They waved hello, but didn’t talk that day. Over the next few weeks, they texted each other often and made several attempts to arrange a meeting, but their schedules never synced. Ms. Rueda said they weren’t trying very hard — they had both just ended long-term relationships and weren’t eager to jump into something new.
When May rolled around, they realized they would be in Madrid at the same time at the end of that month. Both have connections to the city.
Mr. Norena was born in Chicago. When he was 3, after his parents divorced, he and his mother, Patricia Arboleda, moved to Bogotá, Colombia, where they have family. When he was 6, Ms. Arboleda took a new job in Madrid, where they also have family, and they moved. They lived there for almost a decade before moving to Miami to be closer to Mr. Norena’s father, Diego Norena.
Ms. Rueda was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, and lived there until she was 14, except for the two years that her family spent in Panama City, Panama. At 14, Ms. Rueda and her family moved to Miami. While attending Immaculata-La Salle High School there, she met her best friend, Laura Carvajal, who now lives in Madrid.
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On her visit to Madrid in 2018, Ms. Rueda wanted a big evening out, but her friend wanted to sleep. So Ms. Rueda texted Mr. Norena to ask what he was up to. It turned out that Mr. Norena was hanging out with his grandmother and her two sisters, who had no plans to party. He invited Ms. Rueda to Gabana 1800, a nightclub.