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Monday, August 1, 2011

Love, Loss + Luggage: Travel as Prozac - Part 1


Special Guest Contributor

 La Jolla, 2005

“I’m Alberto,” says the man, shaking my hand.

This man—shaved head, statement glasses, sport jacket, jeans—has charisma from here to Sunday.

And it’s only Tuesday.
 

It would’ve been just any Tuesday if I hadn’t been in New York on business. If my cousin hadn’t cancelled for a party I was hosting and sent a proxy. If the proxy hadn’t brought me to Soho House and introduced me to Alberto.

Instead, a Tuesday in May 2005 became The Night We Met.

Alberto and I ordered the same bottle of beer and sat in the billiard room, trading industry stories. He was in advertising and I was in PR so we discussed branding and favorite campaigns and partnerships. He was charming and eloquent and had a laugh that made me want to hear it again.

We spent the next hour ignoring everyone else until the proxy, Dave, interrupted to take us to a Brazilian club downtown. On the street, Dave and his boss tried for a cab as Alberto and I leaned against a shop window, shoulders touching. When they shouted for us, we started toward them.

A few steps away, I halted.
 

“Or,” I smiled, “we could just go to your place?”

Alberto raised his hand and shouted “Taxi!”

We dashed into our own cab, found each other’s lips and didn’t come up for air until we reached his Chelsea building.

Once upstairs, we did not come up for air for three days.

As I was leaving for the airport, I wrote him into my memory as the best three-night stand I’d ever had.

But when my car pulled away from his building, he blew me a kiss that made me wonder if that’s all it was: how many three-night stands hand you their credit card 12 hours after meeting you and tell you to call the airline and extend your trip? How many carry your suitcase downstairs at six in the morning and see you off? Text you twice before you reach LaGuardia and twice more before you land at LAX? Send you a flower arrangement the size of a billboard a day later?

Alberto knew this was not a three-nightstand, and, soon enough, I did too.

Over the next two months, we talked daily and had two whirlwind, weeklong dates. He met my best friends and my boss. I was introduced to his business partner and had dinner with his childhood friends in Washington D.C.

On our fourth date, I introduced him to my parents in California. He seized his moment after dinner, as soon as he was alone with my Dad.

When I rejoined them, the conversation stopped.

“So,” I asked, awkwardly, “does everybody still like everybody?”

“We do,” my Dad said. “In fact, we were just discussing how much we both…love you.”

“Really,” I said, looking from my Dad to Alberto and back.

“Therresa,” my father paused for a long moment, “Alberto would like to marry you. And he’s asked for my blessing.”

Holy wow.
 

“And…did you give it?”
 

“Indeed I did,” said Dad.

After hugging my father, I wrapped my arms and lips around Alberto.

“Did he really just say my lines?” Alberto whispered once my dad left the room.

“Yes,” I whispered back, “but that was just the dress rehearsal. This is the real performance.”

He took the cue, dropped to one knee, and opened a red box that held a platinum ring with a sparkly diamond.

“Tré Therresa Claire Miller, will you marry me?”

“Yes, my darling. A million times, yes.”

  San Diego, 2005
We exchanged vows six weeks later in San Diego, surrounded by a jazz trio and 20 of our most immediate friends and family. A few days after the wedding, we champagne-toasted the first of many flights together and headed to New York. We unwrapped wedding gifts and unpacked boxes from my West Hollywood home, forging the mixed marriage of a 30-year-old blonde publicist from California and a 38-year-old Cuban who owned a Hispanic ad agency in New York.

I learned to cook beyond my five-dish repertoire. He learned to stay up past midnight on weekends. I trained myself to fall asleep to his snoring and he would nod off to the sound of my keystrokes. He showed me his favorite bike paths and I introduced him to crosswords over brunch. We established traditions: Connecticut for Memorial Day, Lake Winnipesaukee for Fourth of July, Jersey for Thanksgiving, Quebec or Miami over the holidays.

