with.
Half a year together – exactly fifty nights
“If you’re really in love with me and want to be with me, why do you want to break up with me in October?” I could see how much this question hurt him and it was so unspeakably hard for me to have to give him the answer that I had sworn to myself I would give him truthfully. To which I clung with a desperation, though it caused me pain as well.
“Because that’s exactly what my project is. We have exactly six months together. Fifty nights.” Under the table, I intertwined my fingers, pressing my thumb between my index and middle fingers, helplessly struggling for control. “But it’s stupid to leave someone you love just on principle, just because of a project,” Juan objected.
Inside me, a voice screamed out loud, proving him right. Of course it was true that I didn’t want to leave him, and in my head I tarred, feathered, and quartered my stupid project for what it would take from me. On the outside, however, I answered him in a calm voice, “I’m going to break up with you in October because I want to.”
And that was also kind of true. I, the master of self-discipline, at least had a goal in mind, and I knew that I would achieve it, no matter what the cost and even if it took a lot out of me. Because that was a certainty.
I had butterflies in my stomach at the thought of Juan…
We both spent the rest of our meal and the drive to see him in this strange mood. I knew he was hurting; we both felt this strange melancholy and trepidation that continued to spread between us. Finally, at his house, all tension burst – we had a wonderful night together, driven by the knowledge that all of this would end far too soon; driven by time passing far too quickly and working against us. Weary of the gloomy thoughts, this tension between us, and the mental strain of our evening together, I finally fell asleep wrapped tightly in his arms.
Thoughtfully, I stood at my dressing room, unsure of what to wear. Juan and I had arranged to meet on the beach in the late afternoon before spending the night together at his place. With a lot of luck, I’m sure there would be a stop at our favorite Japanese restaurant, that was my plan. So, despite the summer weather on the island, I decided to wear a sweater since it would definitely get chilly later, combed my hair again, and braided my hair.
I sped off on my bike, the wind blowing in my face and the low sun blinding me. The thought of seeing Juan soon filled me with joy and I felt a little tingle in the pit of my stomach. Still this man really put me in turmoil.
My Spanish boyfriend kissed me in public
I was a little early at the agreed meeting point, so I took off my sweater, spread it out, and then settled down on a ledge, leaning my head back and letting the last warming rays of sunshine shine in my face.
The sand crunched under his shoes and as I squinted against the sun, I saw Juan sauntering toward me. Jack trotted happily along beside him, a droll little pug with that typical flattened face, who, as soon as he saw me, waddled happily towards me, pulling on the leash and urging his master to hurry. But Juan, who grinned broadly at me and gave in unreservedly to the impulse of his doggie, seemed to want to be with me at least as quickly as Jack, who was now jumping up my leg, barking for attention, while I pulled my favorite Spaniard tightly against me.
He put his hands on my hips and kissed me and I almost condemned the public place we were in. How many times had he touched me and touched me, but his touch still gave me that same electrifying feeling.
Our togetherness was so warm, the scenery on the beach with the setting sun exuded picture-perfect romance, and I snuggled up to the man who had been on my mind for a long time.
He was actually a member of a dog group
Juan’s phone buzzed as he got a message, laughing out loud as he looked at it. Shortly thereafter, he thrust his phone into my hand, threw himself on the sand with his dog, put on his sunglasses, and together they posed for a funny photo – though I couldn’t recall a photo of the dog that hadn’t been funny; he seemed predestined for it.
“I’m sending that to our pug group now,” he told me proudly. “Your what?”, I replied uncomprehendingly as it suddenly dawned on me. Oh no! “Well our pug group. Everyone in that group has a pug and we post pictures of our dogs there. Every now and then we even organize a get-together where we…”
I started laughing out loud, tears welling up in my eyes as I alternated back and forth between Jack and Juan. “You’re seriously going to pug meetings?”, I asked him, still breathless and struggling to control myself, but I just couldn’t calm down. “Sure,” Juan answered with a beaming face, “there’s even a picture of the last meeting. Do you want to see it? There were a lot of people there!
The greed of the newlyweds brought us together
Laughing, I nodded as tears ran down my face again, undecided whether to be amused or horrified. His enthusiasm for dogs had been obvious before, but for the first time I realized the full extent: My boyfriend was a pug nerd! And even that didn’t stop me from being completely crazy about him.
We spent much of May together and even if I didn’t sleep with him every time, we tried to get as much of the other as we could with the greed of newlyweds.
It was a time filled with good conversation, hugs and touches, longing and the sorrow of missing – a time when minutes could become hours and hours could become minutes, a time with its own special units of measurement, divided into separate and together.
But most of all we had a lot of fun: we skated together and laughed heartily about our misadventures, guessed who would be the first to crash into one of the street lamps or into an overflowing trash can.
“Let’s do a dare,” I suggested to Juan one day. “We pick out the ice cream parlour with the most unusual ice cream flavours in all of Palma and order each other two scoops.” He laughed. “Deal!” he agreed.
Juan took me to see the funny spectacle
When the day arrived and we entered the store, we didn’t know whether to cringe with laughter or shake with disgust. In the end, though, we both left the store as arranged with our two scoops of ice cream: me with parsley and goat cheese, Juan with cheeseburger and parmesan ice cream. Some tasted better than expected, yet neither of us managed to eat all of our ice cream and we decided to repeat the experiment, but this time guessing our favorite flavors; Juan’s, I knew afterward, were vanilla and stracciatella.
Then came the day I had been waiting for since the beginning of May – since the day I found out my friend was indulging in pug-meetings and I had asked him to take me with him next time. Such a spectacle should be experienced once in a lifetime, I thought at the time. It seemed too fun to pass up.
Thought, said, done: I picked up Juan and little Jack by car on a beautiful Sunday morning. The pug was chirpy and had already been dressed up by Juan. As the proud owner of a neon yellow dog vest, which was adorned with the lettering “Jack” in capital letters, it was of course a must to wear the good piece on a special day like this.
Only one hour time and still 30 minutes late
Arriving at the meeting point, we were welcomed directly by the organizer, who greeted everyone warmly by name – and everyone is a clear understatement in this case. Not only did the man know all the participants, but he also knew the pugs that went with them. So little Peggy was cuddled just as much as the hyper Tommy or even Mr. Puppy, a fat, comfortable little guy who had a tie tied around him to celebrate the day.
Since we had unfortunately arrived with some delay, we did not have much time before the call came to position ourselves for the group photo. Juan, who was chronically always the obligatory, Spanish half hour late, didn’t seem to mind either. I, however, was a little surprised that for a one-hour event, they weren’t at least tempted to show up at the appointed time.
While a hopeless confusion prevailed and the dogs were caught, one lined up now thus for the photo. The pugs were lifted into the air, put on the arm or optionally placed in the front row. It was important that each doggie was shown to its best advantage and – almost more important – from its best side.
Jack the dog was now in desperate need of a bath
This was followed by the individual photos, where each couple, consisting of dog and human, had their photos taken together. Juan was shocked to discover, just before it was his turn, that little Jack had sat down in his dog’s poop and his business was now all over his bottom. He couldn’t be in the photo like that! Hectically trying to limit the damage, he wiped the unpleasant mishap away from his dog as best he could with some leaves lying around. But basically it was hopeless: Jack needed a bathtub.
Still, Juan didn’t miss the photo and posed for the camera with Jack on his arm – obviously bashful because of his dirty backside. Although he was scrupulously careful not to come into contact with Jack’s business, he got some of it too and looked unhappy. “Looks like I might have to give you a bath at home, too,” I murmured to Juan, watching his bad mood evaporate in an instant.
We put a leash on Jack, who didn’t seem to mind his filthy bottom in the least. He happily peed on five trees on the way back to the car and romped along the path in front of us. Six trees. I rolled my eyes and held the car door open for Juan to pack Jack, who obviously didn’t feel like leaving yet, into the car. At home I treated him to the promised bath.
Despite everything, I would want to end the relationship
However, despite all the beautiful days we spent together, some issues could not be pushed to the background, such as the fact that Juan still could not understand why I wanted and would break up with him in October. It pained me to see how the subject tormented him, but I could not lift that burden from him. Even I was still tormented by my own decision, despite knowing that I had wanted it that way. At the time, it seemed to me the most unthinkable thing we could do was part ways in as little as six months.
“What are you going to do if neither of us wants this breakup in October?” he asked me during one of those seemingly never-ending conversations.
“I’m still going to break up with you, you know that. My attitude won’t change, no matter how many times we talk about it. Apart from that, I’ve already got a new project planned for November – that’s when I’m learning Mallorcan.” Mallorquin was the language that the Mallorcans spoke mainly among themselves. Castellano, the high Spanish, he spoke only for me.
He thought he was the perfect partner for my project
He looked at me in amazement, but finally managed to smile anyway. “Do I have the right idea of what this project will look like? It doesn’t happen to involve six months and a Mallorcan, does it?” “Yes, by pure chance it does,” I acknowledged with a not entirely serious grin. “You know that I am a native Mallorcan and therefore the ideal project partner for your next project? I’m almost sorry to have to tell you this, but I was already convinced that you wouldn’t be able to part with me in October, but now you’ll just have to realize that I’m the best teacher you’ll find and you can’t just let me go because there’s no adequate replacement for me.” Grinning broadly and smugly at me, I hoped he was right.
The last month had been full of romantic togetherness, full of the intense feelings of infatuation we shared. Our hearts beat faster, the world turned slower, and our looks were full of cheerfulness and happiness; from us gushed the contentment and confidence of those who were just plunging into a fresh happiness of love, of those who gave no thought to the next day. We had each other and that was all that mattered.
As time passed – time in which we got to know each other better and slowly something like a daily routine set in – I learned a lot about Juan and the life he led; things he liked to do and things he detested. Gradually I found my way into his very own way of life; and that of the Spaniards.
Juan and I had a date Friday night. Shortly I had decided to meet him directly at the Carrefour – a supermarket chain that is widespread in Spain. I felt like spending as much time as I could with him and curiosity drove me a bit too. We would shop together and what he would choose interested me. After all, both the contents of a refrigerator and the home itself clearly say something about its owner.
Juan knew the chaos as a local
“Hello, gorgeous,” he grinned at me as he sauntered across the parking lot toward me. “Hi.” I grinned back. Juan held out his arm to me and I hooked myself under, together we made our way to the grocery store. We were just passing the fruit section and I saw Juan’s wandering gaze. “What are you looking for? Maybe I can help you.” “I’ll see what I need,” he replied and disappeared down an aisle between canned fruit and jars of Nutella. The sorting of Spanish supermarkets didn’t make any more sense to me years later than it did at the beginning. Of course, when I asked Juan about it, he couldn’t understand it at all. How could he, he had grown up here and was used to the chaos. I would probably never encounter German structure and order here.
“Come on, come to me,” I heard Juan call from the next aisle. “The corn is here, you wanted some to make this yummy salad, right?”
My lustful look said it all – and Juan was ready
“Yeah, we need corn,” I called to him, turning the next corner into his hallway. “We” is what I just said. I smiled, that old familiar fluttery feeling brewing in my stomach. I could have cheered loudly with joy and skipped through the aisles, but despite everything I was still a respectable lady and no longer a pubescent girl. Even though, admittedly, I’ve been feeling that way a lot lately. “Don’t you have a grocery list at all?”, I ask Juan at some point after we had walked through the aisles again and again and he had grabbed something from the shelf here and there as if by chance.
“What for?” he retorted. “I’ll think of what I need when I see it.” I burst out laughing, pulled him to me and kissed him stormily. He was so unintentionally funny and that always exhilarated me. “No shopping list then,” I concluded. “Well, all right, too. Let’s get on with it, after all I have plans for you tonight.” He raised an eyebrow and a lustful look entered his eyes. Even though that hadn’t been my actual intention, that look said it all: my plans for tonight had just been refined.
