Archive for February, 2009

Cuba, Part 3 of 3

And finally…


Saturday, July 26th, 2008.


The morning of this day was spent taking all of the stuff in our room and moving it into my uncle’s room. We would be checking out of three out of the four rooms at noon.


I ate one last crappy breakfast of fried toast, cereal, plastic eggs, and what I think was milk. It might have been white water though.


Then I headed to the pool. Or at least I was heading to the pool. But as I walked along, I saw Valentino at the beach bar from a distance. I recognized him by the yellow and black cap he was wearing. I walked towards the bar and ordered a coke for myself, and asked Valentino where John was. He pointed west(?). Then he headed in the direction that he pointed. But something (St. Michael the Archangel?) told me not to follow him. So instead I said goodbye to Valentino for the fourth time and headed back towards the pool. Or at least I was heading back towards the pool.


But then I bumped into Dan. The timing of this was incredible. I won’t go into detail, but the general landscape around where I met Dan was such that had I arrived three seconds earlier or later, I would have missed him entirely. And that would have been a shame.


I asked him where he was going.


"I am going to get ice cream," he said. In that accent of his. That wonderful, beautiful accent of his.


I said that I would go get some ice cream too. A very good decision on my part. I figured that ice cream was the same everywhere in the world. Not even Cubans could fuck up ice cream, right? I asked Dan what flavour he wanted. He said chocolate. I thought about it for a moment and decided that I would get chocolate too.


We arrived at the snack place. Dan looked at me expectantly with those eyes. ‘Of course,’ I realised. ‘I’m the old one here. He wants me to order.’ So I placed the order. Two chocolate ice creams. 


Alas, the staff members running this place were thoroughly incompetent. We found ourselves waiting. And talking about various things. I hate myself for not remembering more of what we said. I asked him how he had been enjoying his vacation up to that point, when he had arrived, when he was leaving… that sort of thing. He told me that he had arrived a while ago, and was leaving the following day. He also told me that he liked the pool.


At some point while we were waiting for the ice cream, my aunt showed up for some reason. I think she wanted some ice cream too, for her two year old daughter. She looked at me quizzically when she saw that I was hanging out with a nine year old.


"This is my good friend Dan," I explained to her. She smiled and nodded, but I could tell that she didn’t understand.


All told, it took about fifteen minutes for the ice cream to arrive. And it wasn’t even chocolate. It was coffee flavoured, with about a billion fruits thrown in. Stupid Cubans.


We took our ice creams over to the theatre area. Dan wanted to play ping pong. But alas! Some wanker had stolen all the ping pong balls from the table.


Dan thought that one of the nearby resort workers might be able to give us some ping pong balls. Again, Dan gave me that look. I had to ask her. I did. She explained that a man would come by a little later with some balls, but for the time being, we were out of luck.


Did that deter Dan? Of course not. While I cursed our rotten luck, he reached towards a nearby tree and picked up a pine cone.


"We will play with this," he declared.


I didn’t think that it would work. A pine cone isn’t round like a ping pong ball. It has an irregular surface. The laws of physics state that attempting to play ping pong with a pine cone will not work.


But that’s the problem with me. As much as I try to stay young, I slip up occasionally and start thinking like an adult.


We put our ice creams down (I made a joke about leaving them for the birds, and Dan laughed). Dan served the pine cone to me, and we played. And you know what? It was the best game of ping pong I’ve ever had. The pine cone was able to bounce, to my surprise, and the unpredictability of it only added to the fun. We didn’t keep score, because winning didn’t really matter.


At one point, Dan smashed the pine cone several feet over my head and I ran to get it. When I returned, Dan was in a batter’s stance, holding the ping pong paddle like a baseball bat. Instinctively, I threw the pine cone to him. Underhand, of course. He missed the first time, and laughed. After a few pitches, he made contact and sent the pine cone flying. I let him hit it a few times, and then I had him pitch the ball to me. I’m a decent baseball player, but I’m used to using an actual bat. As such, I looked very silly. Dan laughed as I whiffed again and again, only making slight contact once or twice. Finally, getting slightly frustrated, I picked up the pine cone, tossed it up, and smashed it with the paddle. Dan laughed and went to retrieve it.


At that point I noticed that I was breathing heavily. Dan was tiring me out. I didn’t care. I wanted to see what he would think of next.


Our next destination was the pool table. We brought the paddles along. Although the game began as a traditional game of pool, it soon turned into a strange hybrid of pool, hockey, and ping pong. What was amazing was that there was never any hesitation in Dan’s actions. He didn’t have to stop to think. He didn’t have to analyze. He just knew what would work and what would be fun. And he was never wrong.


At one point we were joined by another boy, perhaps a year or two older than Dan, named Sam. A French-Canadian boy, this one. But he went largely by the wayside because Dan kept me more than occupied.


At some point during our game of pool-hockey-ping pong, a bald man approached us. “That is my father,” Dan said. “He speaks Italian and Czech.”


Was it fate, or just some strange coincidence that Dan’s father spoke the language of my heritage? Unfortunately, the Italian blood coursing through my veins has been diluted somewhat by Canada, and so my knowledge of the Italian language isn’t quite up to snuff. Still, I was able to communicate with him. I greeted him and let him know that I could also speak a bit of Italian. We had a short conversation, after which he turned to Dan and switched to Czech. I prayed that he wasn’t going to tell Dan that it was time to leave. He didn’t. He was just checking up on him.


Dan was thirsty then, so we went to the bar. He looked up at me and told me that he wanted a Sprite. So, I ordered a Sprite for him and water for myself.


We then went to play a game of the unnamed game. We were interrupted by my father, who happened to have his camera with him. I told him to take a picture of me and Dan. Like my aunt before him, my dad seemed confused as to why I was hanging out with a nine year old, but took a picture regardless.


I’m not sure what happened, but for whatever reason the image of me in that picture came out completely retarded. I think that I tried to change my facial expression just as the picture was being taken. I look somewhat creepy. Regardless, Dan’s image came out perfect.


My dad left, and we finished up our game and our drinks. Dan then suggested that we use our empty glasses to catch some fish from the pond in the reception area. I agreed, even though I didn’t think that we would catch anything. And so we used our glasses as nets and swiped at the water in hopes of catching one of the tiny fish in the pond.


After about fifteen minutes, we still had nothing to show for our efforts. Dan went to the washroom then, and instructed me to keep trying. I felt a little foolish then. There I was, a seventeen year old, alone, on my knees, trying to catch fish from a pond using a glass. But I felt better when Dan came back.


We continued fishing, and after about five minutes, Dan exclaimed “I have one!” And indeed, there in his glass was a tiny fish. He watched it swim around in the glass for a while. Then he carefully poured the contents of the glass onto some rocks which were right next to the water. The fish flopped around on the rocks before landing back in the pond. Dan laughed. He wasn’t trying to hurt the fish, he just wanted to watch it flop. And once the fish landed back in the pond, he immediately put his glass back into the water in an attempt to catch another one.


When he exclaimed “I have one!” a second time, a female security guard was standing right beside him. She gave him a disapproving look. Dan stood up and held the glass behind his back. He smiled innocently at the security guard. Then in one swift motion, he dumped the water (and the fish) from his glass back into the pond, while still maintaining that innocent smile. The security guard’s attempts to maintain her serious expression failed, and she broke into a smile, shook her head, and walked away.


This incident really sticks with me. It was another one of those things that I can’t do justice to with my words.  I’m not sure what exactly was going on in Dan’s mind. I think he knew that he was an incredibly cute kid and that no adult would ever do anything bad to him if he just kept smiling. The whole incident reminded me of something out of the Suite Life, only Dan played the part of the mischievous blond boy even better than the Sprouse Bros. And if I’m saying that someone was better than the Sprouse Bros., well…


We went back to fishing after the security guard left. Dan caught a few more fish. I caught nothing.


Dan wanted to show me something then, so I got up and followed him. He walked into a souvenir shop. I found myself wishing that I had some money. I would have bought him the entire store if he wanted it. But since we were both broke, we just looked at various things. Ceramic dolphins, postcards, wooden sculptures, et cetera. We also discussed chocolate bars. Curse my memory, but I forget which one was his favourite. He might have mentioned Snickers. We left the shop and headed back towards the theatre area.


Lo and behold, someone had come by and replenished the stock of ping pong balls!


Dan picked up a ball in one hand and a paddle in the other.


“We will play a match,” he said. “To ten.”  


For some reason, those seven words have found a permanent spot in my memory. He wasn’t asking me to play with him; he was telling me that I would. He was in command. He knew exactly what he wanted to do.


We played our match, and although he jumped out to an early lead, I caught up and ended up edging him 11-9. We played a second match, and I won again. Dan then wanted to play with multiple balls at the same time. My instinct told me that this wouldn’t work, but I knew Dan well enough by this point to trust his judgment. And again, he was right. The game naturally evolved from a competitive affair to a cooperative one, wherein we had to keep the all of the balls up and moving at all times. We left the table behind, and the entire theatre area became our playground. Every now and then Dan laugh and shriek out “Change!” and I would pass my ping pong ball to him, and he would send his over to me. The concept was simple, but the game was a tremendous amount of fun. Our game took us all over the theatre area, and even onto the stage itself during one particularly hectic segment.


At some point I saw that some other children had found luggage carts somewhere and were using them as transport. I regret not pausing the game for a moment and taking Dan for a spin on one of those. He would have loved it.


Anyhow, our game of ping pong keep-ups continued for heaven knows how long. And then I looked outside and saw the saddest sight that I’ve ever seen.


