Each Friday I plan to write a story inspired by a song I’ve been listening to. This week is “When Am I Gonna Lose You,” by Local Natives. I loved their first album, Gorilla Manor but kind of lost track of them. They released their fourth record, Violet Street, and they are better now than they were then. Check it out.
Fridays and Saturdays we went to Hugo’s, a club we avoided from Memorial Day to Labor Day because this was when the tourists invaded. They loved to spend the day on the beach with their kids or friends and spend the night out drinking at places Hugo’s. Through the tourist season, it was packed and stupid, and most of us, the year around citizens, spent most of the summer nights on the beach or at house parties. Some of the tourists looked down on us, thought we were less than them because our mothers and fathers worked to keep their vacations running smoothly, but they did not think about how much money we needed to live here all year around in the large houses on the beach. Sure there was a poor section of town, but my father started a bicycle rental business before everyone was doing it, and even though there were some larger houses on the beach, we did live on the beach. My first car was a BMW convertible, an older model with a roof that got stuck when I was trying to take the top down, where I had to get out the car and push on it, but it was still a BMW. Most of the town did not work during the winter, so we went to one of the half dozen colleges during the week that afforded us the opportunity to be home on the weekend.
Hugo’s was a large place, popping in the summer with loud music and alcohol-fueled dance parties. In the winter it was almost like an empty tomb. Some nights they did not even play music. Some Saturdays they closed early. They did not open much between New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. Sure there were always people partying, reuniting after a long week of work or school, a bachelorette party, but most of the time every club in town was a little dead. I liked to go there to drink because it was close to my house, and I liked to be left alone.Valentine’s Day was the passed Tuesday, but Hugo’s was open for any of the Valentine’s Day stragglers. There were a few but the place was half full at best. I was at the bar drinking cheap beer that cost too much and watching people, particularly the girl at the end of the bar, particularly her long legs and arms, particularly her thin jawline that was almost perfectly parallel to the floor but not quite. Her dark hair was pulled back tight and her olive skin looked like it would be soft under my fingers. She was drinking and playing on her phone. Even though the town was fairly large, there was no way that she was someone who lived here. She had to be in for the weekend for some reason. I let her sit for a few drinks before I walked over to her. “Can I get you another?”
She looked up from her phone and studied my face. She had almond shaped eyes that were dark in the lighting, and as she looked me up and down, I knew I wanted to kiss her. I had to do this just right. “Sure.”
“Then we can walk by the ocean. Have you seen it at night yet?”
“I have not.”
“I won’t cause you any trouble either.”
She smiled and the tension she was holding in her shoulders relaxed some. “That’s good. For now.”
We had another drink, and I said, “We can walk from here, but I want you to talk the whole time. Tell me everything about why you are here in the middle of February.”
Her friend met a guy online, and they flew one thousand miles to meet him. She came for moral support, just in case her friend met him and he sucked, they could at least have a week on the beach. She did had not seen this friend for a few days. They have been texting so she was at least still alive but was also falling for this guy. So she had been walking around, looking at the shops that were closed for the season, trying to curb her boredom, trying to stay warm. “I didn’t realize it would be so cold,” she said.
The ocean was loud and dangerous, like the sounds of angels that could be singing the songs of the apocalypse. I said, “Yeah. Not many people come here in the winter.”
“I can see why. I’m freezing.”
I pointed to my house. My parents still had the lights on even though I knew they were in bed. I said, “That’s my house if you want to come over for a while. Warm up a bit.”
“Sure. Why not?” I wrapped my arm around her and pulled her in tight. We hurried to my bedroom.
The morning was bright. She was cocooned under the blankets, and the sun slipped through the open blinds, cascaded on her naked shoulders and neck. I kissed her on the clavicle and she stirred. She turned to me and offered her lips. “Good morning,” I said.
I had had many of these mornings, especially as a teenager in the summer. The girls came for vacation, spent the night with me after some party, and hurried off to her family and friends for the rest of their holiday. When I looked at her, something about her, made me wish that she could stay. I said, “I’m glad you were there last night.”
“Me too.” She reached over and picked up her phone from beside the bed, checked her messages. “Me too.”
I said, “When do you leave?”
“Actually today. Like this afternoon.”
This was not what I wanted to hear. There were some girls that I spent their entire vacation with them, a weekend or a week, showing them the local hideouts, taking them to parties and bonfires on the beach, promising them we were going to keep in touch, try to make it work out, but we both knew these good intentions were lies. Maybe since we were older now, and I spent less time trying to get one night stand and was more interested in something permanent, I thought distance was not as big of an obstacle as it used to be. I said, “I don’t want you to leave. You just got here.”
She ruffled my hair. “Where were you three days ago when I was ordering pizza in the hotel room, bored to death?”
“Probably watching TV here, bored to death.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I should probably go.”
I said, “Well you know. We can keep in touch. You can come back down. It’s much nicer here in a few months.” I did not really know why I was trying to hold onto her so much. I was acting as if his had never happened before.
She said, “We’ll see.”
I watched her get ready, put on her clothes. She had tattoos on her body that I did not notice in the dark, and as I looked at them now, I could not help but think that she had to stay. We could work all of this out. We could learn to surf and I could propose to her at the beach. We could live here, have four kids, be one of those awesome couples everyone knows and envies. I led her through the house, and out the front door. The air was crisp and she shook her head when it hit her face. I did not want to beg her to stay so I said, “I can at least walk with you back to Hugo’s.”
“Actually I’m going back to the hotel. I have the pack. I have the GPS directions on my phone.”
She looked at me one last time before stepping off the porch. “Thank you for last night. I had a good time.”
My heart was heavy. “Sure,” I said. “Be careful.” I stood on the porch until she was out of sight. She pulled out her phone and studied it the whole time, not once looking back.