Dog hair – there was dog hair everywhere
Soon our Friday shopping together had become a regular ritual. Rituals have always given me something anyway: I’m a great believer in always sharing certain things, having a concise daily routine together, and – most importantly – having something to always look forward to. As time went on, we developed more and more of our own rituals: a message in the morning and in the evening and after work to show the other person that you were thinking of him and missed him; that he always put out my black towels when I slept over, because that was just my style. I don’t even know how many years I’ve been dressing only in black, and that Jack was banished to the patio as soon as I arrived.
With all my love, I couldn’t stand the smell of stinking dog all the time. Much to my chagrin, however, this was not a permanent state of affairs, so another ritual crept in on us as well: re-covering the bed. Because, unfortunately, Juan’s love for his dog had not only humorous, funny sides, but also the annoying habit of making the dog sleep in his bed when I was not with him.
In itself I could have overlooked this, had it not been for the problem with Jack’s fur – he had light brown fur, almost white in places – which stuck everywhere he stood, barked and sat. And really stuck. At first I tried to remove the dog hair one by one from my black clothes, later tried both a lint brush and the dryer, but nothing helped. So the only solution we had was to re-cover the bed every single time I slept at his place.
But I didn’t mind – it had become a nice ritual between us. It was the first thing I did after arriving at his house: the dog came to the door and the bed was remade. Often enough we stayed directly in the bedroom afterwards and the freshly made bed was consecrated directly.
Little Jack could pee quite a bit
The sun was just sinking behind the trees when Juan and I took Jack for a walk. My friend was deeply concerned because his dog had been exhibiting strange behavior throughout the day: he had barely eaten, had been either extremely agitated or nearly apathetic, and had been sleeping a lot.
Although I was normally not a great friend and admirer of this animal, I did not object to taking him, I knew Juan would have been worried and absent-minded the whole time otherwise. We strolled through a park, Jack got frisky and peed on almost every single tree there. It was completely beyond my imagination how much this little dog could pee.
Fortunately, Juan approached me at that exact moment and stopped me from further speculation about his dog’s urination behavior.
“Is it okay with you if we stay home tonight? I want to be able to be there for Jack in case of emergency.” His look begged for understanding.
“Sure thing,” I said. “Let’s get nachos and watch a movie.”
Gratefully, he looked after me as I went to the nearest supermarket to get all the necessities for the evening ahead while he played fetch with Jack.
Juan called me “cielo” – “heaven”.
I finally returned shortly after with a bag full of nachos and chocolate. Juan meanwhile had settled down on a bench, the exhausted Jack had made himself comfortable at his feet. Silently, I sat down next to him and rested my head against his shoulder. Almost motionless, we sat there for quite a while, watching the shadows grow longer, and indulging our thoughts.
“Do you want me to make us a quick salad and then you can take care of Jack?”, I called out to Juan from the kitchen.
“Oh, that’s a very good idea, cielo.” His voice sounded joyful.
“Cielo,” I thought. What a lovely pet name. Even I, who usually doesn’t care much for pet names, liked this designation. It was different from the usual fusty and overused terms of endearment – it was the Spanish word for heaven. My stomach tingled with happiness and in a good mood I set about making dinner.
Shortly after me, Juan also came into the kitchen and with a long, loving look we looked at each other before he stepped up to the sink and filled the kettle.
“What are you doing?”, I asked him.
“Jack isn’t feeling well and I’m going to make him some chamomile tea to help him calm down and sleep better.” He poured the water into one of the many dog bowls and put a tea bag in it. I refrained from commenting, but had to admit to myself that he had taken it to a new dimension. I had heard of people putting jackets on their dogs with their names on them before, but he was the first to make his dog a calming tea.
I almost spilled my wine on the poor dog.
After dinner, we cleaned up the dirty dishes. The kitchen had become a real mess by now and there were plates, bowls and glasses everywhere. I still felt comfortable in Juan’s household and started putting away the dishwasher. For me, it was a matter of courtesy and good manners to help out around the house when you spend as much time as I do at someone else’s house. After all, I wanted to be an asset, not a liability. So I made myself useful, putting away cups and dishes and wiping the table until it was spotless. “Now the best part of the evening begins,” I thought to myself as I took the chocolate out of the bag and snuggled up next to Juan on the sofa. “Would you like some wine too, cielo?”, Juan called to me from the kitchen.
He had said it again. The word trundled back and forth in my mind, doing loops in my stomach.
“Yes, I’d love to,” I whispered in his ear as I approached him. Slowly he turned to me and gave me a long kiss on the mouth. I was already drunk without even tasting the wine. “Take the wine into the bedroom,” I said, pulling him even closer to me as I began to stagger backward toward the door. Not a very smart plan, because I almost spilled my wine all over the sleeping Jack, who was snoring away next to the kitchen door for once.
Two men used the same pet name for me…
His kisses became more intimate and my touches became rougher and harder while I still pressed close to him. Desire was written in his eyes. “Cielo!” he laughed, snorting, as I pushed him onto the bed and threw myself on top of him… Still a little exhausted, we lay on the bed and rested; Juan absently cuddling Jack’s head and me going over my missed messages. Suddenly, however, I got stuck on one in particular. What was wrong with everyone today?
“Cielo, how are you? Do you want to go out for a drink sometime soon?”, Xavier, one of my best friends, wrote me. He had already helped me with many linguistic inconsistencies and questions and would certainly be able to explain this wording to me as well. Why did he give me the exact same pet name as Juan just a few hours before?
What before had been only a hunch, which I disliked very much, turned out to be a certainty a few minutes later: Cielo was a very common Spanish pet name like darling or sweetheart, nothing about it was special or had anything to do with me in particular. It was one of those pet names I couldn’t stand to the bone.
I decided to raise the issue directly with Juan, to make it clear to him that this kind of address was absolutely intolerable and out of the question for me. His almost bashful reaction, on the other hand, was anything but displeasing to me, and his insecurity about me created a strong need to guide him as I knew I could – to open up new vistas for him and mold him into a stronger, more confident person.
I was his and he was mine – that much was clear
I had made my position clear, he had understood it, and so it was time to finally put that name in the past. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking up at me and still had that slightly intimidated look in his eyes that immediately made me want to jump him again. Later, as we lay in each other’s arms in his bed, contemplating what had gone before, he suddenly leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “Eres mía” – you are mine.
I turned my gaze to him, looked him firmly in the eye, and replied, “Eres mío,” indicating that he was also mine.
I climbed around on the rocks while looking for a suitable spot to go into the water. After some discussion and several queries, Juan had decided to buy a new snorkel mask at our last meeting. Once I suggested to him to go diving together, but since the idea of millions of litres of water above him made him so panic, diving was out of the question for him, which was a pity, because diving is probably one of my greatest passions besides men.
On the other hand, he had reacted surprisingly positively to my idea of snorkeling together. Since he had problems breathing through his mouth, we had bought him a modern snorkel mask, which enclosed the whole head and allowed him to breathe through his nose. However, none of us had any experience with such a device.
I returned to Juan after spotting a descent in a small indentation. We were already dressed: I in a bikini and he in a new bathing suit. Over time, I had noticed that it was one of his quirks to be able to be directly on fire for something that he wouldn’t last long. But he firmly believed in it and could of course be sure of my support.
We saw a moray eel, crabs and other animals
We descended the narrow ladder into the now pleasantly warm Mediterranean Sea, put on our fins and masks. Relaxed, I lowered my head into the water and took a deep breath – ever since I had first glimpsed the underwater world, it had captivated, fascinated and beguiled me; one reason why I dived so excessively. And I felt free, lost in the infinite weightlessness and vastness of the seas. At the edge of my field of vision, Juan appeared beside me and formed the sign for OK with his fingers. Together we swam off and discovered the beauty of the underwater world. We got into a school of small fish, saw a perch and several sea urchins, even a moray eel at last, while the clicking of crabs played the music of the sea in our ears.
Satisfied and still wet, we made our way back, fins in one hand, mask and snorkel in the other. We dried ourselves off in a makeshift manner and headed home by the quickest route, where we took a shower together.
“That was an incredible experience. I had already forgotten how beautiful it is under water,” Juan thanked us while we were still showering.
Juan really didn’t have it easy with me
My next week was full of work. It was high season at the dive center and I was usually stuck in the ocean all day breathing out of my regulator. It felt like my life was nothing but wetsuits, fins, broken mask straps and weight pockets. We had a few dive groups there so I would get up early in the morning and when I came back in the late afternoon my head would be full of nitrogen clouding my thinking.
Juan didn’t have it particularly easy with me during those days, I slept a lot and was often barely able to concentrate on our conversations. Nevertheless, his closeness gave me a sense of peace and comfort that I appreciated and enjoyed, especially during this stressful time.
Shaking my head, I looked down at the dishwasher as I realized it obviously hadn’t been cleaned out since my last visit. We had just had breakfast together, later I would head to Palma to run a few more errands. I needed new shoes badly. Lovingly, Juan had offered to accompany me, but I always preferred to do such things with myself.
The man led the purest bachelor’s life…
I sighed. Worse than that, however, was his haphazard manner, with which I could still only half-heartedly come to terms, despite the amount of time we had spent together in the meantime. But that was the way it was with him: he was a Spaniard with body and soul and a certain conformity with agreed times and plans simply could not be afforded.
“Are you really sure you have everything?” The reply from his bedroom came with fervor. “Sure, I have everything here.” “Great, will you give me another kiss, I have to go or I’ll be late. There’s another dive scheduled on short notice this afternoon, so that means I have work to do.”
“Work,” he said, winking at me. I knew he didn’t think of my work as real work because I enjoyed it too much for that. For him, the correct term was hobby. This topic often led to controversy between us: while I was free and unconventional and believed that everyone should do what made them happy, he still traditionally believed in “real” hard work. Anything that was both fun and filled life with meaning didn’t fit that mold for him.
The Spaniard and his inability
One last time I checked to make sure everything was ready: in my trunk was a tent, a pillow, and two sleeping bags, as well as my backpack, in which I had packed some basic items such as warm pajamas and thick socks. After making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, I drove off to pick up Juan. “How you haven’t packed yet? I thought we were leaving now.” The Spaniard and his inability to stick to plans.
“Wait, I’ve got some thick blankets in the bottom of the closet here. And I’ll look for the air mattresses in a minute.” I rolled my eyes. “Here are my pajamas, too. Maybe I should have washed them first.” “I even reminded you last week to get everything ready.”
“I’m already done,” he countered confidently. “Wasn’t that quick, I don’t have to struggle with it days before.” I let him have his way, listened to his babble about the uselessness of plans only as much as necessary, and went ahead to the car. Juan followed me with bag and baggage.
We were going to celebrate his birthday in the tent…
Our trip began and full of anticipation we hit the highway. Our way ended at the north coast of Mallorca, at the so-called Rocky Beach, a beautiful beach with craggy sandstone rocks. The view of the Mediterranean Sea and the waves breaking on the cliffs was breathtaking.
Reverently, we stood side by side on the sand and gazed at the sky, which the setting sun bathed in a shimmering spectrum of red and orange. Spray splashed as a particularly high wave rolled towards us, and the fresh sea air played with my hair as the sun took its glowing leave in the sky. Tonight we would camp here and celebrate into Juan’s birthday.
But first we were urged to hurry. Our tent as well as our sleeping place should be ready before the sun would set and take the last light of the day with it.
Together we stretched the tent canvas and filled sandbags to secure the tent to the ground. It was exhausting, because despite the late hour it was humid and the heat had the island firmly in its grip by now, so that we soon began to sweat. While Juan took care of the air mattresses, I quickly took off my shoes and enjoyed the feeling of sand between my toes. After that, I helped him put the tent away, spread out the blankets and sleeping bags, and attached a flashlight so it would give us light in the night.
Mosquitoes and mites put a spoke in our wheel
It had become dark, Juan and I had settled down in the sand with candles, but nature had its own pitfalls: the wind and the spray extinguished our candle flames and the darkness brought uninvited guests – mosquitoes. We decided to spend the rest of the evening in the shelter of our tent as both of our arms, legs and judging by our feelings, all other parts of our bodies were itching. Shortly after we had made ourselves comfortable in the tent, we were faced with a completely different problem. Juan’s nose was running and he could hardly breathe, his eyes were watering and he had to sneeze all the time: his mite allergy.