Have you ever looked at the sky at around 5 o’clock on a summer day? That’s the point where the sun hasn’t started to set yet, but the whole sky takes on a golden appearance. I’ve always hated that time of day because it serves as a reminder to me that the day is almost over. But I felt saddest of all on this particular day because that golden sky meant that Dan would be leaving soon.


I looked upwards and cursed that golden sky. I damned it to hell. I willed time to go backwards. But I knew that it was futile.


I palmed one of the ping pong balls and went to the washroom. If I couldn’t buy Dan a souvenir, I would make one for him instead. I tried to write “Mike” on the ping pong ball, but failed. For whatever reason, the pen died on me after “M”. In my frustration, I pushed too hard and ended up making a hole in the ball where the “i” should have gone. Deciding to roll with it, I made a hole to the left of the “M” as well. I returned, and Dan wasted no time in getting me to play another round of the unnamed game.


But we were interrupted by Dan’s mother. She said something to her son, and then he said to me “I have to go.”


His mother spoke English, fortunately, and so Dan introduced us. She asked me where I was from. I told her. She then thanked me for spending time with her son. “Was he okay?” she asked. “Did he cause you any trouble?”


This caught me way off guard. How was I supposed to respond to that? ‘Was he okay?!?’  I thought that she was joking for a second.


‘Your son,’ I wanted to say. ‘is perhaps the greatest human being that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I would like to thank you on behalf of the entire planet for giving birth to him.’


Instead I just said “No, no trouble at all. He was great.”


Never in my entire life have I made an understatement of that magnitude, and I doubt that I ever will again.


I gave Dan the ping pong ball, and he was happy to receive it. I took for myself the bashed up pine cone that we had been playing with.


I watched Dan walk away then, and I felt a mix of emotion. I felt joy for having known this boy, but at the same time, utter despair. I caught a glimpse of him a few minutes later, swimming in the pool. He was smiling. After that, I never saw him again.


I returned to the room then. My family wondered where I had been. “With Dan,” I told them. They didn’t understand. They couldn’t possibly have understood. They asked me to head over to the pizza place and pick up seven pizzas so that everyone could have something to eat before we left.


I opened the mini fridge in the room in search of water, and instead found a solitary can of Tucola. I opened it up and immediately thought of John. I drank, thinking about all of the good times that I’d had with John, and with everyone I’d met in Cuba.


Then it was time to go. We headed towards the front entrance, where the buses would come and pick us up in a few minutes.  Since the buses hadn’t yet arrived, I went to the theatre area one last time. And, as I should have guessed, John was there with Valentino. I greeted them. Because we were short on time, we skipped over the “two cokes” tradition. John invited me to play one final game of the unnamed game. I said sure.


But then my father said that the bus had arrived and that we had to go. John invited me to play an abbreviated version of the game. My father said that we had to go immediately. So, very sadly, I shook their hands one last time and bid them a final (for real this time) goodbye. Then I headed to the bus.


But it wasn’t even our bus! My dad had made a mistake. But I wasn’t allowed to return to the theatre area because my dad didn’t want to have to come and call me. So I waited there for ten minutes before our bus arrived. I cursed my dad silently. Ten minutes would have been plenty of time to play an unnamed game. Such is life. The bus pulled out of the resort, and my vacation to Cuba came to an end.


And that’s all, really. After that everything functioned fairly typically, and life returned to normal. Sort of.


I say sort of, because “normal” for me has taken on a whole new meaning in the post-Cuba era. The people I met and the things I experienced in Cuba changed me forever.


So, by way of an epilogue…


I still speak to Johnny every now and then on Facebook and whatnot. We don’t talk to each other every day, or even every month, but it makes me feel good to know that I can talk to him whenever I want, and that I have a friend in London if ever I happen to be in the area. He’s gone off to pilot school there, and I’m sure that he’s doing well for himself.


If not for Johnny and his family, I wouldn’t have met any of the other people on this vacation, and so I owe them a great debt.


I think of John frequently, and every once in a while I’ll open a Coka-Cola and drink to his memory (cheesy, I know). It’s not quite the same, but it’s the best I can do. The idealist in me still hopes that maybe we’ll see each other again at some point.


John taught me that we all have something in common: We’re human. In Canada, I highly doubt that I would have paid much thought to this sixteen year old Argentinean body-surfing smoker who spoke with an accent. We just wouldn’t have anything in common.


But this sixteen year old Argentinean body-surfing smoker who spoke with an accent ended up being a great person. And its made me think about all the people in my life who I’ve ignored because I thought that we didn’t have enough in common. I wonder how many of those people were good people on the inside. I wonder how many potential great friends I’ve lost by not learning enough about them.


I really wish that I’d managed to get a picture with John. The human mind can only hold onto memories for so long before they begin to fade and blur.


But the most profound effects of all stem from Dan, the golden-haired boy from the Czech Republic.


He was a boy who defied logic in so many different ways. So many things that he did couldn’t possibly have worked. So many things that he did made no sense and perfect sense at the same time.


Even his existence went against everything I’ve ever learned.


I spent a good amount of time over the last year or two exploring the concept of perfection, and whether or not it exists. I wanted perfection to exist. I really did. But I could find little evidence for it, and a ton against it. I dismissed perfection as imaginary, but I always kept that little hope alive in my head.


I guess you could say that I had been waiting for many years to meet a person like Dan. He was completely flawless; pure Innocence. And that’s impossible, right? I know that’s impossible. But there he was. A perfectly uncorrupted human being.


And then he left. After just two days.


Do you have any idea what that’s done to me? 


Not a day has passed where he hasn’t been in my thoughts. I keep his picture in my room at all times. Every now and then I look at it, to make sure that I don’t forget him.


Meeting him has changed me. In some ways, it’s been a positive thing.


In addition to all of the memories that he’s left me with, Dan has reignited my belief in perfection. After all, if one perfect person can exist, it’s certainly possible that there are others out there. Maybe I’ll get to meet one someday. And knowing that Dan is somewhere out there, happy, brings an unimaginable joy to me.


And yet… Dan’s departure has really hit me hard. There’s a hole in me now that nothing seems to fill, and it’s slowly eating away at me from the inside. It’s killed a lot of my motivation and inflicted me with a terrible inferiority complex. I don’t feel like doing things anymore because I know that no matter what I do, I’ll never be as good as Dan. So, why bother trying? It’s for this reason that my production of Cody H. has ground to a near standstill recently. Did you notice that I completely stopped writing blogs where I speak directly to Cody? I just haven’t been able to work up the necessary drive to do that sort of thing.


And as I mentioned before, the fact that I only had two afternoons with him really weighs heavily on me. After having waited in excess of two years to meet someone like him, having him ripped away from me after only two days was cruel.


What hurts most of all is the fact that I’ll never see him again, or hear his laugh again. I can look at old photos, and remember… but I’ll never get a chance to live that experience again.


On some days, I can’t handle that fact. And on those days I find that my life is intrinsically tied to Dan’s. I look out my window and know that he’s out there. Then, two possibilities emerge. ‘He’s happy’, I assure myself. And then the world becomes this bright, beautiful place that just makes sense. And I’m happy again, because he’s happy.


But on the worst days, I think ‘Anything could have happened between then and now! What if something terrible has befallen him…?’


And then my world collapses around me. Nothing makes sense. Justice disappears. I hate everyone and everything. I want nothing to do with this planet.


You know, I sometimes wonder whether I would be better off if I had never met Dan. Whether being ignorant of his existence would be better for me. And I’ve come to the conclusion that this is for the best. I wouldn’t trade what I learned from Dan for the world. And maybe it’s best that he left after two days, too. This way, he is eternally nine years old in my mind. 


I could write an entire novel about Dan, and maybe one day I will. But there isn’t much point in continuing on here. Trying to explain what I feel for him is an exercise in futility, and one which will only end up defaming my character in the end. Just as my family didn’t understand, I don’t expect any of you to.


But before I conclude this blog entry, I charge you with one favour as my friends:


If, at some point in your travels, you encounter a golden-haired boy, and if he has a beautiful smile, and if his laughter is music, and if he understands life better than you do and is incapable of error and is perfect in every imaginable way… then please, please, I beg you… tell me that he’s returned, and I’ll come running from wherever I am. Just… don’t let me go on feeling this way.


And there you have it. Seven days and seven nights of my life. You may not see it, but that seemingly insignificant amount of time has altered my life in a very significant way. I answered some questions about myself during that week. I discovered a little bit more about who I am. But I left Cuba with more questions than I entered with. Questions like “Why was being normal such an abnormal experience for myself?” “Why am I completely incapable of befriending the same sort of people in Canada?”, and most importantly, “How is it possible for a single nine year old boy living 6500 kilometres away to have such a incredible lasting effect on my day-to-day life?”


Difficult questions. Questions which I ponder every day of my life.


Questions which, seven months later, I still have no answers for.

Thursday, July 24th


I decided to resume my reading on this day, so I skipped over most of pool-type stuff in order to read The Handbook for Boys, which was disappointing, to say the least. I was disappointed in myself, really. Whenever I go to a library and pick up multiple books, I place them in an order based on how good I think they’re going to be. Then I read them in ascending order. Normally I’m pretty accurate, but I was completely off the mark this time. The Handbook for Boys, which I saved for last, ended up being the worst of the bunch, while King Dork and The Boy from the Basement ended up being truly awesome books. Hm.


