How quickly life returns to normal. It’s one of those weird realizations that the world doesn’t stop spinning just because it seemed that way to you.
The most beautiful man and I are fortunate because although we loved our first date/vacay, we both came home to lives and jobs we enjoy.
The next morning, as usual I wake up to my ‘Good morning beautiful,’ text. I text back, Good Morning Guapo (Spanish for handsome), but it auto corrects to guano, which is precisely defined as: the excrement of seabirds and bats. Dang it. Maybe he doesn’t know that word since English is his second language…? Fat chance, but worth a shot.
He writes back: We spent approximately 78 hours straight together. Isn’t that crazy? I’m unpacking now, and it feels a little sad.
Me: I need to do the same and I’m dreading it.
Him: Wow, I can smell your perfume on my clothes.
Me: Ok, now I’m sad. This is awful.
Him: Please don’t be sad. I think it’s pretty amazing that we met each other, took the big risk of going on a 4 day vacation (first date) across the country…and had a great time.
Me: I know. I hear you. I’m just sad, because I’m scared of the outcome.
Translation (not texted): please don’t hurt me. I haven’t felt this way before, I had a great time, I want to see where this goes, please be gentle with my heart.
Him: Yes I know, I also feel an intense level of mixed emotions. This type of passion can blind and confuse us and I’m scared of that. A little time apart will make us cool down and behave rationally versus emotionally. Please don’t take that the wrong way.
Um…..I am most definitely taking that - the. wrong. way. What way am I supposed to take it?
Right as I begin to spiral, and overthink, I realize I’m getting worked up about someone who lives 1000 miles away, could this be a blessing? Is this where I insert my stiff upper lip and my Los Angeles living motto of ‘rejection is protection?’
I take a beat. I put the phone down. I decide to sit tight and remind myself to pay attention to actions versus words, which has been my plan this entire time. I pick up the phone.
Me: You’re right.
Him: In the meantime if you could please share your schedule with me, I would like to come visit you for the weekend.
Okay - there he is…there is my guapo. For a minute there, I thought his nickname was going to turn to guano permanently.
I head into work. The sun is shining, it’s a sunroof open kind of day. I feel good to be back in my routine and on familiar ground. I love my job, so although coming home to an empty apartment is tough, heading into work is welcomed. I love buzzing around the building saying hi to everyone and I enjoy the thrill of what the day will bring. After all, live TV is very unpredictable, so every day is new adventure.
I have about two hours until I go Live. I just finished my appointment in the salon where I ask for my inner JLo to shine through, which translates to a slick ponytail, glowy skin and my favorite big dangle earrings. I changed up her typical nude lip to a pop of color, just because I was feeling a bit sassy.
Just then I turn the corner and run right into Shawn. She jumps up and down, squeals a bit and says, ‘OMG, how was your trip?’ I can’t help but smile and then out of nowhere, I feel tears welling up in my eyes. First, I think, What is this, are those real tears? Then I think, I have to hold it together because I don’t have time to fix runny black eyeliner. Shawn quickly retreats as all hosts know, not to talk about heavy things before going on-air…save those convos for a post-shift chat. She says, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, it was bad, we’ll talk about it later.’ No! I said. It was good. It’s just that it was so good, that now I’m scared.’
In true ‘Big Sis’ Shawn form, she puts her hands on my shoulders, looks me straight in the eyes and says, ‘Oh honey, that’s wonderful. G-D will work this out for you. We’ll talk later.’
I salvage my black eyeliner and go on-air. I love my time on-air. I can't think about anything other than exactly what is in front of me. This makes the experience meditative and a guarantee that I'll stay in the present moment for at least a couple of hours of my day.
I finish my shift,I just talked for three hours straight and I'm tired. It's both exhausting and exhilarating to hyper focus for hours on end.I get back to the dressing room and sit down.I wipe off my bright lip, unclip my big dangle earrings, take out my fake ponytail and slouch in my chair. I take a beat, a big inhale/exhale, time to regroup.
Ding. Guapo texts: 'Linda. You looked beautiful tonight.'
During my junior year of college I had the opportunity to study abroad in Seville, Spain. This time in my life was so incredibly transformative, and to this day, it holds my most special memories of college. Halfway through my semester abroad, I switched host families and was assigned to a beautiful family who took me under their wing and taught me all about the Spanish food, culture, holidays and most of all, the language. They had the most fabulous 8 year old daughter named Gloria who would practice her English with me. They had two adorable dogs, Millie and Boo Boo, and a son in his late twenties who no longer lived at home, but visited often.
One day the son offered to take me and my study abroad roommate out on the town with his friends. We jumped at the opportunity to go out with the locals. They showed us to a fabulous day full of touring the city, teaching us Andalusian history, stops at their favorite cafes for café con leche (coffee with milk), an impromptu Sevillana lesson (a type of dance influenced by Flamenco), and of course to eat the best tapas in town. As we walked the streets, laughing and enjoying a magnificent day, Julio, one of the friends said to me: Tienes una sonrisa linda. I knew he saying something about my smile, but I was’t sure what he was saying about it. I asked my roommate, and she said, ‘He’s saying you have a cute smile.’ Oh…how lovely, I thought.
