The Bus Stops Here
Today our paths crossed. I was at the bus terminal on a hunch. And sure enough, beautiful Maria Fuentes stepped off a bus from Condado.
I had decided to go to the bus terminal early and watch for her. From her Facebook wall I knew that she worked in Old San Juan, I just didn’t know where. I doubted she lived in Old San Juan by herself — which meant she commuted to work each day. As soon as I figured this out, I checked into Hotel El Convento for a good night’s sleep, a shower, and a shave. I now knew where I would find her. I woke early this morning and put on my summer suit — khaki slacks and a blue button-down shirt. I felt great. I strolled down the narrow gray stone streets to the terminal. I waited a half hour. And then I saw her.
I didn’t walk up to her right away. I wanted to, but I hesitated — and then I saw him. He was her boyfriend, to judge by the way he slipped the canvas tote strap from her bare shoulder. They walked, not arm in arm, but casually — close to each other. He was a striking man, whoever he was. He was five or six years older than me, I’d say. I know that my sister Rose would have found him dreamy. He had the dark good looks she would moon over. And there I stood.
Now a wiser man than I might have sat this real-life encounter out, gone home, blogged, and wondered what might have been. But I had flown here with one purpose: to reconnect with Maria: To let her know I missed her and was prepared to stay this time. So I did what Don Quixote my alter-ego compelled me to do. I made a complete fool of myself.
“Maria?” I asked, sidling up to them. “I can’t believe I’ve run into you — what’s it been?– how long?– I think four years!” I reach my hand out to the boyfriend. He looks at Maria, as if to ask, “Who is this?” Then he shakes my hand, and Maria says something to him in Spanish. Then to me she says, “Will, this is Professor Torres.” “Ramos Torres,” he corrects her. He wants to seem younger, no doubt. He smiles warmly, so I figure he’s not at all threatened at by me, which is aggravating. So, New Yorker that I now am, I look him right in the eye and say, “Ramos, I’ve got just a few minutes before a meeting. May I speak to Maria alone?” He’s a bit put off by this. We both look at Maria. Her face is flushed. I’ve embarrassed her. “It will only take a minute,” she tells Ramos. Still smiling, he walks on ahead.
“Will, what are you doing here?” she asks.
“I wanted to see you again,” I say.
“Is that all?” she asks.
“No, of course not. I can’t give up on us.”
“I know you can’t. But is that wise? We’ve tried before. Two times already.”
“I know. But there’s an expression I like. You will too. ‘Third time is the charm.'”
“The charm?” she puzzles. (Part of her charm is that old-fashioned expressions like that baffle her. )
“That means the the third time we try, we may just get it right,” I explain.
“Oh, Si. Okay, Will. We can try.”