My father had booked a catamaran – that’s a type of boat – adventure thing for this day, and so we boarded a coach bus which took us to the docks. From there, we boarded the catamaran and set sail. After about an hour, we reached our first stop: Snorkelling with fish. This ended up being extremely lame, at least for me. Because of the surgery I had undergone four months prior, my nose was still sensitive, and the mask was painful. I adjusted it, but when I put my face into the water, I immediately felt the wonderful feeling of the ocean invading my nasal passages, and I started sputtering and had to return to the catamaran.


But for about 0.5 seconds, I was able to see underwater clearly, and there were about a billion fish of every imaginable colour. So that was cool, I guess.


Thirty minutes of sailing later, we reached our second destination: Swimming with dolphins.


This was awesome, plain and simple. Dolphins have always been one of my favourite animals, and I’ve always wanted to have one of these experiences. It met all of my expectations. The dolphin went up to every person and let them pet him. After petting the dolphin, a young man in our group exclaimed jokingly (in Italian) "Hey! It’s a fake! It’s made out of rubber! You can’t fool me!" My family got a good laugh out of that. The dolphin then went up to a few people and kissed them. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, unfortunately. When the dolphin went up to the Italian man, he splashed water in his face instead of kissing him, causing much laughter. We all got out pictures taken with the dolphin, and then it was time to go. 


We then arrived at our final destination: Food, and a nice beach. I didn’t really understand the point of sailing this far to get to a beach, when we had a perfectly nice beach back at the resort. Still, the food was welcome, as I was getting pretty hungry by this point. I had some chicken and french fries. Not exactly exotic, but it was a nice change of pace from pizza. Beside us, I heard a man and a boy (who I assumed was his son) speaking in French. Unable to control myself, I spent the next ten minutes looking for a way into their conversation. Then, right in front of the man, I saw my way in: A bowl of rice. I could ask the man to pass the rice.


I disputed with myself whether or not it was worth it. Rice is tied with ocean water on my list of things that I don’t want in my mouth. A few years ago I was inflicted with an unfortunate stomach virus, and I threw up nearly everything that I ate, except for toast and rice. After a week of eating rice for both lunch and dinner every day, I became completely sick of the stuff, and have never eaten rice since. Rice products are alright, but white rice is worse than poison. Even looking at rice makes me lose my appetite. If even a grain of rice touches my food, I refuse to eat it. It’s like a fear. An irrational fear, perhaps, but a very real one.


But I knew I’d regret it later if I didn’t try. So I said to the man in French (hoping that I had gotten the words correct) "Can I take the rice?"


He said sure, but gave me a confused look. He had heard me speaking English just a few moments ago. After intaking the required spoonful of rice and forcing myself to swallow, I elaborated. In my excitement, I completely screwed up the phrasing. "I am a studying of French in Toronto." I explained to him. He told me that he and his son lived together in Montreal. We chatted for about two minutes, and I tried not to look completely foolish. Then he and his son went for a walk on the beach. I silently cursed myself for making grammatical errors that I shouldn’t have. Blah.


We headed back to the resort then. I was pretty tired when we got back, and decided to take a short nap.


Fast forward to dinner, where the meal of the day was generic everything. I think I had peas and carrots, with some pasta on the side. I’m not sure if the peas were really peas though. They looked like peas, but they didn’t taste like peas. The carrots were ridiculously dry. The pasta was edible. 


After dinner I went to the resort’s theatre area. I should probably explain this area, because it’s a lot more important than I’ve given it credit for thus far.


It was pretty simple in design. There was a stage, and enough room and chairs for about 100 people to watch whatever show the resort’s staff was putting on. To the right of the stage (left, from the audience’s point of view), there were two ping pong tables. There were also two tables which allowed people to play a game which has no name that I’m aware of, which will hereafter be referred to as the “unnamed game”. The unnamed game consisted of sliding wooden pucks through small openings in a wooden barrier a few feet away. Easier said than done, as it was a game that my younger brother would beat me at time and time again. Behind the audience was the main bar which Johnny’s family and I had frequented some nights before. To the right of the audience were two pool tables, as well as the club. Remember all of that, because it will be important later on.


I went to the theatre area where I found Johnny with two girls. Spanish ones, though they spoke nearly fluent English. But I wasn’t interested in them (Me? Not interested in girls? Shocking!), because coming from the stage I heard a very familiar verse, sung by a very familiar voice.


"Hakuna Matata… What a wonderful phrase!"


They had me at "Hakuna". As it happened, this night’s show involved a bunch of costumed actors dancing to Disney music. I sort of ignored the girls (Me? Putting Disney above girls? Shocking!) in favour of singing along to every song. And no, I hadn’t had anything to drink yet that night.


After the show, we went to the bar. My uncle was there too, but he pretended not to notice me. Johnny ordered his gin & tonic, I ordered my vodka ‘shot’, and the girls ordered coffee.   


Somehow, I nearly managed to down the half-glass in one go this time.


"Christ, mate! You’re going to be singing all the way back to your room!" Johnny commented. 


We went to listen to the saxophone player who would always play in the reception area once the show finished. He was a skilled musician and all, but I’m pretty sure he only knew about five songs. Every night he would play the same set of songs, only switching up the order he played them in. I had heard him play on almost every previous night, and so by Thursday I was bored of him. But I politely listened because everyone else was doing the same thing.


The girls said that they were tired (after having coffee?) and headed back to their rooms. Johnny said that he was going to pack it in for the night as well, and so I was left alone. I walked around the resort for a short time, exploring the areas that I hadn’t yet seen. I scared the shit out of myself twice. I was walking down an out-of-the-way alley, illuminated by a single bright light. A person was under the light, just standing there. I don’t know why, but he scared the living daylights out of me, so I headed in the opposite direction. I eventually came across a wedding chapel overlooking the ocean. But at midnight, the ocean is as black as the sky, and you can’t tell one from the other. It gave me the impression that I was staring into an endless abyss. It was cool for about five seconds. Then I started getting scared for some reason and walked quickly back to my room. I watched Generation Kill on T.V. that night (or it might have been another night. Minor detail.), and approved of it. Then I slept. The room was warm enough, and eventually I was able to get to sleep, but then I woke up at about 4 o’clock, freezing. The stomach pains made it hard to get back to sleep, but eventually I did. A good thing too. The next day was an important one.


Friday, July 25th.


This was probably the most event-packed day of the week, so buckle up.


After doing all the usual morning stuff, I headed out to the pool. On my way there, I saw John heading towards the beach, and decided to go with him instead. We walked along the beach for a short distance (stopping once to order cokes at the beach bar) before heading into the ocean. I love walking on the beach, but I’m not really a fan of swimming in the ocean, since:


1. The ocean is wet.


2. The ocean tastes bad.


 3. The ocean murdered my iPod.


But again, what the hey. I went swimming with John. And we talked about everything and anything. It was great, because we transcended the superficial "You speak English? I speak English too!" type of friendship and spoke about things that regular friends would speak about. Musical interests, sports, hobbies, the political situations within our countries, et cetera.


Granted, we didn’t have too much in common, but I didn’t hold it against him. I hardly expected someone from Argentina to love hockey and Billy Talent. It was still cool though. Then he tried to teach me to body surf. The ocean had been calm for first five days of the trip, but on the sixth there was a decent amount of wave activity, possibly on account of the hurricane passing to the west(?) of us.


(If you ever get the chance to watch a hurricane from a range of several hundred kilometres, I highly recommend you do so. On the previous night I saw this insanely massive storm cloud to the west(?). Lightning was flashing within the cloud at a rate of several bolts per second. It’s one of those things that you’d have to see for yourself, as my description doesn’t make it sound nearly as cool as it was. My grandfather said that he’d never seen anything like it before in his life, and being 73 years old, he doesn’t say that very often).


Anyhow, body surfing and me didn’t mix very well. All I accomplished was getting water up my nose and down my throat. John was pretty good at it. Somehow when a wave came, he was able to ride it halfway back to shore, and I’d have to swim to get back to him. I did improve over the course of the few hours that I was with him, but not by much. 


At around four o’clock, John’s father called. He had to go. Apparently he had done something after I left him on Wednesday to get himself into trouble, and his dad had found out and semi-grounded him. On vacation. What kind of satanic father figure would ground his son while on vacation? But I digress. John had to go. I felt sad then, because I was leaving the resort in twenty-six hours, and I knew that this might be the last I would see of him. "The world is small," he said. "We will see each other again, my friend."


Touching words indeed. But the odds of me encountering "John from Argentina" ever again were slim. I knew it, and I think he knew it too. This would probably be the last time we would ever see each other. But that isn’t the type of thing that you say out loud.


I left and returned to the poolside, feeling a bit melancholy. I had some pizza for lunch, and then went swimming with my family for a bit. I got bored and decided to head back to the room, where I stayed for a while and watched a movie on T.V. Something about a murder and an insurance scheme. It wasn’t great. When the movie finished, I left the room and headed back to the pool for a bit. It was getting late, so my family was about to leave the pool. Having nothing else to do, I took our only room key with me and headed back. But as I passed by the theatre area again, I found John playing ping pong with his cousin, Valentino. This sort of made our touching goodbye moment a few hours earlier a little less magical, but I was thrilled nonetheless.


I now had a decision to make. Should I try to locate my brother and sister in order to give them the room key (and risk John leaving by the time I returned), or should I screw them over and remain with John and Valentino? In Canada, I would have gone to find my brother and sister. But not in Cuba. And though it might have been slightly mean, it ended up being a decision that would indirectly change my life.