Despite the fact that this whole situation could have been avoided if he had just taken care of his things and washed them earlier, I tried not to blame him. They were of no use in that situation anyway, but would still ruin the rest of our evening.
A night of intimacy and adventure
Determined to enjoy the trip, we made the best of what we had – through the mesh of the tent we let in just enough air without letting in the pesky beasts that were lusting for our blood, Juan snorted handkerchief after handkerchief full, and on the uneven air mattresses we made ourselves as comfortable as possible. Snuggled together, we listened to the swell and the silence of nature, whispering words so delicate that the wind blew them away. It was a beautiful night, full of intimacy and the hint of adventure.
“Happy birthday,” I whispered to him, hugging him tightly as my phone read midnight.
“Do I get a birthday kiss?” asked Juan with a mischievous look on his face, pulling me close even as he asked the question to place his lips on mine.
“I have to make sure no one steals my mía tonight, don’t I?” he declared, wrapping his leg even tighter around me. While it was too warm to sleep close together, he actually didn’t seem to want to do without that. And somehow it touched me deep inside that he wanted to protect me like that and my love just poured out to him. And while I don’t usually appreciate ownership at all, I liked hearing myself referred to as “his.”
Juan was the perfect summer love
“Te quiero,” I told him – I love you. “Me too,” he murmured back, and we both sank into a fitful sleep, from which the first rays of the sun tickled us awake early in the morning.
The heat made us lethargic, often meeting up in the evening, going to our favourite Japanese restaurant, to which we were still regularly loyal, or letting ourselves be intoxicated by the vibrancy of wine in a bar. We enjoyed our togetherness and the hours we spent together full of lust and tenderness, the balmy summer evenings during which we seemed to live under palm trees and the canopy of stars and hardly needed anything but each other.
Up until here, it had been the perfect summer love, drenched in sand that stuck in their shoes and tickled the soles of their feet, in the sea breeze and the dim glow of single candles. The days flew by as we did the same things over and over and the daily grind crept in unnoticed, reaching for the light of summer with lengthening grey shadows.
My thoughts adjusted to the rocking rhythm of the hammock as I convulsively tried to relax. Back to the time we had spent together and back to the time we had left. Back and forth. Our relationship had reached its zenith, the climax had passed and we were heading unceasingly towards the end.
With each passing day, each passing night. Exactly 25 nights remained, tonight we were facing the 26th night. At such a crucial point, I allowed myself to revel in the memories of the past three months, savoring them and burning them into my memory – archiving the time, as unforgettable as it had been, inside of me.
I often remembered that time back in August, more often than I would have liked and to my chagrin not without reason. Juan and I had been together for three months now, and the effects were palpable: the glamorous glimmer that the rose-colored glasses of infatuation had cast on my world was visibly fading. All that remained was the dull daily routine: diving, more diving and my daily Spanish lessons.
Juan and I became more and more estranged in disagreements, while reality also cruelly brought us back down to earth: all that we had accepted in the past months, what had not bothered us in the other despite all our differences, now began to catch up with us bit by bit. The constant discussions and disagreements tugged at my nerves and all the small, loving gestures and words that had come so naturally from him in the beginning disappeared more and more.
It was no longer like before; he no longer told me that he missed me or how much he loved me, he no longer looked forward to seeing me with the same fervor, and I no longer felt as valued as I had in the beginning – quite the opposite: by now his reticence even made me feel inferior and inadequate at times.
Somehow I was annoyed and could not enjoy anything
The kitchen counter was already shining, I’d been scrubbing for that long. Juan and I had just finished eating and had set about cleaning up the kitchen as usual. When I went to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and found, as I often do, that he hadn’t touched them since my last visit, I decided to leave that task to him and turned my attention to the kitchen counter instead.
I heard the refrigerator door open and Juan appeared next to me with an ice cream. Why didn’t he ask me if I wanted one too? Already I was pissed off again, a mood that prevailed between us quite often at the moment. Though we tried frantically to keep up the casual, happy pretense, even we noticed that our togetherness was cooling noticeably.
Shortly after we sat down next to each other on the sofa, it was a little uncomfortable and Jack trundling excitedly between us bothered me. Somehow I was just annoyed by everything and nothing seemed to fill me with happiness as it had in the previous months. Restlessly I slid back and forth, grabbed a pillow, and still couldn’t find a comfortable position that suited me. Juan didn’t seem to take any notice of it though, he only had eyes for his little dog as he often did.
I cried unrestrained and sobbed loudly
“Is something wrong?” he asked as he put his arm around me. I shook him off, because I couldn’t stand his proximity right now and couldn’t bring myself to change it, despite the nonsensical nature of my behavior. Behaviorally, I whispered a soft “No, why?” and even realized myself how implausible that sounded.
He, however, bought it – I had almost forgotten: he was, after all, the man who googled on the internet the meaning of what women really meant by their statements. How cliché for a computer scientist! I squinted over at him and saw that he had indeed pulled out his cell phone.
Silently I paused and turned to my inner self. After another few minutes had passed like that, Juan finally put his phone aside, looked at me, and asked again what was going on. Undecided whether to throw a hissy fit or downplay everything, my answer stuck in my throat and instead tears stole into my eyes and flowed down my cheeks. I cried. Uninhibited and sobbing as the knot inside me slowly loosened and the bad feeling gradually fell away from me. “What happened?” Horrified, Juan looked at me. “What about you?”
I sniffled, wrinkled my nose, and tried to give him an explanation that didn’t make it seem like I was mentally ill or chronically clingy and looking for attention. But I didn’t have the words to make him understand that even I found my behaviour irrational but this bad feeling inside me was still there and I couldn’t fight it down, no matter how much effort I made.
New problems and bad sex to boot
“I… I feel so bad,” I put in, knowing full well that it was a more than inadequate explanation. “Why don’t you ask if I want an ice cream too if you’re going to have one? Or why don’t you pull out the sofa on your own when you know I find it so uncomfortable? I always have to ask you for everything and I don’t want to do that.”
“But you could have just told me what you wanted”. He looked at me in despair and also a touch uncomprehending. Of course, I realized he was right, but what I said was clearly not untrue either. “I’m going to take off the sofa and then I’m going to get you some ice cream, okay? But please stop crying,” he said as he pulled me against him.
All too clearly I was aware that he had only the best of intentions. But at the same moment it was equally clear to me that this was the beginning of the end and that our problems would not get better with this behaviour. Real, manly behavior, as would have been required here, would have put me back in my place – behavior that would have shown that this man is a true alpha who doesn’t tolerate female bitching, and certainly doesn’t let it affect him.
Addressing and acknowledging my displeasure brought us a whole new set of problems – including worse sex. I already knew this from myself: as soon as a man failed to assert himself clearly, my desire for him disappeared without me being able to do anything about it. It was a purely instinctive, subconscious reaction.
What followed was the first night we didn’t have sex…
And that was after a whole series of nights where it always seemed like we couldn’t get enough of each other. The feeling was sobering and although my gut was already telling me otherwise, I hoped it would just be a phase that would pass quickly.
However, this was not the case. The previous, unimportant disputes were followed by others, and the situation became more and more entrenched. The same accusations on my part triggered increasingly annoyed reactions on his part. The feeling of no longer being wanted or valued intensified as I experienced greater and greater rejection from him.
I toyed with the idea of ending the project, feeling that at the bottom of our hearts we weren’t really a good match, but holding back every time I was on the verge of throwing away everything that had been accomplished so far. Over and over again, I reminded myself that this had been the ambition of my whole project: to see how a relationship develops when you consistently date it six months in advance.
But I had never dreamed of such a development – at the beginning of our relationship, Juan and I had both asked ourselves the same question over and over again: what would happen if neither of us wanted to end this relationship in October? How should we respond? Thinking about what would happen if neither of us made this relationship last until October was something we had never once thought about. No thought even given to whether such a thing was within the realm of possibility.
The other man was like a remake of Juan
At this point – what connected us was only a shadow of what had once been, more existent in my memory than in reality – I met Miguel.
Miguel looked like Juan: his hair was blond and short, he was short, and his eyes were the color of the sea. With him I found the warmth and cordiality of earlier days with Juan again – he complimented me, gave me the little time he could spare as a cook during the tourist high season and made me feel wanted all around. He was an artist, played the piano, and seemed to me like a remake of Juan, almost an improved form. Nothing happened between us yet, but I thought about him a lot and soon took him into my heart.
From the very beginning, I had kept reassuring Juan that this very day would come: the day when a new man would come and take my heart by storm. Someone who reaffirmed how in love I was with being in love. Without a doubt, this man would probably not stay by my side in the long run either, but he would walk with me part of the way and for the experiences we shared together, I would be grateful. Each new love always taught you a new life lesson, expanded your perspective by a dozen new little microcosms.
Truth and pain were like inseparable brothers
Still, I wondered if and how I should tell Juan about it. Personally, I felt nothing more shameful than insincerity, but decided that I would not be insincere at this point.
After all, nothing had happened and never in our relationship had I pretended to him that things would be different, that I would never have another man beside him. This was the exact scenario I had chewed over him over and over during our first few weeks together, but he hadn’t wanted to hear about it. And I knew that the truth would hurt him in spite of everything.
At present we had enough more pressing problems to get through first.
“I miss you, mío.” In joyful anticipation of our meeting tonight, I typed this message to Juan after my last dive and quickly sent a kissy mouth after sending it.
I was actually really looking forward to seeing him today, which hadn’t necessarily been a given lately. Too often we had gotten on each other’s nerves and I had taken emotional refuge in other acquaintances. I liked meeting new people, especially if it took my mind off my other problems.
Today, however, I wanted to be with him, eat out of the same popcorn bag with him at the movies, and fall asleep in his arms.
“Seven-thirty outside the cinema?” came back his reply.
At the appointed time, of course, there was still no sign of Juan. In true Spanish fashion, he was late and I decided to get the tickets while I was waiting for him.
On the island, somehow everyone knew each other
However, another, no less exciting encounter awaited me at the ticket counter: Pedro, the man of my very first Spanish relationship attempt. He put on his usual rather aloof expression and wore – also typical for him – jeans and a shirt. Our reunion was not too cordial, but the tension of our last meetings had also faded and I perceived no rancor between us. While we waited, we talked about the events that had led up to our breakup a few months earlier, and I gained some amazing insight: Pedro had learned through a work colleague, a friend of Juan’s, what had happened between Juan and me on our first night together. A night he wanted to meet me and I had put him off.
To find out later what his girlfriend had done without his knowledge and to realize that even his work colleagues had already been informed was finally too much for him. And for that I had complete understanding.
A voice in the back of my head, however, still remarked how it could be that this friend of Juan’s already knew all the details of what had happened the next morning, and at the same time asked what else this man had learned in the meantime. I sincerely apologized to Pedro for what had happened and assured him that it had never been my intention to embarrass him in such a way.
While I was walking out the door of the cinema with my eyes downcast and still completely in thought, my mobile phone in one hand on which I was typing a message to Juan, and our cinema tickets in the other, I suddenly ran head-on into someone who, without my having noticed him before, had suddenly stepped into my path.
For me, a fight doesn’t end until there’s good sex.
“Hello,” he said with a smile. I responded, as I always do, with a flirtatious “hello” of my own. We both had to smile. “I missed you,” I said in a burst of sentimentality, hugging him to me.
“You know, sometimes I feel like you love me more than is good for you. You shouldn’t miss me all the time if it makes you feel bad. “
I rolled my eyes. “All right,” I thought. “Then I won’t show you how I feel about you anymore.” The constant dissatisfaction with my expressions of emotion that he displayed annoyed me as much as the fact that hardly anything ever came back from him. The issue had taken up enough of our time over the past week.
“You know our fight isn’t settled yet, right?” I grinned at him. “For me, arguments only officially end when you’ve had sex with each other. Only then are you actually completely at peace with each other again.”
He grinned broadly back, but said nothing more about it, but grabbed my hand.
