[This dispatch comes directly from Steven. Andrea has never placed in last in a road race. Probably never will.]
I knew I was coming in last the moment we pulled into the parking lot. The race was small. 140 runners showed up to circumnavigate the narrow trail around the Boulder Reservoir, not far from where the Colorado wildfires are currently raging. I could see the other runners gathering near the starting line. The crowd looked far too fit. It turned out that a bunch of them were Olympic hopefuls and University of Colorado track stars using the race as a training run. But I didn’t know that at the time. I simply looked around for the weakest person there, and not finding him or her realized that person must therefore be me.
Long before marrying Andrea, Steven dated a Cuban girl from Miami. It was a typical college relationship. They were madly in love within days and broken up less than six months later. The relationship had all the elements of an old-fashioned melodrama. Every emotion was amplified through the prism of youth. After the breakup, the girl sacrificed a live chicken in order to curse Steven in a Santeria ritual. Steven probably deserved the curse; he had a tendency to crack inappropriate jokes at times when no words should be spoken. The chicken, however, was completely innocent.
It turns out that a cursed life is largely indistinguishable from a lucky one. Even that crazy relationship turned out to be a lucky break. Out of the wreckage, Steven managed to salvage the girl’s family recipe for traditional Cuban black beans. Over the past 20 years, Andrea has taken that recipe, and as she’s prone to do, both simplified and perfected it.
There is little worse than the creepy feeling you get when something drips on you from above while you’re walking down a sidewalk in New York. It may be just condensation from a window mounted air conditioner. We always assume these drips are either an experimental virus carelessly spilled from an unlicensed medical laboratory or some hideous comic book style mutagen. It’s bad enough that no one in New York cleans up after their dog, leaving the entire city littered with landmines. Some days, navigating the three blocks from our Chelsea apartment to the subway was like walking from South Korea into North Korea through the DMZ. The minute we focused our attention on the ground, the assault began from above.