I said hello again to John, and I introduced myself to Valentino. We played some ping pong. John ended up being really good. He destroyed me handily. Then we played the unnamed game, agreeing to play a series of matches until one of us won three games. John and Valentino proved to be very good at this game. Each of them won two of the first four matches. Then I won the fifth game (coming from behind to win with my final shot, much to John’s disbelief), and the sixth, sending the series to a final, sudden death match, which John won, but just barely.


After this, someone challenged John to a ping pong match, so me and Valentino played another match of the unnamed game. At some point in the game, I looked to my right.


And there he was. 




Within the pages of my novel, I give only a very vague description of what Cody looks like. I want Cody to look different for everyone who reads it. But I’ve always known what he really looks like.


But my imagination has limits. As I was writing, I found that I was only able to conjure up a mental image of a living, breathing Cody for short periods of time. As such, I needed a physical model. 


And where better to search for a physical model than my school? The youngest students at my school are still a year older than Cody, so I knew that I wouldn’t find a perfect model. Still, I hoped to get as close as possible. I finally picked a boy named Nico to be my Cody. He wasn’t perfect: He was a bit too tall, his eyes were blue instead of brown, and he looked a little too smug to be Cody. But he was as close as I was going to get. So, whenever I needed to picture Cody doing something active, I would imagine Nico.


(And think of me what you will: Nico has no clue who I am. I’ve never even spoken to him. But my locker was close to the Grade 7/8 hallway, and I was able to pick him out through observation. Stalker much? Maybe, but it was all done for a greater cause).




When I looked to the right, I saw Cody standing right beside me, watching me and Valentino play. I did a double take. I did a triple take. ‘No effing way’, I thought. He was Cody’s exact shape and size. He had blond hair. He had a very Cody-esque expression on his face. I had to ask the critical question:


"Do you speak English?"


He looked up at me. Brown eyes.


"Yes," he said. There was an accent there. It had a certain allure to it. I couldn’t peg it, though.


"What’s your name?" Had he replied with "Cody", I probably would have fainted, or at least lost control of my bowels for a moment.


"Dan," he replied brightly. I let out a small sigh of relief.


"Where are you from?" I asked.


Here my memory fails me a bit. I think that he responded "Prague" to this question the first time, but I didn’t hear him clearly. I asked him a second time, and he responded "Czech". But I might be imagining his first response. It’s a minor detail. Either way, he was from the Czech Republic.


"Alright Dan, when I finish playing with Valentino here, I’ll play a game with you."




And that is how I met Dan. 


I’d just like to take a moment to clarify something. A few months ago, I made brief mention of Dan in a blog. I said that he was the Little Prince, not Cody. In reality he was a bit of both. Physically, he was Cody. No question about it. But in terms of personality, he was not.


Physically, Cody is my beau ideal, which Dan was also. But Cody has a flawed personality, which Dan did not have. And in that way, they are two different people. Dan was too perfect to be Cody.  


After losing to Valentino in the unnamed game, I played with Dan. He beat me. He didn’t gloat. At some point during the game, he flinged his puck a little harder than necessary, and it went careening off the platform and onto the floor. He laughed. That was the first time I heard him laugh. It was such a sweet sound; beautiful and pure. There is so much about Dan that I cannot do justice to with my words. Shakespeare could not do justice to this boy.


We placed two more games afterwards and I won both. Dan did not whine. 


That is more or less all the contact I had with Dan on that day. His mother picked him up and they left. I played some more ping pong with John and Valentino. Then my mother approached me, looking fairly angry. Apparently she had gone back to my room, expecting me to be there. She had knocked on the door, but there had been no answer. She had assumed that I was sleeping, so she continued to knock, to no avail. And so, like a mother, she had become worried. The theatre area was slightly off the beaten path, and so it had taken her the better part of a half hour to locate me.


Frankly, I’m surprised that she didn’t initiate a resort-wide manhunt. Yes, she is the sort of mother who would go that far. 


So, for the second time that day, I said a final farewell to my Argentinean friends. I then headed off with my mother to unlock the door to my room. It was time to begin packing for home. Packing didn’t take very long, as I had been packing my clothes back up throughout the course of the week, and I had only brought a few personal belongings. Then it was time for one final dinner.


We ate at a restaurant called "Romantica", which featured international cuisine. Or so the menu told us. It all looked like seafood. Regardless, I was able to stomach it. I then headed out for one final night of fun.


And guess who I saw in the theatre area? John and Valentino! Again! And this time they were with two girls! The girls looked a few years younger than me. I guessed that they were about 14 or 15. They turned out to be relatives of John and Valentino. Cousins or sisters, I’m not sure. We chatted a bit, and then John found a deck of cards from somewhere. He taught me a few games, the first of which was called "trece" (thirteen). The game involved making as many groups of thirteen as possible. The specific rules elude my memory, but I’m sure that I could just invent a new set if I was ever so inclined. We later played a game identical to what we here call "Stealing War", though I forget what it was called in Spanish. I also remember us playing a game called "Chancho". It took me a few tries to pronounce the name properly (I said "Chowcho" a few times), so I figured that it would be an incredibly complex game. If I had had a better knowledge of the Spanish language, I would have known that "Chancho" means "pig".


Thinking back, I really wish that I had introduced a North American game or two to them. I think they would have liked Crazy Eights, or Signal. Alas…


We then went into the club. It was surprisingly empty in there. John ordered two cokes, and we sat down at a table and chatted for a while. It all felt very natural, which I really liked. I happened to have my dad’s camera with me, and I wanted to take a picture of this little group, for memory’s sake. We left the club for outside, where the light was better, but who should we see outside the door but John’s father. John had to go. Now.


"Oh hell no", I thought.


I asked John if he could ask his dad to take a picture quickly. His dad said no. My Spanish isn’t that sharp, but I know that John continued to plead with his father for a while to no avail. Why had I not taken the picture in the club? Surely the flash on my dad’s camera would have been good enough! Alas, John and Valentino and the girls walked away, and I was left feeling sad. Now I wouldn’t even have a picture to remember my friends by. Pictures, as I have said, aren’t nearly as good as living, animate people. But they’re better than nothing.


In Canada, I would have gone to sleep at this point. But in Cuba? To the bar, to drown my sorrows! It was to be my last night of being legal drinking age for almost three years, and I was going to make sure to drink my fill tonight. 


The goal wasn’t to get drunk. I wanted to maintain control. That, as my uncle often said, was the key. I had no intention of being the idiot that everyone watches doing something very silly.


But the goal was to get happy. So I ordered my drinks and consumed them one by one. Then I left the bar.


And there I saw Johnny.


"Are you alright mate?" he asked.


I was.


"Fancy a wander?" he asked. 


I wasn’t sure how to respond to that one. First off, I had misheard him. I thought that he had said "Wanda". Even still, I didn’t know how to respond. As it happens, a wander is just a way of saying "walk". And so we walked. He told me that there were all sorts of wonderful slang phrases in his native land. "Bloomeck" being one of the others (short for "blooming heck"). I figured that it was only fair to give him a phrase of my own. And so I gave him "bleed the lizard". He had a laugh about that one. We spoke briefly about our futures. I told him that I hadn’t made up my mind in any definite manner yet, but I mentioned being a lawyer, a teacher, and an author. I also mentioned my novel. He said that he was going to be a pilot, and his dad was enrolling him in pilot’s school in the upcoming year. That made me resent my father just a little bit. He would snap if I ever told him that I wanted to be an author. But Johnny’s father was supportive. Most parents probably are. We exchanged e-mail addresses at some point before Johnny had to go. It was just as well, since I began to feel a bit dizzy at that point. I planned to head back to the room, but on my way there I saw my uncle sitting at the bar. He was having a final drink. I chatted with him a bit about nothing in particular, consciously making sure that I was speaking coherently. He then left because my aunt had been expecting him to be back at the room an hour earlier. He offered to walk back with me, but I told him that I would be staying out a little later and would walk back alone – a fateful decision. I wanted to walk around the resort at night one last time. I did, enjoying my dizziness as I did so. Then I walked back to the room, singing "Mr. Jones" by the Counting Crows all the way back. Not because I was intoxicated in the least – I sing whenever I think that no one is listening, alcohol or not, and that particular song had been in my head for the whole week.


On the floor in front of my room was the biggest bug that I’ve ever seen. It was the size of a bullfrog, at least. I leaped about a foot into the air when I saw it. It didn’t move.  It might have been dead. I’m not sure.


I put the cardkey into its slot and removed it. A red light appeared, indicating "access denied". I tried again. Red light. Shit, the key was busted. I would have to go back to the reception desk to get a new one.  


Here begins what I call the "Lucic Incident" (LOO-cheech). I have related it a great many times to my friends, and they all tell me that I acted like an idiot here and could have been seriously injured or worse. In my opinion, I didn’t act like an idiot. Lidier the Security Guard did. You be the judge: Was the alcohol impairing my judgment at all? Was I ever in any physical danger? Or was this guy just a huge dumbass?


(I couldn’t remember Lidier’s name at first on the morning after. I mistakenly referred to him as "Lucic" when first relating the story, forgetting that Lucic is actually a hockey player on the Boston Bruins. The name stuck, and he’s been known as Lucic ever since.)


I began walking back towards the reception area, but I didn’t get more than three steps before I was halted by a figure wearing a security uniform.


