Because someday you might ask how your father and I married. Part III

Because I am a romantic at heart, I have never quite weaned myself off from the expression "happily ever after." To do that, I'd have to disbelieve it entirely and that is not the case at all. What I do believe is that for every evolving, growing love, there is the commensurate possibility of seeing that same love stunt and decay. In other words, there is a happily ever after but, it comes with caveats.

This is what I have observed in several successful marriages: They function like last minute plans that somehow come beautifully together in spite of all the unforeseen obstacles that had to be overcome. You know why that is? The answer is quite simple really. We are all unique. And because we are all unique, we do things in a certain way, understand things in a certain way and react in our own unique way. That truth lies at the heart of every misconception, misunderstanding and disruption that any relationship has ever had. When our way somehow coincides to a satisfactory degree with someone else's, the misconception is nullified, the misunderstanding is short-circuited and the possible disruption is rendered inconsequential. When our ways do not coincide however, and there is an unsatisfactory degree of differing points of view well then, we find ourselves at a point where we chip away, sometimes irreversibly, at the happily part of our ever after.


After happy Venice...

I will not say that it was easy for us to conduct a long distance relationship, because it wasn't - at all. Out of that first trip came several important realizations however of which, the most important one was that we wanted to give ourselves a chance at a relationship. All that came after hinged on this particular decision.

On a day almost to the end of the trip, I remember your father studying me and ruefully admitting, once I asked him to share what had been on his mind, that he thought I was going to be more difficult to handle than he had initially imagined. I draw attention to that comment, which on the surface sounds sexist but really wasn't, because I believe it to be the very first time that M truly saw beyond the surface of me, and into the scope of everything else that shaped who I was.

What that insight had given him was an awareness that I most certainly needed to be handled in a special way. Inherent to his statement was the assurance that he would be attempting to do so. For my part, I felt the same level of committed discovery towards him.

In the year and a half that followed, I went to Baku 5 times and your father met up with my family in Madrid and Sevilla for one memorable Christmas and New Years holiday. Then it was off to London, Istanbul and Paris between trips M made to DC. We racked up a lot of mileage within that short span of time. Our jet-setting love affair, outwardly so glamorous and romantic, began to seriously wear on me. I longed for the permanence of one place, one home and a joint life. None of that could be accomplished on a plane always headed somewhere but never with a concrete destination nor, could it be accomplished with a clock that ticked quicker whenever we planned for our time together.

December 2002, Paris

We'd just taken the Air France transfer bus from Orly to Charles de Gaulle Airport for our return trips to Baku and the US. I'd been looking outside my window to the cold gray landscape of a Parisian winter, and feeling as desolate within at the thought of yet another parting when suddenly, I had the most urgent need to put a stop to it all.

How much longer are we going to do this for?

What do you mean? Even though I knew M had perfectly understood my out of the blue question.

Are we going to get married? Or not?

But Milena, I always meant to marry you...

The thing is, I always knew that he had in fact always meant to marry me but, I'd come to the point where I needed the words to be said out loud... with the anchoring finality of their intent, voiced in a place outside of just our thoughts.

In a moment, the whole world changed in outlook for me. We wouldn't actually tie the many knots that legally and religiously bound us until September of 2003 but from that moment on, in a most real way, I was, for my purposes, married.

To you reading this sometime in our future, I'm sure it will seem like a neat finish to the whole apparent saga of our finding each other, getting together and becoming a couple. Never think it so.

Someday, hopefully, I will watch you fall seriously in love my son. The kind of serious that will perhaps put into your head the thought that the person you are serious about is the one you mean to forge a life together with. And when that happens to you, I should like you to remember that most unions, while never neat and complete all of the time, have a certain number of attributes that you should look for as clues to indicate their long-term viability.

First and foremost, there must be love of course. Love sustains through much and catapults us over many hurdles. Never underestimate how much more important love is than just plain like or lust. If in your combination of reasons love is not the primary motivator for your relationship then, I suggest you re-examine what you have.

Second, friendship seems like a de riguer attribute to mention and one would assume that it is also a given considering that one is in love but, that is not always the case. In friendship, we get over those other difficulties that love, because it is love and therefore somewhat blinding, cannot sustain. What precisely does that mean? Well, there will be days when the volume, if you could call it that, of your love lowers. Those are the days when for whatever reason, we feel less in charity, less there, less committed. And it is in that last word that friendship kicks in big time. Good friends are committed people. They fight to maintain the levels of the relationship even when there might be reasons to make us want to throw in the towel. Friendships, because they are based in love but also in mutual respect, consideration and effort, carry the standard of the committed relationship forward.

