I don't know how to keep my eyes off you. An exotic organism appeared at the bus stop late November, wearing bright, tropical colors that carried the Sun to the chilly, industrial morning. You sat in the back of the bus, alone, listening to marengue, batchata, and baladas. I would sit a row in front of you, hoping to absorb some of your radiating culture. We would walk amongst our peers, cold feet toward bodegas, humming to the bittersweet themes of passionate lovers, broken hearts, and intimacy. You would occasionally tremble in the Autumn air on our way to la escuela secundaria. You were still adjusting to the concept of winter.
I don't know much about your culture. I was raised in a family of reggae music, patois dialect, and curry-everything meals. You didn't revolt from my spicy lunches that usually engulfed my classmates' tongues in fire. I guess it was better than the standard mystery-meat sandwiches everyone else was accustomed to. You replaced tater tot Tuesday with fried plantains and beloved pizza Friday with quesadillas, (not that I'm complaining). I loved your presence. It was soft and subtle like the grazing of your kisses against my cheecks. A custom, you said, a greeting shared between friends. Our conversations weren't sustainable between classes. You were still adjusting to the fast-pace hustle of the inner city.
I don't know much about your language. I paid more attention to my Spanish teacher's curves than to her lessons. But when I found you on Facebook, we had long talks about musica, escuela, and our lives before America. Of course I was using Google Translate. You greeted me the next day with "Buenos dias, mi amigo, que tal?" I mustered up an "Hola, mi amiga. Buen, y tu?" in the best accent I could imitate. And when we hopped onto the bus, you cozied yourself beside me, hoping to absorb some of my radiating culture. Reggae, soca, and sometimes ska would blur from my earbuds. What language is this, you'd ask. The air around you was inviting. Maybe it was because your almond skin retained the warmth of South America. Maybe it was because of your endearing unamericanized demeanor. I was still adjusting to the company.
Parts of this are fictional, parts of it aren't. A cookie to anyone who correctly guessed where the narrator is from.