“Let’s go inside, the movie’s about to start.” He pulled me along with him. A short time later, we made ourselves comfortable – with a bag of popcorn in our midst – in the cinema seats. The lights dimmed and the show began. While the commercials were being shown, the last of the audience came into the room. Of course, being late was no problem here either, just as it was completely unproblematic that not one of the latecomers behaved quietly and as inconspicuously as possible.
In the darkness of the cinema, we quickly became close…
Juan and I grabbed the popcorn at the same time, almost knocking the bag down in the process. Giggling, I caught it and he leaned over and gave me a kiss, taking my hand in his and pulling me closer. I leaned my head against his shoulder and enjoyed the movie, the evening with him and his closeness. When I got home I made good on my announcement. Almost as we were crossing the threshold, I began to provoke him. He responded in similar fashion, pulling me to him, kissing me passionately, and immediately began cursing when I bit his lip. A real battle developed between us, we started insulting each other, throwing everything at each other that got on our nerves and that we hadn’t really let out in days or even weeks.
In the meantime we began to make love, passionately, with an intimacy and at the same time a coarseness that was only inherent in people who were not yet really at peace with each other. We fell over each other, again and again, until at last, exhausted and beyond resentment, we lay side by side, arm in arm on the floor, snuggling together.
Roast chicken for breakfast?!
“Now we are truly reconciled,” I hummed to him with a comforting smile and rested my head against his chest. “Let’s go to sleep.”
“Yes, Jack, come here to Daddy!” Juan called for his dog while I sat down at the kitchen table.
Juan patted his dog’s head, who started drooling with pleasure, and got a big piece of chicken from the fridge. Just as I was about to say something about how disgusting chicken for breakfast was, I realized what he was going to do with it and didn’t quite know if I thought that was the better or even worse version of eating the chicken myself for breakfast.
With a loud splat the chicken landed on the floor and the dog immediately began to wag his tail at it.
I start to say something, but was drowned out by the loud smacking noises Jack was making. I made another attempt, but this time Juan got in my way.
“Come on we gotta go. I’m late for work again.”
A weak imitation, but a very weak one.
“What have you been doing the last few days?” We were taking a walk and Juan looked over at me curiously. “Oh, well I’ve been diving a lot, working off my Spanish lessons in my online course, and cooking with a friend. And you?” I deliberately didn’t bring up last night. The memory of it still filled me with disbelief: Miguel and I had been to a new sushi restaurant in Palma’s nightlife district; the evening was going well and I hadn’t given Juan a second thought until he suddenly sent me his location.
He was exactly three houses down from an Italian and had just passed our restaurant. Although I had done nothing wrong, I thanked fate that all the window seats had been taken when we arrived. So we sat in a separee that had been out of sight from the street.
He told me about his work, the after-work beer with his buddies, and… the date he’d had the previous night. I stared at him in disbelief. Of course, it was not remotely within the realm of my ability to express my displeasure at this, what’s more, he proved to be downright honest, but I never dreamed he could be interested in another. Not after he had assured me so many times that he only wanted me, that I was enough for him, that he would never let me go again.
But it seemed to me that this was in another, happier time. What was left was only a faint reflection of the glorious summer: the heat had scorched and withered the grass and everywhere there was a lack of the water that was so vital to everything. It was simply lacking at all corners and ends. And I felt that we were clearly missing something too.
He told with pleasure about the other woman
“She’s Romanian,” he told me cheerfully. I could tell by the look on his face that the thought of her excited him in a way I couldn’t. “My mother put us in touch. She’s new at work. And just imagine, she speaks perfect Spanish and Mallorcan too! Her family came here when she was 16, she graduated from high school and even studied here. By the way, she’s a computer scientist, just like me.”
“Wow,” I thought. The woman had really done it to him. The thought that hurt more, however, was that she was obviously the more perfect version of me: she spoke Spanish, knew the local language to boot, and had also studied, while I was merely a psychology correspondence course. Not to be neglected was the fact that she was also a foreigner; and Juan was very much into exotic women. The feeling of being replaced coursed through me hotly, forming into an oppressive lump in my throat. Once again it was clear to me that I was no longer good enough for him, no longer sufficient.
“I met someone yesterday, too,” I explained, and was pleased to see that consternation was also evident on his face. Even though I despised it, it gave me a gleeful feeling when I realized he was offended too. He seemed to go through the same sensations as I did: Juan, too, recognized in his adversary the better form of himself.
Some people are afraid – I certainly wasn’t.
“Are you going to see her again?”, I asked after a while. “I think so.” His answer came hesitantly. “She could be a real girlfriend for me. You know, someone with whom a normal relationship is possible. Someone who would grow old with me. I don’t want to be sitting alone in my rocking chair at home when I’m old and gray, you know what I mean?” “Yes.” My answer sounded strong and clear, stronger than I felt at that moment. But it was true, I actually understood him. Only I didn’t share that fear. I was confident that there would always be people in my life because I trusted in the universe.
Silently, I glanced at my phone. My message had been sent 20 minutes ago, I had been waiting for a reply for almost 40 minutes in total and Juan had yet to reply to any of my three messages. Let alone read it, though he had been online on and off. So I put my headphones in my ears, laid out in the sun, started listening to an audiobook, and tried to relax. The Spaniard’s time management was unmanageable anyway! And finally, I wasn’t one of those super annoying girlfriends who texts her boyfriend every two minutes, even if he obviously didn’t want to reply right then.
The Spanish language was the trigger and driver
But today he was really taking his time and slowly but surely I was getting impatient. It was already a little after five and he still hadn’t answered my question about picking me up at six. Finally, I asked him, “Do you even want to go to the party with me?”. We had been invited to a barbecue at my friend Tanja’s house. Only people who spoke very good Spanish or who were Spanish themselves would come, and so she had offered to bring Juan, to which I had happily agreed.
Suddenly my cell phone buzzed and finally I had an answer from Juan, “Yes. Driving off now.” What was wrong with him? “Is anything the matter?” replied I. But of course there was no reply. So I got ready, trying to dispel the annoyed mood, knowing full well that once again it would be up to me to face him with a smile.
With a friendly, “Hello, mío,” I got into his car and pressed a big kiss to his cheek. His expression was motionless and he looked at me fixedly. “Hello,” he said. That’s all. Inwardly, I sighed and longed to go back to the good old days, reminiscing about how things had once been and trying to keep my thoughts from involuntarily flitting to someone else – someone whose face would light up when he saw me.
Stress and accusations were not a solution in our argument
For a few minutes we were silent and the silence between us became more and more oppressive. “What’s wrong?”, I asked him again, sincerely trying to somehow salvage the situation and banish the unbearable silence that was alienating us from each other. “What’s wrong?” he blurted out suddenly, and I felt guilty even at that brief question – even though I hadn’t even done anything. He sounded so reproachful. “I worked all day, then went to my grandma’s for lunch, talked to my mom for a quick 10 minutes, got dessert from the best bakery in the neighborhood for the party tonight, and then had to rush home to shower before meeting you. And in all that time, you’ve got nothing better to do than to piss around and blame me and then also accuse me of not wanting to go at all, just because I was too busy to answer?”
Horrified, I swallowed. And again. While the sour feeling of a renewed quarrel rose in me. “Over and over again, every day,” it flashed through my mind. Thoughtfully, I took a breath. “I didn’t mean it like that,” I replied. “I just wanted to know if you still wanted to go. I didn’t mean anything by it. You’re gonna have to cut me some slack on this one.
I just don’t know the subtle nuances of the language like you do. But you know that.” Once again I was painfully aware that I had not yet reached the point where I wanted to be, if I would ever reach it. And unfortunately, that very subtle difference was also crystallizing into a real problem over and over again. How often it was always the little things that failed. Not only in language, but also in life.
I’ve never been good with jealousy.
“Never mind,” said Juan, who now seemed to be looking at my glum expression. “Which way to Tanja’s?”
The party was already in full swing when we arrived. After all, due to all the hustle and bustle we were not insignificantly late and had arrived an hour and a half after the scheduled time. As soon as we got out of the car, our hostess ran towards us in her typical lively manner. I liked Tanja a lot. Unlike most other people around me, she not only understood my way of life perfectly, she even shared many of my problems and worries. She, too, was always in the tricky situation of trying to make a man understand that he wouldn’t be the only one forever, knew the accusations and accusations that jealousy brought. In this way we had become very close and almost allies, sharing each other’s lives. Yeah, we were the ones living outside the Matrix.
We joined the other guests and thanks to Tanja’s extraordinary skill in getting people talking to each other, we soon knew the whole company. I had a drink with almost everyone present, listening to funny stories from the Spanish community and enjoying new acquaintances. The later it got, the funnier the jokes became and the more cheerful the mood. There was flirting, people got together in groups and the most cheerful among us did what drunks do.
Juan had been thinking and had expressed a need to talk
“Who are you here with again?” the Spaniard I was talking to asked me. Like me, he was a diver and we were in the middle of an animated discussion about the best dive sites in Mallorca. Searchingly, I looked around. “With my friend,” I replied, “I should go see where he is. We’ll see each other again later, I’m sure”. I stood up, realizing that the last glass of wine had knocked my balance a bit after all, and chuckled to myself. Swaying slightly, I went in search of Juan and finally found him in an armchair a little apart from the others.
“Hello mío, there you are,” I said good-humoredly, plopping down in the chair next to him and leaning against him. He scarcely stirred, but at last turned his head towards me, and looked at me with a melancholy, thoughtful look, which at one stroke drove away almost all my giddiness, as well as my animated mood.
“I’ve been thinking,” he murmured, “about what will become of us.”
“You know exactly what I want,” I replied firmly.
Inside, I already felt torn…
“Yes, and that’s exactly my problem. You and I are fundamentally different. I need clear structures. Someone who can give me certainty about who I am and what I mean to him. Who belongs to me alone. and who loves only me.”
He spoke the last sentence so softly that I wasn’t sure it had even been meant for me to hear. That strange, oppressive feeling crept up in me again, that we were already about to move away from each other, although our time had not yet run out. And that brought tears to my eyes all of a sudden, sparked such a strong feeling of inner turmoil in me that I couldn’t help but climb onto his lap and snuggle into his arms, nuzzling my face against his neck and breathing in his scent deeply as I cried softly to myself and he stroked my back.
So we sat there for quite a while, soon other guests joined us with their champagne glasses and fruit gums, taking us back from our own little world, but I didn’t want to break away from him yet – couldn’t.
“Hey Hera, have another champagne with me.” Tanja stood next to me, smiling at me, and I got down from Juan’s lap, sat next to him and slowly I was part of the party again. I joked, I drank, and I laughed too. What had happened, I forgot for the moment. I didn’t want to think about it.
A farewell without tender touches
Juan stopped in front of the path to my house, turned off the engine and looked at me.
“Good night, then,” he said, looking at me for a moment, then leaning his head back against the support and closing his eyes. He obviously wanted me to get out now.
“Good night,” I muttered softly, getting out and walking towards the house without another word or looking back. He started the engine and the sound rang loudly in the silence.
I tensed, stopped at the front door, and listened as the roaring engine slowly faded as the car pulled into the street and pulled away. We had never said goodbye to each other like this – so coldly, without tenderness, and already miles apart; if only in our minds.
I pulled my phone out of my back pocket. My fingers trembled a little and with a jerky motion I unlocked it and typed in Juan’s number. It rang four times before he picked up.
“Come back. It feels wrong to part like this. I don’t want to have this kind of goodbye with you – ever.”
Juan hugged me tightly
I couldn’t help but feel my voice start to shake a little at the last sentence, and if I hadn’t been so agitated, I probably would have been annoyed at having so little control over myself. “Yes, I’ll be back,” was his curt reply, and he hung up.
When he came back down the driveway, I was already standing there waiting for him. He turned off the engine, opened his door, and slowly approached me. Something about the way he approached me made me uncomfortable and the feeling that something was wrong just wouldn’t go away. His expression was impenetrable as he took me in his arms. I pressed against him, trying to find some of her earlier warmth in that embrace. But Juan only put his arms around me, nestled his head against mine and immediately detached himself from me.
