An Affair to Remember

I have fallen in love.  I have fallen in love so many times so far that my chest feels like an expanding cavity that can’t be contained by my ribs any longer.  And my heart is greedy, thirsting, reaching, clasping and grasping for more to suck into its voracious, pumping veins.

I have fallen in love with sunrises and cool, quiet mornings.  With coconuts, flip-flops and the word “obrigada”.  I have fallen in love with the Spanish language and I think this could turn into a committed relationship.  I have fallen in love with Brazilian Samba and Kumbia love songs played on chicken buses, with cowboy hats and sun-tans, with cicadas, flies and even the giant cockroach that lived in our shower in El Tunco.

I had a passionate love affair with acai in Brazil.  My sweet purple love seduced me with slushy serenades, crunchy compliments, fruits of fidelity and honeyed promises.  I have been wooed by languid strands of mango stuck between my teeth, callused bare feet, sun-kissed shoulders and brown, Brazilian bottoms.  I perceived poetry in pick-up trucks, piled with potatoes and people.  Gripped that roll-bar like a head-board and ridden that tail-bed through the jungles of Brazil with a glorious ooh-ooh-ooh on my shrieking lips.

I hear love songs from the bread man squeaking his clown horn on his bicycle at six each morning, riding through town in concentric circles, his shouts of “Pan Dulche” like Kenny G music to my ears.  (though I will admit, at times, equally as annoying)

Had my hair tousled and caressed by salty, subtle breezes and been entranced, enthralled, enraptured, ensconced by swollen pink orbs sinking into a line of endless sea, taking with it the day and leaving behind only the sweet, romantic night.

My pheromones have been roused to attention by the perfume of the “garbage man”–the fires that burn up every plastic bag, bottle and piece of trash on the side of the roads; its scent an enticing, acrid mixture of hash and campfire.  The Eau de Churrascura, juicy skewers of Brazilian meat roasted over spicy fires has sparked my salivary glads to such a dripping and frothing frenzy that only the cut Brazilian bodies dancing to deep drum beats can rival such drool.

I have taken breaths underwater and marveled at the silent beauty of life there.  The sultry swaying of coral dancing and beckoning the neon fish to come closer, come closer for one, gentle kiss.

And the thing is.  I feel like its cheating.  Or easy.  Or obvious, somehow, to have these moments when you feel so big, so free, so in love with, well, everything, while traveling.

I mean, there’s probably something wrong with you if you are unhappy while not working, not picking up the dry-cleaning or doing the dishes, walking the dog or paying bills.  If you are free from the repetitive and the mundane and are bombarded every single minute with virgin territory and you are unaffected, you might want to re-examine your soul.  If your heart doesn’t swell at the sight of brown, barefoot children ACTUALLY rolling a hoop down a dusty road as a game.  If the blinding sparkle of light refracting off sun-dappled waves doesn’t prick the tears from your eyes, well then, I feel sorry for your therapist.

And the sad fact is, this was me.

But its a given, right?  I mean…this is why people do this.  Why they travel.  So how do I bottle it up and take this home?  Will this always be a part of me or does it fade, like all things, with time?  I try to take pictures but it takes me out of the moment and never quite does it justice.  I try to breathe deeply, but my nostrils can only flair so wide, and the breathtaking beauty is just too big for my lungs.

It is interesting that as this swelling in my chest expands trying to capture in photographic memory, or at least, to become one with my surroundings; that as I struggle to memorize the shade of the sky, the smell of exhaust spewing from overworked buses that chug-a-lug over the green mountains of Honduras, the rising and falling view of the sea in the spray-speckled ferryboat window on my way to Utila…in my hearts’ attempt to take more in, so much “other” is being pushed out.

I am flooded with memories.  Memories of childhood, of old friends, past lovers, sights and sounds, smells, songs and snippets of life lived that I had long assumed forgotten.  Memories radiating outward like little ghosts of Christmases past from the center of my chest.  Except they are happy ghosts, or small golden angels, sunrays…dissolving into blood cells and coursing through the organs until there is no denying that all of these bits, these people, this moment and those moments are intrinsically a part of me.  And even the hurts.  The people that have caused me feelings of pain, loss, abandonment–even they are burrito-wrapped in love.

And with every place I leave, every goodbye I say to a new friend, to a temporary home, a favorite smile, to a grain of sand; a piece of my heart breaks, gets left behind, as if I might scatter myself everywhere.

But it’s okay that my heart keeps breaking, because I also keep falling in love and I need to make room, find space, clear the way for my pumping hearts’ aortic, amorous appetite.

So that maybe, one day, the rhythm of all of those little thumping pieces of my heart left behind with a smile or a tear might echo in every canyon, boom in every drum and crash with every wave; that I might beat simultaneously from all the corners of the earth.

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