Randy and I met twice. Once online and then 4 months later in person. Both occasions the timing was a bit inconvenient but, “inconvenience” was just a concept for us. With work and determination anything can work. Many people allow inconvenience to obstruct them from what they want. Believe me, I’ve also fallen victim to the age old phrase, “It’s not gonna work. It’s impossible. It wasn’t meant to be,” but this time was different.
The first time we met was on OkCupid!. I was not in a good place and I foolishly went onto the dating site to find someone, thinking having another person with me would help quiet the noise in my head and the pain in my heart. DUMB! Very dumb! I don’t like to give out unwarranted advice but you should NEVER date someone just to fill the space around you and make you better. But hindsight is 20/20 and I was on the depressing prowl. Soon after reactivating my profile, this guy from a city 20 minutes away from me sent me a message. We were a 94% match on the site and he had a big, adorable smile and welcoming eyes. We messaged each other back for a bit and then we started texting. After a few days of texting, this sweet guy asked me out on a date. My heart plummeted into my stomach. I knew that realistically I wasn’t ready to date anyone and if I had gone on a date, I wouldn’t be the best version of myself. So I send a long text explaining that I was so sorry for leading him on these past few days but I didn’t realize until that moment that I wasn’t ready yet. I told him that if we went out I wouldn’t be in a good mindset and that he doesn’t deserve that. I was expecting a text back saying, “Well, thanks, you’re a bitch” or something to that charming effect. But no, he actually responded with admiration! He told me that he respected me for telling the truth instead of ghosting on him and that he will be here when I’m ready. I was angry with myself for being in a state of mind that wasn’t ready for this great guy but I knew logically that it was the best choice for myself. And if you can’t tell already, this amazing guy is Randy.
Four months went by and I had done a lot of self-reflection. I was working out, dyed part of my hair blue (may seem strange and irrelevant but it was something important to me), reconnected with friends and family, and decided to go back to Madrid to teach English for a year. All around I was feeling really good about myself. With everything going on I caught myself thinking about that really sweet guy I had met online 4 months prior. I thought to myself, “What the hell? I have like 5 months until I leave for Madrid. He’s really nice and it would be fun to meet someone new. If anything, I’ll have made a friend.”
So I texted him. Anddddd….then I got too impatient and I messaged him on the OkCupid! app. You know, just in case he hadn’t see my text… Don’t act like we don’t all get a little excited, okay?! He messaged me back and told me he was glad to hear from me and that yes, he did get my two messages. No shame. We set up a time to go on a date but before moving forward I made sure to tell him about Madrid. He was cool with it and just wanted to finally meet me. We went out and that was it, we were stuck on each other. We were falling for each other, even though we knew I was leaving.
We agreed to enjoy each other’s company and to see what we wanted to do when the time came for me to go. We spent that spring and summer spending as much time as we possibly could. We went to Newport, RI to see the mansions, we visited Burlington, VT and sat by Lake Champlain, we drove to NY and ate at a Spanish tapas place, we went to the beach, hung out in Boston, our energy was limitless. We went everywhere! I think it goes without saying that we became official and decided to try long distance.
September snuck up on us and we had to face the harsh reality of being apart. I had my going away party, I had my “last” dinners, I had my quality time with my family, and that was it. It was time to go. Randy came to the airport with my parents to see me off and I know that if it wasn’t for his undying support, our goodbyes would have been 10x worse. He gave me the extra confidence I needed to know that I was doing the right thing for myself, very Humphrey Bogart of him. I got onto the plane as my anime-like waterfall tears poured out. Shout out to the mid aged male TSA employee who asked if I was okay and when I weepily said “I just said goodbye to my boyfriend,” responded with all the sincerity, and discomfort, in the world, “Oh, no no no no no you don’t need to talk about it, it’s okay!”.