“You should get some sleep. You look tired.” He patted my back and gave me a kiss, then turned to leave and got back in his car. He closed the door, started the engine, and raised a hand in salute. I watched him turn and drive away down the road. For a few minutes I stood still, looking to where his car had disappeared, while I couldn’t form a clear thought and could only trace that uneasy feeling in my stomach that was growing into a thicker and thicker lump.
I had a lump in my throat, a real fat one.
I woke up in a cold sweat. A glance at the alarm clock told me it was only 3:14. So I had slept just two hours – falling asleep had seemed almost impossible, the whole time I had been thinking about Juan and his strange behaviour, wondering if I had now ruined everything far too soon, and afraid of losing him. A fear that even now wouldn’t leave me. I felt where she sat, deep inside my body, under my breastbone. It constricted my chest, made it difficult to breathe, and continuously filled me with an irrepressible, ever-expanding trepidation. It caused me a physical pain, a constant twinge, it solidified the lump in my stomach so that it was like a stone in my stomach.
My first reach went to my phone. No new word from Juan. What else did I expect? He hadn’t contacted me since he drove me home. I typed in a message, asking him to let me see him directly the next day. Something was wrong, I could feel it. My whole body knew. And I wouldn’t find peace until I knew everything would be okay, not until I knew he was still mine.
He wanted to see me and I wanted to see him – so it was a good fit!
I got up, paced restlessly, and finally drank a glass of water. I tried to breathe in a calm and controlled manner, to dissolve the pain that was inside me again and to calm myself down. Restlessly I rolled in the sheets and every now and then I dozed off, only to wake up again shortly afterwards. Fear drove me, it kept me awake, and it wearied me, but mercilessly it denied me sleep. Again and again I looked at my phone, waiting impatiently for his answer. The redemption came early in the morning at half past five and for me nevertheless actually much too late.
“Si,” he wrote me, in answer to the question whether we could see each other. It was only half past seven, but I packed some important things in no time, got into the car and drove off. I wasn’t sure I would be equipped for what awaited me.
Completely confused I arrived at his place. I had almost run the few yards from my car to the front door, but now I suddenly stopped. In a vain attempt to calm myself, I took a deep breath. Then I pressed the little button next to his doorbell.
I waited for what felt like an eternity as the minutes ticked by and everything remained silent. “Oh please, open up already,” I thought.
Juan was surprised at the early hour
A short time later, a shuffling sound that sounded so familiar to him rang out in the hallway. A tired looking and clearly just out of bed Juan was standing right across from me.
He blinked at me through his still half-closed eyes, obviously surprised to see me on his doorstep so early.
Briefly, he hugged me to him, still completely drowsy. I, too, felt the weight of the last, sleepless night growing heavier and heavier, felt it descending on my eyelids and increasingly obscuring my vision. I pushed past him, staggered to his bed, and let myself sink into it. I pulled the blanket up to my chin, snuggled deep into the pillows, and was only aware at the edge of my consciousness of Juan carefully lying down next to me again. I snuggled close to him, saying “please let me sleep by your side”. Then I fell asleep.
Three hours later I was awakened by a scraping sound at the bedroom door. But right now I wasn’t even bothered by the annoying dog, so preoccupied was I with the previous night’s anxieties. Now that I had been able to rest for a few hours, I felt at least a little refreshed and ready to face disaster.
I really needed to talk to Juan
I lay there for a moment, gathering my thoughts, then finally got up and joined Juan in the living room. He had sat down on the sofa with Jack beside him. Absently, he patted him on the head as he typed on his phone. When he heard me, he raised his head. “Good morning, mía. Are you feeling better?” he asked. A smile stole onto my face as he called me by that pet name and for a moment the world almost seemed right again. But only almost.
“Yeah, let’s go get some breakfast”. On the side I started to put on my shoes and jacket and gave him a prompting look. We had to talk, I knew that. And I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible and get rid of the horror that had built up inside me in the fastest way possible.
We were sitting in a bar in Palma where we had been for breakfast many times before. The food here was good, but today, even though I was hungry and my stomach was rumbling, I didn’t feel like eating much. So I opted for the only thing I thought I could get it down from: a baguette with jam and the almost unavoidable café con leche – my nerves especially needed that today.
I discovered an insecure, new side of myself…
We ate in silence, only now and then one of us making a remark, but the conversation bobbed along superficially. With one finger, I gathered up the last of the crumbs and licked them off, staring uneasily at my plate, not really knowing how to start the conversation we now had to have. “Juan, I thought long and hard last night. About what you said to me last night,” I began hesitantly as I nervously smoothed out a fold of my skirt. I took a deep breath in an attempt to calm myself, placed my folded hands in my lap and looked him firmly in the eye. This kind of insecurity and distress was completely foreign to me in myself.
“Listen, if it’s that important to you, and if it means that much to you, then you will continue to be my friend. I’ll give you that definition if you need it that bad. It means nothing to me. I’ll always see you the same way I see you now – as you. No matter what we’ll call it.”
His gaze darkened and an expression of frustration and regret twitched around the corners of his mouth, playing around his expression and digging deep furrows in his face.
When you love each other, there’s always a way
“I don’t think you understood me. What I told you is that I can’t believe in a future with you. All the things I need, all the things I might want someday, I can’t find with you. Just you, me, and… a child. We’ll never have anything like that.” He looked at me seriously. I recognized the sadness in his features, it mirrored mine, because despite everything, I sympathized with what he was saying. It was the truth.
“But one doesn’t preclude the other,” I tried to convince him. “After all, why should we throw away something that works well because we can’t share a certain thing? This is insane. We love each other, and surely a way will be found for everything to fit. That’s how I’ve lived all my life.”
Even as I spoke, I saw that my conviction, my faith, and my budding hope did not reach him, saw that it was in vain. He didn’t share my values.
“I’m traditional, Hera. You aren’t. We don’t work well and never have,” he said seriously. “Don’t lie to yourself. You and I are fundamentally different, always have been and always will be. There’s no changing that. You’ve always known it and you never cared. To you, I was just a project that would expire after a certain amount of time anyway.”
Then I began to weep bitterly…
“That’s not true,” I counter him heatedly. Anger overcame me. “You know very well that’s not true.” Hastily I spoke on, forestalling his objection. “Just because we started as a project, just because I share a project with you, doesn’t mean YOU are a project to me! I never said that. You’re not a thing, you’re a person I love. If it bothers you that much, then let’s end this project right here – right now. You’ll still be my friend after this and nothing will have changed. Is that enough for you?”
I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, how I could no longer hold them back and they began to roll down my cheeks in a steady stream where they left hot trails. I averted my eyes and looked down at the ground.
“It’s not enough for me and you know it. We’re incompatible. Because I can’t live like you. Because I’m not you,” he whispered softly.
I loved him and he loved me? If it were…
I looked at him, saw how hurt he was by his own words and that tears were in his eyes too.
“Oh please, there must be a way,” I thought to myself, standing up and he rose at the same moment as I did. As if drawn to each other, we fell into each other’s arms, held each other close, and sought comfort from each other. We both knew that the inevitable was coming, that it was imminent, and that we still didn’t want to deal with it right now in this moment. Now at this moment we had each other.
“Te quiero,” I whispered to him. “Te quiero,” he replied.
It was two days before we met again. The mood during this time was weird, we were getting further and further apart and I felt powerless against it. I had no strength left to fight it, felt like he had left me alone in our desert in the middle of a sandstorm.
Juan acted coolly, barely checking in, and I spent most of my time silently pondering my thoughts. The diving did not fill me with the usual joy and the world seemed to have become a bit greyer and duller. These were exactly the feelings I had wanted to avoid through my project. I wanted to keep the good in my head and heart, all the beautiful, wondrous memories, without sullying them in the muck and mire of mostly messy breakups.
We pondered the future – our future
But be that as it may, I wanted him, I wanted this project and I would see it through. I could still mope around after that. So while I was getting ready – we would meet for dinner and then spend the night together – I was sorting myself out, trying to clear myself of such negative feelings so I could have a happy evening with him. Or at least what we had left of happiness to share with him. We met for pizza, made our usual choices, and soon two fragrant pizzas appeared on our plates. I cut a small piece off mine, blew gently, and the hot steam dissipated into the vastness of the restaurant. I let him go and glared after him.
As I chewed on my tuna pizza, my thoughts followed a dead straight line, the end of which always led to musings about our future. The subject just wouldn’t let go of me.
“I still have something on my mind, Juan,” I finally began a renewed debate with him.
“That is so like you,” he replied. “Can’t you just let it go? It’s all been said.”
He never really loved me, the bastard…
“I just don’t understand you. Why don’t you give us a chance if you love me? Why don’t we give it a shot? At least then you’ll know what you’re talking about and if you don’t want it then, we can always find another way. We don’t have to impose these social norms on ourselves, it’s our choice. We are free in what we do, Juan.” “I never loved you, Hera,” was his only reply. Nothing to what I had just now tried to make him understand, not a teensy approximation on his part. His answer was like a slap in the face to me. I couldn’t believe him at all – all his looks, his gestures, what we had done to each other had spoken volumes.
“But you’ve told me so many times,” I brought out in a choked voice.
You and I were just a project – nothing more
“I said to you, Te quiero. Telling someone you love them is something else entirely. I had trouble forming a clear thought. “But te quiero means I love you,” I thought to myself. “Te quiero” means something like I love you, but you say it to almost everyone: your friends, your parents, or even good acquaintances. And I really did, you are dear to me and I care for you, but how could I ever have loved you? After you kept telling me we were just a project, kept making it clear you were going to leave me?”
“But leaving someone doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to you. It doesn’t change anything at all between us or how I feel about you. It just gives us the freedom to stop having to define ourselves and just be us. In any constellation.”
He just looked at me, his gaze fixed on me, his green eyes cold and impenetrable.
Was that what he wanted or did he crave more?
“And that’s exactly the problem. I don’t understand how you think and your way of life is not mine. I also like traditional values in my life; I don’t want to live like you at all. For a temporary project it was exciting, it was new and exciting and I wanted to learn more about it, but the longer I know you the clearer it is to me how much you would hold me back in the long run. I would miss a real partner, one with the same goals and desires.
A temporary relationship as you always pointed out was fine with me. You never wanted more from me, and I don’t understand your point of view. And I don’t even get a chance to meet other women and bring them home with me because your stuff is all over the place. What normal woman can I explain this to without her immediately running away from me?”
Tears welled up in my eyes, lately I’ve been eerily close to water, my nerves were on overdrive and I tended to overreact to everything. And on top of that, his words actually hurt me. All that frustration that seemed to have built up inside him came out in the most unfortunate of situations.
“And you cry all the time.” Now he was really getting angry. “The other day at Tanja’s, when we had breakfast on Saturday, and now again. You’re spoiling everyone’s mood around you just because you can’t get yourself together.”
He was going to get what he deserved: to be a project…
That was definitely too much for me. With a groaning sound, I pushed the chair back and rose. “I need some fresh air, I’ll be right back”
I grabbed my jacket from the chair, pulling it tighter around my shoulders as I made my way to the restaurant’s patio, fighting back tears. He was right, but the way he was treating me right now was impossible. I stood on the parapet, let my eyes wander over the mountains, and breathed deeply of the fresh night air, filling my lungs with it to the last cell, and slowly, little by little, ridding myself of the sadness which at first turned to anger, and gradually to a firm determination. If he was so insistent on being just a project, that’s exactly what he should get.
Returning to our table, I held myself upright, chin raised and gaze resolutely fixed on him.
We had a contract – and it was still running
With the same firmness, I sat down. I could tell by the look on his face that there was a noticeable change in me. But that was the way it was when I set my mind to something. And I saw his astonishment in the face of the fact that suddenly a strong – if perhaps not quite as strong as before – , determined and determined woman was sitting in front of him again. A woman, though marked by disappointment, loss and her own weaknesses, but also one who had found herself again and would not be stopped.
“You promised me six months and the project is still on. We have a contract. You can’t leave me yet. Pick a date in October and then we’ll part ways. For good – just like you wanted. But before that, you have to keep what we agreed.” The corners of his mouth twisted into an approximate smile. “All right,” he said. “You’re right, I promised you and we’ll go through with it if you insist. And I notice you obviously do.”
