Creative Writing, Personal, Poetry

winter solstice

Morning was 7:25 breakfast.

Bid Susan and Anne adieu,

And Susan gave me two books.

I said to Anne,

 

“If you ever need help with math,

Don’t call me.

I’m done doing math.”

 

This is how I felt.

I closed the door before she could answer,

And laughed to myself:

A realization.

 

Out the door, I ran into Cesar,

The kind gentleman who helped me

Last Saturday morning, at 4:00am

When the rainbow mountain shuttle

Almost forgot me.

 

The van drove

Right past me that morning,

And eventually,

After 30 minutes of waiting,

He came up to me,

And I confessed,

“Es dificil para mi a entender

Español por telefono.”

 

He asked for the number,

And made the call.

And Rainbow Mountain

Was quite the hike.

 

He said to me,

Standing there at 9:30am,

On Avenida Arcopata,

“Estaba buscando por tú.”

He kissed me on the cheek.

A Peruvian hello.

 

“Sabería que te encontraría.”

I assured him.

The night of the van’s

Near-forgetting of me,

I had said the same to him.

I knew we would meet again.

 

He got my number from me.

Well, I gave him my number,

After he asked.

Then I relayed the information,

I was moving to San Blas.

Bid him adieu as well.

 

Rowena came flying across the

Wide intersection,

Her white blouse,

Flailing in the wind,

 

She met me at the corner

Of Avenida Arcopata y Avenida Alta.

And we hailed a taxi,

That cost 6 soles to get to

Plaza San Blas.

 

I appreciated her assistance,

This selfless gesture,

And then, she even

Helped me carry my suitcase

Up the steep San Blas steps.

 

Didn’t spend too long at the apartment.

Instead, I put on my new

“teaching shoes”

And walked off to Paddy’s,

To take up an invitation

From a Susan to watch the

Peru vs. France game.

 

Perrine, my French roommate,

Who was living in Peru until July,

Wasn’t home to greet Rowena,

Unlike Phil, from the day prior.

 

In that curious circumstance,

Of when his name popped up on

My screen with the caption,

Lunch?

 

As I had already

Sat down in the corner,

Ordered,

And became acquaintances with

Lucia, my waitress,

Who helped run this

Absolutely beautiful,

Family-owned restaurant,

I replied,

I literally just ordered.

Because I had.

 

He asked me where it was anyway.

And just as soon I sent him a photo

Of a map of the location.

Lucia was back, with the Gnocchi I ordered.

 

“Es posible para esperar a almorzar?”

I asked.

“Mi amigo está veniendo.”

 

“Cómo?”

 

“Es posible que tiene una

Lampara

Para calentarlo?”

 

She understood, and took the plate back.

Then asked if I would like to sit under

The sun, instead of inside, in the shade.

And her suggestion was welcomed.

The warmth of the sun shining through the

Translucent rooftop

Warmed my insides.

 

So I waited,

And waited.

Thirty five minutes I waited,

All the while helping a lost Phil,

Phone calls not working,

Multiple maps of the location sent,

 

Until he finally showed up,

And ordered the same meal as me,

Except with some mint lemonade,

And his gnocchi with Alpaca meat.

 

Conversation was casual.

“This would be a nice place for a date,”

He observed,

His novia likely on his mind

Inside the spectacular, painted walls.

Of Jardin Organiko

 

Lucia brought me

Some carrot juice,

On the house,

Courtesy of hers truly.

And then Phil inquired,

As to my new apartment.

“Would you like to see it?”

I asked.

 

“I would.” He replied.

And so that day,

Phil and Perrine met.

 

Rowena and I walked down the

San Blas steps

And just before we entered

Plaza de Armas,

We turned left into Paddys,

Climbed the stairs,

And were stopped by the crowd

Of Peruvian fútbol fans.

 

We fought our way

To the back, where

Susan was inside,

Along with a slew of the other

Máximo Nivel teachers,

Including some that Nicole and I

Had gossiped about,

In our precious, short-lived

Tradition, of walks down

Avenida Arcopata.