Key West, 2007
Three years later, I’d pulled off a surprise 40th birthday weekend for him and a dozen of our friends. His agency recorded the best numbers of its nine-year history. I’d landed a senior position at a PR firm and we started saving for a house in Connecticut. Planning Paris for our five-year anniversary. Discussing kids.

On a Friday in March 2009, I’d left work to accompany Alberto for his annual physical, where the doctor performed an EKG and routine blood work. Alberto received a clean bill of health, and on our way to lunch afterward, he sent his sister and business partner a typically dramatic text message: “Looks like I'll live after all!”

Two days later, I awake to a Sunday morning in which Alberto is not snoring.

When I reach for him, his skin is freezing.

My eyes flutter open.

I see his yellow face.

And lavender lips.
 

Dear.

God.

No.

I grab my cell and dial 911.
 

“My name is Harmony, what is your emergency?”...

(To be continued on Monday August 8th.)

Tré Miller Rodríguez lives in Manhattan and recently completed her first book, “The White Elephant in the Room: Memoirs of a 30-Something Widow.” To read excerpts of her memoir, please visit her blog at WhiteElephantIntheRoom.com

16 comments:

  1. Dear Tre - thank you for guest blogging and for sharing your life and the love of your life with us. Beautiful and poignant.

    Cheers!
    Jojo

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  2. Oh Tre- wow. You are an amazing writer. Even though I know what happened 2009, I don't know... I was still reading that story, hoping....you manage to do this to me every. single. time.

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  3. As an avid reader of Tre's blog, there are many moments that make you laugh and cry and give you goose bumps, but it's so lovely to read the details of the beautiful beginning to this relationship. We should all be so fortunate to find this kind of love.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this, Trecita. I'll never forget Alberto coming back to the office completely starry-eyed after the weekend he met you...it's beautiful to read the other side of the story. Love, A.

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  5. Tre, your story is so inspiring... I can't wait to read the whole book.
    Thank you for sharing your joys and sorrows in such an honest and simply beautiful manner. All the best to you.
    Love,
    Svet

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  6. Beautifully written, emotionally powerful. Thank you for your courage and generosity in sharing your story with us.

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  7. Wow tre, what a passionate whirlwind of a story. We should all be so thankful for what we've had and have. Life is a gift that should not be taken for granted. Which you know all too well.... Thank you for telling your story and giving people a reason to move forward. Xoxoxo

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  8. Thanks for sharing this Tre. It's wonderfully written; there's so many emotions it brings. True love/loss... it's a beautiful story. I want to read more.

    Susanne x

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  9. Please share more! What a heartbreaking story, but so full of love - I want to keep going!

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  10. So incredibly sad - what a tremendous loss for you - am so, so sorry.
    But also, this is beautifully written - am glad you are publishing a book and can't wait to read it.

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  11. I have been following your blog for about a year now. Several times a week I log on checking for new posts. You have a gift of sharing complex emotions with elegance & grace. I love your honesty and strength. Looking forward to reading your book!

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  12. Tre, you get me everytime I read something you've written! Even though I know the story, there's something about the way you write that pulls me in and makes me want to read it over and again. I made the mistake of reading this at the hair salon and now people are asking me why I'm crying. I look forward to the next thing you write!

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  13. This is a breath taking story! Your writing is magical.

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  14. Don't forget that you promised us a reading at Antelope Valley College, once you're on tour with the book. We always promote our alums, and this will be a fabulous project to center a reading around. -- Charles Hood

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  15. Tre-your words continue to rock me to the core. Not only are you an eloquent writer, making the reader feel as if they are right there with you-a fly on the wall-but you have the most heart and soul of anybody. To be able to retell the tale of the day your heart broke again and again. Bringing hope to others. You are an inspiration.

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  16. You've reminded us that true love, passion, and romance do exist; you've done this with unparalleled eloquence. You're writing is a gift for all of us. Please... tell us more.

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