…but it really didn’t start out that way. I was most of the way through a week filled with business students, bucket showers and no booze. A deadly combination.
I dragged my heels home down the dirt road covered in all manner of detritus. The rooster started that strangled howling as I got into bed by headlamp-light, sometime after 1 am. I had recently been given the “honor” or presenting all our research. This dubious task meant I was quiet, bad at public speaking, and told how to use a flash drive by everyone who spoke english within a 20 ft radius. I couldn’t have been more insulted.
I didn’t wake up; rather I finally admitted defeat and stopped trying to sleep. I dropped Stella and set to work on the presentation, eventually relocating because the “help” from everyone was getting a bit overwhelming. We worked through breakfast, only to cram onto a bus and spend that precious travel time anxiously looking out the window without words, instead of sleeping or finishing the presentation.
The presentation came and went and I felt so utterly useless, so removed from the process. I was like a token placeholder. I longed to take a stance, to defend or assert anything. I even almost passed out, as I always do at such inopportune moments. Annoyed, I changed into cooler clothes and ate lunch before heading out on the afternoon’s visits. Our newly-formed group rumbled along in an air condicioned bus, sitting on subwoofers and coolers of soda. A whole cooler, just of soda! And the air was cold, all on its own! It felt like all the pressure had been taken off our group, like we were all new and awkward and friendly, instead of competitive and scary. We started to sing, to chatter in spanglish, to tell silly stories of our pasts with great big smiles.
Then came the moment. The glorious moment. After a day of, “No one promised you anything,” here it was:
We were going to the beach.
There’s something magical and inexplicable about the ocean, and about my eyesight. Unable to read and analyze the faces of everyone around me, unable to read lips, I was loud and brash and silly. I bobbed and screeched, thrilled to flip around the ocean and so enthusiastically unaware of my baggy tshirt and my ex-boyfriend’s shorts. I was home, and these people were here laughing with me. We played and celebrated, made younger by the salt and spray. For the first time in over a hundred hours, I was delia.
Everything became a laugh and a smile, and suddenly the presentation, a million years ago, was a victory. My group and I sang our way home on a wet, sandy, sunny bus. We congealed around each other, and ran up the stairs like kids and puppies, tripping into our rooms with their running water and electricity. Downstairs for dinner, I jumped in place at the thought of the ocean, the food, the company and my life. Jay-mo ruffled my hair, hugs were all around, and everyone looked at me like I was backlit.
When it came time to pass the baton, our group’s trophy of teamwork and awesomeness, I had to double-check that I had heard my name. Such a sweet (but wholly inaccurate) speech about positivity, hard work and that unique seashell. And to be awarded by one of the most upbeat, productive, intelligent, kind members of our team of 40 made it all the more precious. I held the plastic toy like it was a baby bird, and started radiating like my sunburn must have already been doing for hours.
Cards and friends and reading, I slipped down hallways in my socks and found new friends everywhere I looked. Chocolate ice cream, bachata and motown revisited echoed in my chest all night long.
Glowing and reluctant, I fell asleep with my mind racing, my hands aching to write, and a smile on my sunburnt face. Fue un dia perfecto.