Fast forward 18 years to sitting in my dressing room at work when Guapo texts me, ‘Linda, you looked beautiful tonight.’ Oh how sweet he is. Is he calling me, cutie? I think he is!
And did he really tune into my show? I wonder how much of it he watched or if he just flipped through? So many questions, but for now, I just smiled at my phone, as I enjoyed his compliment and reminisced about one of the most memorable days of my college years. Never did I imagine that my ‘linda lesson’ would come full circle.
Guapo and I were now in the phase of - what’s next? We talked and texted every single day and he continued to be amazingly consistent and communicative. I could tell just by his guaranteed ‘good morning linda’ texts that this was a man I could count on, and one who made me feel important and safe.
After a few days of texting post Chicago, while according to him we were supposed to be ‘cooling off’ I received a dream text.
Him: Good morning, Linda. I’ve been looking at ideas for our next date. How is your schedule, Aug 9,10,11?
Me: Morning, guapo! I am so bummed, but I’m scheduled to work those days.
Him: Ok, I’m not even going to tell you what I have going on that weekend.
Him: Baha Mar Nassau for a client and I’d love to bring you.
Ugh, now there’s my tropical vacay! Reading this and knowing that I couldn’t swing it made my heart shatter into little pieces like the crushed ice in the daiquiris I would be missing out on. The man of my dreams inviting me to an island I’ve never been to, for date number two - what . is . this?! I need to know all of the details, yet I don’t have the ability to stomach them, knowing I can’t go.
I decide to send him a bunch of alternate dates of when I’m available, in hopes that we can still make something work. In the back of my mind, I wonder who will get to go on this fabulous trip in place of me?
A few days go by with lovely text and phone call exchanges, but still no firm plans as to when date two will happen. Obviously, I was anxious to see him again in person, but learning more about each other prior to our next meet up was also very beneficial. Maybe he was right, maybe this was the ‘cool off, come back down to reality’ time?
I loved his consistency and I loved how invested he was in learning about me, but after a week or so, I wondered if this was perhaps turning into a pen pal situation? The ‘cool off’ period also made me wonder if he was dating in Miami? He told me he wasn’t, but often times when two single people meet, there are leftover relationships or loose ends from less serious dates to tie up, even if they are meaningless.
What I was figuring out is that long distance relationships magnify the need for major, upfront, honest communication since that’s all you have in the moment. In fact, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, I realized that although we were in near non-stop communication throughout the day and night, I still really had no idea what he does on the daily, and who else he is in touch with nor did he of me. I knew I felt a deep connection with this man, but perhaps it was too early to put all my eggs in one long distance basket.
After all, I too had some minor loose ends to tie up. Nothing serious, in fact I hadn’t dated anyone seriously in over a year, partially by choice and partially due to lack of quality inventory. However, I would go on a mediocre date here and there. Even though Guapo and I were not official, I still knew my feelings for him were stronger than my feelings for anyone I’d met in my entire life, so there was no need for me to go on dates with other people just to pass the time. Instead, I could put my energy into bettering myself, connecting with him, and spending quality time with my friends.
I thought about how much we were in contact and the depth at which we had shared about ourselves and that gave me comfort. I appreciated that he was open and forthcoming, emotionally available, and at the same time fully accepting of me and my quirks. At times, he would even seem in awe of the fact that I could so openly share my thoughts and desires.
Maybe he wasn’t used to such a big personality, maybe it excited him that I am deeply in touch with my feelings, wants and needs? Maybe he loved that I am a dreamer, a hopeless romantic and someone who refuses to settle for mediocrity or complacency in any aspect of life.
For many other people, the intensity of these qualities and my personality was interpreted as ‘too much’ or ‘too heavy,’ basically, a turn off. But for Guapo, our deep conversations about love, life, dreams, goals and philosophies didn’t scare him away, in fact, I began to notice that they were drawing us closer.
Over these weeks of constant communication, I learned that many of the dreams and goals I was working towards were in alignment with his, and it seemed as though we would in fact make a really good team. Not just that we would be able to individually grow and respect each other while in this relationship, but that we would in fact, be able to grow as a united front as well as an intertwined and deeply connected couple. I kept seeing the image of a double helix, DNA like, in my head, and this was the only way I could describe how this connection and our energy was forming into something so incredibly different than anything else I’d ever experienced. We were significant on our own, yet when we crossed paths and put our energies together, our possibilities seemed even more beautiful, substantial, powerful, and creative... What are the possibilities, I wondered? Could this actually be a real life example of the ‘limitless potential,’ that up until this point I’ve only read about in my manifestation and quantum physics books? Was this me getting ‘too deep’ and being ‘too much?’ Whatever is was, this unique connection realization made me even more eager to see him again in person. Nassau was out…for now, but should I pop down to Miami?
