In August of 2005, I traveled to Germany from the US (Michigan) with a close girlfriend of mine. We both have family there but she was traveling in order to attend a class reunion. We planned to visit her friends along the way and then stay with her mother and her sister's family before traveling back to the U.S. She asked me to travel with her, and as a birthday present to myself, I decided to go along.
We flew into Frankfurt on a Monday and, after stopping in Heidelberg for part of that day, drove on to Baden-Baden to stay with a friend of hers. The next day, Tuesday, we hiked to Die Altes Schloss and that evening, made plans to meet with some of her ex-colleagues. We went to a restaurant called where I was introduced to the group on the patio and ordered a beer. Just as the beer was being brought to the table, another waitress brought a note which was first handed to my girlfriend, who handed it to me with a confused look on her face. The note read: "Hi. Your name is Jennifer and you are from England. Been away for 16 years now… do you have 10 minutes to spare for conversation?" I was very confused as I knew no one there and was NOT from England… but my name IS Jennifer. So I hesitated and then looked around, thinking that the note might have been delivered to the wrong table by accident. A man seated at another table in the far corner of the patio raised his hand and my entire party turned to look at him. They turned to look back at me (you can imagine their reaction) and my girlfriend asked, "So what are you going to do?" I looked over at him again and he seemed attractive/non-threatening, so I stood up, took a swig of my beer and said, "I'm going to have a drink with a man from England!" and set off with the note in my hand and my heart racing, hoping I wouldn't trip or stumble and make a complete fool of myself.
When I reached his table, I noticed that he was even more attractive close-up. I looked at him and said, "Well, you're half right. My name is Jennifer, but I am not from England. I am an American." And so he said, "Well, sit down anyway." I asked him how he came to know my name and why he thought I was from England. He said he heard only my name when I introduced myself to the group I had met, and then heard me say the word 'castle' in a manner which led him to believe that I was from the north of England. So we exchanged stories of our respective circumstances and how we came to be at the same restaurant that evening. We had spoken for about 30 minutes (or so, hard to remember exact time) when he gave me an 'out' to excuse myself if I wanted to rejoin my group. Without hesitating, I told them that they were not my friends… they were colleagues of my girlfriend… and I was having much more fun talking with him that I would be if I were sitting at the other table struggling to keep up with the German conversation. He ordered another beer (he had just finished his meal and was preparing to leave when I walked in) and my girlfriend came over to the table with mosquito spray (it was getting dark and she knew that I get eaten alive by the little buggers). It was her excuse to check up and me and meet the man I was with and when he introduced himself, I realized that I'd been sitting there talking to him all that time and didn't even know his name!! It was David. I explained that I was fine.. that I was having a wonderful conversation and wished to remain, so she went back to the group, satisfied that I was ok.
So 10 minutes turned into 3 hours and we were once again interrupted by the girlfriend who announced that we needed to leave. David and I exchanged home addresses (he didn't have email as he had just moved into a new home and had not gotten his computer set up yet) and a kiss on the cheek and I left with a smile on my face. You can imagine the comments I heard from my friend's group as I was walking out of the restaurant with them…
The next day, Wednesday, we drove to the airport in Brussels to pick up another girlfriend who was flying in from Madrid, and then we were going to spend the balance of the week in Antwerp with another girlfriend before traveling back to Germany on Saturday to my friend's family and attend her reunion Saturday night. At the airport, I wrote a quick postcard to David and told him that I enjoyed our conversation. I gave him the phone number of where I would be in Germany, in case he had a chance to phone before we left for the US that next Monday. I joked that perhaps he would like to 'come for a visit' and then signed the card and mailed it via priority mail to be sure that he would get it by the weekend.
We enjoyed our stay in Belgium and got a later start than expected for Germany that Saturday. We knew it would be a 4-5 hour trip, which would get us there just in time to change for the reunion. I had met my girlfriend's family earlier that summer and looked forward to seeing them again. When we finally arrived at the house, we grabbed a few things from the car and were met at the door by her mother. We walked up the steps to her sister's apartment and greeted the rest of the family. Almost immediately, her sister grabbed my hand and told me that she had a surprise for me. I thought it was a Black Forest cake as they knew that was my favorite dessert and the only thing I had my heart set on having while I was there. She practically dragged me back down the stairs we had just climbed and outside onto the patio. All the while, I was protesting how tired I was and that the surprise could wait until after I'd had a shower. She argued that the surprise could not wait and when we reached the end of the patio, I looked up, and there sat David at the edge of the garden.
