segunda-feira, 6 de junho de 2011

Summer Love Overheated

(texto de Junot Diaz, um dos meus escritores favoritos, publicado em 2008 na GQ)

Of course I loved her. Isn’t that how all these stories are supposed to begin? She was from Amsterdam, black Dominican mother, white Dutch father. I called her my chabine because that’s what she looked like; only her lips and hair kept from passing completely, from pulling a Jean Toomer. The ass she had, my fucking God, it was supersonic, which is to say she couldn’t walk past a group of straight men without pulling out the shingles or shattering the panes of their conversation.

She was about the most exotic Dominican woman I’d ever met (that’s the kind of shit that matters to you when you are in your twenties), and the classiest. She spoke Spanish and could dance bachata, but she’d grown up in the farthest spiral reaches of the diaspora, in Delft, Vermeer’s old stomping ground. Was smart, too; could speak four other languages, had traveled all over the world, and could tell a story like you and I could tell a lie. She was finishing her thesis on Dominican women’s identity, but what she really wanted to do was write children’s stories. She wanted to be the next Road Dahl. Every now and then, especially when she was excited, she would forget articles and miscongugate her verbs. She’d pick up her camera and say, I want to make picture. I found it incredibly endearing.

It wasn’t hard to love her. She was funny and she was sexy (she moved like something only recently evicted from the ocean, an undine or a Nereid), and best of all, she loved me. Loved me so much she’d broken off a three-year engagement after the first time we kissed. (Could have been the second time. You know how these things are.) She said she’d never met anybody as alive as I was or as smart, and every time we fucked, I was shaken, absolutely shaken, and because I was a fatalist at my core, I had dreams, nearly every week, in which I lost her.

The shit should have been perfect, perfect, except for the fact that I was basically nuts. I was depressed, experienced alarming mood swings, and suffered from what a psychologist called baseline irritability (which meant I could go from zero to violent in 2.2 seconds). And to top it all off, I wasn’t writing, and wouldn’t for nearly six years. Took that shit out on everybody around me. Especially her.

She wasn’t perfect, either. She was a fiend for male attention, would have flirted at the pope’s funeral, and she could throw a plate with the best of them. But in the final analysis, the banana-ness was mostly mine.

Some relationships snap like bones; others go into long, byzantine declines. Ours was the latter. I was doing something good, followed by something real stupid. I would surprise her at her job in Holland, show up with my suitcase and expensive gifts, and then at her graduation, in front of her whole family, I would attack some poor homeless guy who made a swipe at the flowers I’d bought her. And yet no matter how crazy I acted, I had this unshakable, adamantine conviction that things could work out, and something of my feverish delusions passed on to her. The crap she tolerated of me, I can’t think about it without wanting to laugh. I mean, I’d treated plenty of chicks a lot worse, but I actually cared about Amelia, in my own way, and had I been saner and less self-destructive we probably could have worked.

Or is that just the nostalgia talking?

Anyway, something about where we each were in our lives, something about the wildness of our relationship, something about our weakness—we were kind of trapped in each other. God knows for how long we lingered in our half-lives if not for the shit I’m about to tell you about. I have friends who were in miserable relationships for eight, nine years. I honestly believe we could have been one of them, trapped in “love” like bugs in amber.

So check it: I’d blown it again, another stupid something, and I was in Amsterdam, trying to make amends. We’d been arguing and fussing and of course fucking like crazy, and in the end she decided that we should have a Special Day. She wanted to take me to her favorite park, to her favorite lake, to sit on her favorite bench and find, with luck, some kind of absolution. I was all for a Special Day. Sounds like a fucking plan, I said.

We had to ride about an hour out of Central Station into the country and then hike quite a bit to reach her Special Place. What I remember is how optimistic she was and how long and thin her torso was, how I had this irresistible urge to bite her. Took us an hour and twenty minutes to get to where we were supposed to be which was pretty enough. Forsythias everywhere. At any point in the journey, we could have stopped to tie a shoe or buy a soda and things might have worked out different for us. But like they say in all the fantasy books, you can’t avoid your Destiny.

We sat down on the bench looking out over a lake, the only people in the park, it seemed, but before we could even say “start the reconciliation,” this outdoorsy white dude bounded out of nowhere and in front of us started throwing a stick in the water for his two dogs. The bigger dog, a spaniel, would jump into the water and bring the stick back before the poor smaller dog could even get five feet out from the shore. This happened a couple of times; the smaller dog would start paddling back and then the stick would fly over its head, so of course it would dutifully turn around and start swimming back out toward the stick only to be beaten to it by the spaniel.

After about five of these throws, the white guy was satisfied, and he and his big dog started to walk away, leaving the little dog struggling in the water. I was the only one who noticed the poor fuck go under. Your dog, I told the guy. Fate would have it that he was the lone motherfucker in Holland who didn’t speak English. What is it? my girlfriend asked me. His dog is drowning, I screamed, and that’s when she cried to him in Dutch and the dude, giving out an anguished cry, jumped right into the lake. Brought his dog out in no time at all. My girl was saying, Dios mio. The little guy, some kind of beagle mix, could have been under for more than ten seconds, but he was dead as fuck. Eyes glassy and everything, the color of old smoke, water pouring out his nose holes. White Boy tried to blow air into the little guy’s lungs, tried squeezing his ribs and holding him upside down, but the perrito was dead. White Boy said something to us, miserable, and the girlfriend translated. It’s not even his dog. It was his girlfriend’s. He was just taking it out for a walk.

Right there, my girl burst into tears.

Well that was it for our Special day. That was it for my reconciliation trip. That was it for our relationship.

For the next couple of years, as I slipped deeper into depression and she met other guys and started appearing on Dutch TV, I would occasionally blame that fucking dog.

Of course I did.

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