We drove home together, even though I had been on the verge of spending the night alone. But I also held myself to discipline. So that night we tried to maintain some semblance of normalcy, to keep the promise we had made to each other to the best of our abilities. I swore to myself to love him to the last moment, with all my heart, promising that I would not withdraw from him before. It took a lot of effort on my part, because I still felt resentment inside of me, but I would not tie my heart to anyone else before our last day.
It was a warm afternoon and the late summer sun was bright yellow in the sky. I stood outside a beach bar and sucked in the feeling of summer with every breath, taking it deep into my heart. Relaxing, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the soothing glow and heat on my face, it brought back memories of hot summer days. Of happy days, of a summer love that I no longer thought would survive the winter. A love nourished by light and sunshine. At that time we had still been able to suppress reality.
When I saw Juan coming towards me from a distance, I felt a hint of that summer glow welling up inside me and a smile spread across my face. Well, we might not get summer back, but we could still make the most of this last month left to us. Putting all the problems and strife behind us. We had planned to do something really nice today. It was like the culmination of our reconciliation and the challenge was to pick up where we left off despite all that had happened.
Even if the ice cubes melted, it was almost like always
“Hay que vivir el momento,” I kept thinking to myself, reflecting on the need to enjoy the here and now. – Live in the moment
We greeted each other warmly, gave each other a hug, and held each other for a long time before heading to the bar. Juan headed for a table right by the water and we sat down. A short time later, the waiter returned with our order – two pinacolodas. It was wonderful: the waves rolled towards the coast and I watched them break, the odd sailor could be seen in the distance, the sun was bright in the sky and all too soon we were both tipsy from the cocktails. The ice cubes melted in the glasses as time passed and we laughed together. Almost like everything is still the same.
Suddenly Juan took my hand and squeezed it tightly. “Mia, I’m pretty tipsy, but I wanted to tell you I’m sorry. I was thinking of doing something really great with you today, something romantic even. We were supposed to be enjoying the sunset together right now, but it’s way too early and I’m already way too drunk. I just hadn’t thought about that.” He hiccupped and I burst out laughing happily. For a small moment he stared at me, dumbfounded, and then joined in.
Everything was different from the evenings in summer
“Come on, let’s go home,” I said as I got up to pay the bill. Slowly it had become late, we had made ourselves comfortable in bed and Jack was celebrating his every evening yowling, since he had been banished from the bedroom. Also the inevitable change of bed linen was fortunately already behind me. I certainly wouldn’t miss it. For the first time today, perhaps because of everything that had happened in the last week, I realized how much things had changed.
Although this coldness between us was no longer as icy as it had been in the last few days and we had more or less returned to our daily routine, everything was also different from our summer evenings. I became painfully aware of this today, as I had had a glimpse of that feeling, or rather a glimpse of a memory of that glorious summer feeling.
Was he having trouble with his incipient hair loss?
Whereas in the summer we had spent every spare minute together, devoted only to each other, longing for time together as soon as we were apart, now we busied ourselves together separately. Everyone pursued his own interests and so it happened that we lay in the same bed and surfed the internet with our mobile phones. Actually, we were wasting more and more of our time together. Though it was limited as it was. I looked over at Juan thoughtfully and saw that he was looking at ads for anti-hair loss products. Unsure if I should be amused or annoyed, I raised an eyebrow, knowing full well he didn’t see me right now. Why he was constantly so fixated on appearances remained a mystery to me until now.
Often enough I had tried to make him understand that a woman didn’t care much whether a man had hair loss or not, as long as his attractiveness didn’t suffer from a lack of masculinity or self-confidence.
Lost in thought, I looked at the bedspread and once again asked myself if and why he had such a bad image of himself and where this constant insecurity about his appearance came from.
As a matter of course, he showed me photos of other women
Just as I released my gaze from the ceiling, still undecided whether I wanted to say something to him or not, I noticed that he had long since turned his attention to something else. With apparently even more interest than he had previously shown in the adverts, he was now looking at scantily clad women in their underwear, whom he was apparently following on Instagram.
Rolling my eyes, I decided to pay no further attention to him, instead looking at what was new with me. I really wasn’t in the mood for his half-naked women right now.
“Hey, let me take a look too.” Juan slid in next to me and stared at my phone. My Instagram feed was full of scantily clad women that I seemed to be following as well. Even though a significant portion of these were artfully tied up.
“Which one do you like best? Well, I think this one’s pretty hot,” he put in and I started laughing.
“What other woman will ever go along with that,” I thought to myself. “You’ll find that reality is very different from what you imagine and realize what you had in me.”
As I followed Juan through the pizzeria on his way to our favorite spot, I suddenly became aware of a terrible noise behind us: children screaming.
He looked at me with distaste and resignation…
Just as we were about to sit down, the kids trundled in next to us, shrieking, making noise, squealing and laughing. It was a hell of a racket. Right next to us was the birthday lounge; a somewhat separate room for occasions just like this. A mother was trying to help the restaurant attendant sort out the children and keep order, as well as keep the noise level down.
Juan looked at me with a mixture of distaste and resignation.
“Shall we go somewhere else? I think there’s a table free in the back,” he said halfway through his walk.
Almost a little gloating, I grinned to myself, thinking to myself how much more he would look around.
“Yes, my dear. That’s exactly what you want to leave me for. The very thing you wish for. And that and much more will come to you then.” I wondered what would actually happen to him. So far, anyway, I could hardly imagine him in the role of father.
“See, here I am about four years old. And there, look, there we were at the zoo.” In the meantime we were back at home and Juan had brought out lots of photos of himself as a child. Completely excited, he showed me pictures of outings with his parents, pictures with his siblings and his enthusiasm was contagious.
“Here come pictures from my partying days. I was maybe in my early twenties.”
He wore his house suit, but did not appear relaxed
From the picture, a handsome young blond man with a full head of hair and green eyes smiled at me. In one hand he held a beer bottle, the other arm was casually wrapped around one of his buddies. He looked really good. So good that I hardly wanted to take my eyes off the picture.
“Why again didn’t I meet you back then? I would have eaten you right then and there,” I said, finally turning my gaze back to him.
It took him a moment to open the door for me. Juan was wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants, but he didn’t give a particularly relaxed impression. Somehow he seemed rather chipper to me. I wondered what had happened.
“Come in, look, I have something to show you,” he said as he half hugged me to him with one arm, meanwhile already pulling me into the house.
At first glance, however, everything seemed the same and I could not yet directly explain the reason for the excitement.
“Stop right there. Don’t move. It’s a real surprise,” he began, and then strained to look for something. He left the living room where he had left me and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Awesome, right? What do you say to that? I got new dishes!” He held a plate and a cup under my nose. “Come into the kitchen with me, I really need to show you the rest of it too.”
He already had something, but could not remember
He pulled me along with him, even though I couldn’t really relate to his euphoria. But his good mood also cheered me up and I was happy for him.
I thought the dishes were awful, though. He had placed three boxes in the kitchen and spread cups, plates and bowls everywhere. I didn’t like them, they were too old-fashioned for my taste, but it had to suit him. Plus, the thought flashed through my mind that I wouldn’t be using his dishes after the end of this month anyway. Somehow it felt strange and I was unsure if this prospect made me happy or sad.
“Where did you get that?”, I asked him. “I cleaned up,” he explained to me proudly. “Found it in the storage closet, way down under the other stuff. Got some new cutlery, too. Well, what do you think?”
“Great,” I returned. That was so typical of him again. He has actually wanted new dishes for a while and doesn’t know that he actually has some there. “The man is so haphazard.” But I pulled myself together and said nothing more about it. I knew well enough how this would end.
“Yes, isn’t it? Now I have all new dishes, even without having bought any. That’s so great!”
I made time for him – he did housework.
“He’s really excited like a little kid,” I thought. “Like he doesn’t even realize anymore that of course he bought this stuff at some point. He just forgot about it.”
Juan bent over a box, pulled out more plates, and was about to put them in his dishwasher when he noticed that it appeared to still be full. He set the plates down on the sideboard and began to put the clean dishes away in the cupboard.
I noticed a pot that I had put away on my last visit and knew that once again he hadn’t cleaned up since. No, I wouldn’t say anything about it, this was his place.
“You don’t mind if I do the dishes now, do you? You know, it took me so long to clean up the whole utility closet that I didn’t get around to doing it before you got here.”
“No, no problem,” I replied, trying to suppress a sigh. Then I could have brought my laptop and worked. But I had made extra time for him.
Juan liked to whistle and he whistled happily
A bit discontented I finally sat down in front of the TV and boredly switched on a Spanish program to at least use the time productively. It annoyed me that he didn’t give me the same attention he used to. “He was still happy when I came here then,” I mused. “Now he has more important things to do than see me. Back then I couldn’t be here long enough for him and he couldn’t have enough of my time. Now he leaves me sitting here like this.” I tried to shoo away my negative thoughts and focused on the show. It was good and after a while it had me so gripped that I hardly noticed Juan’s cheerful whistling from the kitchen either.
“Do you want to get something to eat?”, Juan asked me when he came to me from the kitchen almost an hour and a half later. “I’m done and I’m terribly hungry. How about our favorite Japanese place?”
At that moment Jack caught sight of him, who had been slumbering in his basket until then, and ran towards Juan, wagging his tail and yelping.
“There’s Daddy’s darling! How’s my sweet Jack?” Juan patted his dog’s head and Jack growled happily to himself.
Jack, Jack and Jack again: the uber-dog
“Sounds good to me,” I replied. “I’ll just get my shoes,” I said with a glance at him who was already dressed and turned off the TV.
When I got back to the living room, I paused for a moment, puzzled. Didn’t I just turn off the TV? Then I saw Juan fiddling around.
“Did you turn the TV back on?”, I asked, although I realized at the same moment that my question was complete nonsense. “Well, who else?”, I scolded myself.
“Yeah. You know, when Jack is alone all the time, I stream him a movie on my computer. Then he can watch it on the TV and not be bored the whole time. Hop on the couch, Jack!” He tapped the spot beside him with his left hand and Jack jumped up to him joyfully. Rolling my eyes, I walked out the door.
We had a nice evening at the Japanese restaurant and with full bellies we came back home. As Juan turned the key in the lock, we could already hear Jack running towards the door from inside. The usual barking began.
Juan greeted his dog and went inside while I waited a moment for the commotion at the door to die down. I avoided contact with the dog when I had the opportunity.
Oh dear, poor dog Jack was bored
“Oh no!”, I heard Juan shout from inside. “Oh my! Oh no, oh no, oh no!”
“What’s wrong?”, I asked as I entered and closed the apartment door behind me.
“The program crashed. After only ten minutes. Poor Jack must have been terribly bored.”
“Yes.” Juan looked seriously glum.
“Oh dear, poor, poor Jack,” I said, having to try really hard to hold back the fit of laughter that was building inside me. “How terribly bored he must have been. I feel terribly sorry for him.”
“Come here, Jack!” called Juan to his dog, who immediately came running and was extensively petted and cared for by his master. “Daddy’s so sorry, little one.”
“I’m going to give Jack a treat now. As compensation. He really earned it today. Yes, come!”
Juan disappeared into the kitchen with his dog, and while I heard him rip open the package of dog food and the dog burst into a loud, contented smacking shortly after, I finally allowed myself a long, wide smile.
He was ashamed, wouldn’t look at me…
Miguel picked me up from my house. We had a lot planned for today: but first of all I needed a new wetsuit. And so we went shopping.
The store had a handsome selection of beautiful wetsuits in a variety of colors, but naturally I looked around for a black one. I immediately found a nice model and Miguel followed me – as usual a bit shy – to the fitting. The suit fit perfectly, the neoprene hugged my body tightly and I immediately felt like going diving with it.
I pulled aside the locker room curtain to show Miguel my new scuba gear. He eyed me intently from head to toe, looked a little uncertainly to the side, and muttered something about how he seemed to fit and look very good on me. “He’s ashamed to look at me,” I thought with a mixture of astonishment and amusement. I would have loved to know what was going through his head at that moment. I realized, however, that asking him about it would have been a futile endeavor.