A brief note about the staff who worked at this resort: They all spoke English. Not well, and not very much, but they all spoke enough English to communicate. Not this clown. It took a few tries and some outrageous hand gestures for him to ask me what I was doing. "My key doesn’t work," I said, knowing that he wouldn’t understand. Eventually I got through to him. He walked over and tested the key for himself. It didn’t work. He motioned for me to follow him, and not having anywhere else to go, I did. We walked for about a minute towards a yellow building, which was the security office. Once there, he picked up a phone and said something in Spanish to the effect of "A client is locked outside his room." He waited for the response. Then:


"Person…" He pointed in the direction of my room. "Twenty minutes."


Alright,’ I thought. ‘Thanks buddy. But it’s a three minute walk to the reception, and a three minute walk back. I could walk slowly and still be back in half the time.


But whatever. He motioned for me to follow him again, and so I did.


Then he said "You. Me. Five dollars."


I was caught off guard by this one. Not only had he just inconvenienced me, but now he wanted to be paid for it? This was an all-inclusive resort. Everything was free. If I had gone back to the reception, I could have gotten another key for free. I didn’t know how to respond to this, so I didn’t.


We returned to my room for the most awkward conversation ever. Here was a man who was trying to rip me off and who could hardly speak English. What exactly was I supposed to say to him? I did my best to keep silent, while he kept saying to me: "My parents… sleep." I figured that he was telling me that his parents were dead. I can’t say that I felt any sympathy whatsoever for him. But I nodded nonetheless.


"You. Me. Five dollars," he said. I nodded.


"My parents. Sleep." he said. I nodded.


Eventually, a man in a golf cart arrived and unlocked my door for me.


"You. Me. Five dollars." The man reminded me. 


I told him that I didn’t have any money. About ten times. Finally he understood me and said "My parents… sleep."


At that moment a light flicked on in my brain. He was asking me if my parents were asleep to see if they had any money. It would have helped if he had known "your" from "my", and if he knew how to make a phrase sound like a question instead of a statement.


“Yeah,” I told him. “They’re asleep, and I don’t want to wake them up.”


"Five dollars… room?" he asked hopefully. 


"No, there’s no money in my room."


He stood there, stumped. I have never seen a human being have as stupid an expression on his face as this man had at that moment.


"Look," I said, wanting to be rid of him. "What’s your name?" The look on his face here indicated that he was thinking ‘Oo! Oo! Pick me! I know this one!’


"Securita!" he declared formally.


I had to stop myself from smacking my palm against my forehead. "No… Your name."


Again, he looked stumped. You know the expression that Patrick Star gets when someone asks him a question? That was the expression on the man’s face. I took matters into my own hands and squinted to read his nametag in the dark.


"Alright Lidier," I told him, in the same voice a kindergarten teacher uses when talking to her students. "Tomorrow, I will tell my dad to find you, and he will give you five dollars." We were leaving the next day, but he didn’t know that. He seemed content enough. I thanked him and then went into my room to brush my teeth.


It should have ended there, but while I brushed my teeth, I heard footsteps outside my room. The idiot was still pacing around out there. After about five minutes, he knocked. I didn’t want to talk to him again, but if I didn’t open the door he might have the reception send someone to open it. So I opened the door.


"Money… in room?"


‘You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,’ I thought.


"No," I said. "Tomorrow my dad will find you and give you five dollars."


Again this seemed to please him, and he walked away. I never saw him again.


Thus ended the Lucic incident. Out of everyone I’ve told, only one person has said that Lucic was the dumbass. That one person was my uncle. Everyone else seems to think that I was in danger of being stabbed or shot or robbed. I never really felt threatened, only creeped out. I don’t know. You guys can judge for yourselves.


Given that my family and I went to Cuba in July, you might wonder why I’ve waited until now to post a blog about the trip.


The first reason is simple: Laziness.


But there is a second, more practical reason as well: It’s usually impossible to tell just how much of an effect something has had on your life right away. You need to give yourself a day, or a week, or a month to let things play out. Events can seem more important five minutes after they occur than five days after they do.


Now it’s been seven months, and I’m starting to think that the trip might have affected the course of my life a little more than I initially thought. It was an unforgettable week, to be sure.


Yet, though it was an unforgettable week, I fear that the small details will slip out of my memory over time, and as such it is necessary for me to set these events down in stone. That above all is the purpose of this blog: To prevent me from ever forgetting that week. But, though it is a blog written more for myself than for anyone else, I invite you all to read it if you are so inclined (and have the time).  


This blog will contain a flashback or two. It’s unavoidable. In fact, I think I’ll start with a brief one.


In August 2005, my family took a vacation to Cuba (which I briefly mentioned in a blog during that time period, for those of you with superb memories). The place was billed as a five star resort, so of course I had fairly high expectations. Alas, it ended up being a dump. The food was absolute crap, the beds were as hard as rocks, there was absolutely nothing to do, no one spoke a trace of English, and so on. Five star? Ha.


So of course I was a bit skeptical when my dad told us that we were going to Cuba again this year. Compared to the Dominican Republic vacation of 2004, Cuba had been a veritable hell-hole. I had wanted to go home after two days. Nevertheless, my dad assured me that this time would be different. "The food there is great," he said.


I took him for his word and made no complaints, even though this vacation would mean being sacrificing the summer job that I had wanted.


We arrived at the resort late on July 19th. The first thing I saw when I walked into the lobby was a crab, slowly making its way across the floor. While humourous, the appearance of this crustacean did nothing to improve my opinion of the place. Is it too much to ask that the floors be kept crustacean-free?


Perhaps the rooms will be better,” I thought. Alas, the beds ended up being even worse than in the other resort. And upon entering the bathroom for the first time, I heard a crunching sound beneath my feet. Lo and behold, I had just murdered some form of insect. Ew. But I tolerated all of this because I had been promised good food.


But guess what? The food wasn’t good. The "steak" tasted somewhat like cardboard.


This was the last straw for me. Everything that was supposed to have been good had turned out to be crap. There was nothing left to look forward to. Or so I thought.


I contented myself with an excellent book (King Dork by Frank Portman. Read it if you’ve also read Catcher in the Rye, whether you liked Catcher or not), and passed the evening away in that manner. It was difficult to sleep, on account of the rocky bed and evil air conditioner (and let me tell you, that air conditioner was a real piece of work. The room was always too hot or too cold. It took four days to develop a strategy for defeating it: The air conditioner had to be turned on about three hours before you expected to be uncomfortably hot, and turned off an hour before you expected to freeze to death. In spite of this strategy, we never did end up mastering the damn thing.).


Sunday, July 20th, passed in a similar fashion. I finished King Dork and moved on to The Boy from the Basement, which I recommend to anyone who is human. It was a boring day, except for one critical event. I went for a walk on the beach, and went I returned, I found that my grandfather (who had accompanied us on the vacation) was speaking with another gentleman. In English. 


The English language spoken fluently in Cuba has only two likely sources, due to the U.S. embargo:


1. A Canadian


2. A Brit.


So I did what any normal person would do: eavesdrop. Within a second I identified the man as a Brit. The accent made it obvious. He and my grandfather were talking about soccer, which was predictable since both Britain and Italy (the country of my grandfather’s birth) share a love of the sport. I never developed the same love of soccer as the older generation, but I tried to join the conversation anyhow. I managed to sound like a semi-educated individual while talking about soccer before hijacking the conversation and steering it towards subjects which I was more familiar with, namely Canada and hockey. Why would I be trying to converse with a middle-aged man from a foreign land? Because beside the Englishman was a boy about my age, who I assumed correctly to be his son. He introduced himself as Johnny. He kept fairly quiet during the conversation but appeared to be genuinely listening, and so I actively tried to work him into the conversation by asking him questions about his homeland. We had a decent chat before he and his family had to go. I figured that given the size of the resort, we probably wouldn’t see each other again, but I was wrong about that too. That part of the story will come later.


Lunch was crappy chicken. Dinner was crappy generic semi-edible material.


Alright. Monday, July 21st.


Two things happened on this day. The first of which was a terrible tragedy, and the second of which was a great stroke of luck.


I went for my daily walk on the beach, this time with my iPod in my pocket. The iPod was only there as a "just-in-case-I-get-bored-and-feel-like-listening-to-music" measure; I began the walk without the earbuds in my ears. After about five minutes, I completely forgot about the iPod in my pocket, and waded slowly into the water. Just as I felt the water touch my hips, I remembered the valuable electronic device and dashed out. I thought that I hadn’t gone deep enough to get the iPod wet, but in fact I had gone deep enough to completely submerge it. To make a long story short, I no longer have an iPod, and I have no one to blame for that fact but myself. Also, I forgot to put sunscreen on my left shoulder for some reason, so it got fried. Double whammy.


But, the day wasn’t all bad. At about 10:30 that night, I was getting ready to head back to the room when something (fate?) told me that I should walk one more time around the reception area to see if I could find something to do. As luck would have it, at a table right beside the bar was Johnny and his family. They called over to me. "Are you alright mate?" asked Johnny. At first I wondered if I looked injured or depressed or something, but I would later figure out that this was just Johnny’s way of greeting people. He invited me to sit down with his family, which I did. Since I was the only North American at the table, I became the centre of attention. Questions were fired at me from all sides: What’s the weather like in Canada? How’s your relationship with the Americans? General questions like that. Admittedly, some of the questions asked sounded incredibly stupid, but I think that some of the things that I asked them sounded stupid as well. Actually, I’m sure of it. I found out during the conversation that half of the people at the table were actually from another family. I still felt like the oddball though, since I assumed that everyone else was from England. This was not so, I was informed. The other family was from Wales. Apparently there’s a discernable difference between a Welsh accent and an English accent. I never figured out what the difference was. I might have blundered slightly when I asked if Wales was a province of England. Oops. Hopefully I didn’t offend anyone there.


