by Beau Cadiyo
I remember the first time I saw her.
It was December 24, 2004, and I’d spent the evening with my friend Franco Betriu’s family. The Christmas Eve tradition in Barcelona is to eat dinner – a late, late dinner – and then the parents go to sleep while the children go out and party. I was gladly winging for Franco in a bar in Gracia, talking to an uncommonly underweight blonde, which is normally absolutely my type. What she lacked in personality she made up for in undemanding conversation and visible ribs. Then Francesca came in. She was a ball of fire and I was captivated. A few other girls were there, too, but I found myself gravitating to her; also, she spoke English. Franco ended up with the blonde and I got Francesca’s number. I sent her a few text messages, but only got short responses so gave up.
In April, I went out with Franco; he’d just gotten his first car and we were set to go to a fair to celebrate the month of April. We randomly picked up Francesca and another girl who I can’t remember, and again I found myself infatuated. This time, though, it was mutual. I remember almost nothing about the evening other than that I knew I wanted to spend every second I could with her, and at the end of the night, after drinking and dancing and cheering little girls parading in fancy April dresses, when she wanted to go on the Ferris Wheel and nobody else did, I went up with her, despite my paralyzing fear of heights. I just didn’t look down – I looked at her. I don’t think anyone was surprised when we got off and were holding hands. A few days later, we went to a movie – apparently it was Bride and Prejudice – and then walked down Passeig de Gracia, past the closed shops, through Placa Catalunya and then around…some other streets.
To quote my review of Marbella, “I’ve said “I love you” to a lot of girls in my life, but I’ve never meant it as much as when I said it to her, for the first and last time, before walking onto my plane.”
Like all things, this restaurant review begins with a girl.
(Read Part II here.)