The trip down was as smooth and easy as a top grade tequila. Why not? We sat staring out into a span of ocean as blue and clear as the sky itself. Our rides were comfortable, companies easy and our hearts open to possibilities of the week.
Rosarito was overcast that day. A band of clouds hang at the far edge of the sea where it met the sky like frost that crawled up the bottoms of car windows overnight, smudging your view. I wanted to wipe it clean, so I could see the line where everything on earth seems to fall off, into perhaps what should be called a better place, though I would have no way of knowing.
The water seemed more turbulent and the waves more fierce here south of the border. Were the waves rising as a protest against the housing projects and pellet board houses falling to the wayside and scattered between high rise hotels? Perhaps not.
The swells danced nonetheless, between the sun and the wind, beckoning the clouds lower and teasing the heels of low flying pelicans, who flirted at the edge of the swells spraying like hair into the wind and rhythms of the dance.
As we stopped, unloaded and walked out onto the hotel garden standing at the edge of the ocean, waves splashed onto rocks beneath, making white fireworks of water exploding on impact. I let go of my bags along with my thoughts. Looking out into the mists blurring the edges between heaven and earth, I felt myself hanging at the edges of today and tomorrow, my hands and soul shook in symphony with the splashing rocks.
* * *
The group had danced the night away. Music banged on my wall, with chatters jumping in offbeat like broken staccatos. Aged looking terracotta floors and delicate mosaics on the wall carried the sound well, so I could hear shot glasses slam on the wooden tables and bar chairs being dragged across the floor. As consciousness returned and dreams faded away, whispers between those still standing traveled through the short hallway between my room and the bar, taunting me with secrets I couldn't quite decipher ceaselessly.
The clock struck at four.
I waited, read and prayed but sleep eluded me. At the first ray of sun kissing the sky fish belly white, I got up to take a walk outside, bathing in the brisk coolness of morning fresh air. I walked the grounds from one side to another, then back again, looking for what I wasn't sure.
I decided to return to my room. That was when I spotted him, crouching between the smallness of a patio chair and table. His red baseball cap lit up the gray horizon, like the tip of a match, darting only slightly but a presence of warmth nonetheless. As I walked closer, I saw that he was indeed lighting up something - a cigarette.
I didn't recognize the tall, lanky figure, even when he waved. He had told me something earlier, something that took me aback but I waved it away as a inconsequential comment. I was just under the hotel windows and he at the edge of the water, enjoying a morning smoke. I waved back but walked away, again, thinking he were just another early rising hotel guest enjoying a moment's solitude in the mists. I wished I had known it was him, but it wasn't to be. Perhaps I had been out wondering needing someone to talk to, perhaps he was too. But it wasn't to be.
Later on he was to say goodbye, a shocking surprise, a pause, an earlier exit that expected, due to a move, a change, or a job we weren't sure. But his earlier comment made sense in the light of the departure, giving context to a gray stroke of smoke dissipating into the wind otherwise. Was it a clue written in disappearing ink? Or was it just an air of swirling puff meant to be dismissed? Regardless it was a sad occasion and he would be missed. We all wish(ed) that there were time and a chance to know him better, but it wasn't to be.
I couldn't help wondering if we could have talked that morning, I would have found out a bit more. I could not change what was meant to change, but I still couldn't help wondering, what was it to be.