At last, the action I had been waiting for. Perhaps he felt the same connection I felt, or the excitement of possibility? I’m not sure, but I was very excited to read his incoming text.
Him: Please look at this plane ticket and tell me if it works for your schedule. I have to come see you in Philadelphia.
Me: Hi! Yes, it works but it’s NINETEEN days away! I can’t wait that long.
Him: Wow, yeah, no good. How about this one? It gets there on Friday.
Me: Yes, much better. Can you come earlier in the day? I’d like to take you to a concert at my favorite outdoor venue that evening.
Him: I’ll make it happen.
Music to my ears or more like candy to my eyes.
I love someone who takes charge, and there was no better answer than, ‘I’ll make it happen.’
Indeed he made it happen. In the dead heat of summer he got on a plane from beautiful Miami and headed to Philadelphia.
In organized, type A fashion, I created a list of all my favorite things to do in the city, and I was determined to show him as many of those things as possible. I wasn’t sure if this would be his first of many visits or his only visit, so I wanted to make sure I did my best to show him a fabulous time. My ulterior motive was that by showing him how fun Philly is, he would begin to fall in love with the city of brotherly love. At least, that was my hope.
I didn’t have as detailed of an itinerary as he had for our Chicago trip, but I did have a pretty good handle on the weekend.
The plan for Friday was to pick him up at the airport, head home to freshen up, grab some tacos from Spruce Street Park, then ride the ferry to New Jersey, as the sun set over the Delaware river. Then we would snuggle on our blanket and enjoy a romantic date listening to country music on the lawn as the summer night faded away. After the concert we would ride the ferry back to Philadelphia, possibly hit up a hot spot lounge/bar for a nightcap and then head home.
Friday night turned into the perfect example an ‘Instagram vs. Reality post.' I was pretty clear on how I wanted the night to go, but this is what actually happened:
I picked him up from the airport, he was cuter than ever. There he was, not a hair out of place, a perfectly pressed polo, clean shaven and that smile, OMG, that perfectly imperfect smile. It was actually surreal to see him standing there waiting for me. The most beautiful man I’ve ever seen was standing on the sidewalk with the cutest little duffel bag, waiting for me. I was about 5-10 minutes late, due to some last minute cleaning and prep, but he’s so easy going, it was no big deal.
As I pull up to the airport, his smile broadens, then mine follows, and soon we are mirroring each others smiles and excitement. He has so much energy as he jumps in the car and says, ‘Que Linda,’ and kisses me. Uh - he’s so handsome. He tells me that I smell good, and I remind him that we both know why I smell so good.
I live pretty close to the airport and have done the drive to and from at least a hundred times, but for some odd reason, today of all days, I lose my train of thought and I take the wrong exit. This mistake was pretty costly, as we were already cutting it close to concert time. We get stuck in extremely heavy traffic and I’m so mad at myself. I’m thinking of the chain of problems this is going to cause, late getting home, miss dinner, miss the ferry, late to the concert, who knows if we’ll even make it?
As we sit in the traffic nightmare, the clouds turn dark and Los Angeles flashbacks of the 405 start replaying in my head. I feel stuck and helpless and I'm getting more and more frustrated. He is so lighthearted. He is so carefree. He is so go with the flow. He reminds me to relax and that it’s really no big deal. I realize that it’s not a big deal and he’s right; I was simply putting a lot of pressure on myself to make the trip perfect just as he had done for Chicago. Perfectionism, just like my imagination…one of my biggest blessings, and simultaneously one of my biggest challenges.
As we are pulling into my driveway, the skies open up and it begins to pour. Our seats for the concert are outside, in fact the entire evening I planned is outside. I recommend that we scratch the whole date and start over. He says, let’s let the rain pass and see what happens.
We decide to risk it and head to the concert. We improvise, and instead of bringing just a blanket, we bring a blanket and, wait for it…puppy pee pads. Yes, that’s right, we pack puppy pee pads to put under our blanket since the ground will now be soaking wet and we have to sit on it. Little did I know that these pee pads were foreshadowing what would soon happen.
We jump in a Lyft, head to the river and notice that the ferry is leaving. Although, that’s the one I planned to be on, it’s fine because now we can grab a bite. I take him over to an adorable food truck park by the river which is normally bustling with people, energy and upbeat music. Today, it’s soaking wet, grey, empty and almost downright somber. We grab two tacos and have our choice of any wet seat in the place, when normally it’s standing room only.
The ferry arrives and we get on. The ferry ride I imagined was bright and cheerful. The sun is setting and it’s reflecting on the river. Music is playing and people are laughing and smiling on the upper deck. This time however, the ferry experience was quite different. It was half full and most people sat on the bottom deck trying to protect themselves from the persistent raindrops, and salvage what dry clothing they still had.
As we arrive at the venue the rain has stopped, and the sun begins to shine, (thank goodness) but the ground is soaking wet. We look at our options and all of them seem pretty muddy and subpar, but we have our puppy pads, so we’ll be able to make do. We start setting up our blanket and he notices something. He’s kicking what I think is dirt out of the way, to make our seats more comfy. Then he takes a closer look.
