Mark drove us to a bar somewhere downtown (I had no geographic sense). I had a glass of wine. What happened in the following hour was that he asked me questions about me, and I talked and talked in the language I had been studying the past several years but never knew I could actually speak it until then. Wine might have helped, but what could people talk better about than about oneself? But my eloquence was thanks to Mark. He listened.
I was perplexed by Mark’s eagerness to learn about me. I had been too used to being insignificant at home, at school, and in the world where a certain category of people was considered more important than the rest. I never thought of speaking up in the class as Mark did not necessarily due to the lack of confidence, but due to the ingrained belief that my opinions hardly mattered. I hardly mattered.
I observed Mark. I always adored how he dressed. He was wearing a sky blue sweater, which cast a nice contrast with his brown hair and rosy cheeks. He had clear, healthy skin and unnaturally straight white teeth. He was pretty.
By the time I was halfway through my second glass of wine, I was merrily drunk. We went outside for a cigarette. There was a little fountain outside the bar, and we leaned on the rim. As soon as I inhaled the smoke a few times, the alcohol in the system shot up into my head, and I felt dizzy. I tilted my head and leaned it on Mark’s shoulder. The next moment, his lips were on mine. We kissed for what felt like a long time, and I heard someone say, “well, it’s Valentine’s day.”
He suggested he’d drive around Hollywood to show me places. But as soon as I sat in the car, my eyes closed, and I sank into the car seat.