My partner and I returned from Mexico City with our heads intact, more or less. The lesser half was hit hard by the altitude. Two kilometers high and then you have to deal with the smog. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have made our first two days there so intense. We walked all over Chapultapec Park and the Centro Historico. Our third day was spent cooped up in the hotel room, me on the computer, he in bed acting like a heart-worm stricken puppy on his last legs.

I was shameless when I booked the room, telling the hotel that we were in town to celebrate my 39th. And God bless the front desk staff at the Four Seasons because a deep, rich, decadent chocolate cake was waiting for me when I arrived. What a great way to start a week in DF.

Biko deserves the hype. I hadn’t had a meal that good since my man turned 35 last year and we went to Oso Ristorante in Singapore–he was there for work and I wasn’t going to let him celebrate a birthday alone. Pujol was good too. My guy ate a baby corn skewer slathered in mayonnaise and ants. I watched.

The Condesa neighborhood was incredibly surprising. It felt like Park Slope and the East Village had a baby. Young families, hipsters, gays, musicians all enjoying Sunday brunch and then a walk through the park. Parque Mexico was gorgeous! I still can’t believe how much more livable Mexico City has become. Between the free bikes and cleaned up city center, DF is becoming practically European. No severed heads here.

For me, this trip was about revisiting old haunts and making new memories. But I was brought back to an afternoon in 1994 when we passed through this one neighborhood close to the hotel. I was going to a party just outside fashionable Polanco on a Saturday. One of my dad’s colleagues was having a drinks thing at her flat and she invited us. I’m not quite sure why my parents didn’t attend. The party consisted mostly of embassy personnel and some local business people. It was a very low-key, casual thing. Luis Miguel had just released his monster album Romance and the hostess was playing it on her CD player (remember those?).

The song La Mentira had just come on when I made my way to the balcony to watch the sunset. Back then, the smog was terrible and people used to call the sunsets “chemical sunsets” because you’d sometimes get these weird, otherworldly but strangely romantic glows. One of the marines invited to the party approached me. He was just as handsome in casual clothes as he was in uniform. I pretended not to know him but I had seen him before in the embassy–I have a thing for military uniforms.

I remember how confident and direct he was. I like that. A real turn on. Because I was unsure if he was gay or not, I was surprised when he steadily steered the conversation towards my looks. I was so taken aback that I can’t recall exactly what he said, I just remember his smile and intense blue eyes, so fixed and sincere. Even now I get a bit giddy thinking about it. He really took a shot. I’m not a gay who wears his gayness on his sleeve. It could have backfired horribly.

Maybe it’s better I didn’t pursue it further because that afternoon, that moment, will forever be with me. I’ve heard some really bad pickup lines over the years. But no line, even a good one, can compare to a steady gaze, a firm handshake and a relaxed confidence. That said, the whore in me wishes I had taken that marine into an empty bedroom and rewarded him for his confidence.

I don’t miss the casual hookups and one night stands of single life. That was fun when I was in my 20s. I do miss the flirting. Strange how something so silly can be artful when done well. I’ll always think of my marine when I hear La Mentira. We’re still out there on the balcony in Mexico City enjoying the chemical sunset.