There is an amazing meme out there in the interwebs that sagely says, "Find someone that looks at you the way you look at nachos." After the last month, I understand that from the depths of my soul.
Let me explain.
I don't have superfluous friends. Everyone in my life has given me purpose and has added to the work that is my little life. If you're in my phone, and I've ever actually texted, your importance to my story cannot be understated. This is my crew, each holding a special role in my rolodex.
And of all the certifiably incredible people in my well curated crew, my friend Kate is my main ride-or-die #betch up here in lil' ol' Troy.
This is Keds Kate. Lowercase Kate. My Kate.
And when your Kate falls in love, you'll find yourself as her unsolicited Liam Neeson: if he hurts you, I will find him, and I will kill him.
Kate met Nacho (I know...shut up...it's short for Ignacio) whilst studying abroad in Spain. I met Nacho when I was A Broad abroad visiting a broad studying abroad, broadly speaking. Nacho has been here for about a month visiting Kate here in Nueva York, and sadly, returns home on Monday.
I can't believe a month has flown by like this. I can't believe I'm going to miss my friend's boyfriend. I'm not sure I ever even look at my friend's significant others, let alone befriend them. I don't exactly *do* the third wheel thing, and how dare you steal my friend away.
But I knew within a minute of knowing Nacho that I would like and respect the man. His first order of business was to kiss Kate. She is the focus always. Then he's on to greet whomever she is around with a warmth and affection that many of us rarely give to people we're actually beholden to. I have yet to see Nacho without being greeted with a big hug and a whiskery kiss on the cheek. I love this.
I've enjoyed my time with Nacho so much more than I thought I would. Not because I thought he was anything other than amazing, but what would one American girl and one Spanish boy with a ten year age difference and only one person in common possibly have to say to each other? A lot, apparently. We haven't shut up. His English is wonderful, and often hysterical. He wants to learn it all and has so many great questions about our little world here in Troy. You wouldn't believe what weird crap we do here until you're looking at it all through the eyes of an excited Spaniard.
And, thank the tiny lord baby Jesus, the man is hungry all the time. I've been training my whole life for this moment. There's nothing like watching someone take their first bite of a DeFazio's cannoli. Nacho wanted a cannoli because he saw one on the Soprano's once, and regardless of sharing a sea with Italy, our little Spanish friend flew 3,000 miles to try this marvel in culinary technology and loved it.
We've spent the last couple of Saturday mornings together while Kate is working. It's been awesome. We have sat on a curb and shared a Cuban sandwich and talked about everything from the history of Troy, to each other's families. We have walked around sipping chocolate milk and talked about the US Army and which bagel place could be the best. We have sat in the park eating fruit while he is finishing Kate's laundry to help her pack for a trip, and we talk about my writing and his rugby.
We don't understand every word the other one says, and that's why Oprah invented the internet and Google translate, but after a month, we understand each other like a sister and brother with a special Spanglish that sometimes make us both laugh. He sometimes has to tell me he is about to make a joke, so I know to not correct a word when he is making a pun: "Add-ee-kah, is a yoke."
God bless the silent J.
I teach him the word "weird" in English, and he teaches me that beets are called "remolachas" in Spanish. I teach him how to make a s'more, and he teaches me swear words. I teach him the ways of Famous Lunch Hotdogs, and he teaches me to stop touching his butt. Then I teach him that we share in this country, and he teaches me no means no.
He has helped my sister's husband put together a giant swing set - a task which needs no language (#men). I've helped him plan a Valentines Day surprise for Kate, which was a veritable barrel of language barrier hilarity. He has had dinner with my family, and hung with Kate and my friends. He fits in, he is engaging, and he is damn cute.
We are friends, and it is special.
But all that aside, I take back that meme about having a partner that looks at you the way they look at nachos...I've changed my standards for a partner completely:
I now insist that someone look at me the way Nacho looks at Kate.
I will miss my friend while he is away. I will miss the way he makes me laugh. I'll miss overtly sexually harassing him. I'll miss the way he makes love to a plate of my food. But I will miss, most of all, the way he looks at our Kate. His Kate.
Imagine being looked at with a reverence and a respect in which one would look at a queen, somehow coupled with the evolution of a male-feminist, the air of manly protectiveness, the lust of one in love with someone *so* objectively beautiful, and the decorum of a gentleman long thought extinct.
And that look, y'all, was from one glance of Kate coming out of the John.
Oh mi madre de Dios.
I love the way he loves her. I love the way they love together more. It's new and exciting and full of honeymoon phase stuff like making out at the bar. It's also challenging and insightful and leaves no room for anything but growth in all the best ways. I'm fascinated to see how two people that have lived months and worlds apart have begun to build a foundation of a life. I think we're so used to our culture of rushing into decisions that we forget that you need a foundation before you build a roof.
During this month I have been inspired and awed to watch two people making the choice daily (and sometimes hourly) to show up and love. They make the choice to love with a fierceness and deliberation that is rarely seen out loud in couples. It is hard. It's hard to love someone so much you cry, and it is hard to spend an unbearable amount of time apart, then a cruelly short time together while still trying to learn each other's rhythms, quirks, needs and histories.
I've been privileged to see the inside of this amazing clock at work. It may have gotten sand in the gears a time or two, some grains bigger than others, but it has never stopped ticking. They have made the choice to love, and every day that choice has to be made again.
Their relationship has been like watching a beautiful piece of machinery being built. I hope that it may never be fully finished, as to always have something to build upon.
When Nacho leaves on Monday, I will be weirdly sad. I will be sad that Kate will be building her half of the machine alone for a couple of months, and I will sad that none of us will ever be able to look at her the way Nacho does. I will be sad for all of the little moments that they shared together that she will be holding on to so tightly until he comes back in the fall. And I am sad that my new friend will be a world away, with no cannolis or Battenkill Creamery chocolate milk, and no one there to sexually harass him as much as I do.
But, I'll gladly take all of the sadness this brings on Monday because it means that I have gotten to spend a month being pals with someone truly worthy of earning Kate's heart. Dreading next week won't make his leaving any easier for anyone, so in the next couple of days, I'll try to hug his butt a little tighter, and maybe force feed him some typical American food.
Then I'll focus on making room to help field Kate's grief. Kate's famously *so* resilient (eye roll), but just in case, I'm making a ton of room. There's always grief with a change, and I think all we can do is to just make the room to take it in, should someone need it.
Well, that, and eat an embarrassing amount of pizza together.