Today I took a bus to visit an outdoor market in a neighboring town.
I peered out my window as the driver slowly inched the bus up and down the hills and carefully maneuvered the winding roads.
Halfway through the trip, there was a traffic accident and we were forced to stop.
As I waited for the driver to continue, I realized we had stopped in front of a hotel.
As the bus inched along, I noticed the sign on the hotel’s façade said, “Hotel Voramar.”
Suddenly, I was flooded with memories; memories of a young man named Domingo.
Domingo; Sunday in English.
I smiled as I recalled the many times I had teased him because of his name.
I sat back in my chair and closed my eyes; desirous to see his handsome face again.
After only a few seconds, I regressed in time.
Suddenly, I was 16 years old and sat on the terrace of my aunt’s beach bungalow.
The bungalow faced the beach to the east, while the employee entrance of a then famous hotel called “Hotel Playa,” stood to the west.
I remembered how day after day, my sister, my friend Lissy, and I ate our breakfast on the terrace and watched handsome Spanish boys climb the stairs to their workplace.
Lissy was head over heels over the cook, a handsome boy named Juan, while my sister drooled over Manolo, the cook’s assistant; a cutie with curly, brown hair and an infectious chuckle.
As for me, I was gaga over a young, Antonio Banderas look-alike named Domingo whose dimples made me weak in the knees.
Every morning, like clockwork, we would sit on the terrace and pretend to eat breakfast as we waited for the boys to clock in.
Each day, Domingo would slowly walk up the stairs, look my way, wink, and say “Buenos Días.”
And every morning, until he reached the top of the stairs, my heart would go into overdrive; beating so loudly, I was afraid he’d hear it.
Even now, I’m moved to sigh as I recall his deep, brown eyes, long eyelashes, and wavy, brown hair; certain my eyes have taken on the same dreamy quality they had back then.
I remembered the first time he asked me out, and how we walked hand in hand on the beach for hours.
I remembered him calling me sweet endearments like, “cariño,” “mi amor,” and “guapa.”
Sweetheart, my love, beautiful.
I remembered the summer he returned from his hometown with a tattoo of a guitar with my name on it, as well as the many times he told me he’d love me forever.
As we drove past the Hotel Voramar, I recalled the summer he’d worked there because the Hotel Playa had closed for remodeling.
Unable to see him every day, I had to settle for twice a week and then, only for a few hours.
At the time, I was devastated but made the best of it because it meant being in the company of a boy who made my heart sing.
First love; an experience unlike any other.
Yet as far as my heart is concerned, forever.
Because that’s how long memories of one’s first love last.