How I met my husband. Or, how I almost died at Disneyland.

My husband and I met at Disneyland, of all places. We were introduced there by a mutual friend, who he knew from middle school and I knew because my uncle had been the doctor at his birth. This friend’s family is Spanish, and as our family is Chilean we all ended up friends, as Spanish speaking people do when far from home. So, when he invited me to go to Disneyland for free I happily agreed, never expecting how much that decision would change my life.

We met up with his friend at the park, it was due to this future husband that we were able to get in free, at the time he worked there as a ride operator while waiting for his Navy contract to start. So, the three of us spent an evening playing in the park together, all getting along very well and having an altogether enjoyable night. The next day I texted this kind new acquaintance to thank him for showing us around, and he offered to take me again to do it “right” a couple of days later. Doing it “right” meant promising to go along with him 100%, to be at the park when it opened and stay until it closed, to trust and follow along with whatever he had planned. I promised, 100%. I knew all the rides at Disneyland, knew there was nothing I hadn’t been on and thus, I was safe promising this, there was nothing to fear. Or so I thought.

We met up that Tuesday morning and he started taking me all around the park, giving me a private tour, pointing out all the secrets and hidden Mickeys. We talked and laughed and got along very well, very comfortable from the first moment. Comfortable, that is, until he started leading me out of the park in the early afternoon. I was completely confused, what happened to staying until it closed? “Oh, don’t worry, we’ll be back,” he said, “after California Adventure.” Now, the last time I had been to Disneyland that’s all there was. Disneyland. None of this newfangled California Adventure stuff. So imagine my shock when we walked in and I saw a massive rollercoaster. This was not like Space Mountain or the Matterhorn, this was a real rollercoaster, with a massive drop and a loop! Now, I should mention, I am deathly afraid of heights and rollercoasters. But fortunately, he said we were going on the ferris wheel. Not much better in my opinion, but still, better than that horrifyingly immense drop on California Screamin’! What I didn’t know at the time was that he is terrified of the ferris wheel, he took me on that first to show that he conquered his fear before asking me to conquer mine. This may have been helpful information at the time, but honestly, I don’t think anything would have made me happy to go on that coaster. I was just dreading it, hoping we would get off the ferris wheel and that would be it, I wouldn’t actually have to go on that monstrosity. But, after I somehow managed to survive the ferris wheel he, of course, led me over to the rollercoaster. I completely balked at the idea, shying away like a nervous mare, if I could have galloped off I would have. I tried to explain why I just couldn’t possibly get on the thing, but he sweet talked me and said, “You promised, 100%”. And he was right, I had promised. Sometimes I can be very stupid. But, a promise is a promise so I let him push me slowly towards the front of the nearly non-existent line, (there’s never a line when you want one!), and on to the ride. As impossible as it may be to believe, I did actually ride. My eyes may have been closed the entire time, and my hands death gripping the lap bar, but I did it! We got off and I was shaking like a chihuahua but thinking, thank goodness, there can’t be anything worse than that…and that’s when he told me that there was just one more thing we had to do before we headed back to Disneyland for the fireworks. I was thinking that after those two there couldn’t possibly be anything more terrifying. But clearly, this was a day I was just destined to be wrong, because the Hollywood Tower of Terror exists. I don’t know if any of you have been on this, but it’s absolutely horrifying. It’s the exact thing I dislike about rollercoasters. It is a ride that brings you up, in complete darkness to an insane height, and then drops you. Then it lifts you again and drops you again. And again. That awful feeling of your stomach rising out of your head is absolutely the worst sensation for me, falling is my biggest fear. We stood in front of it and I just kept shaking my head, saying, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” He talked quietly and calmly, rubbing my shoulders, whispering in my ear, telling me I could and I had promised. He kept using my promise against me and continued to slowly ease me toward the horrible contraption. After a few minutes I realized he wasn’t going to let me wimp out on it, and chances were I wasn’t going to actually die on it, so I let him gently push me towards the line, or lack thereof, and on to the ride. I even opened my eyes a little on this one, at his insistence! But as soon as we got off I started punching him in the arm saying now that I’d gone on all these horrible things I would never ever have to again! He laughed and hugged me and agreed. Then he took me to see the fireworks show and we spent the rest of the night laughing and enjoying the park. The night ended, we each went our separate ways but from that day on we were hooked.

We started seeing each other almost daily and fell immediately and completely in love. As the relationship progressed we kept that motto of giving 100% to each other, always. We only had six months before he left for boot camp so we spent all our time together, finding that even spending all day, every day, for months together we still wanted more. I waited for him through boot camp, sending letters, laughing when I’d receive his and find we had written the same things to each other. The synchronicity we have had since the beginning is astonishing, and every time we have one of those strange moments it has only emphasized our belief that we should be together. Beyond finishing each other’s sentences, we seem to be two halves of a whole. We make sense together. As cheesy as that sounds, it is simply true, and though we began facing many doubters, as soon as anyone spent time with us the way we fit became apparent. The day he graduated from boot camp he asked my father for his blessing and three months later we were married, one month shy of the anniversary of our first day at Disneyland together. As quickly as it all happened, as big as our age gap is, (10 years), there has never been any doubt in either of our minds that this was the right path. Actually, looking back neither of us can even remember who said I love you first or when, or even who brought up marriage first. It all happened so naturally and comfortably, as soon as we were together it felt like we always had been.
I look back at this and still can’t believe he managed to convince me to get on any of those rides. But I’m proud that I did, at least once. And happy that I’ll never have to again. I’m also proud that I kept my promise to him, and that we both keep giving 100% in everything. Three years later we’re still going strong, neither of us has ever had a doubt about what we have or the choices we’ve made. Love is important but even more important is recognizing it when you find it. And if you’re lucky enough to find it and recognize it you hold on with both hands and you give it everything you’ve got. 100%.


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