I was actively dating in Mexico while working as a professional English teacher and translator. I found most of my dates using an online service called “Tagged”. Tinder did not exist, but Tagged worked the same: You looked at the person’s photo, you decided whether to click “yes”, or “no”, and if there was a “yes” match, Tagged let you contact the person.
This was how I met Marina. After a couple months of online flirting, I finally had a chance to see Marina. She texted me one day and said she wanted to get together with me; we made plans to meet up at a Dennys-style restaurant called “Vips” in downtown Puebla, just a block from its Zócalo.
When I saw Marina in real life for the first time, what attracted me most about her was her smile. She was just as beautiful as she looked in all of her photos. She had an easygoing and fun-loving manner about her and I immediately knew I could love her.
Our original plan was to have dinner at Vips, but Marina told me she wanted to do something different. I suggested a movie; she told me would like to do something where we could get to know each other. We ended up going to an Italian Coffee (This is Mexico’s version of Starbuck’s, and while the chain is in Mexico, its name is the English phrase The Italian Coffee Company) besides Puebla’s Zócalo and talking there. I bought us beverages for 50 pesos — about five dollars at the time.
We were entranced by each other. No distraction could stop us. I grabbed her arms and looked in to her face. Everything about her demeanor made it clear that she was falling in love with me. She was gorgeous — I could not resist her.
After paying for our beverages at that Italian Coffee, we were walking and went past an alley. I knew it was time. Taking advantage of the fact that Mexican culture allows kissing in public, I grabbed Marina, pushed her against the wall, and started French kissing her. She melted in my arms as I kissed her passionately.
I found true love that evening of Saturday, December 6, 2008. Marina was my girlfriend two days later, and my wife a little over a year later.
We had our ups and downs, but the passion and love we had for each other sparked on the night of our first date never went away. Something magical happened between us that night, something that lasted until her untimely death from breast cancer less than six years later.
Yes, I have shed a lot of tears losing Marina, but even in my sadness I cherish the life I had with her. It made me a better person, more able to love. Even if I had known how short our time together would be, I would not have done anything different that first night we met.
Thank you Marina, for all of the beautiful memories, and thank you, Marina, for our beautiful child. There will always be a place in my heart for you.
2020 update: I should point out I was using the Body for Life program to be in shape at the time of our first date.
2020 update #2: I have used an app/service called “Remini” to improve the quality of the original blurry phone camera picture. The original can be seen here.
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