Then you’d lose your thick, you note, and she laughs. It’s all going swell, it’s all marvellous, and then, in the middle of a sun salutation, you feel a shift in your lower back and —it’s like a sudden power failure.
What the hell are you going to do with a blanquita? I should get back to ballet, she says while undressing you. When the class is over, you need help from the little white girl to rise to your feet. At the Plough and Stars, you collapse against a stop sign and call Elvis on your cell.
You harbored a lot of grievances against her anyway. She didn’t give good head, you hated the fuzz on her cheeks, she never waxed her pussy, she never cleaned up around the apartment, etc. Of course you go back to smoking, to drinking, you drop the therapist and the sex-addict groups and you run around with the sluts like it’s the good old days, like nothing has happened. You have trouble adjusting to it full time—to its trains that stop running at midnight, to the glumness of its inhabitants, to its startling lack of Szechuan food.
You claim that you were sick, you claim that you were weak. You write her long sensitive letters, which she returns unopened.
You start taking salsa classes, like you always swore you would, so that the two of you can dance together. You phone her every day and leave messages that she doesn’t answer.
She is immensely sad on that beach and she walks up and down the shining sand alone, her bare feet in the freezing water, and when you try to hug her she says, .
She stares at the rocks jutting out of the water, the wind carrying her hair straight back.
You’re out all the time, but no one seems to be biting. One girl, when you tell her you’re Dominican, actually says, Hell no, and runs full tilt toward the door. One month, two months, three months, and then some hope. You get serious about classes and, for your health, you take up running.
You begin to wonder if there’s some secret mark on your forehead. He’s working for this ghetto-ass landlord and starts taking you with him on collection day. Deadbeats catch one peep of your dismal grill and cough up their debts on the spot. You start three novels: one about a pelotero, one about a narco, and one about a bachatero—all of them suck pipe. That makes you so sad that you go home and lie in bed in the dark. I don’t want to go back down the hole, you tell Elvis. Like a hardhead you keep trying to run, but the pain sharpens. Out of nowhere you call the ex, but of course she doesn’t pick up. At the end of the sessions, you move away quickly to wipe down your mat and she takes the hint. You actually become pretty obsessed with yoga, and soon you’re taking your mat with you wherever you go. Most of the time, you suspect that she feels sorry for you. You find yourself crying in front of sporting-goods stores. Yes, she’s really young and you fuck a whole lot, and during the act the two of you cling to each other for dear life, but afterward you peel away like you’re ashamed of yourselves. By the time the doctor appears, you’re crabbed over like an old man. He’s taken up yoga now, having seen what it did for you. She’s doing a year at the business school, and for how much she gushes about Boston you can tell that she misses the D. Boston is really racist, you offer by way of orientation. Soon you’re squiring her around the city and beyond: to Salem on Halloween and one weekend to the Cape. Wedding invitations from the ex-sucias start to arrive in the mail. That year your arms and legs begin to give you trouble, occasionally going numb, flickering in and out like a brownout back on the Island. Elvis encourages you to try yoga, the half-Bikram kind they teach in Central Square. The namaste bullshit you could do without, but you fall into it and soon you’re pulling vinyasas with the best of them. There are mad hos, all with their asses in the air, but none of them catch your eye. She seems impressed that, of all the guys in the class, you alone never take off your shirt, but you skitter away from her cornpone grin. She’s half your age, one of those super-geniuses who finished undergrad when she was nineteen and is seriously lovely. What she does appear to like is your body, can’t keep her hands off it. The walk back to your apartment is some Bataan-type shit. The fact that she hasn’t changed her number gives you strange hope, even though you’ve heard that she’s dating somebody. While you’re not exactly feeling the hos right now, you don’t want to lose all the conditioning you’ve built up, so you give it a shot. You finally start work on your eighties apocalypse novel—finally starting means you write a paragraph—and in a flush of confidence you begin messing with this young morena from Harvard Law School whom you meet at the Enormous Room. She says that she likes your mind, but, considering that she’s smarter than you, that seems doubtful. You give her the passwords to all your e-mail accounts. For a while you haunt the city, like a two-bit ballplayer dreaming of a call-up. White people pull up alongside you at traffic lights and scream at you with a hideous rage, like you nearly ran over their mother. Before you can figure out what the hell is going on, they flip you the bird and peel out. Security guards follow you in stores, and every time you step onto Harvard property you’re asked for I. Three times, drunk white dudes in different parts of the city try to pick fights with you. I hope someone drops a fucking bomb on this city, you rant. Why all my black and Latino students leave as soon as they can. He was born and raised in Jamaica Plain, knows that trying to defend Boston from uncool is like blocking a bullet with a slice of bread.