 

Timidity crept over my body,

And except the loud cheer of

“Lauren!!” when Susan

Introduced me to the group,

And my joyful reception of that,

I stayed quite quiet, Rowena on my side,

And watched Peru’s

Timid offence, afraid to move the ball

Past half-field.

 

Rowena was feeling light headed

And left twice to catch her breath.

I suggested she should eat something

And I stayed inside,

When it really would have been

The better thing to do

To go accompany her outside

And see if she was alright.

 

Instead, I stayed ‘till the end

Of the sad game,

Which ended in Peruvian tears

And then rounded the fountain in

Plaza de Armas, before

Finding where she wandered off to.

 

Then the two of us sat on a bench,

Directly in the path of a

Sprinkler,

Which kept the grass

Green, and untouchable,

And sprayed out backs

Every thirty seconds.

 

I messaged Phil and the Radans

About their desire to eat lunch.

We waited 15 minutes for responses.

The Radans never opened the message,

And Phil’s initial inquiry of

Where? Wasn’t followed up by

Any further questions.

 

So Rowena and I set off,

With the idea of Korma Sutra in mind,

But after asking a man with a menu

Advertising on the street,

Where to go for cheaper food,

He directed us to the top left corner

Of Plaza de Armas.

“En la esquina” he told us.

 

The corner we walked to,

And turned,

And entered a

Nice-smelling Peruvian place,

But one look at the menu,

And the prices sent us out the door.

So we went to the next place,

And a voice cheered, “Lauren!”

 

And it was Susan,

Not the Susan from breakfast,

But the Susan from Máximo,

From Paddy’s

And her husband, and Liz, and Ryan.

They were continuing their celebration,

After the sad game,

Watching a game anew,

Croatia vs. Argentina.

 

Ryan was from Cal.

I expressed my distaste for the school,

Where he replied with a fondness.

My follow up question to such affection

Was if he participated in a frat.

“I was president of KA.”

Or did he say King?

Either way, his answer confirmed a

Suspicion, an understanding of cultures.

 

Liz had a pixi haircut,

And an intense personality.

“The police in every country hate me,”

She told us, after admitting the

Border Patrol gave her only 60 days

In Peru, instead of customary 90,

Or extra-generous 183.

She spoke French, and kept going back

To work for a French restaurant

In Atlanta, Georgia, she told us.

A city on the up and up.

“Cusco is really starting

To get to me,” she admitted

 

I honestly found Ben rather annoying,

Or rather, is boisterous personality,

And horridly high-pitched laugh.

But of course

I’d never utter a word of such

Distaste for him,

When he and Susan had

Only been married

7 months ago,

(But together for 9 years)

 

Rowena and I stayed nearly two hours,

In which I had a beer,

Two shots of fruit vodka,

Croquettes filled with bass,

And papas fritas.

 

“So Lauren was looking for an apartment,”
Máximo Susan began,

“And I told her you had a spot in your house,”

She told Ryan.

“And Sean went, ‘He’s quite attractive.’”

I was silent in this exchange,

And the story embarrassed Ryan.

I suppose to some

He would be attractive,

But learning of his fraternity status,

Especially at my own alma mater,

I was not attracted.

 

Ryan turned as red as a tomato.

“It was just the three of us,”

I finally chimed in,

After he had buried his head

In his hands,

Shaking it back and forth.

“Me, Susan and Sean.”

 

“Oh thank God,” he exclaimed,

“I thought you meant he said that

in front of the whole TEFL class.”

 

“No,  no.”

Susan finished telling the story,

So I was left to my pervasive thought,

I remember fondly speaking to Sean

Just the two of us, that day,

Until Susan sat down and joined

Our conversation.

 

After goodbyes,

And half a game where neither team

Scored once,

The teachers needed to return

To their classrooms,

So Rowena and I embarked to the mall.

Necesité una lampara y a mat for my floor.

 

Went to a bookstore,

Whose only English books,

Were bilingual, Spanish & English.

Picked up toilet paper,

Some new toothbrushes,

A lamp, but no mat.

 

And in the short time it took us

To arrive to the mall,

Croatia had scored

Three points,

Argentina none.

