Transcontinental Love Story
How Do I Get Here from There?
|Not only did she pick the ice sculpture, she picked me back when I looked like this. Am I lucky or what?|
Rosa and I were the only two single people among the grand total of eight attendees at her cousin’s wedding. We had met briefly before that when she visited her cousin at work, but due to her shyness, I thought she didn’t speak English, and due to my stress levels, she thought I was a loon. (Turns out one of us was correct.) Despite the suggestions of all six other guests to get us together, I made up my mind that I could not fall in love with her.
After all, she was only visiting for a couple weeks from Peru, which would make the occasional weekend drive somewhat inconvenient. Plus, my total experience of international travel was confined to the World Showcase at EPCOT Center. However, I had promised her cousin I wouldn’t let her spend the whole time they were away on the honeymoon alone. (I feel no shame in mentioning this attitude, as I later learned that the first time I asked her out, she made up a non-existent previous engagement. This made us about even.)
I called her two days after our first date, to see if she got back OK from New York City, and again two days after that to wish her a happy birthday. My mind was still made up that I couldn’t fall in love with her. Somehow, we ended up going to dinner again on both of these days anyway. At this point I believe my heart had decided that my mind was useless, and started to take over.
On her birthday, I was determined to tell her that planning anything long term would be a disaster, because we lived on different continents. (Way to go there, mind.) During the dinner conversation, I got a little lost in her eyes. Then she told me that I was very special, and she would miss me very much. Running out of patience, my heart told my mind, “Thank you very much for your services, you may go now.” She ended up extending her stay an extra week, and I took as many days off as I could manage.
That led to marvelous weeks of day trips and Disney movies. She made all my favorite places far more special than they had ever been. At the Natural History Museum, she told me I looked just like a little boy, and kissed me in front of the Apatosaurus. (Get your mind out of the gutter…it’s a dinosaur.) I was thrilled to feel exactly like I always pictured being with someone special should feel, and (given my previous less than stellar experiences) miserable that I would probably never see her again.
Later, I took her to my absolute favorite place, the Bronx Zoo (to introduce her to family and friends). The zoo never let me down before, and truly outdid itself as the Holiday Lights came on ahead of schedule, turning the nearly empty park into our own private wonderland. That completely confirmed that I did, indeed, love Rosa, but since she was heading back to a totally different hemisphere, I didn’t tell her because (I’M AN IDIOT) I didn’t want either of us to get hurt. Also, I barely make sense in English; I’d be completely hopeless in other languages.
When I took her to the airport, every single time I opened my mouth, my heart yelled, “I love you!” But my mind, ever helpful (and stupid), tried to protect us both. I babbled a lot, and confused her even in English. Yet, while I was making less and less sense, I was figuring out if I could apply for a passport the next day. When she called me that night to say she reached home safely, seeing her again became undeniable.
We talked constantly through the phone and computer, testing the limits of bandwidth and various calling plan structures. The conversations focused increasingly on how we wanted the future to be OUR future. As I knew I was going to visit, my mind once again became a nuisance and decided firmly that I had to tell her I loved her for the first time in person. This resolute decision lasted about a week.
Exactly one month and three days from our first date, I told her I loved her. Then there was a pause, during which I’m convinced I could have recited the complete works of Shakespeare if I hadn’t stopped breathing. Finally I could reoxygenate my blood when she said; “I love you too”. Light headed from more than a lack of air, I cemented my travel plans.
When I went to visit her, she showed me the majesty of Machu Picchu in the Andes (which she is still quick to point out are considerably higher than the Pocono’s, Appalachians and any other pimples in the area we incorrectly call mountains). My trip to Peru was truly the greatest week and a half of my entire life up to then. Even though I didn’t speak the language, looked ridiculously American, and couldn’t buy shoes for my Yeti sized feet, I was with her. Her family accepted and blessed us, and I was happy. That’s all that really mattered, and all I needed to understand. (With the exception that I also needed to understand to keep my eyes covered anytime we travelled by taxi. Great Googely Moogely! There was no sign of any laws of traffic; in fact most laws of physics seemed to be missing.)
The next month or so away from her was rough, but then she came back up for the summer. (Hooray!) I took her to dinner at the restaurant we had our first date at and then we had a Champagne toast. The next day, a limo took us back to the Museum, and I proposed in the same spot in front of the Apatosaurus, because that’s where I KNEW. Then I had to explain that since her flight was delayed, I switched the limo from when she landed to the following day, and the dinner and toast should make more sense now. (So: an “A” for romantic planning, but a “C-” for scheduling. I did wait till she had the ring to give her my gift, wrapped in copies of various comic book heroes proposing to their true loves. We nerds have odd notions of romance, but we do work at it.) At least we got an extended limo ride through the city to the jewelry district; once we learned Peruvian ring sizes are way different than here. When people said, “You’re finally engaged,” my reply was, “I always knew there was someone for everyone. I was just looking on the wrong continent”.
She went home for a few weeks to get everything together, and insure her mother’s passport came through. 9/11 happened, and between that. and a particularly nosey customs officer, travel issues cropped up rendering me a complete basket case (or, rather a more complete basket case) until we were safely together again. The only advantage was that her bridal shower got to remain a surprise, as she was seven hours away by plane for the entire planning phase.
Well, it would have remained a surprise if it wasn’t for the three separate people in the parking lot, and restaurant entrance who said, “Are you here for the shower?” when we arrived.
It would be a clichéd romantic ending to say we were married exactly one year after her cousin, but that’s not the case. It was actually one day less than exactly one year. (Surgeon General’s Warning: Planning a New York Italian style wedding in less than five months can destroy up to seventy percent of your sanity, especially when the bride to be leaves the country for a month in the middle of it.)
Also that day ten years ago was not an ending. It was the start of a fantastic path together, now joined by our amazing daughter. We’ve been through highs and lows that some could call an emotional roller coaster. (I think the technical term for it is: life.) But for the past decade and every day going forward that I wake up next to the most wonderful woman in the world, it is a continued journey of new beginnings.
I love you Rosa.