I met my wife in 1994 when she signed up for my martial art school, while she was still in high school, just a baby of 17. She excelled and became a national champion Sambo fighter within a year. We had obvious chemistry between us, but ...
I met my wife in 1994 when she signed up for my martial art school, while she was still in high school, just a baby of 17. She excelled and became a national champion Sambo fighter within a year. We had obvious chemistry between us, but as a policy I never have had relationships with students because the relationship would be unfair, as I was “coach” and they were “athlete.” Relationships however are equal listen-and-share parallels.
Two years after meeting her, she walked into my office the week she was leaving for college on the other side of the country. Slamming her fist on my desk she asked, ”So that’s IT? You have nothing to say to me?” I couldn’t say anything about my feelings because it would be dishonorable to pursue it as her coach. She turned and stormed out of the school.
She didn’t speak to me for six years: angry and hurt at my withholding of my feelings toward her. I regretted my decision month after month, but departing for Russia, I became consumed with my studies there, as she was similarly immersed in her university program.
Ages later, one Christmas evening mass, I saw her walking through the pews. She floated by me, not recognizing my long hair and beard, recently returned from the cold, Russian winter. Instantly standing, I dashed after her, but she was nowhere to be found. In the days that followed, I tried to find her, but her rightfully-protective mother refused to disclose her phone number or email address. I finally convinced her to at least convey mine to her daughter.
An email appeared in my inbox, succinctly asking what I wanted. So, I explained that I had hoped to buy her a ticket to fly back to my side of the country for the weekend to go out on a date with me. She didn’t answer for a week, and then reluctantly agreed. I sent her the ticket, but received in the mail a check from her parents for the pricetag of the flight and in the note field of the check: “…so our daughter does not feel obligated.”
Our date felt awkward and fumbling, confusing and uncomfortable, and totally confirmed my suspicion that I had been in love with her for the many years since I met her. She advised me that I had hurt her greatly, that her life was finally now where she wanted it, and that she didn’t need any major upheaval again.
“I’m not known for traveling in calm waters,” I laughed. She didn’t think I was funny. Flying back home, I didn’t know if she ever wanted to see me again. But she had given me a letter and made me promise to not open it until she departed. As the tires lifted off the tarmac, I opened it. She told me everything, from the beginning of our story together… And disclosed her true feelings. She loved me as well, but feared my tendency to abruptly change when I felt so inclined. She did not want to be hurt again.
The next week, I packed my car, closed all of my accounts, and found an apartment on her side of the country. (Perhaps validating her concern about my abruptness!) In two and a half days of crazy 15 hour sprints, I arrived on the West Coast. Rather than drive to my new apartment, I drove straight to her at work. Shocked, I could see her concerns: of course if I could do something so rash as to move across the country to date her, couldn’t I then make a reckless decision and abruptly end our blossoming relationship?
Although it appears from the radical nature of my life’s choices that I make decisions in haste, my mother taught me:
1. When you believe in something, you must be willing to sacrifice everything to pursue it.
2. If it doesn’t work out, trying to force it will only bring you great suffering and failure.
3. Knowing the difference between 1 and 2 is the hardest thing in life.
“I always wondered why birds stay in the same place when they could choose to fly anywhere on the Earth, but then I ask myself the same question,” wrote an un