Three years ago today - on August 4, 2012 - your daddy and I got married. It was a beautiful, hot, and humid summer day in Philadelphia; and love was in the air.
The first time your daddy and I met, I never ever would have thought he was be the man that would later become my husband and, just 13 months later, your father.
You two have been enamored with the songs from “Frozen” lately. Vee, you make super serious faces in the mirror while lip syncing to all the songs. Ru, the very INSTANT "Let It Go" (aka "Go") or "Love Is An Open Door" (aka "Door") comes on, you grin from ear to ear and begin to twirl round and round until the very last second of the song. It's adorable, sure, but still leaves me a bit conflicted. I wonder to myself if it would be wise to sit you down and warn you both, “you know, all this romance and magic gobbledygook, well baby girls, it’s just not how life works.” But, then I think back on the way your daddy and I met and realize that, when you allow yourself to be open to it and be true to yourself in the process, life really can work out that way.
So, my love bugs, here is the beginning of our fairy tale.
It was early June of 2009. I had just finished undergrad at UW and finally convinced your Nana that it was time for me to explore other parts of the world before started any graduate studies. I decided I would get a TESOL certification in Barcelona, Spain, and try to live and work there, as an English teacher, for at least a year following the program. I was nervous and excited and scared and READY. Little did I know what would be waiting for me on the other side of the world.
The month-long certification program began on June 8th. After spending a couple weeks in California - meeting your then newborn cousin, Hazel - I took the train from Fresno to San Francisco and, the next morning, departed the U.S. to begin, what would become, the journey to meet your daddy.
YOUR FATHER'S STORY
Your daddy had, also, made the decision to go to Barcelona and complete his TESOL certification. He had wanted a change from his life back in New Jersey and thought that Barcelona would be the perfect place to help facilitate that change; he sought inspiration in the beauty and history that surrounded him there. Though, in hindsight I think another huge draw was your dad's (continued) love for FC Barcelona - hehe.
Your dad had completed the May 2009 program with no plan to stay and work in Spain. The program was intensive so, when it had finally ended, your dad spent his last day still becoming acquainted with the city he had called home for that month.
It was that day that your father made the decision that would become the first building block in the foundation of our family's structure. From the top of Parc Güell, looking out over the city, your daddy knew that he had to stay in Barcelona.
The following morning - the morning I arrived to Barcelona - your Grandmom received the call that your father had missed his flight back to the States. He explained his overwhelming urge to stay in Spain and (as only your Grandmom would) she agreed that, as he felt so strongly that something was keeping him there, he should stay.
It was June 12th. The first week of my TESOL program was wrapping up. I was feeling wiped out from not only jet-lag but also the increasing demands of the program. But, still wanted to fully enjoy my first weekend in this amazing new place. Fortunately for me, my new British buddy and roommate, Jessica (you girls can refer to her as "Auntie Jess"), had been living in Barcelona for a while by that point and knew of a show that was going on that night. In the school's common area, we were chatting about music while prepping teaching materials when in struts these two dudes:
Yep, that adorably-dimpled, long-haired (well, that's no surprise), bright polo-donned pretty boy is your daddy. Adam ("Uncle Adam", to the right) and him had been in the same cohort for the May program and, that week, had started teaching English at the school in the evenings. But this was the first time we had ever laid eyes on one another.
The first word that comes to mind in terms of describing your dad that day in the school is confidence; and maybe a wee bit of arrogance (but, in an way I wasn't averse to - obviously). Not 20 seconds passed before he jetted his hand out for a firm introductory handshake, "I'm Joe." I probably rolled my eyes (sarcasm is my defense mechanism) and sheepishly replied, "Oh hi... I'm Melissa." He and Adam already knew Jess and immediately joined in on our conversation about music. Only in passing did I hear Hyon, another friend from your dad's cohort, mention of how outrageous it was that he had missed his flight back home and, more so even, that he had decided to stay and try to live and work in Barcelona.
Late that night (show started at 2am) Jess and I headed to the show. She told me we were meeting a few people at the Bogatell metro stop before we walked to the venue, Razzmatazz. A few minutes later, your dad and Adam came floating up the escalator ready for the show. I was still trying to play it cool and figured, for whatever reason, I wasn't your dad's "type." So, I was pleasantly surprised to see him walk up to me and strike up a conversation (about gods of Aztec mythology... cool huh?!?) right away.
Tragedy struck when we got into the club: my camera broke. Out of fumbling desperation my "cool" act was kaput. What was I to do without my armor?! Your dad grabbed it from my hands, somehow fixed it, and took this photo of me. My hero! I was completely smitten.
From that moment on, we were inseparable. We ran around the club all night.
Jess was a HUGE fan of Juliette and the Licks...
so I didn't plan on seeing much of her that night anyway.
Though we were essentially strangers, I felt like I had known him forever. That may be why I often say I think your daddy is just a figment of my imagination ;)
The next day your dad asked me to lunch. We walked for hours before I discovered he hadn't had a plan for where we were going. We got lost in the maze of the city's ancient streets and, eventually, came upon a few tables set up outside of a tiny restaurant kitchen. After a couple hours of conversing and gazing dreamily into each others' eyes - over plates of tortilla, pan con tomate, gambas (heads and all), patatas bravas and sips of tinto de verano - we stood up to once again stroll hand-in-hand on the most blissful lazy Saturday in history. During that stroll we talked about our families and even starting chatting about you two - well, the idea of children at least; if we wanted them, how many, what names we liked, etc.
It wasn't long after that first meeting that I knew that your dad was the man that would be my ideal husband. We had been walking around Port Vell one afternoon. Your dad saw a man who was painting and selling scenes of the populated port area. He had just placed a blank canvas on his easel and, being his true goofy self, your dad looked at the blank canvas, put his hand on his chin and nodded in deep contemplation then, when I asked what he was doing, replied, as if discovering the secret of the universe on that blank canvas "Oh, you don't get it? That's okay I can explain it to you later." That was it. I was his forever. Here he is that day, being silly.
Because your dad took that risk, our adventures have continued ever since...
and, now we can make more beautiful memories with you two; by far, the greatest part of your daddy and my journey together.
Love you so much honey girls,