I took her on a backpacking trip, and we got a late start so we didn’t arrive in Yosemite until 1am, but being us, we decided to start the hike anyway. We were tired and winded, and stopped in a clearing to catch our breath. I asked if she’d like some water from my pack, then got down on one knee and didn’t give her any of the water she asked for. She cried and hugged me and said yes under a beautifully full moon, and at the tender age of 20 we were engaged.
I was nearing the end of my college career and was told for the first time I needed to complete three quarters of a foreign language. Taking them sequentially would’ve extended my time in school, and I wasn’t having any of that. In my scrambling for a solution, I discovered that going to a foreign country for three months allowed you to do all three required quarters of language classes in one go, so duh that’s what I did.
Because I was engaged, it took a little extra planning and money (thank you parents), but not too long after we were both on our way to Madrid – me to take classes and her to teach English. We had a beautiful studio apartment on Calle de Toledo near Plaza Mayor. The cabinets and desk were built in, the floors were marble, and there were huge windows that looked down on the vibrant streets of metropolitan Spain. I did my homework in bars where I got help from locals who argued over verb conjugation, and I actually watched sports with a vested interest for the first and only time in my life.
One night we went to a Gogol Bordello concert, which I’d highly recommend you try – gypsies know how to party. After, we headed to the nearest expat bar to continue the drinking we had started before the show. There was a pair of fairly attractive women standing at the bar, and as soon as I turned my back she was making out with the one with blue hair. Call me old-fashioned, but if you’re in an agreed-upon exclusive relationship, making out with any gender without a discussion with your partner is just not cool. I was upset, I said as much, and stormed out of the bar.
There was a whiskey place nearby that was extremely packed and had rock music blaring over the speakers. She followed me in, was incredibly inebriated, and dressed in a mini skirt and a leather jacket. The bouncers of the bar saw her repeatedly trying to get my attention, saw me rebuff her, and figured, “this chick is a prostitute that’s disturbing our patrons!” So they promptly flanked her, picked her up off the ground, and dropped her off outside the bar. At the same time, the two whiskeys I ordered arrived, and I had a really hard time walking away from them to go tend to someone who had just upset me. I downed one of them, took a sip of the second, sighed heavily, and walked outside.
I didn’t talk to her – I just kept walking. We had another friend with us, so I spent my time venting to him. There was a group behind us that I didn’t pay much attention to. I hailed a cab, and when I turned around she wasn’t there. I was too tired and angry to wait for her, so I got in the cab to go home. It wasn’t until I got there that I realized she had the keys to the apartment. I slept on the stoop, and she finally rode up in another cab after the sun was up, and she had an orange bag that she had swiped from a construction site over her shoulder. We both stumbled up the stairs and went to sleep in the hopes that these feelings wouldn’t still be there when we woke up.
I was shaken awake because she had a bloody nose, and it freaked her out. I told her it was probably nothing, and was reluctant to deal with her as she was still pretty hammered, and I was still pretty pissed off (and also maybe a little drunk). She woke me up again when she screamed. She went to blow her nose, and her her face near her eye immediately inflated like a fleshy water balloon.
I learned that she had been separated from my friend and me when the group we were walking with veered down a different street. In the hopes of spotting us, she climbed some nearby scaffolding, but her high heels weren’t up to the task. She slipped, and pinballed off the beams with her face on the way down. In the process, she fractured her orbital bone, so when she blew her nose, snot and blood flew through the new opening in her sinus cavity, filling the area around her eye underneath the skin. Also she was concussed.
Once I pieced all that together via some hungover Googling and the parts of the story she was able to spit out between gross facial secretions and immediate unconsciousness, I woke her up again and dragged her to the nearest emergency room. Pro-tip: foreign emergency waiting rooms are a great place to hash out relationship problems. Apparently I cared more about her physical well being than I did about being slighted. Go figure.