The cleanse: Day 11

I have been detoxing for the past eleven days. No Smo King. Why? Of late, it had become a terrible crutch. I’d smoke for any reason or no reason. With friends or alone, any day of the week, any time of day. For fun, for stress, for creativity, for stomachaches, for grief, for sleep. So, I quit on May 1. So far, so good. I feel great, actually. Clear-headed. Productive. Disciplined. It started as a thirty-day pact, but I plan to refrain for the foreseeable future.

I also quit drinking as of May 1. I’ve never been that big a drinker, though I did get sloshed a lot in my early and mid-twenties. Ever since getting horribly hungover on New Year’s 2008, my body won’t let me get very drunk. I stop myself, consciously or subconsciously. The older I get, the worse my alcohol-induced headaches get, sometimes from a single glass of red wine. Plus, it’s expensive and I can have plenty of fun without it. So… no more drinking.

I threw out caffeine for the hell of it. Herbal tea instead of coffee. Juice instead of soda. Yeah, sure. Fine.

What I wasn’t ready or willing to give up was him. But, along with the other detrimental substances, él se va. There he goes.

We met on a chicken bus one Friday last fall. I was traveling alone. He was sitting on the empty bus when I stepped on board. He smiled at me. He glowed. We exchanged holas. He seemed nice; it was not love at first sight.

The vehicle filled to the gills and careened along narrow roads to Lake Atitlán. It always amazes me how many people they can fit on these buses and how the ticket guy manages to squeeze through the packed aisle and collect the correct fare from everyone. I gazed out the window, daydreaming of a first date the previous night. I remember thinking that I should not be fantasizing about someone I barely knew and wishing I’d meet someone to distract me. Years of romantic dysfunction had taught me never to put all my eggs in one basket.

After the bus emptied out, he came over and sat by me. We chatted in Spanish, the typical conversation, where are you from, where are you going? He was clearly  older. Fifty-something, I guessed. (Fifty-six, I later discovered.) We arrived in Panajachel and walked down the street in light rain. It was dark outside already; I’d missed the last lancha across the lake to San Marcos, my final destination. I asked him for a hotel recommendation. He invited me to his house for dinner. I accepted.

He made eggs, beans and toast: desayuno tipico. I didn’t know if this encounter was going to be platonic or romantic. He has four adult children and an ex-wife in another pueblo. He has a long-term, long-distance girlfriend, a French Canadian. He’s a musician. He works weekends as a salvavidas, a lifeguard. He makes flip-flops. He claimed to have shamanic powers. (If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill the Buddha.) I willfully ignored all red flags.

Inexplicable chemistry took over. I never made it across the lake; I spent the weekend with him. It was H-O-T. Passionate. Really increíble. Yes, it should have ended there. But the affair continued periodically until last month. A couple times I gave him up and then gave up giving him up. I even planned to go see him after teaching a yoga retreat last weekend, but he was out of town. Not what my ego (and other parts) wanted to hear, but ultimately it is good. It is over. El Fin.

It was fun while it lasted. Taught me a lot. Shone light on some of my worst patterns.

He was my salvavidas, having saved me from a long romantic drought. But it was not love at first sight; it was not love ever. So. Along with the other detrimental substances, I am choosing to cleanse him from my system. I am just saying no. For real. Adios, amante. Que le vaya bien.

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