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Many of you have heard the long story of how my husband Wacek and I met. However, some of you have not heard the story; here is an abbreviated version of my Harlequin Romance Novel. 1980: It stared 8 years in advance with my French cousin Dominique. My cousin is a Professor of French and Latin and travels frequently during school breaks. She and I have many common interests and frequently would hook up to travel through Europe. In this case, in 1980, she and another friend of hers decide to visit Prague in the then communist Czechoslovakia. At the same time, my not-then husband and his best friend also decide to take a vacation to Prague as well. Food not being in abundance and with long lines at restaurants, they see two girls at a table made for four and decide to try to slip in to bypass the lines. Although neither group spoke each other language, they fell into a common communication of broken English. Laughing and drinking the rest of the evening, they exchange contact information and vow to keep in touch with hopes to see each other again. 1981: My cousin decides to visit Wacek in his home town of Krakow in 1981 traveling with a friend and her friend's daughter. 1981 was not the best time to visit the country due to all the unrest. However, they all had a wonderful time. After the trip, my cousin tells me all the stories of this wonderful land, people and of course about Wacek – of which I ignore and forget. 1983: I decided to spend my summer vacation traveling with my Mom to the south of France. We spent many days at her hometown in La Rochelle where my cousin still lives. Over many aperitifs, she expresses her desire to go back to Poland and she does once more. 1984: My cousin and I decide to travel during the summer for a 3week tour of… well she requested Poland, which I said, "No Way! You've just been there. Let's go to West and East Germany to check out all the famous museums." And so we did. 1986: Saving up my vacation for another 3 week summer holiday, my cousin calls to plan again where we'd travel. I had dreams of Iceland,
Africa, Greece…. But no she again says let's go to Poland. I asked, "What is so interesting in Poland that you always insist to want to go again?" She had no real good reason except saying that I would enjoy seeing the land and meeting Wacek, after all we had a lot in common – we both spoke English! Where she gets these ideas, I don't know. I started to consider it when the news broke in April of that year with something that changed our minds – Chernobyl. I looked at the map and then looked how close Chernobyl was to Poland and decided drinking Iodine my entire vacation was not the way I'd want to spend it. So, we went traveling all over Italy instead. 1987: I didn't have enough vacation time to spend it in Europe that year. However, my parents decided to go to France for a couple of weeks to be with family – including my cousin. Interestingly enough, my cousin had wangled a visa for Wacek and his friend to get out of communist Poland for one month to visit her and travel around France. So my parents were introduced to Wacek before I ever met him! When my folks came back from vacation, my mother could not stop talking about this fine young man (Wacek) and his friend for months comparing it with the poor choices of male friends in my past. I couldn't stand the constant pointing out of the old cultural ways; the respect for women, on and on it went…. I almost went crazy! 1988 Summer the Official Meeting: It was time again to head to Europe. I called my cousin to plan where we'd travel next. Not much too my surprise she said, "Let's go to Poland!" At this point, something in my life was telling me to go after all these years, so I relented. My cousin was excited and called Wacek to make the arrangements. She called me back to state it was all set but to bring my gear as we were going camping. Camping? In communist Poland? Was she kidding??? I met her in France and we "drove" across France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and into Poland. (Note: there are many stories behind this but I am omitting them for now to make this short – but they are great stories!) Well the Polish border control, after hours of finding somebody who could speak English had the same reaction when looking at my American and my cousin's French passport. "Why have you come to Poland," they asked. "We're going camping," we said. "Where are you going camping in Poland," they asked. My cousin and turned to each other and replied, "We don't know yet." The guards scratched their heads but finally let us through. Many more stories exist here, but the key note is that we met on this first day into Krakow and felt the vibrance between us as
he drove me to his home. The next day we took a long walk and I knew that our hearts belonged to each other. At the end of the 10-day vacation, I committed to return to him for the Christmas holidays. 1988 Christmas: We kept up correspondence and phone calls (don't ask what my phone bills were like) the bet we could while big brother kept watch on what we said (yes many letters were blacked out and phone calls cut out). My folks were not happy that I decided to leave them over the holidays (the first ever in my life) to be in Poland with Wacek. I went anyway. There we were engaged over New Year's Eve. Best 17-day vacation I ever had! 1989 Getting Married: I spent the rest of the springtime working on visa arrangements to get him to Boston. He arrived in May. I sent him to school the summer to improve his English while I planned our small wedding. In the mean time, I changed jobs and began plans to also move to San Francisco. We had only been together for 27 days before he arrived in May and then only 3 months before we were married. We were married on September 9, 1989 in the back of my condo around the outside pool in the presence of 30 of my closest friends and family. In retrospect, both my husband and I agreed it was love at first sight that first day we met in his car. Something in the stars was trying to tell me to get to Poland and I guess those stars guided me correctly. We've been happily married ever since (if you can be with a stubborn, opinionated, comedic Polish man…). I love him dearly!