Me: ‘What are you doing,’
Him: ‘There’s shit right here.’
Me: ‘WHAT? There can’t be!’
Him: ‘I know shit and THIS is shit.’
Me: ‘Like what kind of shit?’
Him: He walks around, He inspects. He sees some geese flying and points - ‘That kind of shit.’
Me: ‘OMG, we are going to be sitting in goose shit!?’ Guano!!!???
Wet goose shit was not on the itinerary. Man, he’s a good sport.
We kick the shit to the side, lay down our puppy pads, then our blanket, as we impress our lawn neighbors with our forward thinking.
The concert opener comes on stage - HE . IS . AWFUL. I mean the WORST. It was a mix between poor comedy, beatboxing, magic and I don’t know what. We were at a country music concert, what was this? Who was this…and why are we being subjected to this, all while sitting in wet goose shit?
We look at each other and start laughing. Time for drinks!
The main act comes on stage. They are ok. Nothing like concerts I’ve been to in the past at this venue. Perhaps, it was the rain, the wet ground, the goose shit, the misstep on my timing, I’m not sure, but it was awful.
We finish our drinks and decide to head out early. No reason to sit here when we have an entire fabulous city to explore, sans goose shit.
Since we were choosing to leave the venue early, the ferry wasn’t running yet. I recommend that we call an Uber. We do. We wait THIRTY minutes for the Uber to cancel on us as we wait and walk the streets of Camden, NJ, not the place you want to be at night, when you’re not a local.
Finally we manage to grab a cab just as we see droves of people heading out of the venue. The cab driver asks where we want to go, and I say, just take us over the river back to Philly and we’ll figure it out on the way.
We get over the river and I have the driver drop us off in a fun part of town so we can at least hit up one cool speakeasy before heading home and pretending none of this actually happened.
I suggest we jump out at the corner. Just as we exit the cab and begin to walk to the speakeasy, we are cut off by cops chasing and arresting a man. I look at Guapo and he looks at me. ‘I swear this is the first time any of this has ever happened in front of me on a simple Friday night out.’ I try to explain that this is not normal Philly and that we have just had a stroke of bad luck. We decide we’ve pushed it enough for one night and we jump in a Lyft (I’m over Uber and cabs at this point) and head home.
The rest of the weekend is a bit more low key. I take him around to see the different historical sites, we walk along the river path, we eat in a few cool spots and I take him to one of my favorite rooftops where we look out over the city, and gain some perspective. The beauty of hanging out with Guapo is that in the moment everything is always perfect, even sitting in wet goose shit has its way of feeling perfect, yet there is always the underlying, ‘how are we going to make this work?’ looming below the surface.
I can’t say it doesn’t scare me. I’ve always said, there are worse things in life than two successful people who love their jobs, homes, and current lives, but that still doesn’t ease the underlying anxiety of what are we going to do and how are we going to make this work? So for now, I just look into his kind eyes, and smile when he smiles, and enjoy the sensation of my heart beating against his as we hug.
In between all of the running around, we were able to spend some time at my house. One of the mornings, as I was making breakfast, I noticed him doing a walk-thru of sorts. I’m proud of my place, it’s in great shape, less than ten years old and freshly painted. It’s decorated in a way that feels relevant, modern and inviting, plus I did a deep clean prior to his arrival so I knew he wasn't finding dust bunnies. He starts to ask me questions, like: ‘Are these the original faucets? Do you realize that those pictures are slightly off center and if you moved the table this way, you could have more space?’ ‘Mmm, yeah, a task rabbit hung those, and yes, it bothers me, but I just deal with it’, I say.
‘Do you know how to work this complicated thermostat?’ ‘Mmmm, not really,’ I say. ‘I see you have some shelving on the floor in the bathroom, would you like for me to hang it? And this light fixture, is that for the hallway?' He asks nonchalantly.
OMG - wait, is this for real? I’m literally about to burst with like five conflicting emotions all at once. OMG, yes to all of it. No, I can’t have you working on your vacay. WOW, it would be amazing to have these things done. That’s just not right. My goodness it would be sexy to see him in action. I can’t…Pause…'Can I really give you my honey-do list,' I ask? He laughs.
Does this mean he’s my actual honey? I wonder? I hope.
Before I even finish scrambling the eggs, he has artwork properly hung in my dining area, the table moved, the hallway light hung, measurements for new kitchen and bathroom faucets and pencil marks on my bathroom walls for the shelves he would hang post-breakfast.
I . AM . DEAD . Who is this Superman and how lucky am I?
Did the perfect man just get…more perfect?
