Once there was a girl who went to Colombia to study during college. Not Columbia, the college in NYC. Colombia, the country where all the cocaine comes from.
Anyway. She went there to study Spanish, or something, but she couldn’t concentrate. Colombia, being tropical, has no seasons. So the leaves never turned and the sun never left and the cues that sent her inside to study every autumn were not there.
She had also just ended a long relationship with her college boyfriend. She was kind of a wreck.
Anyway, a month into the experience, she was better. Happier. One week, she found herself just outside the city of Paipa, with several other guys. They were doing a field study of the town. They were supposed to interview local people about the economy. Or something.
Mostly, the girl just smoked cigarettes and ate hamburgers and avoided work. She was sharing a room with a boy. A blond boy. He was attractive. A little weird. He told these really long meandering stories that she was never sure about. Sure if he’d get to the point. After a while she learned that he never got to the point she expected him to get at, so she came to really enjoy listening to him talk.
There were hot springs in the town of Paipa. A lot of tourists came there for that reason. Though the girl and her group of classmates were supposed to be trekking through the town, getting to the bottom of the town’s urban/rural issues, mostly they just went to the hot springs during the day and got drunk at night.
One day, after sitting in the hot springs all afternoon, they were all too lazy to locate the city library or municipal building. So they took a cab back to their hotel, all through the countryside, where they saw two giant double rainbows, spanning the fields. The girl was sitting on the blond boy’s lap, and his hand was slipping under her shirt, up her back. Just moving up and down where no one could see. It made her so happy. She was so relaxed, she almost fell asleep, but of course she didn’t. Hard to fall asleep while you’re teetering over the skinny thighs of a boy.
She was the last to get back to their room, because she had a message at the hotel desk to read. When she opened the door to her room, the blond boy was there and he took her hand and pulled her into the room and turned off the light and he put his hands on her shoulders and kissed her. Said, “Welcome home, honey.”
Then they spent the rest of the afternoon, naked. Until evening, when the other guys got hungry and wanted to go out to eat. When they all ate, she worked hard not to smile at the blond boy too much, or look at him too long. Everyone knew what was going on, but she didn’t want to admit to it.
One morning, while she showered, there was only cold water. Shortages of power made such things commonplace. She came out of the shower in her towel, gasping. He was lying on the bed, in his own towel, smiling.
“Could hear you moaning,” he said. “It was cold, wasn’t it?”
She lay on her own bed. Far from him. Too worn out from the freezing experience to speak. And it was day, so they didn’t get naked. Except for that first day, they always did it at night, after drinking. She was shy about leaving her bed to go to his, otherwise.
The blond boy did things like lay on the bed with his shoes on. Watching Sports Center. He liked taking pictures. He had curly hair. He let the girl wear his jeans and didn’t care that her ass stretched them out. He was slow and gentle and just one inch shy of awkward when he made his sex moves. He was very serious when he was naked.
The girl liked all of this well enough, but the fact remained that what people are like when they take off their clothes is usually a big indicator of what they are like in life. If they are not syncing with you unclothed, even if it might feel good at times, then things might be trouble later.
Trouble. Or just a whole lot of rubbing for a little warmth.
She remembers his hands that day in the cab, with the rainbow. He did the same thing again, weeks later, on a night bus to the Ecuadorian coast. Soft, up and down, slipping between her shirt and the top of her jeans. Shy and slow.
There are people that you meet, that are good and nice and mean well. They might look pretty or handsome. They might feel good to touch. But they are just not the right size for you. Not the key that clicks into place. Not bad people. Good people. Though not quite right.
But still. They can be like a balm to sore places, tender parts of you that need love and soothing. A portent of what good might come. A hint. A whisper.
His hands were so kind. She sometimes remembers them, whenever she’s taking a shower, now, in her normal adult life, and the hot water runs out.