Have you ever been so torn in your life that you could feel yourself splitting in half? I desperately wanted to go back to Spain and regain myself but I also wanted to be next to the man of my dreams. Here, in the States, I had this amazing guy. We had so much in common: a love of Spain and travel, insatiable appetites for cured meats, a penchant for anything with a long history, an obsession with Robin Williams movies, and a skill for self-deprecating humor without being too depressing. We say it all the time, he’s the male version of me and I, the female version of him. Of course, being a dumb human, I decided to torture myself and watch every sappy rom com I could find on the flight. I managed to sleep about 10 minutes on the flight. When I woke up, the kind gentleman next to me informed me that for a “small thing” I sure did snore. Thanks man, thanks.
So now I’m officially in Madrid, I’ve made it over, I’ve found a place to live, I’ve made friends, the whole kit and kaboodle. Over the course of the year, Randy visited me 4 times. Once in November, that was a last minute surprise trip because he missed me, then in February we went to Lanzarote, then again in May for my birthday, and lastly in June to help move me back home. Along with all of his trips, I went home for 2 weeks for Christmas. To some, it may not seem like a lot but we had 5 opportunities to put our relationship into a pressure cooker and see if we could make something wonderful out it. We had 4 opportunities to show each other who we were when we were away from everything we knew. 4 opportunities to explore places and trust each other. And 5 opportunities to make the most of each second of our time together. We learned to not sweat the small stuff and to not make mountains out of mole hills, and other metaphors for keeping it real (*gasp* another!) because we knew that time was of the essence. In those 5 trips, we had to learn to be completely transparent with each other, there were no secrets between us. We were conscious of the fact that without 100% candidness, we were not going to survive when we went back to phone calls, texting, video chats, and letters.
June came, and we made it! It wasn’t easy but it was a valuable lesson in patience and gratitude. Randy and I grew together in this experience and with his unyielding support, I grew into myself. Months before my departure date, we planned one last trip before going back home. Flying to Boston from Madrid, most of the flights have a layover in Sao Miguel, Azores so Randy suggested that we extend the layover and make it a trip. This was particularly appealing because my father’s family is from Sao Miguel and neither one of us have ever been there before. While booking our flights we discovered that it would be even cheaper to make a stop in Porto, Portugal from Madrid to Sao Miguel. We had also never been to Porto so we extended that layover 2 extra days. For $234 we flew back to Boston with a 2 day trip to Porto and a week in the Azores.
Porto was captivating! The wine was magnificent, the buildings were breathtaking, and the KFC was to die for (hey, you can’t be “worldly” 24/7). We relished every second of our last moments of freedom before meeting my parents, sister, sister’s boyfriend, grandparents, and uncles in Sao Miguel. Did my family invite themselves to my last week away with Randy? Of course they did! But I love them for it and we all had a great time together. I am truly grateful for that time with my family in the motherland. The second to last day of our trip my family headed back to Boston. After a short burst of family time, we were Monika and Randy again. We checked in our Airbnb and went to this amazing Azorean steak house, Restaurante da Associacao Agricola de Sao Miguel. That night we got back to the apartment and sat at the kitchen table. The single hanging ceiling lamp illuminated the dark crimson bottle of wine given to us by the owners. We popped it open and began to reminisce. We talked about the great moments, the amazing adventures, and the challenges, good and not so good. After some time Randy slipped off into the bedroom to get something. When he came back there was a small box jutting out of his pocket, he attempted to hide it with his arm, but A for effort. He looked at me and told me everything I had ever dreamed someone would say to me. Then he popped the big question as he took out the proturbing box out of his pocket. I was speechless. Based off of the length of my posts, that seems so within my character, right?. I obviously said yes and we savoured that beautiful moment in each others’ arms.
Disgustingly romantic, huh? Well don’t worry, I sucked all of the romance out of the Airbnb an hour later when I made Randy watch TLC wedding shows with me. How could I not? TLC is the best entertainment around, aside from Milo Ventimiglia’s abs in This Is Us. Two days later we went back to Boston and the whirlwind of wedding planning, finding a job, and adjusting back to American life began. The year came and went and I gained so many things along the way, but the best of all those things was Randy. My Randy.