It’s the middle of the night and Milo, my yorkie, and I are sound asleep. He is the best little spoon of anyone around. He’s warm, he’s generally quiet, he’s tiny, and once he puts himself to bed at 10:35pm, that’s it. We were fully immersed in a REM cycle when out of nowhere we were startled right out of bed. We did the kind of jump that lifts you horizontally straight out of your sleeping position as if you’re levitating but at spaceship take-off speed. I thought for sure someone was knocking at my door or even worse, trying to get in. Milo may be little, but dang he has a big bark and a keen sense of hearing. We ran out to the living room, looked through the peephole, checked the cameras - nothing. Did I dream this? Did I jump during a dream and scare Milo, which backfired and then scared me? Was this a chain reaction of fear?
In a foggy daze, we wander back to bed. 8am rolls around, I take a look at my ‘Good morning Linda’ text, smile, and get up for the day. I walk out to the kitchen, start brewing coffee, and then head to the living room for my morning meditation. Still only half awake I catch something odd out of the corner of my eye and I literally jump back. To my complete horror, I see that my chandelier has fallen out of the ceiling and is hanging over my dining room table by literally ONE wire. A million and one thoughts race through my mind and all of a sudden it clicks. The chandelier falling out of the ceiling was the noise that woke us up last night. I have so many questions, but there isn’t any time for that. I must act and I must act swiftly.
I quickly assess the situation and decide that I am too scared to touch the lone wire holding the chandelier so instead I grab a stool and a bunch of books and put them on the table until they stack high enough for the chandelier to rest on them, giving the wire a chance to relax. And then, I FaceTime Guapo.
‘Good moooooooorning,’ he says. He loves to draw out his words. I have the camera facing the chandelier instead of my face. ‘Whooooooooooa, what is that,’ he asks?
I think to myself, honestly yeah - what is that? I explain to him what happened and he tells me to show him the piece that is supposed to hold the chandelier to the ceiling. He takes one look at it and tells me exactly what mistake the electrician made. I tell him, OK - I’ll call someone to get it fixed, and thank you for diagnosing the issue. He then teaches me how to turn off the electricity for the chandelier and tells me to call him back if there are any issues. Like what, I’m thinking? Could something worse happen from this situation? I don’t even want to know.
For the longest time, I thought I didn’t need a man living in my house and that I could take care of everything, but at this very moment, I realized that I was grouping all men together. True, I didn’t need most men in my house, but this one…this was different. This man is a MacGyver of sorts. Not only is he handsome (that’s been established), he has a great sense of humor, he’s smart and hard-working, and he can do EVERYTHING! I always wonder how some people just know how to do everything. I do not.
Milo and I go about our day when I get a notice that I have a package delivery. I order way too much online, so I’m assuming it’s something I ordered and forgot about. I pick it up and I try to scan through the recent orders in my head. Usually, I’m ordering clothes, jewelry, shoes, makeup, you know, girlie things…but this box was big and heavy and from a company, I wasn't familiar with.
I run upstairs, grab my box cutter, and dive in. Inside are all kinds of faucets. One by one I start to pull out pretty, shiny faucets, pipes, things that look like they attach pipes to faucets, I’m not really sure. What is this? I do a little more digging and I realize what’s going on. When Guapo was visiting he measured my kitchen and bathroom and this was my faucet upgrade delivery! Wow, they are so shiny, pretty, and modern. Hmmm, I didn’t realize mine looked so dated, but now that you mention it….
I FaceTime him again, with the camera facing the faucets. He laughs. I can’t believe him. He tells me that my place is beautiful, but that I deserve some upgrades. Then what he tells me next is exactly what I am waiting to hear.
‘Hang on to them. I’ll head up there in a couple weeks and install them for you…and re-hang your chandelier…the right way.’
My heart beat intensifies. I am so excited. He’s coming back!
