From the outside looking in, I was living the perfect storybook life, married to my high school sweetheart and the mother of two little girls when I fell hopelessly in love—at first sight—with another man.
I was in the heart of Europe—Warsaw, Poland—on a Holocaust study tour with fifty other teachers from around the United States, my first overseas trip. Learning about the Holocaust both fascinated and disgusted me, and I knew that my time there, and in Israel the couple of weeks following, would better prepare me to teach about it. But I was out of my element. I hadn’t been alone or just Aimee—not wife, mom, teacher—in several years. It was weird.
Every morning at about the same time, I heard the rousing chant of the object of my affection on MTV Europe—the only Polish channel I could understand. “Go, go, go! Allez, allez, allez!” he shouted and sang. I was enchanted.
Who was this beautiful man with the velvety voice and energetic dance moves?
Two weeks later, the song still echoing in my brain, I repeated the lyrics to an Israeli music store salesman to find out who it was that I had fallen in love with.
A smile immediately crossed his face in recognition.
“Aaahhh, Ricky Martin,” he responded, handing me a compilation CD with “The Cup of Life” on it.
But then I returned home to real life, my third pregnancy and teaching, and forgot about Ricky.
Until February 24, 1999: The forty-first Grammy Awards.
Ricky re-appeared out of nowhere from once upon a time: still beautiful, still energetic, and still singing the same catchy song.
Oh my God, it’s him, I thought, and I was quickly under his spell again, charmed once more by my European MTV crush.
Ricky Martin was perfection to me, visually and musically—a flawless, romantic, Latin hero—and he came to symbolize more than just the soundtrack of my first trip abroad or my first stab at true independence. Ricky gave me something to believe in—something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but something I longed for—and I couldn’t get enough of him or his music, no matter the language it was in.
I’ve been in love with him ever since.