Aron and me with Tropical Panamá lead singer Francisco Javier in 2011; his trademark honkin’ pitcher of ice water in hand
Time flies, and for most of us, it’s tough to keep up-to-date with all the friends we have made over the years. I’ve had a lot of folks asking about how Aron and I started out our relationship; friends and acquaintances essentially tell me I studied abroad and then all of a sudden I was married! So, for those of you who have been wanting the juicy (ha, dry) details about the story of us, here is a bit of a fill-in-the-blanks session, aside from just the vague description I gave you previously.
I was studying landscape architecture at my home university several years ago when a professor presented us students the opportunity to study abroad at a partner school in either Mexico or Canada. I had been tossing around the idea of exploring more outside of the U.S., so I rolled with it. Since I had already visited Canada for an architecture field study a couple years earlier, I thought it would be nice to go somewhere different. So Mexico it was! I had the choice of attending UNAM in Mexico City or ITESM (Tec) in Monterrey. Some of my Mexican co-workers at the time gave me their input on which city I should choose, and after chatting with my profs about the decision, I was almost convinced that I was going to UNAM until I found out that one of my co-workers was actually from Monterrey and had family there. Then I got nervous about my initial UNAM inclination because I would be traveling by myself, far away, for the first time (of course I would meet people, but c’mon, I was a weenie and didn’t want to be wandering around alone). So with a bit more research, I got pumped about Monterrey and settled on going to Tec. I signed up, filled out a bunch of paperwork, and got a $3,600 USD grant to go to Mexico for a semester. Woot!
I got in touch with my co-worker’s mom, Santa, and made arrangements for them to meet me at the airport on January 3, 2008. I look back on those international phone conversations and have to laugh at myself because I had almost no idea what was being said. I remember specifically the date that I landed in Mexico the first time because while speaking on the phone in Spanish, my “tres de enero” (January 3rd) kept sounding like “seis de enero” (January 6th) to Santa and her daughter Ana. ARRGGH!! SO FRUSTRATING!! Despite the years of studying Spanish, I still spoke it terribly.
Thankfully, we got it sorted out, we met up, and I stayed with them for the weekend. The next week, I went to orientation meetings at Tec campus and got introduced to my dorm room — the closet compartments/organization were fabulous, by the way! — but by that point, I had already become so attached to the family and their lifestyle away from the “touristy” scene. So we talked it over, and Santa invited me to stay with them for the semester. And I accepted.
But enough of those details, and back to Aron. I remember that when I first got to Monterrey, Aron was working 2nd shift at Lala, which for the sake of comparison I will describe as the Mexican equivalent of Kraft Foods. Late on my first night there, Santa, Ana (and I’m not sure who else), and I were in their living room talking when Aron walked in the front door, arriving by foot from the bus stop after work. Santa’s oldest child, Aron was always considered very serious and very reserved. Santa introduced us, he politely (sort of) said “hola,” and almost ignoring the situation entirely, walked straight through to the kitchen.
Aron and me with Francisco Javier in 2009
Due to lack of space in the home, Aron slept on the couch in the living room. Since he had rotating shifts at Lala every two weeks, his sleep schedule was (and forever will be, perhaps) messed up and he had the habit of staying up late. So while he would watch some of the dumb comedy/interview shows that were on, I would use the time at the end of the night to write emails (which Aron would describe as “libros” — books) to my parents and close friends, using his computer there in the living room. I had taken my laptop, but would later have to buy a wireless router to be able to use it for its full purposes. Meanwhile, Aron was generous in sharing his belongings and his space.
I’m not sure what triggered it, but we started to bond pretty rapidly. I guess the first time we were into a real conversation (more than just a couple of words, that is) was when he began to show me online videos of his favorite music artists. I distinctly remember watching groups like Grupo Toppaz, Tropical Panamá, and Grupo Azteca. We made fun of the hairstyles, clothing, and dance moves, like what you see here:
…but I learned to love the music because it was so fun and lighthearted. Aron knew all the words to the songs and cracked me up with his impressions of the musicians. From that point on, whenever Aron wasn’t working and I wasn’t in class or at a soccer game, we were together. Within only a couple of weeks of knowing one another, he had asked me to be his girlfriend. When Aron wasn’t working second shift at Lala, he would join the family and me in the evenings in walking a handful of blocks away to his aunt’s house to visit and dine on tacos and elotes. Aron and I — both shy and unsure of how to tell his mom that we were already a couple — would walk behind his mom, dad, sister, and sister’s then-boyfriend, inconspicuously holding hands. As we walked, the streetlights made our hand-holding shadows fall, and before these shadows would fall in front of everyone else, we dropped one another’s hand and acted casually about it. So corny, so childish. But that is the way love is sometimes.
Santa began to notice, or I suppose everyone in the family circle did, that Aron was able to open up to me much more easily than he usually did with people he hadn’t known his entire life. I took that as a positive sign, since she knew him better than anyone.
By March of 2008 we were engaged. Really. Now I look back and think that this was way too little time of knowing one another before making that sort of commitment; but every relationship is different, and aside from that, Aron and I had been living with each other since the day we met. So that tends to alter what we might think of as the “typical” dating time frame. We had seen bad and good of one another, and we enjoyed being together. We spent a lot of our early days goofing off and wandering the neighborhood. We took the dogs for a walk for the first time in their lives because I insisted on buying leashes and collars and getting them some exercise. We played soccer at the quinta — the park in our neighborhood; afterward, we would sit and talk for hours about a little of everything. We talked about some of the difficult subjects, but it wasn’t difficult. It was just right. He would accompany me anyplace I needed or wanted to go (sometimes with a little bit of prodding — an extreme homebody, he really did not like to go out much). I stood out in any crowd, I had trouble with my words, and I loved taking pictures of buildings, people, and trash — but Aron never expressed embarrassment no matter how much I felt like I was being strange.
During our first few months, Aron’s cousin had wanted to set him up with another girl, and a friend of mine from the U.S. wanted to set me up with his nephew in Monterrey, but in our eyes there was no other option than “Aron and Lynn.” It doesn’t make any logical sense, though I am glad I didn’t follow logic on this one.
Aron and me in January 2009
My tourist visas always expired 180 days from the time I entered Mexico, so I was with Aron from Jan-May, then for about 4 days in July (working at a landscape company, I was lucky to get the go-ahead for several days off during the summer, so yes, only 4 days!), a couple weeks in October, and I was back to stay another 180 days from December 2008. During those visits, we were gathering information about getting married legally in Mexico. Unfortunately, it requires extra paperwork for a foreigner, and I needed to be in the country while waiting for permission from the INM to get married, so we had to hold off until I would be there for a longer span of time. We got approval and were married with a civil ceremony in February of 2009.
There were still plenty of ups and downs during and following that first year, but that is the essential story of how Aron + Lynn came to be. Years later, we are in the U.S. with our son, living a life that is far from glamorous but certainly joyous and fruitful.
Aron was different than any guy I had ever met. Going against the stereotypical (and often truthful) idea of a Mexican man, Aron had never smoked (not anything), had never had a drop of alcohol, and never swore (except when repeating song lyrics or explaining to me what words/phrases meant). He had the final word among everyone in his household, but he never lacked respect for anyone, and never picked fights. He was proud of me for pursuing my goals despite others believing I should follow a certain trend or tradition. He continues to be that dependable, responsible person, and I love knowing I can count on him to be a little corny, nerdy, and silly, too.