He stepped out of his red BMW and without hesitation we were intertwined. His mouth pressed against mine, my body leaning into his and vice versa. My high heels stood in between his designer, leather loafers. The heat between us was palpable.
I was twenty and this was my first real, adult relationship. And in retrospect, that was a clear sign that I had a whole lot to learn. The relationship smelled like whiskey, looked like sex and in reality was pure trouble.
That evening he picked up the check for me and another couple I had invited along. To be honest, he wasn’t all that much to look at. He was a wiry and slightly scarred, walking coloring book for the disturbed. He had thick Indio hair, a slightly over-sized nose and a thin, wide-set mouth that was either part of a frown or a smirk. Or both. He was the only person I knew who could pull off both. Not much upon first glance. But there was an innate air of sex that he omitted. I still can’t put my finger on it.
Maybe it was the way he spoiled me. Something that any 20-year-old girl could be tempted by. He would wait patiently in brightly lit stores among the other bored boyfriends. Except, he was eager and sweet. Offering to pay for anything I liked. Designer sunglasses, perfume, dresses and dinners at fancy restaurants were all part of the package. I had never been materialistic, but a girl would have to be cuckoo not to appreciate such a generous demeanor.
He was a two-time Iraq War Veteran at twenty four and being the loyal patriot I was, I was impressed. Despite his small and scarred frame, etched with disturbing tattoos, he had an overwhelming sense of masculinity. He had a rather confusing mix of American mixed with Colombian, masculine mixed with stylish, sweet mixed with sour, that all added up to endearing in my eyes.
Perhaps the country bumpkin in me was impressed by such things. Perhaps the inner little girl thought she had met her rough around the edges Prince Charming. Who knows, but whatever the reason I was hooked.
I have managed to go 25 years without any drugs except for J.
It didn’t take long for the honeymoon phase to be over. The excessive lifestyle that we lead together also included over-the-top drinking and fighting. There was rarely a rendezvous that didn’t include us yelling about something petty. One of those topics was a hunch that he was being flirtatious with one of his best friends’ girlfriends. A tall, skinny, woman with a big nose and no lips. Nothing like the curvy Latinas one would normally find in Miami. She was saved under her name and “My Love” in his phone.
Although the argument had ended and I had met her and attempted to form a friendship, I would later learn that they were hooking up shortly after our breakup. There goes that Miami mentality for you. A friend one minute, sleeping with your ex the next.
It’s amazing what you’ll overlook when you haven’t yet learned your value as a woman and haven’t stepped into your own. I was still a confused college student who had seen little of the world or the people in it. I wanted to believe in “The One” and all that entailed. But eventually the relationship ended and we went our separate ways. I later found out he cheated with at least one other woman, although I suspect there were more.
It didn’t matter. Where one love had ended another started up. I was hooked on Miami and the magic that filled the city. The lights, the music, the people, the chaos. Everything had me so enthralled, I would spend the next several years trying to get back.
I think back onto my relationship with J and what that started. Maybe I was always meant to meet him. If not for him would I have ever traveled to Miami? I can remember walking down the street on South Beach for the first time and feeling the electricity flow through me. The balmy air teeming with sexual energy. The big leafy palms and the distant beat of drums and horns from the salsa music. Always the salsa music.
It was clear I had formed a bond with the city that wouldn’t end with that relationship. And sure enough, it didn’t.