A Love Story

This is an interview posted on Huffington Post.com about a couple who met and married 20 years ago, The Marriage that Will Make you Believe in Love. Hilda Chacón, 49, and her husband, Pedro Morán-Palma, 48, sat down with StoryCorps in 2010 to discuss how they met.

Hilda Chacón: So tell me, Calvito, what did you think when you first met me almost 20 years ago?

Pedro Morán-Palma: I saw there was a beautiful lady sitting in this party. At first I thought that you were with somebody. Then I saw that it was my roommate who was bothering you, and I tried to rescue you.

Hilda: I was wearing a short skirt, and he insisted that I go up the stairs so he would see me from behind, and I got so mad that I was ready to beat him up. But you came to my rescue and pulled him away. I remember you apologized for him being so rude and drunk, and I just started saying, Ugh! Men! And you said, “Not all men are like that.” “Yes, they are!”

We sat there at the top of the stairs, and we started talking like no one else was there. I told you I was visiting from Costa Rica, that I was divorced, that I had a kid that I really loved. And then I started talking about men, saying, “I don’t know why people get married, you know? You marry a guy and you have to put up with so much crap!” How come I didn’t scare you?

Pedro: You were fascinating. I was mesmerized, I think is the right word. You were the most intelligent, creative woman I’d ever seen in my life.

Hilda: It’s funny, because when I met you I was totally sure that love did not exist. But there you were, with this exquisite sensibility and sensitivity. You came over with this calm attitude, very gentle, very sweet, and I felt like you could sense what I had gone through. Still, I thought to myself, this man is bald! I had always said I could never, never be with a bald guy. And there you were, becoming the most handsome man on earth. You have a little less hair than then, but I still think you’re the most handsome man alive.

Pedro: It’s hard for people to believe that we only dated for 10 days.

Hilda: We cried profusely at the Phoenix airport when we said good-bye. I just thought, This man is great, but he’s here. My life is in Costa Rica: My baby [Nadia] is there, my friends are there, my family is there, my life is there. So it’s too bad.

A week later you called, and you said that you had gotten a ticket to Costa Rica, and that you were coming.

Pedro: My friends were saying that I was crazy. At some point I thought, Maybe this is too much. But suddenly I said to myself, This is my opportunity. Because it’s something that my whole body was telling me: You’ve got to do this! This is the most wonderful thing that’s going to happen in your life — you cannot let this go! So that’s when I decided to visit you in Costa Rica.

I always remember your eyes when you were waiting for me in the airport. The sun was shining in your eyes, and Nadia was hiding behind you. She was trying to see who the guy was.

Hilda: We went to Bahia Gigante, and the three of us sat there looking at the sea and the sunshine. You started telling me these weird things, like how grad students didn’t earn much in the U.S., but they could live well. And you told me about the school system. “Hmm, that’s good.” I didn’t know where this conversation was heading.

All of a sudden you said, “Well, I don’t make much money, but if you want, we could get married, and I think the three of us could live with some dignity until I finish school.” And I just thought to myself, This man is either totally crazy or has the biggest cojones on earth, because after all that I said about marriage, here he is asking me to marry him? I was shocked, and honestly, I had never thought about marrying again. But I just thought, If I let him go I will never forgive myself, because I’ve never felt this connection with anyone before in my life. And I said, “Yes.”

I remember everybody being terrified, because I was marrying a guy that I had met 10 days before and taking my daughter out of the country. I pretty much left everything behind to follow you.

I remember that the second day in Costa Rica, you and Nadia sat to watch a TV show. She started asking you all these questions, and little by little she started leaning on you. Then, I remember, she sat on your lap, and she put her hand over your shoulder. And I thought to myself, This is one of the nicest images I’ll ever save in my mind. The two of you were laughing about that TV show, so happy. And that’s how I picture the two of you today. You have this laughing relationship, so close and funny. Even if you stop loving me tomorrow, I could never pay you back for all the love and affection you have given my baby.

Pedro: When I met Nadia, I said, I’m going to present myself as I am and see if she likes me. And fortunately, things turned out well. I’m a really proud stepfather.

Hilda: People say, Everyday things kill love. I probably used to say that 25 years ago, before I met you. But the things that we do on a daily basis, simple things like going to get the fruit at the market or paying the bills, or just cleaning the house, they aren’t chores or responsibilities but fun things when we do them together.

