I’m pretty sure I got acquainted with all the bad (good) things in life in Cogeces del Monte, a small Spanish town in Castilla where my aunt, her husband, and my two cousins lived. My parents would take me and my little sister there during the summer months. Even though it’s no more than a 5-hour drive from our town, we would only visit every three or four years. I wasn’t always outgoing and shameless, so the long gap between each trip made it hard to keep the bond going with my cousins’ group of friends.
I developed a crush on Alvarito right away. I would see him every day at the pool or riding his bike around town. He was cute and blonde with long-ish hair and freckles, and he talked different from the boys back home. One day he told me to hop on the bike and took me home. I was never too good at hiding my feelings, so pretty soon everyone caught up with me and they have yet to stop teasing me about him. I can take it now, but it’s a little different when you are seven and shy. I went back to Cogeces many summers since then, and each time I had a crush on a different boy, but none ever compared to Alvarito.
The first few summers in Cogeces I didn’t play much with the kids my age. Instead, I would sit on the bench outside my aunt Valentina’s house, where my mom and all the other ladies from the neighborhood gathered to gossip while they knitted or sewed. I learned how to make wool dresses for my Barriguitas, and my mom helped me finish my first sweater by putting together the parts I had knitted.
I stopped being so lame around age fourteen. I was still shy and invariably bigger around the butt than most of the girls my age, but alcohol makes you forget those things. I’m not sure how it is these days, but back then each group of friends had a place indoors (adult-free) where they gathered to chat, drink, and smoke. I discovered peach liquor, cigarettes, and french kissing all in one summer. I got drunk for the first time during the town’s festivities, the day my aunt had reluctantly allowed my cousin and I to stay out partying longer than usual. Brigi still hasn’t forgiven me for passing out two hours before our curfew.
These days, I drink red wine instead of liquor, I don’t smoke anymore, and french kissing is something I see people do on He’s Just Not That Into You. And I’m seriously considering knitting some scarfs for my kids this winter.
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