So here we were in a kitchen in Mexico, this man and I, pulling out boiled eggs from his refrigerator to snack on before dinner, and I got myself all the way through a competent Spanish translation of “Actually, it’s easier to peel an egg if you do it underwater!” just to be laughed at, ja ja.
“What’s the point?” he said. “I’m in no rush.” By which he meant: Why should you care so much about pockmarks on your boiled eggs? Why should you worry so much about quickness? I assumed there was no accurate way to translate the phrase “life hack.” And why would you, other than to explain that, where I came from, people bragged about using a straw to poke the stem out of a strawberry?
We sat and peeled our eggs onto torn bits of paper towels, wonky piles of scraps accumulating in front of us, gnarled eggs halved and spritzed with lime and sprinkled with salt, popped into mouths in singular, swift motions. Him explaining that this was his preferred childhood snack, that, Here in Mexico, we put lime and salt on everything. Why would eggs be any different? The yolks had those dark rings around them, sulfuric and bad; somehow this warmed my heart, the same way I’d giggle any time he ate a hot dog plain and cold and vertical, like when people eat string cheese incorrectly. Sometimes it’s nice when people care about something far less than you do, like putting food in their mouth, or peeling an egg.
He laughed at me again after lighting a cigarette and ashing it in a particularly large fragment of upturned shell. See, he smiled, if I’d peeled it your way I wouldn’t have this ashtray.
We’d met months before on my first trip to this island, sitting at the bar of the restaurant where he worked, which turned into a fishing trip the next day, which turned into an extended stay and shuttling my bags from an Airbnb to his apartment, where a hammock hung over the bed and the frogs kept me up at night. I came back because he asked me to, and I have a certain thing for reckless decisions and the ocean.
When I told him that my computer wasn’t turning on, he’d said something about how women never take good care of their cars, but I tend to gloss over that part of the story, because it’s more fun to focus on the dumb satisfaction of sliding a cheese quesadilla from a frying pan onto the plate of a shirtless hunk while frogs loudly chirp outside the window than it is to discuss the banal specifics of sitting alone on a foreign island wondering what you’re doing with your life. The first time I left this island, I was sobbing and forlorn—the second time I was just eager to do work and do laundry and be alone and see my friends.