If there’s ever a question Marco and I get asked more than the famous, “So like, what language do you guys talk to each other in anyway?” it would be how we met. It makes sense. It’s not so common to hear of a Columbus, Ohio native who is now somehow married to an Italian from a tiny town in Lombardia, I guess.
I’ve briefly explained how we met here, but I know that that or any of my other usual quick responses (through friends, during vacation blablabla) is not what people really meant when they ask. “No no no,” their eyes respond, “I mean how the hell are you together?!” It’s not easy to keep a relationship afloat, let alone one that spans two continents and it involved a lot of luck (that we both had money saved and loving parents) and a lot of travel.
So in honor of our one year wedding anniversary (yahoo!), which we are celebrating April 30th, I thought I could finally put the story down for the record books, or this blog at least.
Here’s the true story of how the hell Marco and I are together:
The truth is, like with any relationship, the story is long and a bit complicated to explain in a blog post. I met Marco in a tiny mountain town when I didn’t know any Italian or anybody. He was nice and helpful with my lack of Italian and at the end of my stay that was that. Except that somehow we kept in touch, chatting occasionally on Facebook then eventually Skype. We planned two trips with another friend and when he couldn’t make it during my fall break trip, we went just us two. I wasn’t super interested in forming any kind of relationship, but even so after that trip we were regularly taking the Frecciarosa back and forth between Milan and Florence to see each other, 104 euro roundtrip.
Marco was kind and romantic, he paid for my dinners even before we were dating, helped me with my Italian homework and patiently listened through my stumbling Italian before responding in broken English.
I distinctly remember sitting in a rustic restaurant our first night in Prague for nearly three hours, talking about our lives and dreams, things that it usually takes months to talk about we were sharing with the limited language we had. Despite the large language barrier, I had never felt so understood by anyone, perhaps I had never had someone who wanted to understand so much.
Still, I wasn’t looking for a serious relationship, especially not a long-distance relationship, and despite the tears I worked hard to consider it over when I went home to America, even starting up again with a pre-Italy fling once I was home.
Marco knew all that and yet he still emailed me every day. We typed to each other on Skype during my classes, talked when he got home from work and sent long emails about anything and everything. And though I was resistant and negative and kind-of dating someone else (all of which he knew, for the record) Marco was still kind and romantic and, as always, patient.
So I said yes when he asked to come visit during my spring break and we went to Chicago, yet I was still resistant. I liked Marco, but I couldn’t escape the inevitable: “How the hell can I date someone from another country?!”
But for how much I was young and confused and unsure, Marco was mature and completely sure of his emotions and intentions. His attitude was reassuring. In Italy Marco was my biggest support. From the beginning I knew he was someone I could count on, someone who helped me with quotidian things as much as emotional things and when I realized I wanted nothing more than to be back in Italy hanging out with him I planned a trip despite the hovering question posed above – to hell with reason and logic! That summer I flew back to Italy, living and traveling with Marco for five weeks.
I’m sure you can imagine that it was wonderful and ended up solidifying our relationship. After that trip Marco and I were more or less together, emotionally if not geographically.
After that I went back out during winter break and we planned our next steps – Marco would come to Ohio University for a quarter to study English. That way he would be close and would have a visa for longer than a tourist visa can offer. It was drastic and, for an already graduated civil engineer, kind of silly, but it was the best decision either of us has made –it’s the reason we’re together today.
For three months he lived in a separate apartment in Athens. We both took classes and had friends and could act like a normal couple who lived across campus from each other, rather than across the ocean.
That summer Marco went home and I went to New York for an internship with the idea that he’d come back to Athens in the fall. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it was even harder for Marco and I was thrilled by his spur-of-the-moment decision to come to New York to visit me during his August vacation! He stayed for three weeks that summer, then came back to stay from October to December while I finished up school. The rest goes like this: I graduated in December, worked all through January to save up and jumped on a one-way plane to Italy in February!
Of course between every trip there’s a story, during each visit a new emotion, experience, a change. It’s a relationship and just like any relationship its truth would be impossible to fully explain in one blog post. Once we decided to be together the other decisions made themselves. Sure it wasn’t easy to come to Italy, but with no immediate job it was truly “now or never” and there was no way the answer was going to be “never.”
That now or never attitude continued in April 2013, when we made the first steps to get married. We were planning a traditional wedding for some August in the future, but when it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to legally stay in the country in any other way we decided to take the step a bit sooner. Sick of spending three months together and three months apart we decided a month before my visa expiration date to get married. Like I said, once we decided to be together all the other decisions were already made.
The comune, municipal building/courthouse, in Sovico said it was impossible to do it before May, that all the times were booked. We explained that I’d have to leave the country and that if there was nothing available we’d go to another comune. The secretary booked it for the last day in April.
Then we went to the ring shop and chose our simple white gold bands, shocking the jeweler when we said our wedding was a week from that day. “No jeweler in town can get you your rings in that short of an amount of time!” he said, but when we smiled, shrugged and said thanks anyway he changed his tune. We picked up the rings the day before our wedding.
Nothing about our relationship has followed normal relationship time limits. We met in different countries, learned about each other while traveling. Because of this we shared a hotel bathroom before we had ever even kissed, lived at each other’s houses the first time we met each other’s parents and got married before our parents had even met.
Perhaps the time limits weren’t normal, but since our wedding we’ve had a wedding bash in our tiny apartment, celebrated birthdays and holidays, traveled to Budapest and Carnival and Rome, went home to Columbus for Christmas and started construction on our new house. They might not be normal, but they’ve worked for us!
We often wait for logical answers to questions like, “How the hell can I date someone from another country?!” But sometimes the answer isn’t logical. Of course I could date someone from another country, this story proves that, but only after a certain amount of “leaping in.”
Luckily for me Marco stuck around while I was still pondering that question, being kind and romantic and patient until I was ready. Luckily for me I have our entire lives to return the favor.
Happy Anniversary Marco!