Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday's love story

Today's story of love at first encounter that inspired me............ for better or for worse, sooner, or later, love is on the way!

Love blooms in Zuccotti Park: Protesting Occupy Wall Street lovebirds tie the knot

Activists met at protest in September

Originally Published: Sunday, November 13 2011, 1:27 PM

Two lovebirds who met protesting Wall Street in Zuccotti Park tied the knot Sunday morning at a humble ceremony in a small corner of the ongoing demonstration.

In front of about a dozen friends and onlookers, Emery Abdel-Latif, 24, and Micha Balon, 19, held a traditional Muslim wedding on Trinity Place and Liberty Street, perched on a small bench next to the park's famous sculpture of a seated man with a briefcase.

“We have to be able to understand truly how unique this relationship is,” said Khalid Latif, the chaplain at New York University who married the eager duo.

“You have been given a deep blessing today,” he said.

The two activists met in September when they were trying to find a space in the crowded park to pray. They immediately hit it off.

A month later, they both knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together - without delay.

“We met here and it’s cheap. We don’t have to pay anything,” said the giddy bride, dressed in a white skirt and blouse with a small cloak.

“I'm really glad God has granted me someone who cares about people in this world other than himself.”

Balon, a Hunter College student from Staten Island studying human rights and Middle East studies, said marrying in Zuccotti Park’s “sacred space” ensured their life together was starting on the right note.

“This is a good way not to make the marriage about ourselves,” she said. “We are fighting for equality here. This is a great way to start off our marriage.”

Abdel-Latif, a prospective law student from West Chester County, Pa., said Balon changed his life.

“I'm not sure I believed in love before I met her,” he said. “She's the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

After they sealed the deal, the small crowd applauded and the couple scrambled to take wedding photos amid the sea of tents.

“I think it’s a cute love story - one of the cutest I've ever heard,” said Quainat Zaman, 19, a college friend of Balon’s.

In another part of the park, a huge phalanx of volunteer doctors and nurses dispensed free flu shots to protect the protesters with winter looming.

“We're getting 99 doctors and nurses here to help the 99%,” said Dr. John Jacoby with Physicians for a National Health Program. “We are here to say that everyone needs health care.”

Dr. Mary O'Brien, who was helping out, said: “Many people here are young and healthy. We'd like to keep them that way.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

the latest of many love stories that move me

I was encouraged by one of my favorite New Yorkers to create a scrapbook collection of the truest of true love stories that I happen come across..... You see, I'm voracious for these type of anecdotes; the enviable true life accounts of two people standing at the crossroad of that ride-or-die realization, "YEAH.... you are the one for me!" And the life changing journey that ensues once they're really ready to sing that Willie Hutch hook to one another--I choose you, baby-- and mean it. (I collect these stories and keep them tucked away in my mental treasure chest with hopes that I'll one day add my own enviable experience to the top of the pile.) While I haven't really gotten around to chronicling each and every one of these savored love stories I've heard (just yet, anyway), I relish in the opportunity to recount the ones that come to me and really shape the way I think about this thing called love.


Last week, I had a conversation with someone who shared this story with me:

About ten years ago, at the age of 34, I was living in Russia in the process of a bitter divorce. At the time, a very spiritual women told me that I would have a long life after I journey to another place, perhaps to another country. I did not believe her then, but here it is ten years later, and I am here in America. Looking back, I was a young women who was very upset after my divorce process and I was thinking about my life. I wanted a happy life. So, I decided to see about meeting someone on an internet dating site and I searched for men in my city. After a while I noticed that I could change the city and even the country of your search, so of course I chose America, New York City! One day while searching I saw the picture of a very nice man and looked at his profile. When he saw that I looked at his profile, he wrote me. This led to us chatting on a regular basis. And that is how our love story began.

After 9 months of chatting every day, and later talking by phone three times a day - everyday - we decided to meet. At the time, we just happened to get very bad news that he had gotten cancer, and so, for me, there was only one option. We decided to fight it - together. That's how I got to New York.

We were together for about five years,
and it was the happiest years
of my life.

But, one year ago, he died.........

After his death, I decided to become a registered nurse because I want to help people who have cancer or other diseases.....

She went on to talk about the determination she has in continuing this life here in NYC as a 44 year old widow who's trajectory changed just because she was willing to take an [extreme/life changing] chance on love.

At 34 (one and a half years older than my current age*), she was living in Russia, crushed over a marriage that did not work, unhappy and not sure what the rest of her story entailed. Someone spoke into her life that set the wheels in motion to her journey across many seas. Yet she didn't have the faith, or maybe the wherewithal that led to faith, to even know that the option this woman had spoken to her was even a possibility. And then one day, just on a whim, she changed a setting on her online dating profile which led to another whole existence one decade later. Who knew her love story would be only five or six short years. But it had such an impact beyond LOVE that not only did it bring joy ("the happiest years of my life") but it shaped who she is becoming for the duration of her journey in this life.

I've thought about this every day since hearing it. Mainly because, I'm a sucker for a precious love story; my parents have one, a few of my friends have them, I'm sent links to read about the stories involving couples I'll never meet but know through the snapshot of their love... I watch sitcoms that champion life changing love connections and daydream that I'll experience such a connection over the arc of many, many fruitful years with a warm fella who knows how to make me smile. But rarely do I think about, what if it's only five or six years that I'll have such a connection with said love before one of us is called into the next realm. (Nobody really thinks about that, right?) I mean, if such circumstance were to occur, even in the tragedy, surely it will have been worth the ride. (I am reminded of Sunshyne's short and sweet love story before going on into glory.) But it also underscores the degree to which that person you're connected with really impacts who you become in life and vice versa. To what degree is the love of your life helping to shape who you are becoming, in the most positive ways? That's a beautiful question to answer when you're with the right person.

So, from this story, I am inspired. Because it is a bonafide, legitimate love story. (Sidebar: I watched the movie "Love Story"with Ryan O'neal and Ali MacGraw about a year ago, and it had some of the same tragic yet inspiring elements....) But also because I am a witness to the impact of a person (who is no longer among the living) on their beloved, a woman who took the chance to love him back. First, in her broken limited scope of life, then from across the distance of continents, and lastly, through a major illness that ultimately took his life.

I applaud them both. And I cherish their story.

*I often jokingly, but half seriously, say that I'm such a latebloomer that I'll probably be 40 before I get ready to marry someone, let alone think about a kid, but I love how her story began at an age that I haven't even reached yet. For whatever it's worth, it just proves that there is no set time, parameters or time zones to determine when true love is going to hit you up! Werd.