Never in my life have I been more speechless. No one had ever done such a thing for me… Of course I exclaimed, "David! What are you doing here?" as he practically flew from his chair to where I was standing. He kissed me gently in greeting and said, "It had to be done. I had to see you again." I started shaking and had to sit down. I remember repeating, "You're insane" as he recounted the events that led up to him sitting in that garden. The story, as he tells it, is far better than I ever could explain it, so again, I will defer to him. It was quite the journey and he had no way to know whether we were still going to be in Germany when we said we would, or what amount of time we would have when we finally arrived.
My girlfriend came down to where we were sitting, put her hands on her hips and asked, "Well, I guess you're not coming with me to the reunion then, are you?" I looked at her as if SHE were insane to even asked such a question and simply said, "I guess not."
So David and I spent the next 24 hours getting to know each other, and falling farther in love as every minute passed. David is quite the romantic and was already investing himself… I, on the other hand, tend to be more practical and guarded, but I allowed myself to fall in love with him even though I had no idea how we were going to make it work.
The next day, Sunday, we drove David to the nearest city where he boarded a train back home. Our good-bye on the train platform was one of the saddest moments in my life, and I felt as if I were living out a movie script. We agreed that what we had started was too good not to pursue, so we parted company only knowing that we would 'try'. We drove back to the house that evening and prepared to return to the US the following day.
Upon my return home, there was a letter waiting for me that David had written before he had received my postcard. In the letter, he explained the impression that I made on him more eloquently that I have ever heard anyone express their feelings… and it was affirmed even more that I had met someone truly special.
We communicated by phone, text messages, and letters in the first few months, until he had his email finally working around November. He had planned to visit for 6 weeks around the holidays. In the meantime, the busyness of my life took over and I realized that my heart was still conflicted over a relationship which I had not had full closure on. (Another side story - he was someone I had met on Match.com earlier that spring.) David knew about this as I was honest with him about it when we spent those 24 hours together. David deserved someone whose heart was NOT conflicted, and after a lot of soul searching, I asked him not to come to the US for the holidays. We effectively broke up from mid-November through mid-January, but there wasn't a day that passed without him being in my thoughts… without wondering what we would have been doing together during that 6 weeks that he was supposed to have come. The day that I was supposed to have picked him up from the airport, I returned home from work to a dark, empty house and dissolved into tears.
But I plodded along through the hectic holiday season and we exchanged only a few brief text messages during that time. On David's birthday, I sent him a text message to say, 'happy birthday'. I phoned after he replied and we wound up speaking on and off all day. I realized how much I missed him… things were finally settled in my heart, and by the end of that week (after 3 attempts at gathering enough courage), I made plane reservations for myself to travel to Germany in February. I didn't tell David until I sent him my itinerary via email… I sent him a text to tell him to check his email. I think he was a bit stunned that I was really coming. He confessed to not really knowing how much the intensity of his feelings for me had scared me.
I was a nervous wreck as I planned for that trip but when I saw him round the corner to meet me where I was waiting at the Frankfurt airport, all of my hesitation and fears instantly dissolved. I knew we belonged together.. I just needed that time and distance we experienced to be sure in my heart that it was 'right'. I knew it then. I'd been married for 13 years before I divorced, and had been divorced for 3 years when we met. I wasn't looking for a relationship and didn't think I even wanted to be in a committed relationship after all that I had been through. But David changed all of that. He is the most funny, caring, compassionate, and romantic man that I have ever met. And once can hardly dismiss the circumstances of Our Story.
I stayed with David for 10 days, but before I left him, I made travel arrangements to bring my daughters back the following month for spring break. During that visit with my girls, David proposed. We were at the same restaurant where we met on a Tuesday night… 30 weeks, exactly from when we met.
We bridged the gap with phone calls, text messages, emails, and www.skype.com. He visited for 4 weeks in May-June 06 and arrived permanently on October 16, 2006. We were married November 5th and are currently waiting for AOS. Life is grand!!