The longest night I ever knew was the one I spent blistered with sun poisoning in a flee-ridden bed in the mountains of San Lucas, Guatemala. I guess until that moment, I was one of those people who always thought I was stronger than I knew, that when put to the test, I would be unflinching, resilient, able to put my mind in a place outside myself and deal with whatever circumstance I faced. This usually happened when I daydreamed I was one of the few female spies during WWII who refused to give away the secret code that held together the axis of the Allied army, whose case was so top secret and vital that when it was released to the public thirty years later, she was an international sensation.
Now, I know, without a doubt, I should never be a spy. If pressed, I WILL GIVE AWAY THE CODE.
I had been at the beach that day, sprawled out on the almost-equator, enjoying some time away from trying to teach Math, in Spanish, at a home for girls, a job I had been doing fairly unsuccessfully all summer long. The bed I was given had an unfortunate case of bed bugs, or fleas, and I woke up each morning with new bites on my arms and legs. I changed my sheets, I tried burning the bugs out with a hair dryer, I slept in leggings and a sweatshirt, all to no avail. I tried to take it all in stride, telling myself I would not be spoiled or vain about the situation, that the bites were just temporary and at the end of the summer I would burn all my clothes and fly home in a souvenir t-shirt I’d buy from the airport.