I decided to go with the suit. Miguel had been right, because he was really flattering me. Moreover, it was of good quality and I also liked it very much. When we finally got to the checkout to pay, I had accumulated a few more things that I wanted to take with me: some booties, underwear, gloves… You always needed something.
My two men were quite similar
“What do you think of this one?” asked Miguel, holding out a snorkel mask to me. “It kind of looks very practical and I think for me it would be a very good option because the snorkel is already on it. I don’t really like breathing through my mouth. I’m sure you know about that as a professional.” It was the same mask Juan had asked me about earlier in the summer, and once again it was clear to me how similar these two men were at heart. With some difficulty I suppressed a giggle, but I felt a small, amused smirk creep into the corners of my mouth. “I’ve heard they’re very good,” I answered truthfully.
Side by side and packed with bags we finally strolled back to the car. It was still early, just six o’clock, and we were going to the movie show at eight. Nevertheless, we decided to drive to the shopping mall, where the cinema was located, and then decide on the spot how we would spend the rest of the time. After all, there were plenty of offers there.
Smoking pot in the car in Spain is not such a good idea
Miguel made a nervous impression while we sat in the car, fiddling with his hair or his pants pockets or rubbing his earlobe. Finally, he reached for his jacket that was behind him in the car and pulled something out of one of the pockets. When I realized what it was, my breath caught for a moment in disbelief.
“You can’t be serious now!”, I exclaimed in dismay. Guiltily, Miguel looked to the side, but continued unperturbed, and now it was finally clear to me what he was looking for: a lighter.
“Put the joint away, for fuck’s sake! You can’t seriously want to smoke pot while driving.” I was getting really pissed off. I was used to a lot of drug consumption by the Spaniards and knew that some things were seen a bit more relaxed here, but this was just too much of a good thing.
He bashfully took the joint out of his mouth and put it back in his jacket. He was pretty silent the rest of the way and so was I. His behavior repulsed me and I was unsure if and how I wanted to deal with it. There were things I could easily overlook and others where that was not so readily possible: compulsive drug use was definitely of the latter variety.
Some guys have trouble making decisions
Arriving at the mall, we first decided to enjoy a coffee in a quiet corner and retreated to a small bar.
“Where do we want to sit?”, I asked Miguel, pausing a stride behind him. “Oh I, um, so where do you want to sit?” “Anywhere. Pick a spot,” I returned. Unbelievable the problems some men could have with such simple decisions. And he wasn’t the only one I could think of right away. A few moments later, after he still hadn’t moved, just feverishly scanning the room with his eyes, I walked past him with a sigh and headed straight for a table. “See, it’s not that hard,” I thought to myself as I noticed him following me shortly after, though still a bit hesitant.
Everyone deserved a second chance – even Miguel
By the time we finally made our way to the ticket booth, the mood had lightened and Miguel was in good spirits again. He chattered happily and I enjoyed my time with him. We finally stopped a few feet from the cash register. We hadn’t decided on a film yet and I looked at the posters with interest.
“What kind of movie would be best to watch with him?”, I just asked myself and decided to give him a second chance and ask his opinion again. Maybe this time he would be a little more determined.
“What do you like to see?” “Hmm, well I don’t really know. You decide,” he returned, as he had before, and I began to seriously wonder why I had sought out the next little fellow. Juan hadn’t really been decisive at times either, decisiveness being a trait that usually appeals to me in the male gender. Perhaps it was because there was such a glaring lack of it that it really stood out when a specimen was found that was powerful enough.
He didn’t get the simplest female signal…
“Come on, let’s get tickets to Star Trek,” so I decided. It was the closest thing I felt to it right now.
The movie theater slowly darkened, the screen began to flicker, and the smell of popcorn enveloped us. “Oh, that sizzle that comes as soon as you go to the movies together for the first time,” I thought. I wonder if he’d take my hand.
I waited anxiously. The film visibly passed and Miguel let his opportunity go to waste. “Well do something already!” it went through my head. Halfway through the movie, when still nothing had happened, I leaned my head against his shoulder and shortly after felt him rest his head on mine. I enjoyed the feeling of his closeness for a while, but straightened up again when my neck began to pull painfully and his head began to exert an uncomfortable pressure on me. Now it would be up to him to take the initiative. I made it easy for him and let my hand rest on the back of the chair. It would be so easy.
Miguel smiled shyly at me – was he scared?
Through the rows of seats we made our way to the exit, stepping over popcorn and drink containers lying on the floor. We both enjoyed the film and in a good mood we made our way home. Miguel would drop me off at home before he returned home as well. Contrary to my expectations, he had not taken the opportunity to seek any further proximity to me throughout the film. While I was aware that he was shy, not recognizing such a clear sign, or not daring to despite myself, remained unimaginable to me. Excitedly, I anticipated how he would probably say goodbye to me.
He stopped in front of my house. I opened the door and got out. From the other side of the car I heard Miguel’s door slam and shortly after he appeared beside me. Shyly, he smiled at me. Involuntarily I spread my arms, pulled him to me and held him like that for quite a while. We both enjoyed this closeness with each other and a surge of comfortable silence came over us as I took in the peace and quiet of the moment.
I felt held and very, very comfortable with him. Slowly, I detached myself from him a bit to get a better look at his face and those beautiful blue eyes. Would he kiss me now? It was the perfect time. For a moment I held out, knowing that this step had to come from him, no matter how much I longed for it. “Come on, we both want it!” I pursed my lips, just a little, but enough that he must have noticed and waited a moment longer. He hesitated, however, and the opportunity passed.
He kissed me tenderly on the mouth, against all expectations.
“Good night,” I whispered to him, turning around and disappearing behind the door of my house a few minutes later. He had still wanted to tell me something, not to let me go yet, I had seen that on his face, however the time had been there. I didn’t blame him, after all, I still had a smile on my lips, the memory of the deep blue of his eyes and the warmth of his embrace against my body. “Take heart,” I finally texted him. The message was clear and perhaps he did need a clear announcement. “I will,” came his reply a moment later. I smiled.
It was the 42nd of 50 nights. Another Spanish lesson and I didn’t feel like going to Juan’s. I’ve had enough. When he met me at the front door, I turned my cheek in greeting, but he took my face between his hands and gave me a tender kiss on the mouth.
“Hi, come on in. What do you feel like doing today?” He wrapped his arm around me and hugged me to him, then gave me another kiss on the cheek. What was wrong with him today? He had never been this affectionate in the last few days.
“Honestly, I don’t really feel like doing anything. Shall we just have a cosy evening? Some delicious wine, chocolate, a bit of lounging and cuddling on the sofa?”
“Sure, sounds good. Will you go look for chocolate in the kitchen? I’ll get everything ready here. You know where the wine is.”
Did Juan just want to watch TV until the end of the relationship?
A few moments later, I returned to the living room with a bottle of white wine and hazelnut chocolate. He had dimmed the lights, pulled out the sofa, and fetched a blanket from the bedroom. This was going to be a cozy evening. While I was taking two wine glasses out of the cupboard to pour for both of us, Juan suddenly asked, “What do you say we have a series marathon?”. A really long one? All episodes of How I met your mother until the end of our relationship?” “You know we only have a few nights left, right?” I looked at in disbelief, but started grinning almost at the same moment as he did. “But alright, let’s rise to the challenge!”
I lounged next to him on the sofa and he was already playing the first episode. This was followed by many more that evening, Juan had already made acquaintance with my ambition and stubbornness before.
Say hello to his grandparents on command?
We were taking a break. The conversation – after Jack had licked his own still image that had popped up as a screensaver on Juan’s screen several times, despite repeated, futile attempts by Juan to stop him – was all about dog training.
In the past, knowing it was true, I had often accused Juan of not being in control of his dog and he, in turn, had now retorted that Jack could even react to certain words. He now tried to demonstrate this to me by means of selected examples, while his dog was already on the spot again.
“Watch out, when I say “abuelitos” he runs to the door to greet his grandparents.” “Grandparents? The man actually sees the dog as his child,” I thought resignedly.
“Jack!” he called to his dog. “Abuelitos!” As if struck by lightning, Jack raced toward the door, hooked it, nearly slipped, and jumped tail-wagging onto his favorite chair, where he pattered back and forth, barking.
Jack shouldn’t be getting any more ham now
“This is working out beautifully,” I laughed out loud. After all, this had been his sixth attempt by now. Steadfastly, he refused to believe, despite everything, that his dog was simply not well behaved. Jack, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying the game. He happily hopped around on his chair, ran between Juan’s feet or sniffed excitedly at his vest. I rolled my eyes as soon as I thought of the vest with Sam’s name on it. “A really last-ditch effort,” Juan began. “I swear that always works! You’ll see, in a minute Jack will run into the kitchen and wait in front of the fridge.”
“Jack, ham!” Again the dog took off, ran across the apartment toward the window, and looked expectantly at Juan. The dropped his shoulders in discouragement. “Come on, let’s keep watching,” I said to him, hugging him to me. I couldn’t help but grin triumphantly, though.
Just as Juan picked up the remote, Jack came running, barking and tail wagging towards the kitchen.
“Believe me, now you won’t get any ham either!”, Juan called after him and we both started laughing.
The shampoo with the very special scent
Our last week dawned and we met for our last Friday shopping at Carrefour. As we strolled through the aisles, packing the usual items into our shopping carts and pretty much lost in our daily grind, Juan suddenly headed for a line of anti-hair loss shampoos that were obviously on sale at the moment.
“Which smell do you like best? Mint, apple or lemon?” he asked. “Lemon.” With a smile, I watched the lemon-scented shampoo slide from his hand into the cart, wondering at the same time why, with only a week left, he was now asking my opinion and not buying what he liked.
“You’re addicted to me. No wonder.” Juan rolled onto his back and looked smugly at his bedroom ceiling. “How arrogant of him,” I thought. “He’s really the only man I know who thinks I couldn’t help being crazy about him anyway. Anyway, he’s the very best in bed.” I rolled my eyes. Actually, he was the very best at everything.
“It’s not your fault, after all,” he apparently tried to comfort me. “Spaniards are just good in bed.”
“By Spanish, you mean you, right?”, I inquired doubtfully.
All Spaniards are innately good in bed?
“No. Spaniards basically. All Spaniards are good in bed. Everyone is. There’s even statistics about it.” Triumphantly, he held out his phone to me. He had accessed a Spanish website where the Spanish topped the top 10 men in the world in sex. I pulled out my cell phone, certain that on a German website the result would be quite different. But no matter where I looked, everywhere the Spaniards seemed to actually hold the leading position. Resigned, I put my phone aside. He grinned broadly at me. “Believe me, I can teach you a lot more about men. Like how you can tell if a man has a big penis. Because all women like big penises.”
Blinking in disbelief, I looked at him. “Are you serious?” “Of course. Believe me, I really have a clue about that. Anyway, it’s like that with all Spanish women. I know what women want.”
“Juan, you’re googling phrases women say to find out what they mean!”
He actually had the decency to look down at least once and realize what I had said before continuing. “Yeah, but that’s a whole different thing. Believe me, I really know. And you can tell if a man has a big penis by his height. By the way, you can tell if he’s also fat by looking at his fingers.”
It would all end at the end of October – unfortunately
I started laughing. “I’ve probably seen more cock in my life than you have, I don’t need any more lessons there now. It’s all bullshit anyway!”
He looked at me in shock, but anyway, I had my peace now. As we often do, we sat together over breakfast in our bar. We had just been talking about what each other would be doing all winter and how many things would end in October. It was a very indirect conversation and yet somehow we both realized what it was all about.
“We have four seasons of How I Met Your Mother left,” Juan said. “Do you think we can still do this in a week?”
“In any case, we’re going to have to go for it.” A strange silence hung between us. The pause that finally occurred was almost uncomfortable. After a while I said: “Listen, let’s not think about the after, okay? Let’s still experience this last week together, as if nothing had happened. As if the end wasn’t yet upon us.”
