Monday, March 27, 2017

Tales from My Travels: Perfect Stranger

I met you at the dimly lit common area of the hostel that we were both staying in. I was in conversation with my friend and a fellow traveler that we both just met. I was chugging a bottle of beer and you approached us holding a cup half-filled with hard liquor. You said "hi" to the traveler as you already knew each other. You introduced yourself and we did the same. Then you joined us in our conversation.

After a few minutes into it, you challenged us to a game of Jenga. And so we played, all four of us. It was my second time to play Jenga. That tipsy feeling and a game where one needed steady hands - it wasn't a good combination. Yet for some reason, I was actually doing pretty well. We were having lots of laughs. The game ended with my friend losing. She then excused herself to go somewhere. The other guy excused himself to go to the restroom. Then you left to who-knows-where. I was suddenly left alone.

I tried to busy myself by shuffling some playing cards. Then you came back shortly holding a bottle of rum. You asked me if I wanted to play a drinking game, and I said yes. But I didn't know any drinking games and neither did you. You suggested playing some card games instead, but you only knew Poker. So I ended up teaching you how to play a different card game. As expected, I won the first round. We then played another round. In the middle of it, you suddenly leaned in and kissed me on the lips. It was light and quick. I was taken by surprise. We then stared into each other's eyes and then your face drew closer. Then you kissed me again, this time longer. It was slow, sweet, and gentle. Your lips were soft and they tasted sweet. I kissed you back. And then we stopped playing cards.

You lied down on one of the bean bags and pulled me in to lie beside you. You snuggled closer and wrapped your arms around me. Then we started talking. You talked about your life, your job, your trips with your mom. I told you about how I quit my job and how I went on a backpacking trip. You saw my tattoos and I told you what they meant. You listened. I loved how you hung on to my every word with pure interest and how you look deep into my eyes while I was talking.

Shortly, your friends came over to join us. They were drunk. They were laughing and dancing and acting crazy. They were a hoot. We continued to talk, as if we had our own little world. But they eventually interrupted us and we joined the party downstairs. We grabbed a spot on one of the woven mats with cushions and we sat with several people. It was a fun crowd and it seemed like you were the center of it. Everybody kept approaching you and trying talk to you. They kept giving you drinks. A couple of girls had their eyes on you, and they were touching your arm and trying to get your attention. It was obvious that you were used to the attention that people were showering you. What can I say? You draw the crowd the way honey drew bees in. Yet  not once did you make me feel left out. You kept your arms wrapped around me the whole time. Even when girls were trying to flirt with you. You would touch my hair, kiss my shoulders, and entwine your fingers with mine. It made me feel special. You told me that everything about that night was magic.

Eventually the party ended. People started leaving. Fellow hostel guests were going to the dormitories, the hosts began to clean up, and once again, you entrapped me in our own world. The night was over but it wasn't, at least not for us. We talked more. We told each other more stories. We kissed and cuddled some more. And I found myself wishing that the Earth would stop turning, and that the clocks would stop ticking. I found myself wishing that the night would never end. I found myself wishing that tomorrow would never come. Because tomorrow I'd have to leave. I found myself wishing to never have to bid you goodbye.

But a girl can only wish. And not all wishes come true. We fell asleep in each other's arms, lost in our own little world with reality just a few hours away. We woke up to the day that I was dreading - the day that I would have to leave paradise. Hour passed. Finally, we said our farewells. And I left with a heavy heart not knowing if I would ever see you again. But more importantly, I left with memories of a magical night that will forever last. A night that will never be tarnished with bad memories because everything about it made me smile. It was bittersweet.

Thank you for that night. 'Til the day our paths cross again, stranger.