Chapter 28 A few days pass and it's time for my parents to come visit for a long weekend. I look forward to this visit every year. It’s nice quality time that I get to spend with just my Mom and Dad without any distractions or interruptions. This time around, we had a lot planned for their quick visit. After breakfast, we planned to go to the adorable city of New Hope where we would spend the afternoon, ride the Ivy Express train, see a theater production and enjoy a nice dinner al fresco. Before we headed to New Hope, we walked from my house to one of my favorite breakfast/brunch spots in Philadelphia. We were enjoying the best breakfast in town, in my humble opinion, while catching up on general life things when my Mom loving blurts out, ‘are you dating anyone?’ I throw my hand over my mouth to help hold my coffee from spitting out all over the table. That came out of left field, but at the same time, that’s so Susan. She loves me so deeply that all she wants is for me to feel love and happiness always. Up until this point, I had not told them about Guapo. It may seem ridiculous with all the nice things he had done for me and the fact that we spent time together in both Chicago and Philly, but I typically don’t waste useless energy discussing details about guys, because in most cases, it ends up being a pointless conversation. I hadn’t dated in so long, and after so many failed relationships I felt that by not sharing details, it would save me the painful conversation of explaining what happened this time; why it wasn’t right…again. I guess this was a way of protecting my fragile heart. As a kid, did you ever eat chocolate sauce that would harden upon contact with your cold ice cream? I loved that chocolate sauce. My friend Sara and I would have so much fun turning the sauce into a magic shell. After it hardened, we would gently break open the shell, and enjoy the yummy sweetness of the ice cream just beneath the surface. As I think about protecting my feelings, oftentimes I imagine the sweetness of my heart protected by an outer shell. It's not too hard to break-in, but it does take a little work, and once you get in, it's very very sweet, much like the magic shell and ice cream. This time, however, something came over me when my Mom asked the question and instead of avoiding it or changing the subject, I said, ‘Yes, I am. Finally.’ I think this caught them off guard as my Mom and Dad both put their forks down and leaned in a bit closer. My mom actually teared up at the table. I thought, does she know something I don’t know? How does she know that this one is different? Maybe it’s because I hadn’t dated in so long, maybe it’s because she knew I was holding out for my one true love, I’m not sure, but her reaction told me that she was on to me. I showed them a photo of me and Guapo in Philadelphia and my Dad, our serious scientist, our man of few words, our patriarch who keeps his opinions to himself said, ‘Bug, that’s the first man I’ve ever seen you with, that I like from a picture alone.’ WOW! I am shook. What is happening? I proceed to tell them the story of how we met, and how I gave him my number. How I was making eyes with him and how I specifically chose my seat to face him during dinner. My parents are laughing, shaking their heads. I tell them about Grandma’s voice and how I think she orchestrated this. They are enjoying the story as much as I am enjoying sharing it with them. We finish breakfast and begin to walk back to my place. We take ten steps and my mom says, ‘When do we get to meet him?’ ‘I’d like to invite Guapo to meet the family.’ Hold your horses, Susan. One step at a time here. We head off to New Hope and have one of the best days I can remember spending with both of my parents in quite some time. The weather is sublime, the town is charming, the theater production starring Sally Struthers was amazing, and wow does she have impeccable comedic timing. It was a near-perfect day full of cherished memories until we came home to a surprise...
We came home to a surprise indeed. I was babysitting my friend’s geriatric dog and the poor little thing had so much anxiety. Even with her thunder shirt, a comfy bed, and the companionship of Milo, she was still so nervous and in turn had several accidents on my bathroom floor mats. I hugged the sweet girl and took the bath mats and put them in the washing machine. Within about 10 minutes of what seemed like a normal wash, my Mom and I noticed that water was overflowing from the laundry room and before you know it I was running around the house like a crazy woman gathering every towel in the house, to soak up the soapy water before it caused any damage.
After an intense cleanup, I stood there like a wet noodle, staring at the washing machine and thought - wow, what next? Why did my house seem to be falling apart right before my very eyes? I looked to my left with the chandelier hanging out of the ceiling, I looked in front of me at the pile of sopping wet towels, I felt totally defeated knowing I didn't have the knowledge or ability to fix these issues, and this is how my parents were seeing my typically beautiful, spotless house that I worked so hard on.
There was an obvious machine malfunction, so I decided to do some research. Naturally, my next step was to turn to YouTube videos, boring, terrible, watching paint dry - washing machine YouTube videos, not cool makeup tutorials. As I was well into video number four, my parents recommended that I just go ahead and pay for a professional to come out, diagnose the problem and fix it, or even worse, buy a brand new washer/dryer set.
At this point, I’ve checked out and my imagination is running wild. All I can see is dollar bills flying out the window. Perhaps one of those flying dollar bills would take me on a magic carpet ride to Miami?
Just then my phone rings and I snap out of my fantasyland magic carpet ride to paradise. It’s Guapo. I’m happy to hear from him, but a little overwhelmed by everything that just went wrong and at the same time a bit embarrassed to tell him about yet another home incident. I answer with a somewhat exasperated ‘hola.’ My parents smile. They get a kick out of me saying hola and wait to see if the rest of the conversation will be in Spanish. After all, they want to see if that college semester abroad in Spain paid off.
He asks how my time with my family is going and I skip over our fabulous day in New Hope and instead launch right into the story of the washing machine. I tell him that I’ve YouTubed it and I think I have a clogged tube…we both laugh a little and then he tells me that yes, indeed I have a clogged tube. He mentions to please not bother calling someone in, because he can easily fix it when he’s here to hang the chandelier and install all of the faucets.
I pause and let this sink in. Guapo - of course. Why didn’t I think to ask the man who can do everything? I guess I’m still getting used to having such a handy and capable man in my life who actually loves to help. Maybe it’s deeper than that? Was my grandmother in on this? Was she causing problems in the house so that I could learn to ask for help and he could show me love through helping me? There must be something going on behind the scenes, it's just too coincidental that prior to Guapo in my life, I hadn't had a single house issue.
As I stood there covered in soapy water from head to toe I finally understood the term damsel in distress. With just a few passing moments, I came to the conclusion that I was in fact, a young girl, helpless in the field of home repairs, desperately in need of an expert. Perhaps the strong-willed, stubborn, fiercely independent Elise Ivy was actually the exact definition of a damsel in distress? That's when a light bulb moment came over me and I realized for the first time that although I wanted help, I was uncomfortable asking for it.
