12 of us made our way down to Sayulita, Mexico the second year of business school for a week long spring break getaway. It’s hard to coordinate the timing when everyone’s got exams on different days. Some people end early over the course of the final exam period. Some people end late. Or some people just had to submit papers.
I flew solo into Puerto Vallarta and met up with my friend and roommate for the trip, Emma, at a designated hotel. Emma was a brilliant girl with top honors in b-school. From my own perspective, as an average student in grad school, I wouldn’t say it was hard to get As in class, but it was definitely hard to get an A in every single class. She was that girl. She was cocky in all matters academic, declaring, “I want to be the top in the class. Or maybe just more awards and scholarships. I’ve gotten so many so far. I know it’s weird, but I want more recognition.”
I don’t get along with cocky people, but we became friends anyway. We were in the same cohort. We always seemed to have the same classes, and a similar work ethic. So that’s how the friendship began. Soon after, we were trekking to the library, studying into the night, and hanging out often. The trip to Mexico was planned by mutual friends and we went along, excited to get out of Chicago and room together in a beach house among friends.
An hour away from Puerto Vallarta, our vacation spot in the surfing town of Sayulita had a name. House of Flowers…something pretty like that. And when you opened the gate and ascended the stairs to the main floor of the compound, there was a sizable pool and walkways leading out from the pool to various guest rooms. In the main house, there was a kitchen, a sitting room, and a couple bedrooms. Then there were guests rooms surrounding the pool area and above and below the main house. Emma and I found a guest room perfect for the two of us. We had our own bathroom and a large living room / sleeping area with a large bed accessible by ladder and a small kiddy bed in an alcove by the bathroom. Our room was open and airy. Every night before passing out from too many margaritas, we would talk and laugh. Emma would talk down from her loft area and I would talk up from my less than twin-sized bed.
Everything was going well. The vacation was one of my best memories of grad school. It was very relaxing and fun. Some of us (not me) surfed early in the morning through late afternoon. I read books and magazines by the pool. Samantha painted a picture of me with her watercolors. At night, a Mexican woman came by and cooked us a dinner feast using fresh produce that she had purchased from the market that day. Amazing food. Every night, we drank, blasted music, danced wildly. People got thrown into the pool.
After that fourth night, I turned in earlier than the crowd. I could still hear people yelling and telling stories in accents. I loved that we were so international. I was sitting up in bed, reading, when one of my friends Allen opened the screen door and popped his head in. “Going to bed so early?”
“We have…what…three more nights of this? I think I can cut myself off from the bottle at 11pm tonight. Besides, I’m just going to wake up and start drinking again. So don’t call me a wuss.”
“Aww, come on.” He came over and sat by my feet. “You sure you’re done for the night?”
“Yeah. Pretty sure.”
“Ok.” He smiled, gave me a hug, then planted a kiss on the top of my head. “G’night Vixen.”
A few minutes later, Emma came in. I thought she was done for the night, too. “What was Allen doing in here?”
“He came to say good night.”
“And?” She looked at me accusingly. I knew that there had been something between them the previous quarter, but that it was over. Allen was a friend of mine, just as much a friend as Emma was. He had told me nothing had really happened between them. She went psycho stalker on him. And that it was over. He didn’t want to have anything to do with her. She had told me that he was in love with her. That something had gone awry and it had ended with no closure, but she felt like he still had feelings for her. I felt sorry for her. That cockiness that she had with academics spilled into her relationships. And I realized she was simply trying to compensate for extremely low self-esteem.
“And what? He wondered why I wasn’t hanging out with everyone anymore and then said good night. That’s it.”
She looked hurt and stormed off into the bathroom, then came out only to leave our guest house and continue partying with the rest of our gang.
A couple hours later, I was fast asleep when the screen door opened. “Scoot over.”
“Scoot over.” I did. “I want to stay with you tonight, ok?” He ran his fingers through my hair, cuddled up close, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. He wrapped his arms around me.
I knew it was the middle of the night. I had been sleeping. There were no more accents, no more music playing from the boombox. I only heard leaves rustling outside. It was probably 2 or 3am. I looked up to see a body in the bed in the loft above. I hoped Emma wouldn’t rustle awake. Only the leaves, I prayed. I only want to hear the leaves rustling around.
I tried to fall asleep. This is nice, right? Romantic? I have an attractive guy wrapped around me in the middle of the night. He fell asleep quickly. He started to snore.
“Oh my God.” I heard a whisper. “Why does this always happen to me?” Then crying. Emma started crying. “I can’t believe my eyes. He’s wrapped all over her. I can’t take it.”
As she talked aloud, I started to quiver. Oh please God, let her go back to sleep. She’s crazy. She’s fucking crazy. At least Allen is here with me. She won’t embarrass herself in front of him. I pretended to be fast asleep.
I could hear her descend the ladder. She was standing above us. “This…in front of my very own eyes. He’s got his hands wrapped all over her. Oh my God. Why? Why me?”
Allen had been snoring, but her whining had woken him up. “Emma, what’re you doing? Go back to sleep. Nothing’s going on here.” And with those words, he put his arms back around me and fell back asleep.
Emma went back to her loft, but continued to cry and whine for the rest of the night. Fuck, I was going to get bludgeoned in Mexico. I didn’t sleep at all, and was still wide awake with my eyes closed when our friends came calling at sunrise. “Allen, you there? Let’s go. Surf’s up.”