Rewind about 12 years ago and I was a late twentysomething, fresh out of a string of really bad relationships and officially 'done' with the dating scene. I was fed up, sick of the games and head over heels in love with my new job at a major financial house here in town. On any given week I was jetting out to a cool city (or not) to do a my shtick - a bilingual financial seminar. Boring you say? Well, maybe just a little bit. But you have to remember I was young, loved to travel, and got to practice my Spanish (most of my trips were of the bilingual variety) - all on the company's dime.
So one night after work I found myself checking email and messing around on the computer at home. This was back in the days of AOL and dial up modems just to give you a frame of reference. About ten minutes into my surfing, I decided to find a chat buddy. Three clicks later there he was, first on my list: Joaquin. The first thing to cross my mind was Spaniard. The second In Des Moines?
Me: Hola. ¿Qué tal? ¿Te apetece charlar?
Me: Sorry. I thought you spoke Spanish. I just wanted to practice.
Him: ¿Quién coño eres?
Alas, an unwitting invitation for me to pepper him with every colloquialism learned from my year abroad in Valencia. Spanish oozing from my fingertips; the accents, the tildes and the inverted punctuation all in their proper places, my professors would have been so proud. And so it went, two complete strangers with nothing in common save for a late evening on the computer and ganas de charlar.
That chat eventually led to a phone call which then turned into a date: coffee at the bookstore. And in spite of me being 'done' with dating I was hopeful that this one would work out, at least long enough for me to get some good Spanish in. We seemed to 'click' but the real test was yet to come: would we be attracted to one another?
As the doorbell rang, a single thought crossed my mind: please be normal. You don't have to be Prince Juan Carlos, but please, please be normal. Funny how I wasn't concerned about him being a rapist or serial killer lest I digress...
He knocked and I opened.
In one word, my first impression was more like a sound, Hmm.
I wasn't bowled over by his looks. I just kind of stood there taking him all in.
Taller than me but only slightly. Dark, thick hair. Clean cut. Smelled good. Not particularly athletic looking. Nice, big, strong hands. A rather solid first impression. And then he spoke.
"Se empieza con los dos besos, ¿no?"
Oh my God. Did I just wet my pants? I went from comfortably confident to weak in the knees and stuttering. His one liner still caught in the side of my mouth, I was now reeling myself in.
"Uhm, lemme just...uhh...I gotta grab my pullover...uhh...and yeah, uhm...then we can head."
I grabbed the royal blue windbreaker, my favorite running standard, and slipped my arms into its sleeves flipping it up & over my head in one giant arc. But in my haste to get Don Juan out the door and to the bookstore, I had forgotten that the cinch in the jacket's waist was pulled tight and locked. Oops. Not to be outdone by the locked cinch, the zippered opening at the top was also pulled up. Smooth move dumb ass.
There I was standing in my the entryway of my condo with my arms full up over my head and the jacket cinched tight and not budging one more inch as it sat parked right above my boobs. My head stuck somewhere inside, this would go down in the books as one of my better How to Look Like a Jackass Without Even Trying moments, of which I have many.
So much for first impressions.
That was how our first date started. And for whatever reason - perhaps the cd changer loaded with Paco de Lucia and Gypsy Kings that he had (planted?) in place of Metallica and Iron Maiden? Maybe he just felt sorry for the busty blonde who practically suffocated herself inside of her own jacket? I dunno but we've been together ever since.
He was there when my brother broke his neck in the accident.
And he was there when my brother learned to walk again.
He was there when I quit my dream job.
And he was there when the new job turned into a living nightmare.
He was there through my second go 'round at a Masters.
And he was there tight lipped when I cast it aside.
He was there when I shut my dad out of my life.
And he was there cheering when I let my dad back in.
He was there when CF joined our happy little family the first time.
And he was there when it socked us in the gut the second time.
In more than ten years of being my Valentine, he's seen me at my best. And stuck by me at my very, very worst.
So this post is for you Joaquin Jose...
aka El Americano...
No importa el apodo que te darán. Tu eres y siempre serás mi media naranja. Te quiero más de lo que sepas y mucho más de lo que puedas imaginar.
Happy Valentine's Day, cariño.
I love you.
What's in My Head
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