I had to dig deeper. What did this mean? Why was this hard for me? Why did asking for help make me feel weak, not capable, or less worthy? Why did I feel I didn't deserve the help?
These were hard almost embarrassing questions to ask myself. It was time to set pride aside and dig deep. That's when I remembered a ‘golden nugget’ I learned many years prior. I remember someone saying to me that my relationships will be my best teachers - as long as I'm willing to listen, learn, and look inside.
Not only was I willing and now almost desperate to look deeply inside and explore this newfound acknowledgment, but by listening to him, I noticed that his willingness to help, his generosity, and his calm demeanor were all attributes that I highly admired and wanted to emulate. Once again, Guapo would come through as my Superman all while remaining humble and calm.
Suavely, he says, ‘good news. I bought my plane ticket! I’ll see you next weekend! But now I’m thinking I’m going to need more than a weekend to fix everything in your apartment.’
Me - ‘Very funny. It seems I met you at the right time.’ ;)
I'm wondering if my Grandma is getting a kick out of my response?
Him - ‘Yep. Happy to help. I can’t wait to see you…4 days and counting.’
I get off the phone to two beaming parents. I saunter over to them and casually say, ‘Guapo said he’ll fix it.’ All three of us smile at each other with a knowing that this is something special.
The next day I’m gutted to see my parents leave. It’s just one of those things that never gets easier, in fact, it gets harder and sadder every time we say goodbye. My mom and I have gone through the same routine for 20 years. We hug and kiss, I say ‘bye Mom, I love you, please don’t cry.’ Then she says, ‘I’m not,’ as she has tears streaming down her face. I say, ‘Mooooom, why do you do this, now I’m crying.’ We have been doing this shtick since I was 18 and my Mom and Dad dropped me off at The University of Nebraska in the middle of a cornfield, well technically a dorm parking lot, but it might as well have been a cornfield.
Have you ever met someone who was so in alignment with your energy that you could feel their feelings and emotions without being near them, possibly even states apart? My mom and I have this type of connection. We know what the other is feeling whether we have talked on the phone that day or not. In life, this has happened to me a handful of times with other people, but most consistently with my mom and now in the short time I’ve known Guapo, it was happening on a daily basis.
Right on cue, he texts.
Him - ‘Were you sad to drop off your Mom and Dad?’
Me - ‘I always am.’
Him - ‘I’m so sorry. I know that’s hard living so far from them.’
Me - ‘How many days until you’re here.’
Him - ‘3 days mi chiquitica! I got something for you, but I can’t tell you what it is’
Me - ‘More perfume? A shower head?’
Him - ‘LOL yes, a shower head but that’s not really a gift. Stop guessing.’
In true Aries form that just fuels my guessing fire.Me - ‘Gimme a hint!’
Him - ‘Te quiero!!! That’s a hint.’
Me - ‘That’s nice, but that’s not a hint. Is it a helicopter ride without doors, because that’s where I draw the line.’
Him - ‘No more guessing!’
Me - ‘A house. OMG, it’s a house…I mean you are kind of remodeling my house.’
Now I’m really just throwing crazy ideas out there.
Him - ‘Te extraño (I miss you). I have to head off to six meetings, talk to you later.’
The next morning I awake to my favorite text, ‘Good morning Linda.’ Followed by, ‘be sure to check the mail today. Something special should come that we can share this weekend.’ At this point, I’m stumped. I don’t get stumped easily, so for this very curious fire sign, I was bursting at the seams with wonder. What could we possibly be sharing this weekend?
The mail arrives and I have not one but two packages from Guapo. Without wasting another second, I dive right in, tear the packages open and look inside. One package contains a brand new showerhead, which is a fabulous upgrade to what I currently have, and will now create a spa experience in my shower - check! (I’m assuming this is coming with professional installation, I giggle to myself.) The other is 4 bottles of his favorite Malbec and a note that says, ‘I can’t wait to share a bottle of wine with you this weekend. Don’t drink all of them before I get there. Just kidding. See you soon and get ready, I have a big question for you.’
Who sends four bottles of wine and says, ‘I have a big question for you?’ This better be good!
I knew the question wasn’t going to be THE question. We didn’t know each other well enough and there were too many things to iron out being that we were long distance, but honestly, that made me question it even more. What in the world was he going to ask me and why couldn’t he just ask it during one of our many phone calls, FaceTimes or texts?
I learned many years back during my yoga teacher training that there are 4 Gates of Speech. They are:
1. Is it truthful?
2. Is it necessary to say?
3. Is it the appropriate time?
4. Can it be said in a kind way?
Being an impulsive Aries, number 3 is a tough one for me. When I think it, it usually tends to come out pretty quickly. Guapo on the other hand, a Libra and in true ‘balancing scales’ form, is steady, patient, grounded and careful with his words and timing of them. I assume this is why he’s waiting for the perfect moment to ask me this mysterious question.
