Almost every couple I know has that “story for the ages” about how they met. Typically, it’s only mildly funny, cute and romantic and sometimes not even at all except to the couple telling the story. Often, one must sit through a bunch of wholly fabricated drivel to get through to the end of the “happily ever after” story. I can’t say for certain whether ours is a story for the ages, but I can assure you the story of how I met the future Mrs. Shitbird is 100% true – every bit.
After my first 3 month visit to Costa Rica, I went back to California to get some affairs in order and returned just about a year later to reside permanently. People move to Costa Rica for a lot of different reasons: I was excited to get the hell away from the rat race of Silicon Valley and explore my new country of residence. I had gotten burned out on playing punk music and I just wanted to explore this wonderful country. I had been telling everyone back in the States about my 3-month adventure, and I was quick to invite for a visit just about anyone who would listen to my story. It’s not like people were lining up to come down as it isn’t as easy as running over to your buddy’s house across town for a night. Whatever. I wasn’t worried about it. I was meeting new people and seeing all sorts of awesome things.
After only being back in Costa Rica for a few weeks, my lifelong friend Jason hit me up and said he was coming down to check it out. I won’t waste too much time describing his visit except to note the fact that we were both single and cruising around the tourist spots along the western Pacific part of Costa Rica. I lived in Perez Zeledon a small agricultural city about 45 minutes inland to the east of the Pacific. One of my main disadvantages at that time was that I barely spoke nor understood Spanish at that point (yeah, I still don’t speak Spanish for shit – I understand most of what I hear – but whatever…I’ll explain that some other time), and Jason spoke fairly fluently. Fluently enough to at least flirt with the local girls. It really wasn’t a big deal – I wasn’t out hunting for a girlfriend at the time, and I was really just content to hang out with my Pal Jason. Over the course of the first days he was there, I had mentioned to him that it was hard for me to find a girl to date as there wasn’t a single punk rock chick that I had seen in the area in the months that I had spent there so far. “It would be awesome to find a punk rock girl with either a mohawk or dreds,” I told him.
While I didn’t speak Spanish at all, I did have the advantage of knowing most of the good local spots in town to hang out and hopefully meet some girls that he could chat up in Spanish while I sat there sheepishly trying to understand. After spending a few days doing the typical tourist crap, we stayed local for a night and headed out for an evening of drinks and exploring my little town. We ended up at La Cascada – a local hangout that typically had a good mix of expats, tourists and locals there all the time night or day. More importantly for Jason, there were usually a fair number of women there, too. We sat down and ordered beers and food and started checking out the scene that night. Since I was useless in the Spanish category, I was really there as a wingman to keep an eye out for local girls that Jason could strike up a conversation with. I actually don’t even remember how many people much less women were in the bar that night. I only remember that Jason pointed out a woman sitting alone at the far end of the restaurant drinking a beer. “Go run to the bathroom and see what she’s all about and invite her over for me if she’s hot,” was more or less what he said. Since there weren’t (as far as I knew) any English-speaking people in there except my server friend Kenneth, I was fine with that and got up to head to the bathroom to fulfill my wingman mission.
As I was approaching her I got ready to make a quick and sly glance at her to figure out if I was going to invite her over for Jason to chat up. When she turned in my direction she totally caught me checking her out. The first thing I noticed was her mohawk – it wasn’t up so it wasn’t rooster tailed, but I caught it right away. The second thing that immediately caught my eye was her Ramones shirt. Then (when I mean “then” I mean all this shit ran through my head in the time it took me to take one step) I noticed that she was FUCKING HOT. Like “hot like fyah” hot. “Nice shirt,” I managed to mumble as I walked by. “Thanks,” she said in perfect English. There were a million thoughts running through my head as I entered the men’s room and gathered my thoughts. A million thoughts and the only one that I can vividly remember was that there was no way in hell I was letting Jason talk to this girl. She had a mohawk, was wearing a Ramones shirt and most importantly, spoke what I thought at the time was native English.
When I got back to our table Jason asked me how my encounter went. I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of, “Dude, I’m going to talk to her. She’s a punk rock chick and she speaks English.” I was trying to figure out what I was going to say to her when I walked back over to where she was sitting when my friend Kenneth – the first Costa Rican person I officially met about a year before that – came over and said that his friend Sandra wanted to come over and sit with us and that she also wanted to buy us drinks. I looked over at who he was gesturing to and holy shit, it was the girl in the Ramones shirt! My heart sank when I realized that she might be coming over to talk to Jason, but I was more stoked at the moment to talk to a punk rocker. I was relieved when I realized that she wanted to come over and talk to me. After exchanging pleasantries, I learned that she didn’t speak native English and that she was born in the very town we were in. She asked at one point if I had ever seen her running before. I replied that I had not and at the same time I thought that was a pretty random question. Where possibly could I have seen her running? What she said next blew me away.
“You live in the green house across from the soccer field in San Andres with the two gringos, right?” One thing to know about Costa Rica is that they don’t use street addresses with numbers and street names like they do in the United States. Instead they use landmarks for directions and mail. I’ve heard things as ridiculous as, “Drive past the place where the tree fell 50 years ago and where the old lady used to live and it’s the green house,” before when asking for directions. Basically, what I’m trying to explain is that by asking if I lived in the house with two gringos in San Andres across from the soccer field, she may as well have asked if I lived at 1234 Main Street and been right. I told her that I did and asked how possibly she could have known that. She told me that she lived a mere six blocks away and that she ran around the soccer field in front of my house all the time. I found out an hour or so later that she had spent extra time running there recently in hopes of running into me. We went over to a club near where we were at and that’s where we kissed for the first time. After Jason went back to his hotel, Sandra and I walked around the streets, drinking and smoking and talking for most of the night into the early morning. It was awesome. There was a bond that she and I had that felt like we had known each other for years. I told Jason the next day that I was going to marry her someday. He laughed and told me I was crazy and that I had just met her. I told him he was the crazy one and that she was the one for me.
I proposed to her about a month later. She said yes. This was back in November of 2009. Nine years later, we’re still together. Nine years later, we still haven’t gotten married. Hopefully we’ll tie the knot here in a few weeks. It’s been nine years. Have things been perfect? Jesus Christ, no. Far from it in fact, but is there anyone out there that has a “perfect” relationship? What we do have however is a relationship with an amazing resilience and the strength to withstand the outside forces that push apart relationships. We’re still best friends. We’re still partners in crime. She is my wingman and I am hers. I still love her as much as the day that I met her, and as long as I’m alive that will never change.
2:41am 8.13.2018 – Dominical Beach – Costa Rica
“When I go walking
There’s lots of loose talking
They say we’re unhappy
We’ll break apart
But I know it's not true
Because I still love you
And I do with all my heart
They say you are leaving
That you were deceiving
But you tell me they say
The same about me
But we’ll show them they’re wrong
That loose talk can do harm
Someday the truth they will see
We may have to leave here
To find peace of mind dear
Some place where we can
Live a life of our own
Cause I know you love me
And happy we could be
If some folks would leave us alone”
Rose Melberg – “Loose Talk” – 1998