After I dropped out of college, I traveled alone to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, where I lived on a farm for three months learning permaculture systems, how to compost human shit, and how to kill vipers. I also learned that I no longer had aspirations of being a farmer.
I had been living at the farm for a solid two months, spending all the time when I was not working on the land, off by myself, practicing meditation, weaving bracelets and reflecting upon my direction in life.
One normal afternoon, the farmer and I headed up into the kitchen to make lunch when we heard this absolutely awful screeching sound. I thought, okay, what the fuck is this now? I thought the howler monkeys were terrifying sounding enough, what is this?
From the inside of the kitchen comes out this godly man, screeching and attacking my farmer friend. He’s apparently an old friend who surprised the farmer with a visit. The farmer asks me to show him to his casita, which would be the bamboo one right next to mine.
I lead this Rambo-looking man barefooted down the muddy 2km trail to where the two casitas are. I felt so intimidated by this person. In one way, because he has this stern, hard ass presence, in another way because I find him so incredibly beautiful and I know that I must be way too young for him. I turn back and look at him for a brief second. He looks at me, raises an eyebrow coldly, soundlessly asking me, “What the fuck are you looking at?”. I feel the need to say something. Anything at all. I ask him what his name is. Some reply comes back so quickly and with such a heavy French accent that I had no idea what he said. “What?” I ask again, stopping and turning back to watch him say it again. With a dead pan expression, he says “Ar. No.” What a fucking asshole, I think to myself.
The days wove in and out as they always did at the farm, and Arnaud was always present with us, working, cooking, relaxing. My intimidation towards him grew stronger and stronger. He would laugh and smile and be funny with the farmer, but whenever I’d speak to him, his reaction always made me rethink why I was opening my mouth. Not to mention, he could barely speak English anyways. This did nothing for my attraction towards him. If anything, it unfortunately became stronger. Watching him work in the jungle with such grace, strength and cleverness…dripping in sweat and mud and unattainability. I fantasized about him at night, alone in my little casita. The way he moved and the way his eyes were different colors…
It turned me on to think that he was older than I was. I had never been with anyone significantly older than me, and through secret prying into the farmer I came to know that he was 32 years old, while I, a ripe 20. Something about this twelve year age difference felt taboo to me, and I loved it. I wanted to experience what love was like with a grown man. But shit, he probably saw me as some young, naive, American idiot. Definitely not a woman. A mere teen. Nope, no chance.
One day after the work had been done, he was going to town and invited me to go with me. I thought, “WOW HE’S SPEAKING TO ME” and then I thought, “WOW HE INVITED ME TO TOWN”, and then finally, “Sure, I guess I could go to town.” came fumbling out of my mouth.
We hiked all the way down to the road, and started hitch hiking. We immediately got picked up by a van with a giant speaker phone announcing, “HUEVOS! QUINIENTOS!” Eggs, 500 Colones. The side panel door was open and the men motioned us inside the van. The whole vehicle was filled with eggs in cardboard crates. Where do we sit?! Right there, motioned the driver. Right there on top of the eggs. Well okay, fuck it.
We’re gliding down the hill, zipping through the jungle with this door right open and adrenaline rushes through the air. Arnaud and I look at each other with total amazement at how exciting life is at this moment. He holds my stare for longer than would normally be appropriate, and I pull my eyes away from his for fear that he can see right through my thin veil of coolness.
We spend the entire day walking through the town together, opening up about life and our journeys thus far in it. We laugh. We swim. We hitch back to the farm. We all eat dinner together. Then we get invited to go to a friends casita near by, so we go.
It’s a beautiful bamboo hut, lit by rivers of candles, with woven hammocks everywhere. The atmosphere is sweet, crickets play music all around us, the dusk turns into dark starry night and the new friends laugh and eat and drink. Arnaud drinks whiskey with tapas dulce in it, and plays guitar. I dance and pretend I’m not watching his every move.
It’s time to go to sleep, I decide and get up to leave with my headlamp and sandals. Arnaud agrees and asked if he can walk back with me since he has no light. Of course, of course. We stroll 4km to the casitas. We say goodnight. He goes in his, I go in mine.
From my bamboo bed, I could hear him humming old French songs, from the hammock in front of his casita. He’s still up, hm.
I startled him on his porch, invited him to mine to chat since we both weren’t sleepy yet. He sat across from me at a little table in the casita, with candles he lit all around us and in between us. He was drunk, but in a smooth, sophisticated way I had never experienced.
Into our conversating, his eyes couldn’t keep themselves from mine, and likewise I didn’t want to keep mine from him. He admitted to me how boldly unique of a person he thinks I am, and that he finds me startlingly beautiful in the way that I live my life. Being myself, I followed all of his compliments with a slice snark and sarcasm, which I could see very clearly, he absolutely adored.
The eye contact became more severe…It stopped breaking. It just maintained itself. It became the conversation. It took over everything. In the warm summer night, sitting so close, with the warm glaze of candles and whiskey, we could feel the humidity building between us. I can smell his breath. Johnny Walker Black Label and Marlboro Reds. Never before had liquor and cigarette breath been so sweet.
Like many men after Arnaud would come to do, he threatened me.
“If you look at me like that, I will leave no other choice but to kiss you.”
I twisted the side of my mouth up.
“I’ll say it again. If you look at me like that, I will have to kiss you.”
I raised my eyebrows in question.
We continued to look into each other’s eyes as if our fate was already written. There’s simply no other choice.
Stars collided! Planets were born! The night air wrapped around us and we were off on our way! Through space, through time, the kiss that changes a life. The kind that you’re lucky if you ever even get just one of them! How long it lasted, God only knows, but it felt like both forever and a split second at the same time.
We were falling, very quickly, without noticing, tongues in each other’s mouths, breath in the others lung, to a deep dark place we would later realize was called Love.
With a grip so strong and comforting he carried me to my bed, and kissed all over my body. My toes, he caressed each one. Behind my ears, he laid kisses. My ass cheeks, he sucked and slurped and squeezed, making me feel weak and quivery. He pulled down my panties, pulled off my dress, and he just admired. He just adored.
He didn’t have patience, he was Patience.
He looked at my fresh skin beaming in the moonlight, and unbeknownst to me in this moment, he committed it all to memory. He saw an infallible angel in me, one that he believed would save him from his own life’s painful stories. He fell into that deep dark place.
We stayed together for the longest year of my life, living in France. It was filled with rainclouds and delicately scented flowers, Plan B pills, streams filled with tears and entire city blocks filled with the cries of our love making.
It ended with jagged edges.
He couldn’t get over the vision of who he thought I was, and when I told him I would never be that vision, he attempted suicide.
I have not seen him since.