The day is here - I’m so excited to pick up Guapo from the airport. I do a big clean in the apartment and get my tool kit as organized for him as possible. After all, he has quite the ‘honey-do’ list. I’ve never made a ‘honey-do’ list, so this was kind of fun. In a way, I felt like I was playing ‘house.’
He arrived late at night, so we planned to hop to all the projects first thing in the morning. My job was to cook breakfast and make sure that Guapo had adequate energy and caffeine consumption to get the job done.
The sun starts to peak through my curtains and before I know it, Guapo is up, showered, and digging through my tool kit. Milo and I stay in bed and snuggle a little longer. He loves to be the little spoon and I never deny him those snuggles. After a bit of time, Milo gives me a look. Being that we spend a lot of time together, I know what he’s thinking - how can someone jump out of bed with so much gusto to do house chores? Well whatever that super power is, I’m not complaining.
After a few more minutes of puppy snuggles, it was time for me to get up and work on my end of the bargain.
I start cracking the eggs and out of the corner of my eye I see that the chandelier is happily back in the ceiling where it belongs. ‘Guapo! The chandelier!! It looks amazing. When did you hang that?’ I ask.
He laughs and says, ‘while you were sleeping mi vida.’ I explain to him that when your 6 lb. yorkie wants to spoon, it’s really really hard to say no. (That was me covering for the fact that I love to sleep).
I look over and he is single handily lifting the washing machine and pulling it out of the laundry room.
I remember seeing a National Geographic special of some sort on the power of ants. Something like they can lift a few times their body weight, and as I watched my Superman, I thought, hmmm, look at that ‘ant-like’ strength and determination. He disassembled the washer and within about a half hour, the clogged tube was cleared out with a hanger from the dry cleaner and the washer was functioning properly and back in the laundry room.
He paused to enjoy eggs, toast, fruit and coffee with me. He loves the way I make scrambled eggs, and I love to make them for him. Truth be told, my mom is the master egg scrambler but I guess I picked up a thing or two from her, because mine are pretty darn good. He tells me that it’s the best breakfast he’s ever had and that he could eat this every morning. I jokingly asked him if is coffee is spiked.
He graciously spent a couple more hours that afternoon replacing/upgrading my kitchen and bathroom faucets as well as the shower head and knob. I couldn’t stop looking at my apartment. The upgrades gave it a whole new energy, a renewal, a freshness that was so exciting. I loved watching him work, and loved being his assistant. The teamwork aspect of it was fun, and as usual, I was blown away by his generosity and his desire to do these things for me. Instead of diving into all of the questions of why he was doing this, and why he was doing this for me, etc. I chose to accept the gifts and just say thank you.
I made us dinner reservations for that evening and I’ve never been more excited to get ready than I was tonight. Quite frankly I was dying to try out my new shower. I got in and I literally couldn’t believe it? Was I living in a five-star hotel? I yelled to him from the bathroom, ‘it’s amazing! It’s better than I ever thought it could be!’
I beamed with joy from the most magnificent shower of my life not only because the shower head was incredible and the hot water was on point, but more so, because the daily task of showering was now forever filled with loving memories of his gift. After my spa-like renewal, I peeked into the living room and noticed that he set out two wine glasses and was decanting one of the bottles of Malbec.
He had Celia Cruz playing in the background. She’s a famous larger-than-life Cuban singer who provides the best music for salsa dancing.
I got ready quickly so I could sit with him and experience his favorite wine. It was delicious. It was bold, full-bodied, and dark like him, it was juicy, jammy and sweet like me. With each sip I fell a little more deeply in love.
Here we were in my beautiful apartment, together, sharing this magical moment. A moment I wasn't sure I'd ever experience...
He smiles at me, stands up, reaches out his arms, pulls me in close and leads me through a beginner salsa. I’m a bit stiff, wishing I’d at least finished my glass of wine before I show him how rigid a former competitive cheerleader really is with her dance moves.
We laugh, we hug, we salsa, and we connect deeply yet tenderly. This moment reminds me of the Yoga sutra 'sthira sukha' which means strong, steady, stable, yet gentle, joyful, peaceful. The best of both worlds in one special moment.
He smiles at me with his perfectly imperfect smile, and says, ‘I’m going to teach you how to salsa.’ My mind fast forwards at the speed of light to the first dance at our wedding. I’m excited, but panic comes over me. I need lessons, stat.
I come back to my mantra of staying present. I think to myself, It’s ok Ms. Type A, you don’t need to know every salsa move right now.
I love when I can catch myself being so perfectionist that even I can see the ridiculousness. I internally chuckle, we sit back down and take a sip of the empyrean Malbec.
He softly, yet powerfully grabs my hands. I snap out of my internal thoughts. He says, ‘so I have a question for you.’ I remind him, that I am very well aware of this. I wonder if he knows my super power? I more than remember that he has something he would like to ask me.
He gently and methodically begins to string his words together. He carefully enters into uncharted territory and I can tell that he is nervous to ask me the question. His dark soulful eyes connect with mine and he says, ‘I would like to know if you want children someday?’