That’s me on the left, trying to seal the deal. My wife is the one clutching her jacket looking very, very nervous.
My wife has a pillow that says: “Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favourite.” It’s a wonderful thing to have a love story. It’s the one where people scratch their heads and say “how did you two ever end up together?”
I am going to call my part of the story, “throwing the spaghetti against the wall to see if it would stick”. There is a reason for that. It’s because there are key moments in life where the tectonic plates of the earth shift. You may sense it without understanding its entirety, because the whole story of what comes after, only ever unfolds over a long period of time. The Greeks called this concept Kairos. It meant seizing the opportunity of a critical moment, because… you never know what might happen. You put up everything you have against that moment. You throw your spaghetti up against the wall and see if it sticks. There are a few points in my life where I have seized the moment, and my life has changed because of it.
So when people say… “how did you two meet?” I can only smile because of life’s crazy serendipity.
I met my wife at a bomb scare in Jerusalem…. by chance. She was visiting with a group of ex-pat English teachers there, who lived in a compound adjacent the school, right where a robot happened to be dealing with some suspicious luggage. We were standing with the crowd, gathered to watch it drop the bag into a security manhole in order to blow it up. The fellow Canadian travelling with me, fast-talked us into a meal invite from one of the teachers standing at the fence. And so we went, two bachelors and fourteen single women – the kind of odds you want in your favour.
Except that there was only one girl I was interested in there. She was diminutive and turned out immaculately in very funky teal-coloured shoes. And she was the only Arab in the crowd. Her home town was Nazareth, and she was visiting only for a few days.
I have to admit a few things. First of all it was love at first sight, at least from my side. The second thing was, I shamelessly chased her. This was difficult because she was having none of it, and I was not having any indication I would get anywhere. She kept deflecting and burying herself amongst her friends, and I kept chasing. It was enough however to leave an impression when she returned a few days later back to Nazareth.
I thought I would never hear from her again. It’s complicated. Arabs do not date, and they do not marry out of culture – especially those who are drifting around town wearing a backpack with no visible means of support.
But my wife is resourceful. She called the kibbutz where I was staying and invited me to visit her hometown. Once arrived, my wife brought along her friend Dorothy as a decoy for the sake of appearances. It was not long however, before her dad noticed the cow eyes over the table and pulled her aside. What’s going on? He’s not with Dorothy, is he? Fortunately for me, her dad was a generous and open minded man. And so after speaking frankly with him about my intentions, I stuck around for a while longer, in the understanding that I was paying court.
This translated to a two year long distance relationship, and ended up at the altar. Twenty six years later, we have three lovely daughters and a life together in Canada. It’s complicated… but here we are still keeping house. My Arabic is passable. It’s our anniversary, the first one apart because my wife is with the kids in Nazareth while I do a home reno here.
They say that luck is where opportunity meets readiness. But that would mean you would know up front what you are ready for, and I would not claim to be that smart. In life, perhaps the best stance you can take, is to recognize that life has brought things into your pathway that are good, that you could not have anticipated. A wise man is simply grateful, and that is where I stand.
I am yet an amateur in the matters of women after twenty seven years. But I am still throwing my spaghetti up against the wall and seeing if it sticks, because life can be strange and wonderful when things work. There are many reasons to explain why you might love someone, but the most potent reasons are irrational and remain a mystery. You just know that you do, against all odds and whatever the cost.
Every love story is beautiful, but ours is still my favourite.