I met Rachel in February 2005. I was working in Invercargill, and playing rugby for Marist. We went up to Wellington to play in a 7s tournament and watch the international 7s as well. On the Saturday night, my team-mates went out drinking, but that’s not really my thing, so I went out to dance salsa instead.
Latinos was the venue, but there weren’t that many people there when I arrived, but I have no problem dancing by myself. In the second half of the evening, a live band played, which was awesome. Rachel was the saxophone player, and during their interval, I asked her to dance, as I would ask anyone in salsa to dance. We seemed to get on pretty well, and swapped numbers.
I was flying back to Invercargill on Monday, and asked her if I could see her on Sunday. I offered not to go to the rugby, but even with that, the logistics didn’t work out.
We messaged with increasing frequency for the next few days, and she knew that I went to Christchurch roughly every 2 weeks to visit my salsa friends, as there was no salsa in Invercargill. She messaged me saying that she would be visiting her family in Christchurch the next weekend, and wanted to know if I would be there. As luck would have it, I was. We went to ‘Sams’- a jazz restaurant, and got to know each other a bit better, and just seemed to click.
The following fortnight, we met at Jambalaya- a world music and dance festival, focussing on salsa, and she and her band were playing. We spent the entire long weekend together, and everything just seemed to flow.
From then on, every other weekend, I’d usually fly to either Wellington or Christchurch to see her, and it was quite clear that we were becoming more and more enamoured with each other, as leaving was getting harder and harder each time.
About 3 months in, we were at the departure gate at Christchurch airport. Everyone else had boarded the plane to Invercargill, but I stayed and hugged her until the very last moment possible.
“Final call for the flight to Invercargill.”
I hugged her.
“This is the last call for the flight to Invercargill”
I kept hugging her.
The ground staff looked on.
“FINAL CALL FOR THE LAST FLIGHT TO INVERCARGILL!!!!”
OK- I had to go. I was the last person on the plane by about 5 minutes, and the crew gave me a knowing smile as I boarded. I smiled back. I imagine they see couples saying difficult goodbyes on a daily, if not hourly basis.
The flight is only 1hr 15, but that’s more than long enough for me to remember how happy I was with Rachel and how desperately unhappy I was at work in comparison. I really wasn’t enjoying the rotation I was doing, and felt like I was just living for my weekends with her.
I got back to the my room and messaged her:
[Me] Being with you eases the pain. Thank you for being who you are.
[Her] I think I’m falling in love with you.
[Me] I think I love you, too.
The song: https://youtu.be/qPQeFA3Fhe4