Anyhow, Johnny’s father went to the bar to order drinks for everyone, and asked me if I wanted anything. I inquired about the drinking age in Cuba, to which Johnny’s father responded: "If you’re thirsty enough, you’re old enough!"


And now for a flashback.




March, 2008. I was at a local pub called the Regal Beagle for the cast party of Jesus Christ Superstar. If you know me well, you know that I was way out of my element in this place: A pub whose bartender was unafraid of serving to minors. Everyone else was drinking and having fun, and I was doing none of the above. I wasn’t feeling depressed or anything. Just very… meh, for lack of a better word. About halfway through the evening, my friend Troy approached me. My dad does his mother’s taxes, and so we’re practically brothers. Anyhow, Troy approached me and told me that I hadn’t had enough to drink. He didn’t ask; he told me. "My dad has a nose like a bloodhound," I replied. "He would kill me if he smelled anything."


That was always my reply. Some people would believe it, while others would see through the lie but understand that I wasn’t a drinker, and leave me alone. Troy did not fit into either category. His response was to take a small glass filled with a clear liquid from beside him and place it beside me. Perhaps he was completely oblivious, but I think that he knew that it was my first time doing this and he wanted to help me.


"What’s this?" I asked. Somewhere deep down I was praying that he would say "water."


"Vodka," he said. "Try not to taste it."


I sat there with the shot glass in my hand for what felt like five minutes, but couldn’t have been more than five seconds. More thoughts crossed my mind within those few seconds than I could possibly type down.

Am I really going to do this?’ I remember thinking. If this was a scene from a movie, I would have dropped the glass to the ground, causing it to shatter and spill its contents all over the dirty floor. All eyes would have stared in shock at me as I silently stormed out of the room. But, it was not a scene from a movie, and my unshakable morals proved to be a little less solid than I thought.


Have you ever felt a part of yourself dying within you? How did it feel for you? For me, it felt like a wildfire was eating away at my insides. I’m not particularly proud of my choice. I think I might have killed a fragment of the child within me on that night; a small piece of my Innocence, lost forever.




So there I stood with a man who I had met less than 48 hours ago. A drink? Sure, why not. What’s good here? A mojito? Sure, I’ll have that.


The mojito tasted like crap though. I wasn’t able to finish the whole thing. But I didn’t want to be rude, so I politely sipped away for the better part of an hour.


And then guess who passed by the table? My family. Mother, father, sister, brother, grandfather, and grandmother. Of course they did. I had forsaken my own morals, and thus the Law of Karma states that they had to pass by. 


I knew that I had been spotted. There was no way that they hadn’t seen me, since the table was almost smack in the middle of their path. But they just walked on by and pretended not to notice.


‘Predictable’, I thought. ‘My dad wouldn’t be rude enough to say anything in front of these people, but tomorrow morning he’s going to kill me.’


See, I wasn’t really lying back in March when I used the "father-would-kill-me" excuse. My dad does have a nose like a bloodhound, and he’s warned me repeatedly not to try anything stupid with alcohol. I wasn’t doing anything stupid, per se, but I was drinking with almost complete strangers. That would qualify as stupid in his books. Thus my execution date was set for the next day.


It was around this time that Johnny suggested that we check out the "Club" that existed within the resort.


I was initially repulsed by this idea. Not because I’m repulsed by clubs in general (though I am). My repulsion in this case owed itself to the fact that my sister had entered the club on the previous day and described it as lame. And if my sister thinks that something is lame, it’s probably uberlame.


But what the hey. I had twelve hours to live, so I went into the club with Johnny. Accompanying us was Camilla, one of the Welsh girls at the table. She looked about my age or older but turned out to be only fifteen. But age is just a number; she acted mature enough to pass for a seventeen year old.


Anyhow, we proceeded into the club. The first thing I noticed was that it was more of a small room than a club. The dancing area was half the size of my bedroom, maybe even less. The second thing I noticed was that the room was air conditioned, in stark contrast to 90% of the resort. The third thing I noticed was that the people there all looked around my age. No old people and no little kids. I decided to give this place a chance. After all, my sister is wrong about things on a regular basis.


And indeed, she was wrong about this too, as the club turned out to be where I would meet most of the other people who would become my friends.


It’s a funny thing, actually. When you’re an Anglophone in Cuba, you’re forced to lower your standard of friendship to a very base level. Essentially, anyone who speaks English becomes your friend. All other qualifications are dropped out of necessity. If you start worrying about things such as compatibility and shared interests, you’ll be friendless. It kind of makes me wonder if I would have given these people any more than a passing glance if I had met them in Canada. A little more on this subject later. For now, back to the story.


It wasn’t long before me, Johnny, and Camilla were approached by another boy. He had heard us speaking English, and was thus compelled to join the group. He introduced himself as John (not to be confused with Johnny) in an accent that I couldn’t quite place. As it turned out, he was a sixteen year old Argentinean. One of the first things he did after introducing himself was light a cigarette and offer me one.


And see, this is what I mean. In Canada, I would have turned away from such a person. I’ve never been a fan of smoking, and so any person offering me a cigarette would instantly go into my Big Book of Bad Human Beings. But this was Cuba, and so I politely declined the cigarette and silently forgave John. A good thing too, since he was to become one of my best friends for the week. Oddly enough, that cigarette was the only one that I saw John smoke for the entire trip. By the end of the week I completely forgot that he was a smoker. The second thing he did was order cokes for both of us. And you know what? I don’t even like coke. Never have. I only accepted the coke to be polite. And yet the coke in Cuba actually tasted better than the coke in Canada. Tucola > Coka-Cola. This coke drinking became a tradition of sorts. Every single time I saw him thereafter, he would order two cokes at the nearest bar. I found this amusing because although he didn’t seem to have any problem with smoking, I never saw him touch a drop of alcohol in the whole week, despite the fact that he was of legal age.


I met several other notable people that night as well:


Hugo of France – All night long he remained fairly silent with a melancholy expression on his face. When he did speak, I heard the French accent, and was drawn to it. As it happened, he was only silent and unhappy because he spoke English only sparingly, and thus could not understand anyone else in the room, most of whom were Spanish-English bilinguists. Seizing the opportunity, I offered to translate for him as best as I could. While I was by no means perfect, I was still able communicate with him, and in the end that’s the important thing.


Javier of Spain – His name was Javier. At least, I think that’s how it’s spelled. It might also be Xavier. With an "H" sound to start the name. His name alone made him cool. Out of all the Spaniards I met, he was probably the funniest. His voice was hilarious because it was so… Spanish. In a good way. It’s very hard to describe. Just imagine the stereotypical pure-blooded suave Spanish person, and you have Javier. Except he was a bit shorter than the typical "tall, dark, and handsome" model.


Fernando of ??? – He came to be known as the Mexican for some reason. I don’t know why. I’m fairly certain that he was Spanish, and yet I could be entirely wrong on that account. Standing in excess of six feet, he completely dwarfed me. But he was a friendly giant, and pretty funny too.


Various girls of Spain and Argentina – There were so many of them, and I can’t remember a single name. They seemed fairly intelligent though, and not at all bad to look at. The exact opposite of Woodbridge (my hometown) girls, in order words.


Another wonderful thing: No one in this club knew me. And it was a wonderful feeling, because it meant that I could be anything I wanted to. In Canada, I’m considered deeply flawed. People know my quirks, and some avoid me because of them. But in Cuba, the only things that these people knew about me were my age and country of origin. And I was able to talk to a ton of girls over the course of the week without feeling weird about it. I just tried to act like a normal teenager. Who knows? Maybe back in Spain these girls were considered sluts or nerds, but to me they were ordinary teenage girls.


And that’s what the night was about, really. Being normal. We were a bunch of teenagers from the four corners of the earth, all talking to each other, drinking, dancing, and doing normal teenager stuff. It was… fun. I really enjoyed myself. Yes, even when Camilla and another girl (Serena?) forced me to get Hugo to translate  "Please remove your bra" into French (which, for the record, Hugo could not do, as he seemed confused on the concept of "bra". The girls were unwilling to give him an example of one).


They closed the club at 2:00 am, and so we all retreated to the bar outside of the club. Johnny and Camilla left for their rooms, and unfortunately for me and Hugo, the preferred language of speech began shifting from English to Spanish, and thus we were both screwed. I couldn’t understand a thing, he couldn’t understand a thing, and so we both decided to pack it in for the night around 2:30.


I went to bed that night feeling as if I had accomplished something. I was in such a great mood that I wasn’t even bothered by the rocky bed or frigid cold room that night. I went to sleep fairly soundly.


Tuesday, July 22nd.


The previous night had changed my opinion about this trip. I spent most of my day looking forward to sunset, when the real fun would begin. But in the meantime I still enjoyed myself. That morning I saw Hugo at breakfast while eating what I believed to be toast. I decided not to disturb him, however, since he was with some friends(?) of his, and would probably prefer to speak with them rather than be interrupted by someone who could barely speak his language.


After breakfast, I went to the pool. By this point I had read three out of the four books I had brought along (The third was a book called Damage by A.M. Jenkins. Not as good as either King Dork or The Boy from the Basement, but still an interesting read, mainly due to the fact that it was written from the second person point of view). Not wanting to waste the fourth just yet, I put my reading on hold for a while and instead took to doing other things, such as swimming in the pool. As strange as it might sound, swimming is not something that I normally do on vacations. I generally prefer to stay dry. But I had fun. Me and my brother invented a simple jump-into-the-pool type game on this day (named "The Impossible"), which we would expand upon for the rest of the week.


