Gabriella and I had already agreed to have dinner in Hoboken. Hoboken is another small city, lying just east of Union City, but she is right on the banks of the Hudson River. It was once a hard-scrabble town full of blue collar workers and gangsters. It’s the disavowed hometown of Frank Sinatra and the basis for the classic film “On the Waterfront” with Marlon Brando (“I coulda been a contendah”). Now though it’s a jewel of luxury condominiums and apartments, bustling with nightlife and beautiful young people. And on that Thursday evening in early September, two older adults, who did not speak each other’s language.
Gabriella was just as her pictures and video calls had shown her to be, a vibrant, youthful woman in her early 50’s. She had light brown hair (probably dyed), brown eyes, buxom, and with a few extra pounds she carried well. She smiled easily and laughed often. We talked into our phones and the translator app spewed sentences resembling what we had said. I parked my car and we walked along the main avenue looking for a place to eat. There were plenty of restaurants, but most of them had wait lists. We kept searching until we found a little Italian place with seating outside. We had a cocktail and ordered our food. I felt I knew her intimately in many ways, but it was still a strange interaction because of the pauses during translation.
We finished our dinner and crossed the street to the esplanade that runs along the Hudson River. We sat on a bench and gazed across the water to the grand view of Manhattan, the lights of midtown and the stars above reflected as if in a mirror . It really is beautiful and I suspect awesome to visitors. I don’t think many other cities have that iconic a view. We snuggled and made out a bit, finally returning to my car.
There comes that moment during a date when both participants consider the next move at the tail end of the night. Neither of us was drunk, but there was clearly an intoxicating physical attraction. She was pretty frisky; I was fairly randy. I knew she was going back to Colombia the next day and this would be our one chance to consummate our attraction for a very long time. (How long, I could not have guessed those several months before the pandemic shut down the world.) On the other hand, it was already past my self-imposed curfew. It was late in the week, I had to get up shortly after 4am and I work hard. I was facing a 45 minute drive to my house, consummation, a drive back to where she was staying, (there wouldn’t be time to drive her back next morning), and then return back to my house again (for a grand total of at least 3 hours, give or take a few minutes depending on the conjugation). I was already a bit sleepy. I was leaning towards bringing her home. It would just be too late for this old fellow. She slipped into the passenger seat and then slipped her hands between my legs. Before I was quite aware of it the app was translating my words into, “¿Quisiera venir a ver mi casa?” The translator app had plans of its own and who was I to argue?
Gabriella proved to be as sensual in person as I imagined. The ride north to my house was a bit more touchy-feely than it should have been. Our phones were forgotten, but buttons were still being pressed. Somehow I managed to pull into my driveway. I gave her a cursory tour of the first floor, conveniently ending in my bedroom. We fell into the bed and then into each other and played out in real what we had fantasized. It was lovely and satisfying for the both of us. Then I had to face the 90 minutes of driving her back and then come back home. It was 2 am when all was said and done. I managed to get a couple of hours sleep before the alarm buzzed. I did text her later, wishing her a safe trip home. She told me she’d be back in the States early the next year.
We texted quite a bit at first and just as she was thinking of coming back, Covid-19 hit and the world just shut down. Colombia was especially hit hard. Our texts slowed down once again. A year or so later, we barely chatted at all and I had embarked on a new relationship of my own. Riots and protests broke out in Colombia, so I checked in on her. She was actively marching in the streets. Nearly another year has passed. The relationship I had been in ended abruptly and I floundered. I reached out to Gabriella. She was happy to hear from me and told me she was coming back this May. She would love to see me. Ironically, I had been trying to learn Spanish for the woman who left me, but maybe I could put it to good use with Gabriella and not be so dependent on that damn horny translator app.
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