You remember him as stunning, precious to you even. And you remember yourself when you thought he was your friend. But looking back on it, not a moment you ever spent with him wasn’t paid for.
But this hadn’t quite occurred to you sitting in the café in San Telmo, you couldn’t help but think of Copenhagen (although you’ve never been) and you couldn’t help but be taken by it – no matter how obvious – and no matter the American girls all writing in their journals and you laugh, you both did, not at the writers but at yourselves, knowing you are no different than they are, taken, living it out because it really was that beautiful.
And of course it wouldn’t have occurred to you when you met the family and that is, after all, part of why you were swept away. A child knows nothing of his parent’s motivation and he starts to call you Auntie. It’s natural to be moved by this.
And you clearly didn’t think of it driving through the countryside that looked so much like Nebraska you had to consciously remind yourself the exotic nature of where you really are. You descend upon the castle needing solitude and time, getting neither, but touched by company that shows off every nook so proudly, the sound of your camera shutter a compliment to him so you take pictures you never would otherwise, or sometimes just pretend to.
And you wouldn’t know it in The Delta cruising tiny trails of water looking something like the Bayou (or what you think the Bayou looks like, another place you’ve never been). Speaking of Art in the sun astride the river should it have occurred to you that this moment was somehow artificial? Should it have occurred to you then that the intent in what you’re saying is merely the dissemination of a second language?
But right then, you feel good. You dive into the brown water and dig your feet into the bottom which feels very much like oysters – shelled oysters. Here in the context of this faraway place you feel you are among brethren, among kindred, among family. These are easy mistakes to make, sweet mistakes even; sweet, like when he tells you of the beauty of points elsewhere in the country and when you ask him Have you been there? his answer is always: No.
Sweet, like pretending to take pictures just to please him.
Then you head home. Home, an objectively more beautiful destination regardless of your life there. You say: It wasn’t about the place, it was about the company. But your sentimental letters go unanswered.
So now you can confess that you didn’t like the place. And now you can say that the company was a mirage, like seeing water in the desert. Just like that. And now you can confess that you love coming home so much that it was worth it; that you would do it all again and surely you will because in your case leaving is like fighting with a lover for the joy of making up again.
Just like that.