I’ve lost my mojo with this blog, and seemingly my audience too, slim as it was. Maybe I just said everything I needed to say, and need to go through new things to be able to say any more. But there is one night that I still need to talk about: Peru, and Ana Cecilia… eventually, in a roundabout way.
“Marty’s too stylish to look at those girls.” It was one of those dirty post-midnight nights where you end up shoving aside someone else’s rubbish and cleaning the table yourself to distractedly eat McDonald’s across from Flinders Street. I had blazer and collar, dolled up, and was with my best mate and two women across from us, one of whom I had mistakenly hooked up with the year before. That night I had not been able to hide just how nuts I am; I particularly cannot hide it in the moments I get dragged out to the bar scene on Saturday nights. I weirded out my mate and also the girl I had once dated, who mentioned that I seemed to have a lot of anger against Australia and my mate consented with, “Against the world. It’s not a good way to be. He probably has to get past that,” but I never did. The girl’s friend gave me a few minutes of kind respite where I actually got into a conversation that I enjoyed. I’d spent the rest of the night kind of staring off into space, and they had both turned to look behind them a few times to work out what the hell I was looking at. I wasn’t.
Anyway… two little ho-ey teenagers in their skin-flashing apparel were sitting next to us, and my sort of ex looked at them and made some remark about me. But my best mate knew me better and responded, “(see above)”. I felt so vindicated in my approach to the world, for a moment. Someone had noticed my feigned or maybe real elegance. He had fed my vanity, but also, he was right: I would never have been interested in them. They just sent out the wrong vibes, the wrong age, the wrong level of politeness, of intellect. A body without a brain or at least a level of understanding, is kind of repugnant, just a germy other person. No girl who would assess me on external matters is ever worth wasting time on.
“You seem like a bit of an intellectual.” I was in Queensland one weekend in 2007, the lost year (as opposed to 2004, the lost year). We had all hit the piss on Sunday, and on the Sunday night a girl walked out on a guy. He was a bricklayer with dreds, who mentioned the following morning that “I could go out and get drunk today, or I could get on with my life.” We laughed our asses off and naturally chose the former option.
I didn’t know him, but I sensed that if you lose your girl then it can hurt, and perhaps a lot. She was a prize: a good-looking lawyer, and they’d been together two years. So as I found out repeatedly that day that Bundy and Cola is on tap in Qld, I said what needed to be said without saying anything. He was a man’s man, but I listened as he told me that to be a brickie you have to put your emotions aside even if you’re feeling off the ball, because you are paid per brick so you need to keep your focus. Somehow he had noticed me amidst all the blokes standing around and felt like talking to me, and said, “(see above)”. Like the comment about style, the brain bit was how I had tried to paint myself and was happy to have been noticed as a thinker. It’s harder to show that than what you might suspect.
I went through a series of half-conversations with him about his spot. I didn’t say too much, but I showed him that I understood, that I got him, that he was perhaps going through shit but that as blokes we couldn’t say too much about it, and he knew that I knew. At the end of the day he told me that I had been a bit of a legend to him. Thank you.
I’m sad that no further chances have since popped up for me to be kind to anyone, to help someone. Later on I paid for three of a woman’s uni semesters and saved her each time, but that was only because I loved her.
“No. Te conozco.” This one was very beautiful. I picked up Ana Cecilia, a pretty, mature, young 19-year old Peruvian, when I was 24 and passing through, you guessed it, Peru. We danced together as the centre focus of the club and I ended up kissing her.
It was my greatest night, and I would write an entire blog about her if I hadn’t already done it, if I wasn’t so lazy and if the story wasn’t so old. Ana Cecilia was my what if, my one-night romance, my night where everything came together and I proved myself, without touching a drop of alcohol and despite some dumpy clothes (I had just done a four-day trek; my track pants and purple shoes (!) were the only things that didn’t smell). She was dancing in the centre of the surrounding ring of people and I decided that she would be fun to dance with, so I slid in, popped some moves and held my hand out to her with my chin raised in smirked challenge: who are you to refuse?
Does she still think of me? She said I was the first foreigner she ever kissed. She was the first Peruvian I ever, and the only. She had a tongue stud but hadn’t told her parents about it, and I enjoyed it. She had had her heart broken, same as me. She was studying architecture in Cuzco. We whispered these things to each other as we danced in each others hands and arms, and occasionally kissed.
She walked me back to my hostel with her friends, because I was alone at night and a foreigner, a tourist ripe for the picking. Thank you Cecilia. She mentioned that she had to keep an eye on her friends, because they were with guys she couldn’t trust. I asked: “How do you know you can trust me?” And she replied, “(see above): No. I know you.” I know you. We had met each other only a few hours earlier, and I could hardly have dreamed of getting her on any other night, but my dancefloor confidence was soaring that year and I managed it. She had seen something in me beyond the funk, and had decided for herself that I was real, that I had already given enough for her to trust in.
It was tender when we said goodbye. She kissed me on my mouth, then on my nose, and asked how we could see each other again. So we arranged a time for the next morning, but she never showed up. She said the word goodbye, in English, then kissed me, then said goodbye, then kissed me, then said goodbye, then kissed me. I don’t remember her face in detail but a vague shadow still floats in my mind. Her skin was light brown, her hair was cut at her neck. I wrote: I would have liked for her to be more than just a memory.
And there she is still, the briefly attained but eternally unattainable, the girl who saw something in me as I saw something in her, our attraction but also something beyond that, and that something I could not have kept but have wanted to every day since I lost her, even if I didn’t have her beyond a few wonderful hours. And so I have to ask…
Ana Cecilia, born in 1986 or 1987, studying architecture at university in Cuzco, in a small nightclub in Machupicchu (“Aguas Calientes”) with her university group on the night of Saturday, May 6, 2006 and who went to see the lost Inca city Machu Picchu a day later, who danced with a tall foreigner who had his most inspired night despite his ugly, heavy shoes, who danced fluidly and spoke Spanish to you: Ana Cecilia, do you remember me?