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MUSED Literary Magazine.
Non Fiction

The Summer I Was Charged With Reckless Loving and Found Guilty

Maria Agostina

Guys have whispered in my ear a wide variety of sweet nothings through the years. Sometimes about my hair, or the way I smile. Maybe how much they enjoy my company and the sweetness of my kisses. And when they know exactly how your eyes shine in the dark and they describe their color as cinnamon brown with caramel streaks you think wow, they are really paying attention. They see me. But then, out of nowhere, there is someone who makes a sudden remark so frighteningly accurate about the way you love and everything changes. He is not just seeing you. He is feeling you deeply and all at once.

He wrote me a letter. “You love recklessly”… that’s what he said. Not accusing me, not hurting by my whimsical behavior. He simply wrote those three words. And it was quite a big deal for me because without him knowing so that brief statement touched me deeply. It is just that it puts into words something that had been lurking behind my every relationship. My craziness and neediness when winning people’s affection. My impulsive way to jump into the abyss without a moment of consideration. My maddening desperation to be seen. Throwing pearls and diamonds into the ocean, that neither wants them nor cares. Bleeding myself for the dream of prince charming and that kiss that promises Happily Ever After.

And He saw it.

He. The guy with the little boy’s smile. The guy with a laugh that tasted like innocence and cotton candy, that sounded like late night trysts and devil-may-care promises. The guy with the saddest eyes I have ever seen and a bit of a broken heart.

And maybe that’s why we found each other. Because we were both damaged and we were both too pure for this world. We didn’t know how to love without getting hurt. We only knew how to love carelessly. Recklessly. Maybe he saw himself in me. I don’t know. And maybe I will never know.

One could think three weeks is such a short period of time but let me tell you we have known each other from way before. Maybe in a past life.

Whatever it was all I can say is that it was definitely something. A summer fling, a shooting star, a cosmic event that brought him to me. I don’t know. And I am sure I will never know.

Doesn’t quite matter how long it lasted, he left his mark on my heart and yes, cliché as it may sound, on my skin (Spoiler alert: I get a wave tattoo on my forearm at the end)

Ok, maybe I should start from the beginning here. Press pause and rewind.

I am from Argentina, the southernmost country in this huge American continent and this year for the first time in my life I visited the US. I won a scholarship for a summer program to be held by the University of San Diego. So yes, summer and California. And not to mention my first time in the US. I was on cloud nine.

Soon I flew all my way to cloud ten when I saw his eyes.

Once in California this young hot-blooded latina wearing flowers in her hair meets blond blue eyed all-American dude with the cutest roguish smile you could ever imagine. A sunset lover through and through who was a full-time International Relations student at USD and a part-time beach runner.

My first thought was surfer Ken is hot as hell but as shallow as they come.
How wrong I was.

But I´m getting ahead of myself again.

Thing is, without really admitting it I already had feelings for him. We had only exchanged a few words but for some reason, beside the obvious appeal of his gorgeousness, I wanted to know him.

And one night it happened. Talk about destiny.

Our first date was so far from a proper first date I will never forget it. It was beautiful not in spite of its unconventionality but because of it.

That one night, as stay-up-late tempting as they all were during that summer, he was just chilling with some friends and I resolutely and simply went there, grabbed his hand, and asked him to walk around with me. So he did and we soon wandered out of campus. Which I wasn’t really supposed to do according to my program codes of conduct. Number three read and I quote: All off-campus trips must be pre-authorized by either the Program Coordinator or the Managing Director. Not the present case. In my defense I could have always said it was completely unpremeditated. One second we were inside the campus limits and the next my foot was out. Want another attenuating circumstance? His sexy smile made it so naturally inevitable to break the rules.

So there we were so deep in our shared confidences, not a clue where we were heading and not a care in the world for that matter. Our wandering got suddenly stopped by a red light and he took the interruption to face me and uttered the spontaneous proposal: “Wanna Uber to the beach?” And as randomly and unexpectedly as these things tend to happen I said yes and an unpromising wandering became our first date.

What a night. Whoever said the moon and the ocean were romantic was absolutely right. But I guess it was even more romantic because we happened to be there without any of us planning so and being still a bit of strangers to each other.
As I said about my first impression of him: How wrong I was.

We could talk. Like actually talk. First about his accent I found totally adorable. Later about deep personal experiences battling with addictions and mental health. He told me about his brother and how he was worried about him getting into things he might then not be able to get out from. He told me about a previous relationship and the emotional trauma of watching the person you love suffer and not be able to be of any help. I told him about my own demons and how I didn’t have anyone like him to at least be there during the process. I told him how lucky his ex-girlfriend was.

He said he was inspired by me and my life. By the bad things that had happened to me and by the light nobody’s cruelty could kill in me. I know he knows. I can tell. He knows about the pain and hopelessness. But he also knows about stars shining only in the most absolute darkness.

I felt the connection the moment I set eyes on him. I felt he was special. And no, I am not talking about something you can actually put into words. How beautifully refreshing it is when you are no longer speaking in such obvious terms as love at first sight or an adolescent crush. Because he was neither. Even though being with him was so easy, so uncomplicated, so butterflies-in-my-belly naïve, that a crush seems the best way to describe it. He thanked me for wanting to be his friend. For lack of a better word we can say that. But again, still too obvious. He was the guy that really understood. That knew me without really doing so. The guy who I could share my silences with because he was so good at listening to them.

I don’t know for how long we walked. But I turned around and the pier where we had started from was completely out of sight. We were lost in ourselves, in the beauty around us and the beauty within. And I could have kept walking forever, just because, until we ran out of words to share with each other or those silences that conveyed eternity and secrets in whispers. But we just stopped.

The chill night air forced me to get closer to him and as I closed my eyes to better listen to the sound of the ocean I felt his lips on mine. Warm and wet. Sweet and rough. His fingers entangled in my windy hair. My mouth tasting his salty kisses. Getting frisky on the beach. And our sudden lightheartedly cheeky laugh as we started to feel the sand accessing places it was really not supposed to. I was happy. Just there hugging him, sand everywhere, smiling on his soft lips. I was happy because I love the ocean and I realized I loved him. I wonder if he knew. About both. I’m sure he did, and if he didn’t then he guessed by that last little kiss I gave him on our way back.

Next day, I got a wave tattoo on my forearm. I wonder if he knows he is the reason why.

I didn’t want to say goodbye. But he promised he would stay in touch. I hope he does. His letter says so. The word promise. All caps.

He said “I will miss you”. I think he meant it.

I wonder if he still does.

He wrote: “You love recklessly… and it is such a beautiful gift. Never let it go.”

I read: “You loved me that way”

And I thought: “I will never let you go”