In 2010, my mother dragged me to Florida in what I thought was going to be the best trip of my life. Disney world, beach, endless sunshine, palm trees, and no school-the ultimate vacation for a broke twenty-one-year-old. Little did I know that we were only visiting an old friend.
My mother’s friend, Josefina was seventy-three years old and although she can move around the house, she is sickly. Her daughter whose name I could not remember visits her every week and buy her groceries.
Later that evening, Josefina’s daughter drove my mother and me to her house to meet her husband, whose name I also could not remember. My lack of open-mindedness made me judge the couple. Here is this tall and slender woman with long black hair and smells like lavender whom by the way does not look a day forty-nine is sitting next to a heavy-set African American man who constantly judges me for having a sleeve tattoo. He was sitting heavily in his chair facing the computer showing me what my arm will look like in ten to twenty-years time. I simply smiled as I observed both of them. While we chatted away, I noticed Josefina’s daughter did not regard her husband much. She would cut him off mid-sentence and corrected him a lot. The husband laughed it off and would drag the conversation back to my tattoos.
The next day my mom and I met up with Josefina’s daughter to go site seeing downtown. This is the moment when I thought, ”yes! It’s finally happening. We’re going to Disney land.” To my dismay, we never made it past the highway. Instead, we were in some park overlooking the water.
The view was amazing and the breeze was lovely. Looking back, I wished I had taken a photo. The sun was out and I was in a place I haven’t been before. Josefina’s daughter was wearing a white dress, her hair down and a huge smile on her face. I thought she was smiling at the sight of us, but then I realized she was looking directly at a slender built man who seems to look a little older than her husband. They held hands as they lock eyes, her smile never fading away. He planted a kiss on her forehead as my mother and I tagged along behind them.
Confusing thoughts came over me and questions started to fill my mind. My mother must have seen my face because she elbowed me and gave me her signature look. Even at twenty-one I always feel like a child locking eyes with my mother’s glare.
Later that evening, we had dinner at this fancy outdoor restaurant with a live band. I have never been anywhere and being in a new crowd made me feel excited. I looked around me and saw beautiful people everywhere enjoying the breeze, the music, and the food. I glanced at Josefina’s daughter who is now leaning against the man we met earlier that day and yes, I couldn’t remember his name either. She smiled every time he looked at her. They traded kisses and held hands the entire time.
At that moment I was upset at her. I wanted to confront her and ask her why she’s cheating. Why is she ruining her marriage to a man she has a beautiful home with? Why lie? I remember feeling furious even though I just met her and know nothing about her life.
Looking back, I now realized I have been naive and have been a judgemental cunt. The memory of her staring at her man with pure happiness in her eyes made me regret that I didn’t get to know her as a person. My lack of life experiences and open-mindedness hindered me from gaining a new friend. She would have been an amazing mentor. I imagine her as this funny, smart, and fierce woman who break down walls and who is determined to live life happily no matter the consequences. I wished I got the chance to ask her my questions then- not in an accusatory manner but in a friendly way where she and I can share thoughts and ideas.
I will always look back at that summer night and try to remember her features, her smile, and her fierceness.