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87# When you have to say...

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

- “This is my vacation. I don’t want you around if you’re gonna act like a child!!!”

- Fuck it! I’m not going.

- FINE! Stay here by yourself then…

The ground was cold and hard. I woke up with a sore throat, restless and grumpy. It was still dark outside. We had planned to spend the day in the lagoon of Akumal, two hours away. It was 5 am and Alicja was ready to go. I squeezed a good morning out of my grumpiness. My long face didn’t please her, or was it my comment? She snapped. I cancelled. The girls left to Akumal.

The house was dead quiet. My friend Mireya followed the Alicja's soap opera since day 1. I called for advice. In her most compassionate voice, she sided with Alicja. Then I called my sister for a second opinion… she also sided with Alicja. Truth be told, I was childish, selfish and demanding.

The choice was simple. I could swallow my pride and work on my attitude or do what I do best, say “fuck it”. It was an intricate dilemma, a chess game between ego and reason. When should one compromise? And when should one say fuck it?

I lingered in bed, read and wrote. It felt good to be alone. The hours passed by without conflict or drama. Eventually, the peaceful swings of the hammock ruled in favour of reason. I was wrong after all. I decided to be the cheerful, irresolute travel partner everyone likes. I decided to compromise.

The girls came back after a day full of adventures. They didn't understand how I could spend the whole day by myself doing nothing. Solitude is an underrated delicacy. Alicja's ex joined us at a live venue for diner and sat next to Paulina. The band was loud, we had to talk in each other's ears. Alicja and I flirted while Paulina's eyes were pleading for mercy. When we got back to our room, I teased her about diner. She said in a solemn voice: “That was the most boring event of my life”. Poor girl. Poor guy.

We said goodbye to the ex the next day and continued our trip around Tulum. I forgot to settle the shared expenses before he left and Alicja snapped at me again. It was my money and I was fine with it, but somehow she felt responsible. Her constant worrying was her way of caring. It was annoying and asphyxiating, but she did care.

Over the next few days, the three of us travelled at a fast pace. There was a constant tension between Alicja and I. Little things I did or said triggered her. It was a tension I couldn't understand, only feel. Over lunch, I asked the girls about Polish cuisine. Alicja snapped as if I had said the stupidest thing. I closed my eyes, ground my teeth and took a deep breath. I really wanted to slap her.

Our last stop was the island of Holbox. In a sparse joyful moment, we had planned one proper date, just the two of us. I put on my least wrinkled shirt, grabbed a beer and waited for Alicja by the hotel pool. She walked down the stairs in a black summer dress, her golden curls swaying with her hips, stunning. We sat by the water and raised our glass to Mexico.

With my usual tact, I addressed the elephant in the room. She said that no matter the experience, I always compared it to a better one I had, hence ruining it for her. Everything she did or tried felt less exciting, less cool. By living the adventurous life she dreamed of, I made her feel worthless and inadequate. Shit, I had no idea. I listened to her blame, admitted my wrongdoings and apologized. I really had no idea.

When she finished, I mentioned her gratuitous nastiness, fishing for an apology. She disagreed. My ego jumped at the opportunity and lashed back. I illustrated every reproach with examples, piling up the stack of disrespectful behaviours. Her oppressing anxiety strangled my freedom making her the worst travel partner I ever had. She burst into tears.

- I’m sorry, but it’s the truth.

Alicja dried her tears and stood up.

- Where are you going?

- I heard enough.

- So what? You’re gonna walk away in the middle of our talk?

- I didn’t come to hear how horrible of a person I am.

- You gave me shit for FIVE minutes. I sat here, took it and apologized. Now it’s your turn.

She turned around and walked away, her curls swirling in a theatrical exit.

Alicja had moved abroad at a young age, studied in a foreign language and graduated as a doctor. She passed countless exams, overcame 24-hour shifts, brought a patient back to life and cured people around the world. She could handle the ER, pestilence, chaos, even death. Yet, she couldn’t handle criticism.

The Alicja I had a crush on was a phoenix, a mystical creature that only lived in my imagination. The real Alicja had flaws I couldn't deal with. Her attitude crossed my boundaries and the phoenix burnt with all my feelings, turning even my desire to ashes.

I looked back on our trip, from the butterflies in my stomach to the bitterness in my mouth. Then I realized that the best day we had together was the day I stayed home alone. The irony was so strong it made me laugh.

It was all in your head... pendejo. I guess that's another 'fuck it'! Hahaha faut rigoler…


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