 

We hailed a taxi back to

Plaza San Blas,

Not without passing a bookstore,

Which the taxi driver confirmed

Had English books,

 

And I bid Rowena adieu,

Heaving my way up the

San Blas Stairs.

 

Unpacking took me ten minutes.

The lamp fit in nicely,

My clothes hung up neatly,

The books were shelved orderly,

And I made a mental note to acquire

Some sort of box to put my unders.

 

I hadn’t found a mat

Like I had planned to,

Then I remembered,

A yoga mat

Would be the better option

Than any plain mat.

 

I laid in bed for two hours.

Scrolled endlessly through Instagram,

Discovered Nicole arrived safely in Mancora,

Toyed with the thought of inquiring

With Sean, about good eateries in San Blas.

Informed Nicole of my indecision whether

To ask or not,

And asked him anyway

Three minutes after I sent

The initial inquisitive text.

 

His response was predictable,

Unexciting: Fallen Angel and Bodega are nice.

I inquired with Susan as well,

And her recommendation differed

From his: Sumqta!

 

Next I asked Phil of his dinner plans,

And when he replied,

He informed me that he and his

Girlfriend Benisse,

Who had just arrived that morning,

Were still full from a late lunch.

 

Really, I didn’t want to leave

The warmth of my alpaca blankets,

For my room had grown cold and dark,

Dark enough to turn on my new lamp,

And to notice the glow-in-the-dark

Stickers of planets and stars

On the top corner of my room.

 

But Eduardo texted.

Eduardo from couch surfing weeks ago,

Who seemed nice enough,

But who I was never able to meet

For my homestay kept me tired,

And locked the door early.

 

He had asked me to hang out many times,

But I always declined,

With true excuses,

But excuses nonetheless.

 

Yet, this was my new apartment:

Despite the chill in the air,

I had a spirit of adventure in my soul,

Which had been trying to push me

From the comfortable rest

Of my new bed,

Into this new era.

 

He sent me his location,

Only a 10 minute walk,

Down the hill,

Into undiscovered territory.

What were the odds

Of him being so close?

So I descended,

After two messages of,

“Hurry. Hurry.”

 

He wore a smart white sweater,

And had a kind face,

As he smiled and greeted me,

Welcoming me into the restaurant.

With him was his housemate,

Vicente.

(The name of my boyfriend

Fall of 2013.)

 

Vicente was nice enough,

Older, balding,

Eduardo spoke his best English,

“But Vicente speaks better than me,”

He said, but I disagreed.

“Your English is very good.”

I commended him.

 

“Do you know this girl?”
He asked me, showing a picture

Of the photographer

From Máximo Nivel.

“She and Vicente like to make out

When they are both drunk.”

He embarrassed his friend.

Vicente looked at him incredulously.

As if to say,

Why the hell would you tell her that?

 

I wanted to hear him speak in Spanish,

And he wanted to hear me in English.

So, we spoke in English,

And he was able to practice,

While I sat there, undeveloping

My Spanish skills.

 

I already knew he was

Sean’s previous student at

Máximo Nivel.

We had talked about this

In the weeks of casual

Back and forth,

And when I admitted

I asked Sean for suggestions,

He told me that Sean was gay.

 

Gay.

I asked him to explain.

“That bar, Fallen Angel, I saw

Him kissing guys.”

I suppose his flamboyant mannerisms,

Accompanied with some other

Characteristics I hadn’t thought

Twice of, finally clicked for me.

Or, they attempted to.

Yet, I felt there was counter evidence,

 

I suggested, perhaps he was bisexual.

Eduardo acknowledged the possibility,

And messaged Sean a lie,

Hi, how are you?

I think I saw you the other day.

 

To which Sean replied quickly,

If you thought you saw me,

Why didn’t you say hi?

 

No chance to read the

Following messages,

But they continued talking,

Casually.

 

We all paid,

And Eduardo invited me to his house

To watch Netflix.

I agreed, not knowing if the connotation

For Netflix was the same here,

As the United States.

I took the chance anyway,

And the three of us walked

In the cold, Cusco air, to their home.

