Norman Teague leans in the doorway of the hotel, his right leg crossed over so that the heel of his black boot touches the toe of his left. His left hand edges out of his pocket, as if indifferent to being either in or out.
He nods once for a photo, lowering the cigarette in his right hand to rest at his side. His head tilts subtly from underneath a straw hat, a half-smile hinting on his face, acknowledging the camera but hesitating to alter for it. He maintains eye-contact with the wall behind the photographer, even as I move to his side. He has done this before. He has been on the other side of the camera.
I want to take more - he is photogenic. But I can feel his peripheral vision on me and camera or no, I value personal space enough to take too many liberties invading it. I lower my lens and thank him, awkwardly stepping off the curb with flimsy ankles on the cobblestone. “Do I get a copy?”
I freeze. “What?”
“I said, do I get a copy?”
Oh, buckets. I think. Was I speaking to him in Spanish this whole time?”
Josiah told me later that he knew he was American by his rolled up jeans. Gringa that I am, I had no idea he was American. For all I knew, he could be French.
“Um, of course,” I say, trying to feel excited at his interest. Trying to appear unembarrassed. “Can I get your email?”
He reaches into his burlap bag--a tourist essential that I take for fashion--and pulls out his card. “You’re from the States?” he says.
“Minnesota,” I say. “Well, I’m not from Minnesota, I go to school there. We’re studying abroad.”
“Yes,” I say. It’s not untrue, but the full truth is a longer story, and the more words that spill out of my mouth the more awkward I feel.
“I’m from Chicago. I went to the Art Institute there.”
Oh, buckets. The Art Institute in Chicago. I look at his card. It’s nice.
“Wow, awesome.” My nerves have apparently limited my vocabulary to interjections at this point as I realize I am about to email my amateur shots to a practiced eye.
“Well, thank you,” I say. I am wishing I had told him I’m not actually a photography student, I’m just a literature student who likes pretty things, who’s not really sure why she’s here, who feels out of her depth.
“I’ll email them to you when I get back to our hotel,” I say, and wave.
A week and a half later, I am muttering to myself as I open my laptop to get an assignment done. “Oh, shoot. I still need to email Norman those photos.” His card is tucked away in the front pouch of my backpack. Not right now, I think. It’s the same thing I told myself three days ago. It’s the same thing I will tell myself next week.