Four years ago today Marta and I went on our first date.
She invited me to what she called a Latino picnic. This was right after I’d returned from Guatemala, where I spent six intensive weeks learning Spanish. The picnic was with her brother and sister-in-law, Blanca, and her family visiting from Spain and some family friends at Kent State Park just outside of Iowa City. We ate food and swam in the lake. I understood almost nothing that anyone was saying and wrote later in my journal that Jorge, Marta’s nephew, had told me I couldn’t eat dinner at their house. Because he didn’t like me–or so I thought then. Now I realize kids are just fickle.
Afterwards we went for ice cream. Just the two of us.
And then we decided to watch a Pedro Almodovar movie that Marta loved and I’d never seen. She dropped me off at my house so I could shower and I walked over to her house in the rain, carrying some popcorn I’d made on the stovetop.
The movie was Pepi, Luci, Bom and it is so not your traditional first date movie. There were no subtitles, first of all. So Marta had to stop it every once and awhile to explain what was happening. And then there was the plot: it features a masochist housewife who likes to get peed on and hooks up with a punk girl and the masochist’s husband, who is a vicious, rapist policeman but who also has a twin brother who gets beat up in his stead. There is also a contest at some point for which man had the longest “member”–and this contest was a spoof on some other popular contest in Spain that I no longer remember. It made about zero sense to me. But I liked that Marta was weird enough to like it so much.
Afterwards we went out on her porch and drank a beer. It was late and still really warm outside. I taught Marta the word ledge, which she said she’d never heard before. And eventually, sitting on her porch ledge, we kissed.
Later, in my journal, I wrote that I liked the way she smelled. I also wrote this, “There’s something about her that feels really right to me, though I am not quite sure what.”
I had no idea then that we would ever get married and have a baby. I was far, far from that kind of thought in those days. But I obviously knew enough to recognize a good thing when I saw it.
I suppose, now that we’re old married folks, we should shift our anniversary to January, when we legally tied the knot. But I have such sentimentality about that day in August four years ago that I think I’ll milk that anniversary at least a year or two longer.
So happy Latino-picnic-ice-cream-Pedro-Almodovar-ledge night, Marta. You still smell good.
P.S. Of (maybe) some consolation regarding my note yesterday about the two guys in the cafe who were talking about Jesus and the Bible, the group next to me today was just discussing the “postmodern solipsistic dialectic.”