A Night in the Third World. People You Meet Pt.1
The music was loud and the drug users were more than obvious. The ocean was still as the sky erupted in the background. These constant illuminations showed us briefly where the mainland was as most of us had probably forgotten. It was a reminder of a reality that we would all have to go back to at some point in our lives. However, when I look back now, I don’t think everyone will make it back.
That dock on the water, where we all gathered before the sun rose, kept us a float. We might have trouble walking but we definitely can’t swim.
Eagle rays danced around us, chasing the lights.
We all continued to dance, chasing the night.
A girl had asked me to tell her my story. It was at that point I realized I didn’t know what my story was. I couldn’t answer the simple question of “who am I?” I believed she could sense I was uncomfortable at that fact so she asked me to dance. I wonder how many people can ever answer that.
Neither of us were great dancers and I’m sure countless drinks, a pack of cigarettes, and possibly other substances, didn’t add well to the equation. The Caribbean air and an island that felt like it belonged to us, made none of that matter.
We were in a zone and there was no coming back; at least not for the night.
Love was in the sea breeze and bodies were getting closer and closer to “One Love”. Around the table, over the water, people were exploring the closest person to them. Local girls were trying to chat up any foreign boy who didn’t have a woman by his side. They would use any word or tactic they could to make any man feel like a king. I suppose not even that worked though as most sauntered off with a smile, yet alone.
Maybe the modern man has been so beaten down that nothing can make him feel like a king anymore. That brings a tear to my eye because I used to know some kings, but sadly no more.
This girl who made me realize I have no clue who I am, was more outgoing than I could ever be, which led to a night of crushed feet and shared dreams. She was older than I, yet probably what I needed at that moment in time.
She was gorgeous and true, with a kindness that shined through.
At least that’s what I remember; it could have been the booze.
I remember I found her earring; it was like I saved her life.
Next she lost her shoes.
It was that kind of night.
As people slowly started to leave, some alone and some with someone they hardly know, we sat and talked while those around us began to come down from whatever reality they had been living for the past few hours or days. It was during this conversation that I got a glimpse of a weakness in someone so confident and sure, a brief window past the drink as it were.
She had been on the road much longer than I.
Running from something but running out of places to hide.
We tried to talk about life and what we all need. I tried to figure out what she wanted and where she was going, but in that moment I saw a change in her face. She looked as if she was about to cry. I saw that fear in her face which is in us all. She didn’t know who she was anymore than you or I.
Fortunately the night was not about confronting sadness or chasing life. It was about enjoying the moment which we so seldom do. It was about letting go of the storm in the distance and sitting back with strangers, enjoying the show.
When the numbers began to thin and we sat in silence for a while, she made it clear to me that she didn’t want to be alone, and well neither did I. She asked me to walk her back to the hostel where we both had a bed, so we walked out onto the street for that trek up the hill.
We were all alone in silence just before the roosters would awake, when she grabbed my arm, pulled me back, and looked straight into my eyes.
“What’s the hurry?” she asked.
Needless to say, I didn’t know how to reply.
Back in life there is not enough time in the day. I was always rushing around trying to make someone happy, but never myself. Life was a vessel to produce and not to enjoy.
She held me for a moment and reminded me that there is only here and now. She wanted me to enjoy every moment, every feeling, every sound.
Her hand on my arm was comforting. It allowed me to slow down.
As we walked up the hill she pointed out details I may have otherwise missed; a pattern in some stone work, a cat on a ledge. She was my tour guide to that experience and for that I will never forget.
We arrived at the hostel with the sun almost up and it was clear what we were both thinking, yet the pool was calling us out. The mornings were still hot on this beautiful land, so after a kiss we put our feet in.
Bats bounced off the water for their morning feed, the perfect white noise for nights like these.
She lay down beside me holding my hand with her head on my lap. We both began to drift off, getting all that we need. I can only hope I gave her as much comfort as she gave to me.
We explored the meaning of life, and she taught me to be slow. For that one beautiful night it didn’t matter who I was or whether I felt like a king or where I needed to go.
It didn’t matter that we couldn’t dance or that she was afraid.
It didn’t matter if we had money or a place to stay.
We just held each other by the pool, as night turned to day.