Third, you must assume that you will have off days in your married life. Days when you might go to bed upset or angry no matter how you wish that were not the case. We are human beings not characters in romance novels. At moments like these, I have one absolute conviction that coalesced in whatever place absolute truths coalesce: No matter the upset, I would never wish to wake up without your father by my side. This to say that if you cannot conceive of life without your partner, then this is a person you must not let go of.

There's is a fourth and final thing I would have you keep in mind. Marriages are work. Sometimes hard work, sometimes easy work, but always work. Never take all the kindnesses for granted, never forego a kiss or a conversation. Never forget to say you are sorry when that acknowledgement is merited. Never forget to say things. Never think that it will all remain the same way forever. A partnership in stasis is a dead partnership. Think of that when you find you've settled into settling.

In these four observations, your father and I have based our first five years of marriage together. I have changed much from that person I was before that airport ride in Paris and I know that it has only been for the better of our common 'us'. I look at myself sometimes and think how much I've learned, been enriched and embellished by your Babi's presence in my life. Our love, friendship and mutual efforts have made it so that neither one of us has ever lost that belief that we cannot start the day without each other. There's an incredible guarantee built into this state of affairs. The guarantee that we shall continue trying always for us and for you.

To M, who will at some point read these words: Love you still, love you more janum. Blessed be the day Baba brought me to your home. Happy fifth wedding anniversary. They have been the best of times.

To you R, for whom these recollections and observations were truly meant: May you someday know the happiness and security I experience with your father daily. Besides a child to love the way I love you, I cannot think of a single wish I would want more for your future. God willing, you shall have it all.

At our marriage in Seville, Spain. September 2003

Part I of the story
here, Part II of this story here.


Dear all: Thank you for waiting patiently to the final part of this story. As you know, Hurricane Ike derailed much in terms of my intentions to complete the telling. Today, twelve days since it struck, we are still without power and though life in Houston is returning to normal, it seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time doing so. I'm just about the end of my tether here and have heartily wished it all back as it was before Ike. Work on the outside areas of our home have progressed well. It took two whole days and much tree cutting and pruning before the yard could be seen at all. Trash pickup has resumed - Thank God, and now we have at least been spared having to see the towering wall of our tree debris so sorrily piled outside the house. I have missed visiting you all at your blogs and hope that soon I shall get back into the groove of knowing how you are all getting along. Thank you again for your continued well wishes and birthday congratulations. They have so cheered my hot Houston days. Be well,



  1. Just beautiful.

    You definitely have the formula down for Happily Ever After (with caveats)!

  2. What a beautiful couple you are, and what an inspiring story.

  3. Is that you in the pic? Very sweet couple...and I like your romantic story very much

  4. What a beautiful, beautiful pic. Thanks for sharing...

    P.S. Today would be a good day to pop in; I wrote about Mr.4444 :)

  5. Ahhh, really a perfect ending for your story. I cried at the end at your beautiful wish for your son. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    May your life be returned to a state of normalcy in short order, Milena.

  6. This is a delightful post! Thank you for shining a light into my morning.

  7. That is a great picture!
    And as I read your advice to your son, I wondered if the real secret might not be ending up in a relationship with someone who takes relationships seriously enough to actually contemplate them and try to understand them. Whatever ensues from a good heart and mind applied to the relationship will probably be enough to keep it alive.

  8. This is the most romantic courtship I've heard of, and that picture just confirms how lovely the two of you look together! (bet your son is really handsome too! ;-)

  9. I'm so glad you were able to finish the story. Our power finally returned around 6 pm on Friday; I will NEVER take electricity for granted again!

    By the way, thanks for stopping by the ol' blog during my "Hurricane Hiatus." My sister took over, posting the most random photos ever; I'm so glad to be back!

    Hope your power is back soon!

  10. This is just beautiful. . . the story, the writing of it, and the illustration - just like a good-sense, no nonsense, perfectly magical fairy tale (as much as those adjectives don't match, it's what is real). Thank you for finishing the story - for your son, and for us. It was worth the wait! Glad your Hot Houston Days are becoming more tolerable. Keep courage!

  11. Beautiful, honest writing, as always.

    Hope you have weathered the effects of the storm.

  12. I finally finished reading your "how I met your father series" and ejoyed your tale of love. how very romantic. you both look beautiful in your wedding photos. happy 5th wedding anniversary!

  13. Milena jan, How I do love reading your blog. You have such a powerful gift of writing. :) Besitos to you. Love, Sahar


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