International running is commitment. It takes time to find a route and to work in a run while traveling. Last week I boarded a plane to Munich to watch my two good friends, Alina and Emanuel, from Graduate school get married; two wonderful people that I introduced. I was met with rainy and cold weather, a reminder our of London time together. Suffice it to say, that I tried to run. I really did. My first run was met with a downpour of rain the moment I started. 1 mile accomplished. My second run, I ran as far as I could down to the lake and back. 2 miles. Not very much. The rest of my trip was chalked up to wedding and walking, which to be honest, is the more interesting part of this post.
The best thing about weddings is the reunion with old friends. The best thing about good friends is that no matter how much time has passed, friendships pick up right where they left off.
In the case of Alina and Emanuel, I had always joked with them that if they ever got married, I'd want to give a speech and of course, maybe they should name their first born daughter after me (or her middle name). After all, Emanuel is my "brother from another mother" and i'm his "American Sister," and Alina is the first person I met in class at Graduate school, so naturally I feel connected to them both. But joking aside after all these years, I was touched when they asked me to write the story of how they met and read it during their wedding ceremony. (The below text is the result.) I won't lie, I was nervous standing up to speak, despite the audience of Germans everyone knew English. And while my story was met with many lovely compliments, I'm more just glad that I had the occasion to give it. How can I say this without being cheesy? There is nothing quite like witnessing two individual people that I love find love in one another. And while I take full responsibility for their meeting, I think Bruce said it the best, "You can't start a fire without a spark."
I'd like to tell you the story of Alina and Emanuel, but first I'd like to take you back to September 2010 and set the stage. I met Alina at City University on our first day of graduate class when we both walked into the wrong classroom and sat next to me avoiding the other American who was sporting an American flag. A few weeks later, I met Emanuel at dinner in Liberty Hall, where we both lived in London. I made a lasting impression by accidentally breaking his wine glass while cleaning it. And a few weeks later, his plate. These chance encounters spawned two important friendships in my life.
Flash forward to November of that same year. Emanuel and I were to attend the birthday celebration of a friend of ours from Liberty Hall. I asked Alina to come with me to the bar because there was a boy I was trying to avoid, so I was desperate to have company. At the time she was living in Chelsea and needed some persuading to come all the way to Islington. I told her I had another German friend attending the party and maybe they would hit it off! I believe she scoffed at me, in the way that she does, protesting that just because I know two Germans that doesn’t mean that they'd be instantaneous friends! Didn't I know anything? I tried again, "maybe you'll meet your future husband!" That comment was met with an eye-roll.
But lucky for me, a little begging and pleading, I convinced her to join me. In a nutshell, that night Alina not only met Emanuel, but that evening, Emanuel ended up pretend marrying Alina to his friend at the party! I distinctly remember leaving the bar with Alina, giggling. She had just gotten pretend married, so in a way, I had predicted she'd meet her future husband! My comment was met with a "Yeah, well, okay," from Alina, giddy from the evening.
And after that night I did not hear about Emanuel from Alina. They met and that seemed to be it. Or so I thought. The holidays passed and we returned to London after Christmas. In January, freshly back from the US, Alina invited me to her new flat one evening. When I arrived, I was more than a little surprised to see that Emanuel was there. It seems young Emanuel was helping Alina hang up new shelves. Alina and Emanuel hanging out? That was news to me. I knew something more was up. And so I pestered them. Were they dating? Alina insisted that Germans do not date like Americans do and that they were just friends. Until April, when it surfaced, maybe they were in fact dating and they did in fact like each other. I was so happy. Two of my favorites, together.
Flash forward years later to this moment. It is with the fullest heart that I stand here at the wedding of Emanuel and Alina, telling you how we got to this very moment.