It wasn’t until the friendliness of the darkened courtyard greeted me that I would fully realize that I had had a major role in the successful event that was taking shape that evening. Sitting at last, I felt pleased as I stepped up to one of the small stalls in the fair that was being manned by some of the teachers I knew. I then recognized some of the donated items that Teacher Ana and I had carted back to the school day after day. Too tired now to care for the happy partying that was going on I sat back in the darkened outdoors and closed my eyes, trying to gain some rest.
My thoughts went back to the events of the day as I remembered seeing Teacher Ana for the last time sitting almost sprawled out from exhaustion in the teachers’ lounge in the director’s office. She was too tired to even talk to me and I simply let her take her well earned rest; she deserved it and I concluded that this extraordinary woman was the person I most admired at that moment in my life.
I sat alone in the dark still remembering the things Ana had told me and her ardent statements to me as we walked together on Avenida B. I had never had anyone become so passionate about anything concerning my life and the scene as well as her words of counsel had stuck with me, even until today. Before long I noticed my friends at the bottom of the grandstand, and how they had deferred to my wish to be left alone and allow me to get some rest.
The bottom rung of the bleachers had, in fact, become their meeting place as they sat conversing quietly amongst themselves, glancing in my direction every now and then. A dream of a dance, I thought- a once in a lifetime affair. Those were the things that meant growing up to me and turned that dream of growing up into the wish to be free- at last. Except that going dancing right then was the one thing I was now too tired to care about. Suddenly, I opted for calling the whole thing off, just call it a day, I thought, and escape my friends. Just as I was saying to myself, “Just get up and make it home,” I noticed some girls showing up for the dance. They headed directly for the group of boys congregated at the foot of the grandstand.
The appearance of these girls, including Albina, in their lovely, fragrant ranks was definitely a sign for me that this dance was indeed about to become a memorable reality. I always loved the way girls, particularly Spanish girls, smelled. They loved to wear cologne and it was always an especially attractive feature about them. Little did I know that it had been a planned affair- planned under my very nose.
It suddenly dawned on me that my teachers might have had everything to do with all that grown up stuff I had wished for all my life and had not dared to let cross my beleaguered adolescent mind until then.
At any rate, my regular teacher had come through for me and given me the care and protection from my family that I had needed. So, I just sat and took in the sights and sounds of this grand event without feeling pressured to go home.
The night was about to witness a transformation, however, the metamorphosis of a Westindian Prince who had always lived like Cinderella. What’s more, I would soon have my chance to dance with a princess like Albina, an event that would mark my coming of age. The thought suddenly charged me with a noticeable energy and I suddenly saw my group of friends at the foot of the grandstand in a different light. They appeared well groomed and unusually grown-up and well behaved, just waiting for the grand event of the evening to begin.
This story will continue.