Thursday, October 13, 2011

Love at First Sight (Part 1 of 3)

The following is a true account. No details have been changed to romanticize the story, which makes it even more fantastic (at least to me). This is how my wife and I met over and over until we stayed together.

I have always been the romantic type. I love to daydream, writing poetic-ish scribbles, and chick flicks. Yes, I am not ashamed to admit it. In fact, I think most guys like them, but have been ingrained to deny it lest be mocked by other guys who secretly like them too. But this is not a psychological piece. This is a love story.

First Sight

The year was 2003, holiday season. I was doing some Christmas shopping with my family in a mall in San Diego close to the Mexican border. It must have been early afternoon on a weekend day. As you can imagine, the place was packed with thousands of voracious shoppers frantically going through sales and discounted merchandise searching for the right bargain (or the closest thing to it) to gift their dear ones. Lines in stores wiggled through aisles, people carrying multiple bags from different stores carrying a single item in each one, disorganized displays from so much perusing, and the occasional cry of a child who had too much mall for one day. Since crying wasn’t much of an option for me, I opted for the next best thing at the moment: a cup of espresso.

I told my mom that I was going to wait for her in the coffee shop next door while she finished in that store, then we could move on to the next one. And then to another. And so on for the rest of the day. I remember that I was in a transitional period back then. I had just gotten a new apartment in East San Diego, and a new job while completing an internship with a local newspaper. As I walked amongst the masses, the only thing in my mind was how long it was going to take to finish the mission. I walked in to the café and the ambience was just as hectic: multiple blenders going off at the same time, line reaching the entrance door, cheesy Christmas music playing in the background, and the baritone mumble of everyone talking at the same time carpeting the whole place.

I was lucky enough to get a table right away because a couple left as I was walking in. I decided to wait for my mom and sister hoping the line would dwindle down by the time they got there. I sat with my back against the door facing the crowd. The place looked and felt like a vortex with the center of energy all the way down the lobby around the espresso machines next to the registers. Everything and everybody revolved about that center of caffeinated gravity. People flowed ceaselessly back and forth, lingered at the center waiting for their drinks to then hastily escape this micro universe with a smile and a latte in their hand. This is when magic happened.

I try to remain humble about this sort of things. The truth is that there is a bunch of stuff we don’t know about how the universe works. Is everything pre-determined and we are just following an inevitable fate with our ultimate destination already set in the cosmos? Or, is everything a random mix of events affected by our every action? I don’t know. What I do know is that I was sitting in that café minding my own business when I felt her presence before she even arrived. I smiled discreetly while contemplating everyone flowing in and out. I remember distinctively feeling really good about being in that place, sitting down, smelling the coffee, hearing sudden bursts of laughs mixed with the steam of the espresso machine frothing the milk. The door opened and closed behind me for the 11th time and everything stopped.      

I looked over my right shoulder in the direction of the entryway which lead to the registers only to be overwhelmed by a presence unlike any other. I was barely able to register a gentle silhouette which moved at a different pace than everyone else. There was a great deal of elegance in her demeanor. She was completely present in the moment, not concerned about getting in line or to a table. She savored each step she took, and her motion was effortless. I couldn’t see her face, but was able to distinguish a graceful expression as she walked by to look at the retail display. Only 3 seconds had passed, and it was already an impossible sight. How could it be? Why did I feel this mesmerized? Was anyone else seeing this?

She reached out to grab a blue cup, index finger slightly above the rest, then changed her mind and went for a red one instead. She wore her wavy hair down and faced the shelves, so I still couldn’t see her face. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t need to. I already knew. She was from a time that does not go by. Ethereal. I got up. The door opened again and a gust of wind blew in only to caress her face along with the warmth of a beam of sun. It was almost as if the evening was already missing her company outside. That’s when I saw her smile. I stood for a moment not knowing how to act. Walking up to her seemed so banal at that point, and yet, there was nothing else I could do. I moved on pure impulse, but slowly. She went back to looking at possible gifts and I walked in her direction. I finally stood at an arm’s length, and could not utter a word. So much wholesome beauty, because you could easily tell her soul was generous and unblemished.

I pretended to look at the retail, although in front of me there was only a $499 coffee machine. She finally made a choice and walked away to get in line to pay for her items. I stood still in front of the coffee machine. She paid for her things and got a latte. I remained in the same spot. She thanked the baristas and walked away. I could not move. She walked past me in all of her beautiful poise and I saw her face one last time before she left.

I felt overwhelmed and so very thankful. I now knew it for sure. I finally knew she was real. She existed and her presence had manifested in the coffee shop of an outlet center during holiday season for me to know that we were going to be okay. A few moments later my mom arrived. She saw my silly smile and asked what was going on. “Mom,” I said, “I just met the love of my life.” She looked at me funny, you know, the way sometimes moms do, then I added “I just met the woman I am going to marry.”

Part Two --> HERE <---