I Had To Leave The Country To Fall In Love


Your messages make a different notification sound on my phone. We have to talk on one of those apps with free international texting. You don’t have an iPhone. Of course you don’t have a damn iPhone.

You don’t need an iPhone when you live on an island and wander around barefoot and worry only about whether or not the waves will be good enough for surfing that day.

I was hungover and sweaty and exhausted when I met you. The jungle climate apparently doesn’t mix well with a weeklong diet of rum, Balboas and the occasional breakfast burrito.

“How are you?”

I misunderstand you. I tell you my name. Twice. You look up from the computer at the front desk and laugh.

“No, how are you, not who are you!”

You ignore the man from New Zealand waiting beside me. I need to fling myself into the twin bunk bed so I can sleep off the ungodly amount of tequila sunrises I’ve consumed. I’m distracted by your hair and your skin and your smile and your accent.

I have a hard time remembering names. When I see you on the beach later that afternoon, I remember yours.

The next night, you pretend to see a shooting star. Your wish is that I’ll kiss you. I roll my eyes, but kiss you anyways. We’re high and we’re in the outdoor kitchen and we’re smothering toast in syrup and coconut shavings. I refuse to eat more. I eat three more pieces.

I ignore the other travelers who join in on the trek to furthest beach on the island. You beckon me into the ocean waters. I go. We float, I ask, you answer. I snap a photo when you climb a tree to get me a coconut because I want the salt and sea and sun and your smile to last until I forget the sound of your voice.

The American girls at the hostel are curious.

“So, how do you know him?”

“I don’t.”

But I know your bed and your kisses and your laugh and tattoos on the back of your legs. My hands somehow always find their way to the wild mess of hair on your head. I can’t understand the Spanish you speak to me. It’s OK; it will be easier to leave, now.

I like that hammock more now after you tell me you love walking around the corner to find me laying there, reading.

We watch movies on the last night. In the morning light, I ask if we’ll ever see each other again. I know the answer before I finish my question, but you lie to me anyways so you can see the possibility glimmer in my aqua eyes for just a moment.

It’s raining when you kiss me goodbye on the dock.

“It always rains when someone special leaves here.”

I wonder how many special people have come and gone.

My phone makes that damn sound and it’s you. I can’t answer. I remember the salt and sea and sun and your smile and the sound of your voice.