 

He asked me about where I lived,

And I told him the whereabouts of

My new apartment.

So he asked me if I knew so and so,

Which I didn’t.

But when I

Divulged the names of my

Roommates, his face lit up.

He knew them.

 

Knew Sean,

And Perrine,

And Laura.

 

He was friends with

Our neighbor across the way,

Maxime,

He said she was his best friend.

I thought to understand a

Hidden connotation.

Reading between blurred lines,

But didn’t really care,

Because he was a stranger.

 

We arrived to his home.

Vicente immediately said goodbye

And Eduardo pulled out

A blanket, putting it over the two of us,

Turning on a movie.

 

And he did eventually kiss me,

After Vicente had fallen asleep,

As the movie progressed.

Yet his actions indicated an

Over-eagerness, trying already

To get under my shirt,

After just seconds of the embrace.

 

He was shorter than I,

Which wasn’t evident from simply

Sitting, but engaging in the act of

Kissing, I could feel my torso,

Extending longer than his,

Wanting to tower my lips inches above his,

Yet subsumed underneath him,

In a back-bent position.

 

We continued kissing,

Then watched the movie,

Then he looked at his phone,

Then began kissing again.

 

He told me Maxime,

My neighbor,

Had some marijuana,

And she was coming down

To smoke him out.

 

He told her he was with

“Laura’s roommate”

And she asked,

Lauren or Perrine?

She already knew of my

Existence.

An odd feeling, since I had only

Learned her name

Moments prior.

 

Away from dinner,

I could hear Eduardo’s Spanish

Slipping back into his

Normal speech habits.

 

He continued to kiss me,

And then stood up,

To make some tea.

His black pants revealed

A large bulge

At the top of his pants,

And when he finally kissed me

Again, he pushed my hand onto it.

 

So I rubbed it as we kissed.

And then he unbuttoned his belt.

I continued to rub.

Not in a very skilled manner,

Purposefully, intention backing

The amateur-seeming gesture.

But it was sufficient enough,

To evoke some light moans,

Tinged with his Peruvian accent.

Until his phone buzzed,

And he hid it away under his pants.

 

I didn’t know whether to fish

It back out, so I continued kissing him,

Until kissing felt odd.

At which point he stood up,

And I imagine, beat himself off

In the bathroom, for he took an

Awfully long time in there.

 

After the movie,

We turned on Rick and Morty,

And Maxime convinced him

To come to her place to smoke,

Instead of her going

All the way

Down there.

I preferred this option as well,

As it gave me somebody to

Walk up the hill with,

Back to my home.

 

After two episodes worth

Of convincing, he agreed

To make the journey

Up the steep hill,

And during the walk,

I noticed that

He made sure he was

Walking in front of me

The whole time.

 

When we arrived at

Maxime’s, our chests

Pumping air boldly,

She peeped her head

Out the top window,

Cute little thing,

Then rushed down

To let us in.

 

She really was adorable,

And instantly I felt

Drawn to her.

I could only imagine that

Eduardo did as well,

But paid that possibility

No attention, for his

Eagerness earlier did strike as

Verging on the brink of

Irresponsibility.

 

Eduardo’s Spanish flowed,

Especially after we smoked,

From the coke bottle

Turned bong.

 

I admit I had difficulty

Keeping up with most

Of the Spanish they spoke,

But did my best to listen.

Maxime, from Belgium,

As well as Laura,

Could speak Spanish well,

And understood the things he said.

 

He admitted he over-indulged

When he drank.

That he smoked cigarettes,

Cigarellos only when he drank,

Which was itself often.

So, indirectly,

He admitted he smoked

Cigarettes often,

Which I found unsurprising.

 

My genuine curiosity

Sometimes comes off as rude,

I’ve noticed.

I asked him why he does such things

That he knows will hurt him,

And his response was the

Bulwark which most undesiring answerers give,

I don’t know.

 

We smoked a second bowl before leaving,

I said goodbye to Maxime,

Hugging the few friendly face,

And once outside,

I kissed him on the cheek,

A Peruvian goodbye,

Heading into my new apartment.

 

-Lauren Dixon.

21 June, 2018.

 

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