Benaulim, Goa, India
Today is Valentine’s Day. A day for love. Over the years Alex & I have always scoffed at the holiday. “We don’t need a holiday to make us show our love for each other! We love each other every day!” Two years ago we went to Paris for Valentine’s Day. Everyone asked me before I left, “Do you think Alex is going to propose?” I would laugh, “No! He just found a good deal on a flight.” Alex had the habit of randomly buying me flowers. Suspicious friends would ask, “What did he do wrong?” I would reply, “Nothing!” knowing full well the reason was economic: he got a deal on them. Most likely he bought them from a Mexican guy was selling flowers along the road for cheap. Alex found ways to show he loved me that remained in line with his other love: economics.
That was then. Alex & I have been together for over 11 years. You can say the honeymoon period has slowly worn off. Today, we did need the reminder. At least, I did. Yesterday, I punched my boyfriend. Today, I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day by suppressing the urge to kill him. So far so good. This morning we shared a lovely and leisurely breakfast on the patio overlooking the garden.
Today we are not in the romantic city of Paris. A place that makes it easy for couples to be blissfully in love each other. We are India a place that tests people to the limits to see what they are really made of. Although India has not been as chaotic as anticipated, it still is not a walk in the park. After breakfast, we visited a magical machine that showered us with money. This was a rare treat to not have to visit several ATMs before money was actually produced.
Next, we hopped onto a coach to take us to our next beach getaway. This coach was not a beautiful black town car but an old rusty but brightly painted bus packed with people, standing room only. Alex & I snuggled with each other as well as cuddling up with complete strangers. As the bus swerved around corners, I grabbed onto the bars of the cage containing the driver rather than the other swaying passengers inappropriately for stability.
Our next bus to Margao had seats in the back of the bus which provided a different type of entertainment. Every time we hit a bump, me and the Indian woman seated next to me flew up into the air and laughed. After 20 minutes of up in the air fun, she helped me and Alex disembark and catch our final bus to Benaulim.
Rosita’s Guesthouse looked more like a hotel than a cozy guesthouse where we scored the cheapest room to date. This made Alex happier than a woman receiving a dozen roses and a lifetime supply of chocolate. I had the not-so Valentine’s Day thought: “Hmmm, at this rate I can afford to have my own lodging.”
Alex & I took a romantic walk on the beach in search for some snacks but the beach shacks thought they were 5 stars restaurants with prices to match. It was too hot so we turned back into town for some chai and the guesthouse for our Valentine’s Day midday siesta.
Around 4:30 we returned to the beach for a sunset stroll in the opposite direction than we had gone earlier in the day. On the way to the beach, Alex picked a flower and put it in my hair. In the States, Alex & I always walked together with affection: arm in arm or holding hands. We were the couple that would make you want to vomit. In Asia, we did not walk in this fashion to show respect for the different cultures. Walking down the beach to an Indian zone, Alex grabbed my hand like old times. It felt good to feel that spark. Was this usual simple gesture a reason I felt we were drifting apart? I was also happy to see Indian families enjoying the beach over fat Westerners walking around topless and hanging out of their skimpy suits.
The sunset, like the one the other day, was disappointing. The offshore fog engulfs the sun before it makes it to the horizon. As the sun sunk into the hungry clouds, I thought about love and what I loved: my family, my best friends, traveling, watching the sun set, spending time at the beach, listening to the waves, kayaking in the open ocean, living in the moment… Julia Andrews singing: “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” popped into my head. Ok, I guess I was listing my favorite things not the things I loved. Same thing? I looked at Alex sitting silently at my side. I loved him but am no longer in love with him anymore. I love the Alex from the past but not the present. I am having a hard time determining if this is just a rough patch or if this is the end of an era.
Tonight like every night, we went out for dinner. Perhaps since today was a special occasion, Alex ventured out and ordered something other then vegetable fried rice. Him and I ate a fish curry that was out of this world. I wondered about Alex’s aversion to change and inability to embrace new things. Is this the primary reason he is still with me? I am still with him because I don’t like to give up on things but at the rate things are going, I am not sure if I see a future with him. Alex’s initials are PAS. Will I add a “t” to the end of those initials soon?
The fog and haze has been making it hard to determine “when” the sun actually set marking the official end of the official day. Like the sunsets lately, the haze and fog in my mind is making it hard for me to see if our relationship will last or see an expiration date.