Today is the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. I feel funny about posting something without making reference to this national milestone. My husband and I met almost 6 years after the tragic events of that day, and by then, life had largely returned to what is the new normal. For people more closely connected with the events of that day, carrying on with life has a much different meaning. Those who lost loved ones will most likely always carry their pain with them even as they go through the routine motions of their days. It is fitting to think of them on this day, and of all the lives which were lost.
Despite the solemnity of the day, this post is about new beginnings, and is written in a light tone. I hope it shows that despite the events which changed the landscape of our country, we are still able to laugh, to love and to find beauty in our lives.
My friend Ruchi wrote this great post about meeting her husband, and I enjoyed it so much that it inspired me to share how I met MY husband. He gave me the green light, and after seeing that a number of you wanted to read about it (thanks for the feedback!), here it is.
Preface: I dated via the shidduch system, which is basically like blind dating except it’s with the intent to marry (as opposed to just date). Also, no touchy-touchy. At all. Hands off. There is also a fairly thorough background check, as well as screening for genetic diseases (Cystic Fibrosis and Tay-Sachs are prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews). in Yeshivish circles, the dating period is insanely short by secular standards, like, a couple months or less. On these dates, we do a combination of small talk and discussions of our goals, outlooks, etc. If we want to continue dating, we contact the shadchan, who acts as a go-between (way easier to deal with/dish out rejection through a third party, let me tell you). When the couple is comfortable enough to interact directly, the shadchan steps back, but is still used to consult if necessary.
And now for the good part:
It was June of 2007. I was in St. Louis for the summer after spending an inspiring year studying at Neve Yerushalayim. My Rabbi had recommended that I continue dating while in America. I was highly skeptical about this, since St. Louis wasn’t exactly a hotspot of single Orthodox Jewish guys. And, besides, I was positive my bashert was in Israel, where I was planning on living for the rest of my life. But since my Rabbi said to try, I put forth a little effort.
I signed up for one Jewish dating site (not so effective, that), and I also met with one lady who suggested a very interesting sounding guy. He was in med school, Russian background, went to a good yeshivah, lived in Memphis, was my age, and some other stuff I don’t remember anymore. When I looked into it, though, he was “busy” (frum slang for “dating someone else”).
Soon after that, a Rebbetzin I was close with suggested the same guy to me, and I told her he was busy. It turns out that he was the younger brother of a family I knew, and they thought it might be a good shidduch. It was a family I would be happy to marry into, but since this guy was busy, I put it out of my mind. With these minimal steps, I felt I had fulfilled the requirement to make an effort. My husband was in Israel, remember?
I occupied myself with working, saving money, spending time with friends and family, and pining for the Holy Land.
this is really where I wanted to be
Every so often, I would get a (wildly inappropriate) suggestion from the dating site. I realized that if I actually got a decent suggestion, but started dating him too close to my return ticket’s date, it would be hard to make a good decision. So, I selected a date about a month before my departure, and after that day, I wouldn’t accept any new suggestions.
Fast forward to two days before my self-imposed deadline. During the middle of the (extremely boring and monotonous) workday, I received a call on my cell phone. It was the aforementioned Rebbetzin, who proceeded to tell me that the guy was in town and I was scheduled to go out with him. That night.
My first thought was, “Whoa, that’s some crazy timing!” My second thought was, “Oh my gosh, I have the biggest pimple in the world on my face right now. Hashem, why?!”
I was, pretty much, a useless employee for the rest of the day. Despite my best efforts to work, I was supremely distracted. That evening, I got ready in a giddy daze. Buzzing with expectation and potential, I put on my nicest outfit, straightened my hair, did my make-up, and tried, in vain, to cover that mountainous blemish.
Nervous doesn’t even remotely describe how I was feeling. I sat on the couch in the living room and tried to concentrate on saying Tehillim until he picked me up.
After I answered the door, we smiled awkwardly at each other as we tried to discretely check each other out. The date was nice, not uncomfortable at all. Our conversation was good, flowed easily, and he laughed and commented in all the right places. I thought he was sweet, well-mannered and attractive. We both said yes to another date.
For our second date, I think we went to the Art Museum (wow, it’s only been four years and I already can’t remember which dates were when). I really liked him, but I was afraid that he was too good for me. He had excellent middos, was unfailingly polite, considerate, and I was feeling totally outclassed. He was just so nice, and I was just so me.
Thankfully, he didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with me, and we both said yes to another date. I drove to his city for a weekend dating extravaganza. We went on at least four dates, including one Shabbos meal. Over the course of the weekend, we shared anecdotes from our lives, peeking into our pasts, opening ourselves up a little more to each other. Our conversations turned more serious as we discussed what we wanted out of life, what kind of education we wanted for our children, what role we would like family to play in our lives. Our hopes and dreams, basically.
We both agree that it was during this trip that we realized we wanted to marry each other. However, marriage is a really big deal (ahem, understatement), and thus we went on many, many more dates (as well as meeting our respective families) before he proposed to me. I was definitely ready to say yes at that point.
He proposed to me simply, making a very touching and sweet speech before asking me the big question. He gave me a necklace and I think I wore it every single day until we got married (and then still almost every single day after that for quite some time).
our fist official day as an engaged couple.
We were engaged in September, the night selichos started. At our l’chaim (a small celebration immediately following our engagement) my future brother-in-law said, as a play on words, that this was the beginning of my husband’s saying slicha (sorry) to me.
Our wedding was on December 16th, 2007, and we’ve been falling in love with each other ever since. Awwww.
After we were married, I discovered that our first date was a surprise for my husband as well. He drove up to St. Louis unaware that he would be going out with me (he was coming to meet his newest niece, who was about a month old at the time). Since he didn’t bring date clothes, he had to borrow a suit and hat from his brother, and was self-conscious that I would notice that it didn’t fit him quite right. I didn’t notice at all, and he didn’t notice my monster pimple. Love is blind after all!
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