“I don’t love you,” Anna started one typical warm, sunny, Goan day.
My lean-to stood on the bluff. Overlooking the beach and the Indian Ocean, it faced west. The sun was barely clear of the eastern horizon, but the light woke us up. Not knowing why she said this, my immediate response was self-doubt. Morning breath? Unsatisfactory sex? I sat up and turned to look at her. She wasn’t angry or sad.
“This is causal sex,” she said.
My manly pride back in place, I didn’t know what to say. I smiled, picked up her hand and kissed her fingers.
“I had a lover in high school,” she said, “and one in university. Then I met Jacques. I thought I would marry all these men. You are the first man I made love to knowing I would not marry. This is the first time I have had casual sex.”
“We are adults,” I shrugged.
She didn’t look French. She wore her thick, dishwater blond hair in two braids that fell over her shoulders like the stereotypical Swiss girl. She was also not lean and elegant like one pictures French women. Anna was round.
She was a dental assistant. Her boyfriend, Jacques, was an office worker who did art, or an artist forced to work in an office, I don’t know which, but living in France stifled his creativity. He needed to escape and she, reluctantly, quit her job and came along. They flew to Bombay and came to Goa where they rented a room Anna still occupied. He then succumbed to temptation. I never knew the details, but it had something to do with drugs and a Swedish woman.
“I don’t know you well enough to even say I respect you, but think I can trust you.”
“You can,” I said.
“I just want you to know that I am not promiscuous.”
She seemed so strong when I first met her, alone and independent. Now I was seeing her vulnerability. It wasn’t a weakness, though. It was honest, thoughtful and sincere. I was often lucky during my travels, but that doesn’t apply with Anna. In my relationship with her I didn’t feel lucky; I felt honored.