It was December 9th, 2011 when Miri and I first met. I was in my third year of college and had been studying abroad in Vienna, Austria since August. A few friends and I decided to go out that night to celebrate the end of our semester abroad at Chelsea, a popular beer and alternative music establishment on Vienna’s Gürtel. Miri and I bumped into each other inside Chelsea and began chatting, immediately hitting it off. We made plans to see each other again, although our time together would be short, since I would leaving Vienna for Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany in January 2012 for my second semester abroad.
Long-distance did not deter us from staying in touch, and Miri came to Freiburg to visit in March 2012. It was during this time that Miri and I both realized we had found something really special. It was also when we discovered our mutual passion for travel–since we were unable to meet in the same city on a normal basis, we decided we might as well visit new cities to meet. Since December 2011, we have traveled to more than 12 countries and 50 cities, together.
It is Friday, November 21st, 2014. Miri and I are in Bruges, Belgium, standing in the wonderfully romantic old town center at dusk, wondering what we should do next. We decide to take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Bruges’ quaint, medieval cobblestone streets, breathing in the lovely aroma of waffles that dominates the crisp, fall air. Our driver stops to give the horse a 10-minute-lettuce-break, so Miri and I wander over to look at a beautiful old bridge above a lake full of swans (I did not realize it at the time, but the lake is named the Lake of Love and it is said if you kiss your true love there and make a wish, it will come true–naturally).
On the bridge, I am in photographer-mode, frantically trying to take as many pictures as I can of this dream-like nightscape. All of a sudden, time seems to stand still, as Miri turns me around to face him as I watch him get down on one knee, proposing in a mixture of English and German.
Of course, I reply “Tausendmal ja!/A thousand times, yes!” to the one and only love of my life. I never would have believed the man I met that during the last few weeks of my study abroad semester in Vienna would turn out to be the man to hold my heart and completely revolutionize my world.
Through loving Miri, I realized that your soulmate is not the person who completes you, like many people believe, but, rather, the person who acts as your mirror–the person who opens your eyes so that you can finally see the walls you put up to protect your heart and your ego; the person, who by opening your eyes, shows you what fears have been holding you back; the person who sees not only your virtues, but also your flaws, and accepts and loves you, not in spite of them, but because of them. Miri taught me that your soulmate is the person, who by truly loving you, helps you learn to love and accept yourself, truly. It’s a strange thing that by getting to know someone so intimately, you, in turn, get to know yourself.
Reflecting on everything that has happened in my life to lead me here, I see the truth in the saying, “Sometimes the bad things in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” When my dad died seven years ago, I never would’ve imagined that this tragic loss would somehow put me on the path to finding my future husband.
I decided to spend my third year of college abroad in Austria and Germany because of my dad. He was stationed in the army in Austria in the 50s (a trick of fate that he didn’t get sent to fight in the Korean War), and there cultivated his life-long love for the Germanic culture, with its history, classical music and opera, Bratwurst and Bier. As a kid, I poured over my dad’s army photos, fascinated by pictures of my youthful, confident father and his army friends taking on Europe. These pictures showed my dad as a young man I never knew (he was grandpa-age by the time I was born) and a very interesting Europe that was in the process of rebuilding itself after the war. My dad never became fluent in German, but fifty years later he still studied his German books, teaching me such useful words as: Schweinhund (An insult that literally translates to “pig dog”). When my dad passed away during the spring of my senior year of high school, I returned to his army photos and felt this incredible urge, maybe even compulsion, to visit the places in the photographs and learn to speak German. However, I was not prepared to meet the love of my life, the man who would turn my world upside down and who would mark a before and after in my life.
In short, the worst thing I’ve experienced in life has directly led me to the best thing to ever happen to me. Without my dad’s passing, I have no idea whether I would’ve chosen to study abroad in Austria or if Miri and I ever would have found each other and fallen in love. The universe works in mysterious ways and although I miss my dad terribly and feel the pain of losing him constantly, I still thank God every day for the seventeen years we had together, and, above all, for connecting my soul to Miri’s. Love is the most powerful force in the world and it will change your life, if only you let it.