Charlie, the carolina temptress
I met a girl named Charlotte while studying abroad, living in Barcelona. She insisted I call her Charlie. She was a dance major and one of the very few young women I ever met who had a healthy self-image. She and I would go out dancing and drinking in Spanish clubs until the wee hours of the morning, making jokes about the funny haircuts of Spaniards and speaking candidly about sex and love and what we wanted from life—until my girlfriend showed up. Charlie wasn’t ready to say goodbye, so she befriended my girlfriend and the three of us ended up spending nearly every moment together. We had sleepovers, we watched movies, we drank wine. I felt we really had something.
One night I awoke to find the two of them making out next to me and I felt betrayed, albeit turned on.
Charlie had a boyfriend back home in North Carolina. He was a friendly, handsome older guy studying to be a doctor. I never got to meet him, but I hated his guts.
Her last night in Barcelona, we stayed out until morning again. My girlfriend fell asleep so I walked Charlie to her apartment. We kissed in a dark alleyway and I tasted the tears running down her cheeks. She made me promise to write her. I walked home alone along the cold avenue full of stumbling drunks, cigarette butts and foreign prostitutes. When I got back I saw my girlfriend sleeping peacefully in bed with a Mona Lisa smile on her face, and I thought of how life was so damn unfair—and how this reality tends to work in my favor for whatever reason. I knew I deserved nothing. Still, I cried softly the next two hours, so as not to wake her—thinking, in 24 hours, Charlie, your man will hold you. . . . and I will still be here.’
About a month later I found myself alone, watching fat snowflakes fall to the ground 150 feet below from my hotel room in Athens. I wrote Charlie a 17,000-word letter. I’m still awaiting a response.
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