Before our next meeting, I got sick. Feverish, I lay on the sofa while our show played on the screen. Juan changed the sheets today as I was noticeably getting worse. One of 50 times I was spared. Later, he crawled over to me under the many blankets I lay under and froze, warming and hugging me until we finally disappeared into bed early.
The dog just snuggled in bed with us
“Will I see you tomorrow? We’re still one night short before the month runs out.” The last days I had slept almost completely and still I felt unwell and lay in bed, but I felt much better than a few days before. “Only if you’re well and healthy. But trust me, the worst day is just ahead of you tomorrow. I’m a real expert on colds.” But for once – without even thinking about it – I had to agree with him: no one else I knew had had so many colds in such a short time.
However, I actually felt much better the next day. So I made my way to Juan’s – on the way to our penultimate night together. A strange thought that somehow also filled me with joy.
Juan kissed me when I arrived and we disappeared into the bedroom fairly quickly. We were almost manically obsessed with still seeing our series through to the end together. I didn’t re-cover the bed today. I’ve had enough of it. But other customs were visibly fading: we had just made ourselves comfortable – I was lying in Juan’s arm – when Jack came strolling through the open door and snuggled up to Juan’s other side. Damn, now even the dog was in bed by now!
His dog was really part of the immediate family for him
“How nice, now the whole family is together!” said Juan elatedly.
I said nothing to that. Risking a fight on the night before last just wasn’t my style.
The next morning I woke up rested and had slept better than ever before during the past 48 nights. Even the fact that Jack, who had been banished from bed during the night after all, had once again taken a dump in the kitchen couldn’t dampen my spirits that morning. So I got up right as the alarm was ringing with Juan, something I never normally did because I was so tired. His confusion was evident and he didn’t seem too comfortable with my behavior. “Go ahead and lie down again,” he finally said. “You know, well, I always get up early, but you don’t have to get right out of bed for that, too.”
I willingly went back to bed and curled up under the covers. But I couldn’t really manage to snooze any longer and so after several futile attempts I got up and decided to make myself a coffee. On my way to the kitchen, I heard music coming from the bathroom. Juan never listened to music…
49 nights – only one more was missing to complete the trip
And then suddenly it dawned on me: he got up extra early so I wouldn’t notice him going to the bathroom in the morning. Although we had already spent 49 nights together and many inhibitions had fallen during this time, he was ashamed of this now more than natural need. After all, he had been in the bathroom for more than twenty minutes now. Undecided if I just found his behavior immature or at least still funny, I made my way to the coffee machine. Our last night had come, it was the fiftieth. The night we had dreaded, longed for, and above all, never quite let go of.
From the beginning, she had been reaching for us and had moved inexorably closer. I looked back on the past six months: together we had experienced the whole spectrum of emotions – joy, anger, disappointment, sorrow, love, sadness and lust. It hadn’t always been easy, and often enough it had been harder than I could have imagined.
I had come close to giving up often enough in the last few months. But today, on this all-important day, I saw that it had been good to wait, that to go separate ways in anger would have destroyed everything we had experienced. Probably our contract had even saved our relationship – we would be able to part without arguing today, free of anger, disappointment and recrimination.
We would enjoy this last day and I wanted to leave all the misunderstandings and arguments of the previous months behind me for good. We would not taint our love with this last day and our separation, but celebrate it, celebrate it as we had done for the last six months. And that’s why I was ready.
Juan freely admitted his transgression…
As good as my resolutions had been, however, they didn’t last long. Juan and I had a dinner date at a new Japanese place, but when I showed up at the appointed meeting place, there was no sign of him. When he responded to my message shortly thereafter – which was right on time for him – he explained in his overly smug way that I was – of course – in the wrong place. I didn’t react and felt an incredible rage rise up inside me because he was treating me so unfairly again.
I was sure I was exactly where we had arranged to be. Just a few minutes later, a new message from Juan reached me, in which he admitted his transgression and also stated that he was generally mistaken about the location. A new location came directly to me, along with Juan’s offer to accommodate me. When we finally ran into each other, he apologized again and even though I knew it was unnecessary, I couldn’t help myself and said, “Oh, you make mistakes?”.
This meanness was followed by many more, although I had firmly resolved not to ruin this last day, but I just couldn’t help myself. Even as we ate, I couldn’t manage to keep it together.
I once tried to convince Juan to have sex in the car
“I know that, I really do. You can believe me.” He had just tried to explain something to me. As is often the case, however, I couldn’t help but have my doubts about it. I put on a smug grin. “But of course, you know everything. You’re really, really great,” I said, alluding to his self-promotion and self-absorption, which had cost me a few nerves in recent months.
“Why, yes. Yes, I am.” He grew more meek, and the unspoken “Or?” hung in the air. At that moment, I was already regretting my behavior. This was not what I had wanted for our last, shared day.
Unfortunately, I was still not finished with him. As soon as we left the sushi place and walked to his car, I continued.
“Oh look, your car. A bird pooped on it,” I remarked with mock horror. I remembered all too vividly how I had once tried in vain to persuade him to have sex in the car. No normal man would have refused this offer, but for Juan it was out of the question to expose his car to the danger of being soiled and sullied. The idolization of his white Seat was almost equal to that of his dog.
I liked his smile – I loved it very much
“Oh dear!” he exclaimed. So we made a detour to the car wash on the way home and his car shone again in the usual shine. On the drive he chatted merrily, told me about his plans starting Monday, and I refrained from commenting that I wasn’t really interested in the least in what he was going to do starting tomorrow.
“What’s going on now? Did I miss something?” Juan looked at me startled as I came out of the bathroom stark naked. “No, why?”, I replied emphatically innocent and put on a big smile. “I just decided to spend the rest of the day naked.”
A grin stole onto his face. “How good!” he beamed. “Do you really think you’re as great as you always pretend?” I tried to have a clarifying conversation with him, convulsing to find my peace with him. I was getting tired of constantly taunting and teasing him.
“Of course not,” he replied, aghast. “That’s just a way of talking, none of it was serious. I’m just kidding. Actually, I thought you knew my image of myself wasn’t that good and that I didn’t think I was special or better.”
We didn’t really want to talk about afterwards
I swallowed hard once and cursed my previous behavior. He held out his hand and pulled me into his arms as I held him close. “Mía,” he whispered to me. Something he hadn’t said to me sincerely in so long. I was pleased to discover that perhaps I had not been so mistaken about this man as I had thought in the meantime. It was like a flash of earlier days and the memory revived the feeling as well. I finally felt more balanced. “Let’s keep watching our show,” I finally suggested to him.
Although we had firmly resolved not to talk about the aftermath, the thought kept coming up without me being able to suppress it. Almost involuntarily, I kept breaking out into musings. I sensed that the unspoken question of what would happen was also on Juan’s mind: the sex was much more tender than usual and he often gave an absent-minded and affectionate impression.
My project was coming to an end…
Towards the end of the evening, I called up my overall statistics on my Spanish lessons. As of tomorrow morning, my project would officially be considered complete and I had reached the 1,000 hours I had set as my goal for that time period – my Spanish was fluent. Juan had also been successful: more than fifty percent of this time I had achieved through him, putting him in first place in my statistics. We could both be satisfied.
“What was actually your best moment in the last six months?”, Juan asked me as we lay in bed. One last time we had changed the sheets together and it had been a real act of liberation. “Oh, I don’t know exactly,” I replied. “Honestly, I haven’t thought about it at all, and yours?”
A thoughtful smile lit up his face. “Remember when we camped on the beach for my birthday? The tent in the sand, falling asleep to the sound of the waves… that was my best moment.”
The move out of Juan’s apartment was imminent
I, too, had to smile. “Yes, I remember it very well. I enjoyed that day very much, even if it was a bit chaotic with you, as it often is.” We kissed our last good night.
It was noon. In the morning I had packed up the last of my things from Juan’s apartment. Both of us had been trying to avoid the thought of our impending separation today all morning. We wanted to live in the moment, not letting the fear of what lay ahead enter our hearts before it even happened. The mood was – although everything had been going quite normally so far – restless and tense and we didn’t quite know how best to deal with the situation now.
For hindsight, we wanted to preserve the good times…
Juan had parked on the shoulder; he had a dinner date with his parents and dropped me off at the park where I would meet Tanja. The moment had come: we would say goodbye and at the same time seal our separation. It was the last moment to be able to tell him the things that had been bothering me: when and how he had hurt me, what he should do differently with a new girlfriend.
But instead I decided to leave it unsaid, to spare him the reproach and that he had hurt me, to just forgive. That was the whole point of this project: to enjoy the good things and, if you break up, not to put the relationship in a bad light afterwards. I didn’t want to cause any more pain and suffering – he didn’t need to know any of that.
Still, before we said goodbye, there was one last thing I wanted to say to him. “I now know what my finest moment with you was.”
Surprised, he turned to me. He regarded me questioningly. “Which one?”
I didn’t want to let Juan go just like that
“In the summer we went on a hike and climbed a mountain. Reaching the top together with you, although it was exhausting and tiring, and enjoying the view together up there, that was my most beautiful moment.” I smiled meaningfully at him and saw understanding in his eyes.
“So this will be our adios now,” I said to him. “You exaggerator,” he returned as he pulled me tightly against him and we pressed against each other. I curled my fingers into his jacket, not wanting to let him go for a moment because I was unsure if I could ever let him go.
“Thank you Juan for teaching me Spanish, it was nice talking to you. Bye.” Deliberately, I chose the exact words he also said to me back then, the day I officially made him my boyfriend. And I noticed that he also remembered it all too well.
He smiled at me and gave me a kiss, but neither of us could bring ourselves to leave while still hugging each other tightly. A long silence followed. None of us knew what would happen next, whether we would ever see each other again and what would become of us. Uncertainty paralyzed me and for a long moment I just couldn’t bear the thought any longer. Still, neither of us spoke of it, we just stood there, smiling at each other and looking into each other’s eyes.
The last time with Juan just hurt
“Hello,” he said, as he had so often. But this time I didn’t answer with hello. My response was, “Bye.” We kissed deeply. My lip gloss stuck to his lips as we pulled away from each other again and with the back of his hand he wiped his mouth. The fine particles of glitter broke the light and Juan sighed. “That stuff never comes off, does it?” “True,” I grinned. “This will stay forever now. But don’t worry. I’ll take plenty of your dog’s hair for it.”
Now he was grinning as well. “And they’ll probably stay forever, too.” He was silent for a while. “We’ll be in touch,” he said. Exactly the same words he had chosen at our very first goodbye – a goodbye after which we probably wouldn’t have met again if life hadn’t intended otherwise and sent us Pedro.
Live in the moment – and it was a pretty difficult one just at that moment
“Like the first time?”, I asked. “Yes,” he replied. “That’s it.” We hugged one last time, gave each other one last kiss before Juan got in his car and drove off. Still I felt a smile on my lips. He stopped briefly again at the bench I was sitting on, we looked back at each other and waved one last time before I watched him drive away.
All of a sudden, tears welled up in my eyes and rolled freely down my cheeks as I felt someone put a hand on my shoulder. Tanja took me in her arms and I sobbed, wondering where the sudden, intense pain had come from and admitting to myself that perhaps I had really and truly loved him after all.
It hurt. It hurt a lot and it took me quite a while to calm down. Things had come as they had to come and I saw no other way with him either. Although the pain surprised me in the ferocity in which it came – despite the time I had to prepare for it – I was convinced that we had done the right thing and that, life willing, we would find each other again this time.
Hay que vivir el momento! – Live in the moment!
This book is published with the kind permission of the author, Nyna Mateo.
The book was published in 2007 by “BoD – Books on Demand” (Norderstedt) under ISBN 978-3-7431-2792-0 and is available at Amazon and elsewhere.
All contents of this book, in particular texts, photographs and graphics, are protected by copyright. Please feel free to ask us if you would like to use excerpts from this book.
Anyone who infringes copyright (e.g. copies images or texts without permission) is liable to prosecution under the German Copyright Act. §§ 106 ff UrhG is liable to prosecution, will also be warned with costs and must pay damages (§ 97 UrhG).
Special thanks to the author Stephan Serin.