In addition, I took a long walk on the beach, going a bit farther than perhaps I should have. About half an hour into the walk someone a few years older than me approached me and started a conversation. He introduced himself (I forget his name, but it was something fairly common.) and asked me where I came from. "Toronto." I told him politely. "Canada."


He then said something to me. I couldn’t understand him because of his accent. I thought that I heard him say "Americana" somewhere in that sentence, so I assumed that he was making a joke about Americans.


Now, when I can’t understand what someone is saying, I tend to smile slightly and nod my head. I was about to do this when something (guardian angel?) told me that I should instead say "pardon?" and so I did. And he repeated himself.


"You want marijuana, good price?"


I declined and continued on my way. Five seconds later I turned around and he was gone. Hm.


I came back at about lunchtime. I found this nice Italian themed place where you could order pizzas, and picked up a few of them for me and my siblings. It was some of the best food at the resort, which isn’t saying much. Nonetheless, this particular restaurant became my go-to place for edible food.


I saw John a little later in the day. He ordered two cokes and we planned to go swimming, but he had to leave before we could execute this plan, as his father was calling him. This wasn’t the last time his father would screw things up, either.


Righto, let’s fast forward to the evening. For dinner that night we went to some Japanese place. If you know me well, you know that I hate rice, and almost every meal at this place came with rice. I didn’t enjoy it much. But it was one of those places where the chef cooks the food right in front of you and cuts vegetables at warp speed with big knives, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.


After dinner, I went to the lobby, where I expected to find Johnny and his family. Sure enough, they were at the same table that they had been on the previous day. Only Johnny was missing. I asked them where he was, and they pointed towards the other end of the lobby. They told me that he was with two girls over there. Johnny’s mother gave me two alcoholic beverages and suggested that I should go over there and give the girls the drinks. I protested at first, but she insisted.


I felt pretty silly as I walked across the lobby, to be honest. In Canada, I would never go out of my way to speak to girls. But I was a different person in Cuba, remember? So I walked over to Johnny’s table with what I hoped was a confident gait and sat down.


"Are you alright, mate?" he asked.


"Pretty good, thanks." I answered. Then I addressed the girls. I can’t imagine that I said anything extraordinarily smooth when giving them the drinks, but I don’t think I said anything dorky, either. We chatted for a bit. They were from Brazil, as it happened. We asked each other all the usual questions about our home nations, and then decided to go to the club. We made a pit stop at the bar, however, so that Johnny could order himself a gin and tonic. Not wanting to look foolish, I decided that I would have something to drink as well. After the previous day’s mojito, I was in no mood to experiment, and so I asked for a straight shot of vodka, for familiarity’s sake. Unfortunately, this bar was not equipped with shot glasses. As such, the barkeep poured me a halfway full glass, rather than a shot.


I knew I that I had to do it in one go, because that’s what all the cool people on T.V. do, but I didn’t really want to. There was so much of it. It took me about five minutes to work up the courage. Finally, I tilted my head back and took in the liquid. Again I felt the familiar feeling of fire inside me, spreading to all of my extremities. But there was way too much of it. I couldn’t get it all. And then my eyes started to water a bit. So much for not looking foolish.


Then we went to the club. And here’s where my memory fails me a little bit.


I distinctly remember Camilla being at the club with us at the same time as the Brazilian girls (because I recall her musing at one point: "[Johnny’s] gone for a wank!"), but I can’t remember ever meeting up with her that night. She might not even have been in Cuba anymore by Tuesday night. So either we met the Brazilians on Monday rather than Tuesday (although I can’t remember Johnny leaving my sight for long enough on Monday to go meet up with the girls), or else we met up with Camilla at some point (which I can’t remember doing). Either way, I’m telling some part of this story wrong. I know what happened; I’m just not sure what order everything happened in.


The club was a bit quieter on Tuesday though. And although we entered together, the Brazilians ended up talking to each other and to Fernando, while Johnny, Camilla and I had our own private conversation. Johnny left the club for no reason a few times during the evening, prompting Camilla to say "He’s gone for a wank!" I laughed, mostly because I had finally heard the word "wank" used in context.


We didn’t stay out much later than midnight on Tuesday. I think Johnny was tired, so we mutually agreed to pack it in a bit early. I didn’t really feel like sleeping right away, so I took a ten minute walk around the resort first. Then I went to bed. Remarkably, I survived the day without my dad even mentioning the fact that I had been drinking the night before. This was the first night where falling asleep was really hard due to stomach pains which would affect me for the rest of the week. I blame the bad food, since most of my family complained of stomach pains as well.


Wednesday, July 23rd. 


By this point, mornings were routine: Wake up, shower, dress, brush teeth, go eat a shitty breakfast, and head to the pool. Me and my brother continued our pool game of "The Impossible", and my uncle and mother also got involved this time. The game consisted of leaping from the deck onto a floating platform in the middle of the pool. The goal was to complete the jump from as far as possible. Failure to land on the platform meant getting soaked. And so of course when it was my mom’s turn, I moved the platform father away as she was in mid-leap, causing her to miss by a mile. It was fun, and it killed some time. 


For lunch that day, we had pizza. Again. But it was decent pizza.


I went for another walk on the beach later on, going even further this time. This time the walk passed by without incident, although one person did comment on my Calgary Flames hat. Nothing derogatory, just a quick "Calgary Flames, eh?", to which I replied "Of course." I was amused.


Dinner that night was had at the Italian restaurant where I’d been having lunch lately. I ordered some spaghetti alfredo, which was surprisingly good. Not decent. Good. That’s about the highest praise you’ll ever hear me give food in Cuba.


Shortly after leaving the dinner restaurant, I saw Johnny walking in the opposite direction. He asked me if I was alright, and I told him I was. But then he told me that his parents had come down with a case of food poisoning, and that he wouldn’t be able to stay out that night. “That’s a shame,” I said. “Wish them well for me.” He nodded and thanked me, and went on his way.


So, it looked like my plans for the evening had been ruined. So what did I do? In Canada, I would have called it a night and gone home to sleep. But not in Cuba. In Cuba, I headed to the bar and had a few drinks, until I began to feel that ever-so-slight fuzzy feeling wash over me. Then I headed towards the beach. At the beach that night was some sort of dance party type thing. Definitely not my scene. Not in Canada, anyhow. But in Cuba I didn’t mind it. 


It ended up being worth the walk, because shortly thereafter I saw John. He ordered two cokes at the beach bar. I sipped away at my Coke whilst pretending to appreciate the terrible hip hop blaring from the speakers. A younger boy approached John a few times over the next fifteen minutes and spoke to him in Spanish. I asked John about it, and he told me that it was his cousin, Valentino. Cool.


After about twenty minutes, John beckoned me to follow him. "We are going to see the Mexican," he said. In spite of the fact that I didn’t know who that nickname belonged to yet, I followed John. What else was there to do?


Between the beach and the Mexican’s room was the pool. John took his now empty plastic cup and filled it with pool water, which he proceeded to throw at the Mexican’s room when we arrived. John had a pretty decent arm. He pegged the second-story room from thirty yards out. I was impressed. I’ve got a good arm myself, but whenever I try to throw a cup full of water, the water falls out mid-flight and the cup goes nowhere.


We knocked on the Mexican’s door. It opened, revealing Fernando and Javier, as well as another person who I didn’t know. His name was Alberto, I found out. They were watching Superbad. In Spanish. Which was fine by me. Conversing would have been very difficult, since everyone else in the room spoke Spanish as a first language. I was content to keep my eyes glued on the screen and imagine that the movie was in English. I’ve seen Superbad enough times to know when the funny parts are, so for the most part I laughed at all the right times. Except for the part where Fogell/McLovin is about to screw that chick and whispers "It’s in!" In English, that part is funny, but the Spanish voice actors butchered it, and I was the only one in the room to laugh. But whatever.


When the movie ended, we all headed back to the beach. Now I was screwed, since they were all speaking Spanish. Not to spite me or anything, mind you. They had the choice between speaking the first language of 80% of the group and speaking the first language of 20% of the group, after all. Eventually I got bored and decided to head back towards the room. On the way up the stairs leading back towards the lobby, I saw the Brazilian girls. We chatted for a short time, and then they headed down the stairs to the dance party thing. I continued on my way back to my room, but I didn’t go more than another hundred yards before I saw my uncle heading in my direction. I looked to the left and then to the right. Damn, no bushes to dive into. 


So I went for a walk with my uncle. I was wary at first, wondering if my father had sent him to check up on me. But then I remembered that my uncle is the coolest person in my family, and the least uptight. So we walked and we talked. We ended up walking back towards the beach dance party thing, which I didn’t completely mind. He asked me if I’d had anything to drink. “Off the record,” he said. I trusted him, so I told him. It wasn’t much, and I had already cleared most of it out of my system, but in my family even a drop of alcohol is a Big Deal. But he wouldn’t say anything to my dad. He was cool that way. The only thing he refused to do was order any drinks for me, which was fine. I didn’t feel like having anything else anyhow. So he ordered a coke for me and a rum & coke for himself. This turned out to be one of the more laughable moments of the trip. The bartender couldn’t figure out what my uncle meant when he said "A coke, and a rum and coke, please." I can see where he might have gotten slightly confused, but the fact that it took nearly five minutes for him to figure it out was just ridiculous. "Holy fucknuts," my uncle exclaimed. "Shit."


(And that’s another thing. Along with alcohol, swearing within my family is strictly prohibited. Even the word "damn" is taboo. We don’t swear in front of each other. Ever. But as I’ve mentioned, my uncle is a cool guy.)