I told you when I met you that I don’t like husbands. Boyfriends invite you to the movies or to dance and bring you flowers, but husbands just take you for granted, right?

Pedro: So says tradition.

Hilda: But you’re not a traditional husband. I have this strange sensation with you — part of me feels like we met yesterday, but there’s another part of me that feels like I’ve been with you forever.

Pedro: And it feels good to feel young with you, and at the same time to grow old with you. And it’s all those things together at the same moment.

Hilda: Love you, Papito.

Pedro: Yo también.



7 thoughts on “A Love Story

  1. Hmm. Marrymeknot, I’m curious what YOU think about this article.

    Perhaps I am still too jaded to believe in it. I am working on creating a new story about possible future love in my life, but after two marriages before the age of 30 and more lies, hurt, and heartache than I EVER care to repeat, I just can’t get myself to believe in this kind of love. They sound sad, silly, and duped. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop in their love. One of them will fuck the other one’s best friend soon, or develop an addiction, or go crazy because of some unresolved childhood bullshit. Romantic love isn’t worth it. I think Hilda and Pedro are insane.

    • Melanie, thanks for your reply.You cover a lot of ground and I wish we could chat over coffee or wine or something. (Instead I’ll do my best in the little reply box.) I think to throw caution to the wind and marry someone you barely know is straight up crazy. It basically goes against the whole point of my blog, which is just to get people to think about marriage. However, that is also why this is so moving. That there are people out there who pull it off. At the same time, it seems like they both had a history before they met, and perhaps they learned what they needed to learn about themselves to be able to be attracted to a person capable of being happy and maintaining a healthy relationship. You are clearly recovering from some heartache. (And, girl, we’ve all been there!) I know when I was not happy in my relationship I assumed nobody else was either. Which of course, I was only projecting my own pain. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through so much at such a young age. However, if you are growing from it, there really is no place to go but up. Think how much you have learned compared to other women your age who haven’t been through what you have. In this situation, time is your enemy but also, your best friend. It takes a while but after you let go of the anger and accept self-reflection and self-love you just might see the couples who are happy, as happy, and realize you not only can have that but deserve it. I can only speculate from my own experiences. Good luck, we are all rooting for you.

      • Thanks, marrymeknot. Yes, I wish we could chat over coffee or wine, too. This is something I think a lot about – which might be part of the problem. All of my thinking. My life coach keeps telling me to “cut off my head” and FEEL life instead of trying to SOLVE it. I need to remember that not all of life will make logical sense all the time. I don’t know why it worked for Hilda and Pedro, or for my parents, and not me – so far. And what does “worked” mean anyway? I’m working on accepting the fact that each of my relationships lasted exactly as long as it was supposed to, and gave me the exact lessons and gifts that I needed from it. The end didn’t signify failure, simply completion.

    • I agree, I think most of us see this couple and feel almost envious of their ability to take such a big risk on each other, and then have it work out so well. I’m not sure what the moral of the story is, but neither of them seemed to have had a doubt, which is actually more common in couples who marry than we realize.

  2. I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments just as much as the story. Melanie, I can definitely relate with you. When I was younger, I met my “first love”. We got engaged only after 3 months, only to have it spiral downward over the course of 2 years. The breakup was the most painful thing I have EVER experienced and I would never take it back. I really do believe in the old “better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all” saying. No matter how many times you have loved and lost, I agree that it was for the right amount of time to teach you an important life lesson, but also to put life experiences under your belt. Nothing shapes a human being more than LIFE EXPERIENCES. I just interviewed a girl for my recent article “Love & Travel: Part II” and after only 21 days of meeting someone on the “Camino de Santiago”, she is leaving her life behind in Canada to move to Spain to be with him….. I was shocked and inspired at the same time. I will do a follow-up story with her next year 🙂

  3. Beautiful story of a bond between two people.

    These things are very individual to peoples’ lives. What falls in the path of one person may not fall in the path of another. Does not mean that these two people are insane, or deluded, it’s just their experience.

    One has to keep the focus on what is actually happening in one’s own life, and not be distracted by what is happening in others’ lives, good or bad. If you want to be married, you get married. If you don’t, you don’t. In the U.S. it doesn’t carry as much of a stigma to be together and not married as it did, even 50 years ago.

    Like in everything, unless someone is forcing you to conform to some kind of social norm, you must think for yourself and make your own decisions for yourself. This is one of the biggest challenges of being a person and learning to understand and be comfortable with yourself, woman or man.

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