I’ll describe Dayana and Ricardo in a bit more detail in just a minute, but let me first say this – when this bi-racial couple procreates, the respective fruit of their loins is going to be a head-turner. And possibly an NBA player.
They’re an exotic duo, to be sure. Living in the Rush and Division section of Chicago, Dayana and Ricardo hail from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Mendoza, Argentina, respectively. Dayana’s roots were firmly entrenched in Milwaukee and Ricardo’s called it “home” since the age of 4. The two met in high school.
Dayana can do little to disguise her obvious regal beauty. It served her well in a brief stint as a model, in fact. At nearly six feet tall with rich, caramel colored skin and a defined, feminine jaw line, she’s hard to take your eyes off of. Her Egyptian roots only add to her allure.
Meanwhile, her husband possesses the type of bronzed skin tone that cold blooded Caucasians like me have always found reason to envy. He’s also tall enough to make his wife’s stature seem average, imposing a towering presence at 6’6”. He possesses an eclectic, if urban style that somehow fuses a RZA t-shirt (a member of the illustrious Wu-Tang Clan), a dressy cardigan, and a perfectly sculpted beard, all with surprising success.
My initial vibe as I’m seated in the couple’s living room is that, next to each other, they’re exactly where they want to be. That’s a good thing; not just for the sake of their relationship, but also because I’m about to ask some hard questions. Adding to that difficulty is the fact that this is the first interview that I’ve done where I don’t actually know the participants; just part of their story.
You see, Dayana and Ricardo took what I’d call an unconventional route to marriage; they broke up twice before getting back together for good, and one of those breaks lasted close to a year. They’ve now been married for seven years.
Could I rewind to the beginnings of their relationship and give you the background? Sure. But now that I’ve told you that they broke up twice before marrying, I’ll take the liberty of assuming you want to get right to understanding why.
The first few minutes of my conversation are just between Ricardo and me.
“When Dayana started college at DePaul, I had already been in Chicago for two years,” said Ricardo.
“We spent a lot of weekends going back and forth, but she had never lived away from home by the time she got to DePaul. That took a big toll on us, very quickly.”
“How so?” I asked.
“Honestly, she was really needy and immature. She was the youngest growing up; she had a big family with five older brothers, so she was coddled in a lot of ways. We’d already been dating for three years by the time she got to Chicago, and it was almost like she couldn’t do anything without me. She never had to learn the train routes because I was meeting her at school after I’d leave Loyola. I’d take her grocery shopping; everything.”
The first mention of something that isn’t pro-Dayana has me wondering how she’ll react when I ask her to corroborate.
“One day, she had another one of her needy, dramatic episodes and I’d had enough. I broke up with her.”
“So if you’d been dating for several years, is it safe to say that this had been a long time coming?” I asked.
“Yeah, it definitely was. We weren’t really communicating well at that time anyway, but I felt like this wasn’t something we were going to get over by “working on it.” Even her family, who I was very close to, understood my decision and was on my side. She had some growing up to do, and that was something I couldn’t help her with.”
Suddenly, in a perfectly scripted example of awkward timing, Dayana walks into the room and takes a seat next to Ricardo. I smirk. She smiles knowingly right back at me.
“Are you telling him about the time we broke up?” Dayana asks Ricardo.
Ricardo chuckles. “Yep,” he responds.
She doesn’t skip a beat. Ricardo is every bit at ease sharing his story and engaging in conversation, but the second that Dayana steps into the room, it’s evident who the type A personality of the duo is.
“Whatever he said, he’s probably right,” says Dayana.
“I look back now and completely understand where he was coming from. I suffocated him. I wasn’t in a good spot on a personal level and I used Ricky as a safe haven to hide a lot of my problems. I don’t think I realized just how messed up I was until we broke up,” she says.
Then she pauses.
“But you did break up with me twice,” she says to Ricardo.
The statement causes a noticeable change in his demeanor; his shoulders seem to sag and his expression flattens. There’s obviously something about that second break-up that still hurts – and something that implies she’s not the only one at fault.
“Okay, take a step back. There’s one break-up, then another. Where in the timeline did these take place?” I ask.
“Well, our first break-up lasted a week,” says Ricardo.
“I pleaded with him to get back together the next time we spoke,” adds Dayana.
“I missed her. I didn’t know what else to do, so I said yes,” says Ricardo. “And a few days later, I broke up with her again. That was the “real break-up,” which lasted close to a year.”
Something’s still not adding up.
“Okay, so why did he cower when you mentioned the second break-up, Dayana?” I ask.
She glares at him with eyes that say “you’re answering this question, not me.”
“Her family went from understanding me to hating me because of the way I handled things,” he says.
“Well, I suppose I can see where they’re coming from,” I said.
His eyes dart to the side briefly; a nervous movement. He swallows hard.
“We had sex for the first time two weeks before the first break-up. It was the first time for both of us. And her mom found out after the second break-up.”
Well, that explains the significance of the second break-up. Talk about a bombshell. Add in the fact that Dayana’s Egyptian family still holds the “sanctity of the marriage bed” in high esteem, and you can see quite clearly why her family wasn’t so fond of Ricardo.
Judging by Dayana and Ricardo’s respective reactions, it’s clear that it’s an open wound, but one that they’ve mutually come to terms with. How easily, I’m not sure.
The temptation is to pry further, but the moment is fleeting. It’s a dramatic moment in their story, to be certain, but contextually it seems but a small part of a much bigger picture. If it comes up later, so be it. I tell them as much and ask another question as we move forward.
“So what came next?” I asked. It feels too simplistic but I feel it’s valid.
“I was devastated,” said Dayana. “Losing my virginity to him and having things fall apart the way that they did certainly didn’t help, but I was at an all-time low even without that in the equation.”
“I had this terrible self-esteem. Everything “good” in my life had been attributed to him. I didn’t know what to do; I was a total mess. I lost 15 pounds in two weeks. The second I told my mother, she immediately put me in counseling.”
“Was it hard for you to go to counseling? I know some people look at it as a shot to their ego if they “get help,” I ask.
She glances at Ricardo for a split second, then back at me, nervous but for an instant.
“I haven’t really told this to many people,” she says.