February 20, 2008

Our Story

Posted in About this Blog at 12:17 pm by Jess

In January 2006, I flew out to spend the week visiting my father, who was working on a project in San Francisco. He could not get vacation time to visit me in Dallas, so I flew out to visit the city for the first time, and to meet him for dinner every evening.

Meanwhile, Jonathan, who was making his way around the world on a personal voyage, was spending three weeks in the city of San Francisco, staying in a hostel, and taking photographs. He was spending his last day in San Francisco, searching for chocolate to ease his sweet tooth, on the day that I met him.

I suppose that I really owe our meeting to a ruddy faced Irish man named Dan – the Concierge at the Marriot Hotel. I consulted with him for awhile in the morning, laughing at his jokes, as he pointed out all the places in the city that I should visit. He gave me a map, and drew out a route that I might start out with.

So I did. I visited Haight Ashbury, the Botanical Gardens, the Japanese Tea Gardens all before noon. Then I took a bus north from there, to the wharf. At the wharf, I grew hungry for lunch. I called my Dad from my table inside McCormick and Schmitts, to tell him how much I was enjoying this vacation already, staring at the island of Alcatrez in th view, and eating a giant crabcake. Little did I know how much more I would mean that sentence, just a few hours later.

I polished off the crabcake, paid and stepped out into Ghirardelli Square with a ravenous sweet tooth. So, of course I went directly into the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop, just for a nibble, and a large coffee. As I was ordering, I saw a handsome young man practically attacking the chocolate on the shelves. He would pick one up, study it and then put it down, just to pick up another, and then another. Obviously, he could not make up his mind. So, I said to him, ” You know they give free samples right?” I wasn’t really sure, but I pestered the teenage boy behind the counter into giving this man one. He turned and smiled, and I saw that his face was even more handsome face-on. Behind him I noticed that there was only one other person in the shop – a girl of my age.  I honestly figured that she was his girlfriend and not wanting to make a fool of myself,  quickly left. Outside in the courtyard square, I walked around reading plaques. Suddenly, this cute man was passing me. He smiled and said “Thanks.” And he just walked right past me! I was confused. So, that was not his girlfriend, but still, he did not stop to talk to me either. I made a little tour of the buildings, then walked back across the square. And there he was again! This time we just looked at each other and smiled. I thought to myself at the time, “Jessica, this is so very stupid, and not like you. Just stop and talk to him!” But when I turned around to do just that, he was gone.

I was so disappointed. I get shy for the first time in my life, and he disappears. I believe that even in those first moments, there was an undeniable spark. Why else would I have been so dejected, and feeling that I had really let something important walk away?

Turns out, he was waiting for me to come out of the square. I guess he is lucky that I did – I could have left the other way. But I didn’t. And there he was, on the boardwalk, taking photos. I walked past him, and pretended to look at the trinkets at the sidewalk kiosks. I saw out of the corner of my eye that he had noticed me, and then walked behind me with his camera, continuing down the street. I started after him, but he leaned down to take photos, so I passed him again. Another stop to regard the souvenirs, and he was just about to walk past me again when I wheeled around, now at the corner of the street. He stopped, smiled at me, looking very confused and anxious. I blurted out“Hello, Would you like to walk together from here?”

We could say, the rest is history, but I’ll tell you a little more. Jon and I owe our meeting to our sweet tooths, specifically for chocolate. We spent the first day knowing each other walking hours and hours around the city, actually marking off everything Dan the Concierge had suggested I find in a week, and trying no less than five different chocolate shops.

Just before dinner, as we were watching the seals at Pier 49, my dad called me to say that a business meeting had come up, and he had to cancel dinner. So, we ate together too. Jon picked the restaurant, and not knowing it, he picked The Stinky Rose – a restaurant that makes every single dish loaded down with garlic. We even had garlic ice cream!

A few hours later I found myself, at four a.m., after having stayed up talking at the hotel lobby bar, saying an awkward goodbye. He had to leave, to get on a plane to Hawaii in three hours! (Oh how I pitied the people sitting near him as his plane was delayed on the tarmac for six hours. I woke my own self up in the middle of the night with the stench of garlic!!)

A week later, or perhaps even less, I flew from San Fran back to Dallas, repacked my luggage, and flew to Kona, Hawaii, where  I spent a most magical three weeks with Jonathan, and then his father who arrived after a week. There was a little more traveling to do on Jon’s trip. I moved from Texas, temporarily, to my mom’s in Indiana to wait for him to finish visiting China and Australia. Then he came to meet all my family in Tennessee, Texas, and good old South Bend, Indiana. So exotic after China, I know. This was only after knowing each other, oh, three months, but something told me that I should introduce him to the family. At least they had a right to meet the guy who was pulling me out of the United States, to live with him in Switzerland, which is exactly what I did in May of 2006.

And eventually, he gave me a ring, and inside the ring is engraved “Chocolate and Love Ever After, Love Jon”


1 Comment »

  1. rswb said,

    Stories like this, which incidentally are also rather like the story of me and my husband, scare the willies out of me. I don’t believe in fate at all, and so what I see in them is the improbability of our ever meeting. Not to mention the unlikeliness that we would happen to be the sort of people who would embrace international relationships (Reto and I lived in separate hemispheres for 2 years after we met) and then one of us making the [insane!] decision to move to the other side of the world to a country where you don’t know anyone else, don’t know the language etc. It’s all far too random for comfort, methinks.

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