When we saw that there wasn’t much to do at the dance thing, we headed back to the rooms. By then my head was completely clear, and I got to sleep easily. Or at least I would have, if my stomach wasn’t killing me and I wasn’t freezing my ass off. Stupid air conditioner.

The Cuba Blog Approacheth

I don’t think that I’ve ever written a blog to announce a forthcoming blog, but special circumstances demand it in this case.  
The next blog you will see on this space will be the long-prophesized Cuba blog. I’m pretty well done with it.
So, the blog will be posted in a few days. You are invited to read it, of course. A word of caution if you choose to do so, however:
This blog is long. Really long. Long to the tune of 15,000+ words. That’s more than triple the length of anything else I’ve written on here before. That’s the second longest thing I’ve written in my life. It’s so long that this Space prohibits me from posting it in a single piece. It will have to be divided into two, possibly even three pieces.
The bottom line is this: If you’re going to read it, make sure that you have a fair chunk of time available to you.
Looking over it, I wonder if this is really something I want to put on the Internet. I think that I’ve told everything that I wanted to tell, and then some. There are parts within this where I think I sound somewhat fanatical; not like myself at all. People reading this might think that I’m slightly off my rocker.
But nonetheless I will post it, if only so that I have a record of this trip for myself. My memories will only last me so long before they require a refresher.
How I feel about this trip might change in a year, or several years, but as of now what I have written is how I feel, fanatical or not. I am what I am. I can be no other. God help me.


In posting my request for titles, I made an error in that I omitted what was originally one of my favourite picks for a title: The Weight of the World
So, here are the finalists:
The Weight of the World
When Worlds Collide
The Realm
The Great Divide
I’m content with any of those four, so I’m leaving the final decision to a poll of my friends and family. That includes you guys. So go on, vote. Pick your top three in order, or just your favourite if you’re strapped for time. Just pick! Go!

I Need A Title!

Once upon a time, I put my fingers upon a keyboard and began to type out the story that became my novel.
After finishing work on that first day, I clicked the "Save" button, and was immediately prompted by Microsoft Word to create a title for my creation.
Not wanting to call it "untitled(4)", I instead opted with "Cody H."
It’s now nearly 17 months later, and it’s time to look into getting this novel published.
Only one problem: "Cody H." is a piss poor title.
Therefore, it’s time to rename it. And I need your help.
Because I’m never 100% sure who reads this regularly, I’m going to guess that at most, only one of you has actually read the work currently entitled "Cody H." So, I’ll provide a quick summary here.
Cody Harrier is a sixth grade student at John Peterson Elementary School (a name that will also be changed to make it more Canadian). He’s been best friends with Jake Armos, Kelsey Vendette, and Todd Cole since the first grade. Unfortunately, this is their final year at John Peterson Elementary, and they’ll be splitting up and going to different schools in the next year. Because he values his friends more than anything else, he makes a wish that the year would never end.
And, of course, the wish gets granted. Cody and friends soon realize that having grade six last indefinitely isn’t so great. Much of the rest of the novel revolves around them trying to piece together who granted the wish, why they did it, and how to get them to reverse it.
All the while, some weird things are happening. Cody seems to be developing psychic abilities. Kelsey can suddenly read minds. Todd gains telekinesis. And another student in their class gains pyrokinesis (though he is unable to control it).
As it turns out, all of these happenings are linked to a much deeper plot. As a certain mystic reveals, the world which we inhabit now was once home to two races of beings: The humans, and the dwellers. But due to the mass outbreak of war between the two races, the world was divided into two worlds: The Earth, and the Realm. As will be revealed in a sequel (if there is one), the two worlds cannot survive indefinitely while divided. As such, it’s up to Cody and friends to use their newfound powers to restore the worlds to their original states.
Obviously the plot goes a lot deeper than that. It’s hard to turn 78,000 words into 300. But that`s the general idea.
So, title ideas?
I recently sat down in law class and came up with a few potential replacements. Some of these are better than others, in my opinion, but I won’t tell you which, lest I influence you.
(Mind you, I’m looking for the name of the series right now. Each novel in the series will get its own subtitle.)
The Schism
The Four Innocents
The World Torn in Two
Torn in Two
Innocent Heroes
The Realm
Those are just some ideas I’ve had. But hey, feel free to fire anything you’ve got at me. Thanks in advance. You’re all great people.


After deliberating for the last 48 hours, I have decided to stay my hand. I will not unleash the dogs of war upon Mr. Blaik at this time.
I have two reasons for this decision:
Firstly, it’s still February. That means that I have to deal with Mr. Blaik for another four months. If I were to make the next few weeks miserable for him, he would still have several months with which to make third period a very miserable time for me.
Secondly, I’ve already won the mental battle. When I asked Mr. Blaik about the average mark on the quotations section, he became defensive and said that he hadn’t looked at that yet, when in reality he had the sheet with that information in his hand at that very moment.
What does this mean?
It means that I was right. More importantly it means that Mr. Blaik was wrong. And it means that Mr. Blaik knows that I was right and he was wrong.
So, there isn’t anything left for me to fight for here. I don’t have any reason to smash his pride into the ground just yet.
All that said, this war isn’t over. Mr. Blaik is on a short leash. If he takes to mocking me again, I’ll have to involve certain Higher Powers. But for now, he lives.
You all remember the infamous Mr. Blaik, right? The one strangling my already slim chances of Harvard/Yale and giving me the lowest marks of my high school career? Well, he was at it again yesterday.
Only this time, he took things too far.
About a week ago, we had a test on Oedipus the King, an ancient Greek tragedy. It was an alright test, except for one section. The quotations section, in which we had to match the quote to the speaker. This section was a slaughter. I couldn’t remember even a single one of those quotes being in the play. But, I let it pass for the time being since I wasn’t sure.
Yesterday, Mr. Blaik handed the tests back. I got an 80%, mostly based on bombing the quotes section. Looking over the test again, this time with the help of my copy of the play, I verified that, indeed, none of the quotes were from my text.
You see, since the play was originally written in Greek, it had to be translated into English. And since the play is 2500 years old, many different translations of the play have arisen, which have given many different meanings to many different words and phrases.
It was obvious to me what had happened: The quotes were not from our particular translation. Some of the quotes remained similar between the two translations, but many of them shared zero words in common (except maybe a "the"). This, of course, is not fair. Quotations are meant to be word-for-word.
Deciding that I had reasonable grounds, I questioned Mr. Blaik about it:
"Sir, I might be mistaken, but I can’t seem to find any of these quotes in my copy of the text."
"That’s because they’re just approximations. They’re not word for word."
"But some of them aren’t even approximate. Look at this one here. *I pointed to an example* The only word it has in common with the text is ‘by’."
"Yeah, and?"
"Well, I just don’t think that it’s very fair that you gave us a quotations section full of quotes which aren’t from our translation."
And here’s where Mr. Blaik crossed the line. From this point onwards, he spoke to me in a patronizing, sarcastic tone of voice, solely for the purpose of mocking me in front of my peers.
"You want me to change your mark, Michael? Fine. Whatever you want. I disagree with you, but I’ll give you the mark."
I was taken aback my his mocking tone.
"Sir, it sounds like you’re-"
He cut me off. "Angry? No, I’m not angry at all. You want me to change your mark, you’ve got it. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"It’s not about the mark, sir. It’s about an unfair section on a test. I was asking on behalf of the class."
"Well, you’re the only one who’s ever brought the legitimacy of this test into question, but it’s fine, I’ll change your mark."
And with that he marked a little +1 on my ScanTron card (whether or not he changed the mark on his computer, I don’t know, but I doubt it.) and walked away.
If you know me well, you know that I hate when people talk condescendingly towards me, or patronize me. That’s offensive. And that Mr. Blaik would go out of his way to deliberately mock me in front of half of the class is infuriating.
Now, had Mr. Blaik shut up at this point, he would have won. I would have been pissed off, but I would have had nothing on him.
But then a few minutes later, he called me up again.
"By the way, Michael, the class average on that question you pointed out was 72%. Just thought I’d let you know that."
"Alright sir, but what about on that whole section?"
And then Mr. Blaik became really defensive.
"You didn’t ask about the whole section. You asked about that one question."
"I used that one question as an example. It’s the entire section that I think is unfair."
"But you only asked about that one question."
"Alright, but what was the average on the entire section?"
And, while holding the bloody sheet in his hands, he said:
"I haven’t really looked at that yet." And sent me back to my seat.
So, now he’s given me ammo. The question is, do I use it? Do I take this insult lying down, or do I try to make his life as miserable as he’s made mine?
And if so, how? I’m just a mere student, after all.
The answer lies in my father. For all of his negative traits, he’s excellent at intimidating people and getting them to do what he wants. So, as much as I don’t want to, I might unleash my father on Mr. Blaik. And from there, who knows what this could snowball into?
I’ll give it some thought over this weekend. If you’ve got any advice, lay it on me.


Just a short blog tonight, my friends.
Don’t take motion for granted.
When someone who is dear to you moves, appreciate it. Enjoy it. Cherish it.
There might come a day when that person has been reduced to a mere photograph.
Photographs are good. They can take a fleeting moment in time and make it eternal. You can use photographs to help you remember a particular day or event.
But in the end, photographs pale in comparison to having a living, breathing human being beside you, who you can hear, and see, and feel.
So, the next time one of your friends waves at you, don’t let it go over your head. Enjoy it, because you’ll miss those waves once they’re gone.
That is all.