The Life I Chose

(A post with no pictures and even fewer niceties.)

You know that cliché quote about missing someone, about how it’s not about how long it’s been, but how when you’re doing something and you wish the other person was there?

Well, I call bullshit. For me, anyway. For me, it’s both. Let me explain.

As you very well know, if you’ve spent more than two seconds on this blog of mine, I’ve got this boyfriend. His name is Mario, and no—he’s not an Italian plumber with a penchant for bopping goombas on the head; he’s Spanish and super smart and sweet and everything I could have wanted in a guy. /End gushing.

I met him when I was over in Salamanca for a year. Unlike so many times before, I didn’t meet him because I was trying. In fact, the first thing I asked him was why he was there, on the doorstep of the place I worked. (Perhaps in a rude tone? Ask him if you want to know.) My mother had explicitly told me not to date any Spanish guys. (More on that later.) And let’s be honest, most of the time I was not attracted to the Spanish men I encountered. I had experience with mullets, people—mullets and piropos and skeezy club-touching. So no, I did not go there with any intentions of meeting someone, let alone Mr. Right.

I asked him out. Well, kind of, sort of by accident. It sounds like a big excuse, but we were all meeting up for drinks at midnight, so I suggested meeting earlier, guessing (correctly!) that Mario wasn’t fond of staying out that late. We met, I spilled wine, life was good—people, I’d obviously won him over.

And two days later, I had already started thinking about dating him, the kind of thinking you hope no one else ever finds out about. Good thing he felt the same way and blurted out the words I’d remember forever, “La verdad es que me gustas.” Giddy, I could think of nothing else but him for weeks.

So I suppose I did sign up for this. I signed up to date this guy, this foreigner, this man in whom I could find no fault. (Faults come later, FYI.) I had no idea what I was in for.

In the past two and a half years, the following things have occurred:

  • I quit the internship I was in because they had “forbidden” from dating anyone. I’m so bad.
  • I was detained in the Madrid airport and sent back home because I had inadvertently overstayed my welcome in the EU.
  • I applied for my visa, and (apparently) had it sent back two times to the Chicago embassy before they finally got it through. I was paranoid they’d say no due to my experience in Madrid.
  • I spent a year teaching English in Zamora, but hated the job. It was rough, but we were together.
  • I’ve spent so much time apart from him that I don’t even want to think about it.
  • I’ve contemplated 1,001 ways to get me there or him here. Fruitless so far, but there’s always the fun red-tape-filled marriage process to look forward to.

In these past years, I’ve had the experience of missing Mario in the moment, wishing he were there to do or experience something with me: a new apartment, birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, holidays. All of it was hard, harder than I’d like to admit. But the time really has begun to wear on me.

How long?

I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of being told to wait, that things will be figured out one day. I know this—I do!—but being apart seems harder with each passing day. Someday, I hope I’ll look back at this time period and know that it only served to make us stronger, but right now?

Right now it really sucks.

Reasons (Never) to Date a Foreigner

  1. Visa
    Visa issues. Being together gets a lot more complicated. Unless, of course, you’re both members of the EU. If so, whoop dee doo for you. (I hate you.) Someone either has to get a work visa (difficult), a student visa (not so difficult, but expensive), or a marriage visa (big time commitment; hope you don’t have problems with that). Last year, I worked as a Conversation & Language Assistant, which allowed me to be there legally, but this year I’m back in the good old US of A, and trying to find some way to get him over here without resorting to packing him in my suitcase with plenty of food and beverages so they’ll just never know.
  2. Stupid questions. Perhaps I’m impatient, but we’re normal people too, and just because my boyfriend is from another country doesn’t make us any more interesting. However, people don’t tend to agree with me and love to ask the same questions over and over, “When is he coming over?” “Why isn’t he here?” “What language do you two speak when you’re together?” “Does he like America?” “Does he speak English?” “Does he like spicy food? He must love burritos, right?” Uuuuuuuugh.

  3. Airplanes[Source]
    Planes and airports. Back in the day (okay, like four years ago), plane travel was exciting because, well, I rarely had to do it. Nowadays, I feel like I’m on a plane or waiting in an airport every other month. I hate airports and planes. I would not hate it so much if I had lots of money and rode in first class, but alas, that is not the case. If you’ve ever ridden coach, you know what I’m talking about: 8 hours on a plane with your elbows brushing your overly talkative neighbor is just not my cup of tea. I’ve taken the same Madrid-Chicago flight so many times I start repeating this phrase in my sleep: “Tea? ¿Té? Coffee? ¿Café?” and can tell you the breakfast menu by heart (croissant sandwich, cup of fruit, Kit Kat bar, orange juice).
Now that I’ve told you the bad things, here are the good ones.
  1. Sexy/cute accents. Totally superficial, but totally true. I love the Spanish accent and Mario, although fluent and with a rather impressive accent, still slips into his (what we call) Espainish accent from time to time and I love it. I find his English to be adorable, especially when he slips up. I hope he doesn’t find it patronizing, but when he uses double negatives it’s cute. (However, native speakers + double negatives = ew.) And when he speaks Spanish, oh my. Sexy as hell…
  2. Culture
    Introducing them to your culture. It’s really fun to show off all the fun things about American culture: barbecues, baseball, fireworks, nature, family, and friends. I love introducing Mario to what it’s really like to live in the States. Some of it is like the movies (yellow school buses), but some of it isn’t (cheerleaders always being stuck up snobs).
  3. Learning a new language. As I’ve written before, learning a new language is difficult, so why not try it with a real live personal dictionary?
  4. People think your life is exciting. Not that my life is boring, but it’s really a very normal(ish) life. But people tend to think it’s very intriguing. Can’t say I mind that.
  5. Two
    Two cultures. You will always have two different cultures, two different languages in which to express yourself. I sometimes struggle to find the right English word, something I never foresaw happening. If you choose to have children, you can raise them bicultural and bilingual, a prospect I find very exciting and potentially jealousy-inducing (what I wouldn’t give to be truly bilingual!).