San Juan Stories and Tips

Up Close and Personal

Side by Side Photo, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Well-rehearsed images are always enticingly the same: Sitting on the left, at an "A"-window seat of an American Airlines jet; beyond needing verbal queues from flight crew or feel of the plane's descent. Heart and mind racing with anticipation serve as the built-in compass, confirmed by Atlantic white-caps becoming more distinguishable. Tease of peering through the window is almost unbearable until finally glimpsing "the enchanted one".

These treasured visions have became an incurable obsession in progress. They never tire or fade, but conveniently keep luring me back for re-embellishments - enough time to rendezvous with what's obviously become manic fixation that I'm not sure how long I could survive without.

When heading from the States and debarking the plane, it's as if eternally waiting for that initial perfumed scent, or first warm embrace ... natural Viagra for the soul. I'm still enamored from that first chance encounter, but it's taken all 10 years of this ongoing tryst for rendering myself hopelessly enthralled; willing to wallow uncontrollably in questionable spoils of infidelities until one of us ceases to exist.

Scattered Seeds...Call it a Latin Thing
As a first-time visitor, it would've been shameful not to have paid proper respects through a brief, introductory acquainting with elders held in highest esteem. Tearing myself away from the beach scene involved more obligation than I cared for, but some things in life need to be done regardless of motivation.

I found her waiting almost as if she'd been expecting me. Perhaps nothing special beyond daily routine for anyone else seeking to pay homage, but inviting just the same. Seizing initial hospitality was hesitant thanks to my own agenda. I'm sure half-hearted company was nothing unfamiliar when it comes to the aged.

Going through the motions of showing interest in past significance was poorly disguised. However, when life has been rich and full for those with seasoned understanding, they need muster no special effort for bridging generational gaps. Whether appreciated or ignored, it's all the same.

Shame of actions didn't fully reveal until later, combing through photos and realizing how much had been taken for granted. Thankfully, a camera had preserved the grandeur, which a forced presence had chosen to reject. Enlargements eventually hanging around only begged to have details filled in.

An extended weekend back in Isla Verde was just that and nothing more. But after a second reappearance with fellow New Yorkers claiming to love Puerto Rico based on nothing more than tourist traps masquerading as beach resorts, I could no longer justify shortcomings. Pleading my case, there were no curious takers leaving confines for anything beyond.

Determined not to settle for labeling myself a resort tourist, returning with a rental car seemed only way to soothe the magnetic affection that had been tempting me forward. I gorged myself with those initial tastes of island life; reluctant to tear myself from the spread with final days waiting back in San Juan. After checking into my Condado hotel, there was a hunger still waiting to be fed.

It was late afternoon when parking along the stately northern passageway. Crossing street, a convincing leap placed me atop the fortress wall with a commanding presence typical of a macho-driven society. Demure vistas were mine for the taking without indecision while blazing an unknown path that would become my defining ingredient. And then, I stepped out of the shadows.

There she was, still waiting as if knowing I'd be back. The brujas de Santeria must have caste a spell melting to the core of my being; dumb-struck and totally exposed from gaze of presence radiating in stages of sunset. There were no more obligatory pleasantries or formalities. The veil had came off as if in desperation to keep from loosing me a second time. Later, after some swoon-struck first-time experience, I declared my eternal devotion and moved in the next day.

Back in New York, friends weren't overly interested in what could've possibly transpired beyond resort walls. Sneering was only appropriate when invited back for another timeshare on Isla Verde. Besides, a steamy summer reencounter had already been devised.

By now the leash had come off, living only 3- half hours away, but Old San Juan had developed as my ideal version of domestic; the perfect kind of package to come home to on a routine basis. And no matter how far I strayed, loyalty and faithfulness always remained true in my heart. When it came to flirting with distant relatives, the ugly firstborn sister next door; the motherland and family roots beyond, there was still only one I cared to be with.

The Mistress Scorned
I'll never forget the arriving flight while looking out over shapely figure sprawled before me. It was no secret how badly I wanted to retrieve bags, cancel connecting flight, and sneak in for an extended massage of libido. But I kept going; willing to settle for my first layover quickie on the way home, except plans got rerouted through Santo Domingo only detouring guilt of actual cheating.

There's no denying something drastically changed. Like anyone consumed with inner-struggles, avoiding confrontation was typical first line of defense. Coyly playing things off wasn't fooling anyone but myself; especially after those first few overnight layovers trying to fake old delusions. The art of distractions can be a bittersweet weapon; especially if used once too often.

Succumbing to whatever had reignited the itch, a surprise late appearance for our five-year commemoration was in order.

Thinking I could prowl back for a three-night stay like nothing happened was not transpiring. Landing in hot water is one thing. Dealing with constant tears and howling wrath quite the other. Pacing around while fully exposed sanctioned hollow rejection...returning lock myself in the room, playing chicken. Forewarnings about false sense of calm in the eye of the storm was all the allusions needed. No sense making a bad situation worse, and I caught the first flight available; dodging collision until things blew over.

Time was my only consoling partner until deciding to test fate and slip back for "a night". There was no second guessing what had to be done, but who was I kidding? Crawling back every inch of the way would be worth ending separation. My charge was still connected; mere presence erasing any need for words. A blazing sunset rendered a submissive truce; unspoken secrecy that can make or break a man's character.

Desiring Temptation - The Gratified Scenario
I lie motionless in the bed as not to wake a soul. The drowsy clack of the overhead fan serves as orchestrated soundtrack for the night. Smoke can be seen hanging in the distant air with the glow of every inhale; a red light patiently clicks away numbers...the digital alarm clock not set to go off for at least another hour.

A renewed sense of spirit never quite blooms with eclipsing guilt; shameless but hampering just the same. Contemplative silence embraces the darkness, and I figure there's no sense prolonging the inevitable with bridled anticipation. After quietly gathering my things, I firmly grasp the door in hopes of muffling the squeak that would signal my slipping out. There's no mystery, I'll eventually be back.

The city is sleeping comfortably with balcony doors flung open for wooing the predawn breeze; the lack of noise a rare luxury. For having such a lighter feeling about myself, there's always a counter-balance for suddenly how heavy bags weigh me down as I pass along abandoned Calle Fortaleza. Sometimes the cabbies don't even ask. They just know.

Almost as if in respect to the silence of nocturnal magic, car stereos usually are not even turned on, giving perfect opportunity to begin processing the latest discretions into titillations. Contrition never has a chance against the all but twisted satisfaction; likely no different than marauding pirates of yore. But when is a little of something ever enough? Especially when it seems so forbidden? So far I've restrained never giving in to the taunting self-deceptions by asking the driver to turn the car around.

Crossing bridges over the lagoon transports illusion back to actuality. Twinkling of the distant Condado strip is an image burned deeply into my mind that I frequently lose myself in; rows of beachfront hotels lit-up in the darkness with hints of a new day just beyond. I suppose significance is harbored in parting sadness and the whole I can't believe I went off and did this again conflict. What's done is done.

The puddle-jumper whizzes down the runway towards the rising sun before sharply clipping over Isla Verde beach in a 180˚o turn that fully shifts everything westward and back towards internal purposeful perspective.

Distance of separation grows ever so slightly but not before allowing one last look; tempting as ever, seductively laid back like a siren by the sea. At this point, call it mutual understanding and one last harmless flirtation, however futile. She knows; I've found another.

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