On a cloudy October day in 2010, a girl stopped into a fleeting ray of sunshine, tilted back her head, and smiled, and in those three seconds of sunshine I fell in love.
In that exact moment I remember thinking to myself that she was the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen (still is), and I knew then and there that my story would begin and end with her.
Although this is the version that I tell people when asked how my wife and I met (with a few extra ingredients sprinkled in to spice it up some), the truth of the matter is that I began to meet my wife six months prior, on the day I quit my job in America, packed my house into a backpack, and boarded a plane for Barcelona in search of the smile I had lost somewhere along the way.
It was early spring when I arrived in Barcelona, a shell of the person that I had used to be just a few years prior. I had allowed the stress of my job to bleed into every aspect of my life, ultimately reaching its tipping point when I was told that the money that I had invested in a Central American real estate deal had magically disappeared in the wake of the financial crisis (a story for another day).
Instead of seeking help and talking to people that cared about me about my problems, I let the stress bottle up and turned to extra-curricular activities, for lack of a better word in case my mom is reading this, to get through each day. The only reason I was not labelled severely depressed was because I was too ashamed to see a doctor and have him confirm what I already knew to be true.
As a Hail Mary, I decided that I needed to get away for a while and bought a ticket to a place that I had only read about in magazines, with the hope that a clean slate would do me some good and I could begin to re-discover myself. Some people say that others travel because they are either running towards something, or they are running away from something. It is safe to say, at that time in my life, I fell into the latter category.
The effects of a new change of scenery were immediate. Within a few months I had lost 50 pounds by walking everywhere, adapting to the mediterranean diet, and exercising regularly. I had begun to do work that I cared about, and slowly my selfish mindset began to fade and I started to surround myself with the people who fell into the running towards something category, giving me hope for my own future.
I learned a lot about myself in those months. I learned that I could change, and that I could do anything I wanted in the world. I learned that my past would not define me and that the future was in my control if I put my own well-being first. Most importantly, I learned the power of being present and taking the time to appreciate the details of each day.
All of this led to that cloudy October day in 2010, when I was finally there to see all the beauty that exists in the world, and a pretty girl walked into those three seconds of sunshine and I fell in love.
That is the real story of how I met my wife, and the reason why I call her “Sunshine”.