Michael de Toffoli sent me a text asking him if I wanted to meet with him for drinks. At the time, I was working at Armani Exchange in downtown San Francisco. That night, I was working overnight and didn’t think I was going to be able to meet him but on second thought, I figured I could meet with him during my lunch break. When I showed up to Steff’s (the name of the bar), I saw Michael sitting at a table where I knew everyone except for one person: Bianca.
Here is where our stories differ. I clearly remember meeting here and she told me she was Puerto Rican. I said, I love Puerto Rican food, I’ve lived in New York and knew plenty of Puerto Rican restaurants and people. She smiled. She asked me about my metal band. Michael overheard and he interrupted, “it is not metal, it is punk rock”. I don’t remember what else we talked about but I know it was in Spanish. She was trying to show off. I could sense her checking me out. I thought she had a pretty smile and gorgeous eyes. I was hooked. Since I was on my lunch break, I had to go back to work and as soon as I left the bar I texted Michael; “Your friend is HOTTTTTTT”. Later I came to find out that she said to Michael that I was cute and Michael showed her my text.
That night on my way back from work, I checked her Facebook (remember this was 6+ years ago, Facebook was still a thing) but I didn’t friend request her because I didn’t want to seem eager. I messaged her a few days later, asking her if she wanted to have a drink with Michael and me. That night, Michael cancelled on us (*Wink-wink* Thanks Michael!)
This was our first date. We took the bus to a bar called Rogue and talked about being students, work, and dealing with Latina mothers. The bar closed early that night, so we bought tall boys and sneaked onto the rooftop of an apartment building I used to live in, with an amazing view of downtown San Francisco. We kissed on our first date.
After I walked her home, I walked about 15 blocks to the bus that would take me across the city to my apartment.
Previous to that date, I had avoided that area of the city. It was full of bad memories of a bad break up, being a broke college student, alone in a new city and overworked at a terrible job. But that night, of June 25th, after our first date, the district brought back its colors. It felt as if the city lit up again. I knew it was because I had met my significant other. We’ve seen each other the day nearly every day after that. We celebrate our anniversary on that date.
It still surprises that Jose and I didn’t meet each other before we did. We’d both lived in the city for four years before we were introduced, and our paths crossed countless times unknowingly.
- We both went to the same university, and had classes in the same buildings over multiple years
- We had several mutual friends
- We went to the same concerts
- When I worked at Starbucks, he was a regular
- At one point, we worked in businesses literally next to one another, and worked the same shifts
But the Universe is funny that way, and we didn’t meet each other until we were ready.
When we met, I had just broken up with an ex, ready to live life and be happy and open to new experiences. I was going out more with friends, being social and finally allowing myself to be excited to live in San Francisco without worry.
My friend Jason Morrow sent me a message to join him and Michael for drinks at a local bar near school, and being up for anything, I showed up. Had a beer or two, and Jose walks in- wearing a black Armani Exchange shirt that read “Ciao!” and thick rimmed glasses with no lenses.
We met for only 15 minutes– just enough time for Jose to introduce himself and for us to say maybe two or three sentences to one another, and finish a single beer. He says I was showing off in Spanish… when in reality I only asked, “Do you speak Spanish?”
Before we really got an opportunity to really speak, though, he finished his beer and said Good Bye to the group of us, he was back to work. As soon as he was out the door, I told Michael that I thought “your friend is cute,” and Michael turned to show me Jose’s text message to him, “Your friend is HOTTTTTT.”
We went on our first date that same week, drinking beers at Rogue and eventually sneaking into his old apartment building in Chinatown (!!) and climbing to the roof to take in the view. We kissed that first night.
My life had been in a dark place during that time, struggling to snap back to reality. Jose came in at the perfect moment, and refused to leave my side. When I wasn’t ready to start dating, he said, “That’s ok, I’ll wait,” and from that first date, we’ve been together.