The Whole Story | Chapter Seven

While I worked for Disney, I met a young man who worked in another area of the hotel. He was friendly and we said hello in passing. I learned he was from South America and had lived in different countries playing professional-ish soccer. I was intrigued by the apparent differences between us and we ended up dating for a few months after my program ended in the spring.

He treated me with respect and loving kindness which I appreciated because I was open to it. I had felt these possibilities with other people before but could never open up my heart to receive it. Having experienced this change, I understand why it is said that sometimes it is not “who” but “when.” I was having fun with him but didn’t take it more seriously than that. I was still feeling pretty detached from most things and was trying to figure out a plan. He had an opportunity to move to Miami for a job and I encouraged him to take it if that was what he wanted, and explained that he shouldn’t stay in Orlando just for me. I reminded him that if we were meant to be together things would work themselves out, but secretly I knew that they wouldn’t. After he left I felt an incredible sense of relief, like I could breathe again and get back to living my life on my own terms.

He had also informed me a month prior that he was married to a woman in order to gain US citizenship and that he was paying her every month until enough time had passed for a divorce. While I understood the situation, I had a hard time accepting the enormity of it. This was something that would be with him for the rest of his life and at any moment this woman could use this deal as blackmail. I didn’t run just yet, but this new information did prevent me from becoming emotionally invested in the relationship because I knew that my Republican parents would have big problems with this, and I was pretty sure I felt the same way.

Fast forward to the event that signaled the end of the relationship for me: a cruise with friends of his from his country to the Bahamas. I was excited to get out of town and to visit with him, but the situation also felt sort of uncomfortable, until it became blatantly uncomfortable.

I got myself down to Miami and we boarded the ship. I tried to relax and have fun and made an effort to get to know his friends. They reciprocated my effort and feigned enthusiasm but we had some trouble communicating because of the language barrier. I tried not to let this bother me and continued to try to have a good time. Occasionally they would converse in Spanish and I would patiently wait until something was translated for me or a new conversation began. At first it was no big deal, but then I noticed that it was happening at almost every interaction with this other couple.

I quickly started to feel so left out, even though I was sitting right there. I was so frustrated that they were choosing to speak in a language that I did not speak or understand. I hated that he wasn’t standing up for me and I started to realize that this feeling of exclusion would not go away unless the relationship ended. My emotional pain got to such an intense level that I couldn’t contain it, so I excused myself from the table to stroll the beach and cry. This was an epic meltdown and once I started I couldn’t stop. All the feelings of the past six months of being on my own in a new place had caught up to me and I was feeling homesick for my Massachusetts home, but also for my new Orlando home where I was finally feeling like I fit in.

I couldn’t wait for the trip to be over. I said goodbye to his friends and to him knowing that I would never see them again. I felt so light on the way home to Orlando and I knew that I had made the right decision. This was an important experience for me though because I think everything in life serves a purpose. I had tried to step outside of my comfort zone in the area of relationships and I was in over my head. It was pretty clear that I needed to spend some more time on myself or with people who made me feel good, and that’s exactly what I did, at least for the summer.

Lauren D'Agostino