THE TICKETS were booked in March, back when the idea of summer—leaves on the trees, sun on your skin, sweat trickling down your sides—seemed altogether impossible. March is winter’s black hole, where you’re convinced that New York City will forever be a frozen, Hoth-like tundra surrounding your overpriced apartment like an unwelcome moat. And so when I was invited to stay in a veritable mansion on a beach in Mexico, it took less than some arm pulling for me to agree to go.
Sunshine, coconuts, sand happily lodged in my nether regions. Sign me up!
Cut to June, just three months later, forty degrees warmer, and three weeks to go until my scheduled departure for paradise, and I’m all, “Eeehhhhhh, I dunno” about it. At a dinner someone warns me it’ll be “really hot” and that’s enough to solidify my resistance, like it’s not going to be absolutely repulsive in New York come July, the streets reeking of sour milk and rotting lettuce clearly a preferable alternative to salty air rolling through open windows off the blue Pacific. Clearly!
And so I waffled, mentioning to friends (who weren’t going on the trip) that I was thinking about cancelling, that someone told me it would be hot, that I had been to Mexico so much the last two years. Oh, boo hoo. Sometimes I can’t even listen to myself. My head is an occasionally horrible place—like a child with nice toys and too much time on her hands.
Two weeks to go and I’m still thinking about cancelling, until I sat next to a stranger at a party in Brooklyn, a girl named Constance or something regal, and got to talking about summer trips, travel plans. She was going down to the Caribbean to learn how to sail, so that she could go back to Delaware and use her freshly honed skills on her dad’s million-dollar sailboat/yacht. As one does.
When she asked “What about you?” I told her about Mexico, about the heat, about the burden of Mexican stamps in my passport of late, about the real reason I was thinking about not going, which was the hope that a boy I had been hanging out with would invite me on his own trip upstate. Because I’m lame, horribly, horrible lame. I would gladly cancel a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Mexican jungle to a casita with a chef and maids and views and crabs and sunsets and cold beer on hot days—all on the chance, the vague possibility, that a person I liked liked me enough to invite me over for the weekend. Like an emotional passport stamp, proof that he wanted to invest in me further. Which he doesn’t. In my heart of hearts I knew he’d never invite me.
Still, I was going to cancel that trip. Because I’m missing the part of my brain attached to logic and good sense. What I do have are a bunch of empty and cavernous spaces that my errant thoughts use as a space to mill trouble, fantasies, doubt.
It takes a total stranger—a person I’ll never see again, whose name I’m not totally sure of—to look at me and say, “You’re crazy. Go. It’ll be good for you, and it’ll help you get over that guy. He sounds like he sucks.”
I keep my flight and make the trip to Mexico, my only regret being that I ever thought about cancelling to begin with, my conversation with that stranger being shameful evidence of my flakiness of spirit and my appalling weakness of will. On the flipside, I got a new motto: Just say yes, or just shut up.