Mandy & Mr. Black

After relocating to China a few years ago, I met Mandy online via QQ (China’s Version of Facebook) in 2011. When I first moved to China, I was dating a lot because I didn’t want to settle for just anyone. I guess I was “testing the waters”. I know that I don’t fall in love easily and I grow bored quickly. When I meet Mao Yali (Mandy) in person I found her to be charming, tough and focused in life. I liked her a lot.

We began to date October 7, 2011, but…
Prior to starting our relationship, I had spent a weekend with a woman in Shanghai. Much to my surprise the Shanghainese woman emailed me to tell me she was having my baby. Before I told anyone I needed to tell Mandy first to allow her a chance to get out of this relationship; for a Chinese woman sharing her man with a child that’s not her’s is unthinkable. I don’t think she really understood the magnitude of me being a father at first, and the responsibility of sharing parenting duties with another woman who has more money, higher status and who is older than her–all being incredibly relevant in Chinese culture.

My experience of not having a father gives me a sense of duty to my son even though his mother didn’t want anything but for me to acknowledge him. Mandy was determined to stand by me, but still there were many bumps on our road; she didn’t understand that the more she tried to control me and my movements on how I would handle being a father, the more she was losing me. We had to work through all of this.
The fact that I am 15 years older than Mandy makes it feel like a lot of responsibility and the balancing act is on my shoulders. I don’t want her to feel that she has to compete for my love, or to feel that she is 2nd because she is not. She is first in my life when it comes to love. I know she too puts so much into loving me, and I feel that strongly. She doesn’t care how much money I have, or where we live–in China or elsewhere–as long as we are together. Every day I work to match that kind of love, which can sometimes seem like a mountain to climb because all of the shitty things I have seen in life–my fear of love. I wasted some time waiting for her to leave–a self-fulfilling prophecy that I don’t want to see come to fruition.

Two years later, I look within and say to myself “Don’t worry about the end–enjoy this journey; look at her–she loves you–even with your round belly and complicated life!”

I am lucky! And in love!

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Lindsay & Blake — Happy Ever After

Lindsay and Blake married in a romantic lakeside wedding in Austin, TX on May 18, 2013. The setting could have been pulled from the pages of Condè Nast, and the couple, along with their guests, dined on four courses—each of which represented some special geographical point in the world.

After honeymooning in the Seychelles, the couple moved to Singapore where they continue their adventures of traveling the world together.

LB-540

Jason & Pinkie – A (modern) love letter

I knew I loved Pinkie, but tonight I realized some of the reasons why. When I told her I haven’t been able to see a firefly in over 6 years, she caught a few in a jar so that I could see them. She knew how much I loved drivin and how long it’s been. So when we went back to her hometown she took me out on the dirt roads and let me drive. When I said that I do miss Diane, she didn’t get upset. Inste…ad she listened so that she could understand why. It’s the little things she does, and the appreciation she has for the little things I do for her. Thank you for loving me for who I am, and someone you want me to become. When no one else would look my way, u looked past the bad and saw how much I actually had to offer! I love you baby ♥

Mary & Joseph

In 1987 we got married. My wife’s name is Mary. We did the deed in her hometown in Western Mass. I have since realized that priests may only get one or two Mary-and-Joseph combinations during a career. The local priest made the most of it. “Joseph and Mary” — “Mary and Joseph” — he must have hit the theme at least 10 times. (By then end, I was half expecting the Angel Gabriel to come down and tell me, “Hey champ, you can’t touch her tonight.”)

To get to the altar as a Catholic you need to take a Pre-Cana course. It is one of the best things The Church does. It stops you for a minute and gets you to think before tying the knot.  Like everyone else, they have seen how much fun it is to untie the knot when it doesn’t work out.  We were both living around Philly at the time so we went to a program run at St Joe’s in Aston. Of course, our Pre-Cana was moderated by a Father Joe.  We did a one day intensive Pre-Cana where older couples shared their lives openly about Communication, Money, Sexuality, and Spirituality.  Mary and I were already pretty good prior to that day, but it was a good experience if for no other reason than to perform a double check.

Six months later, we are on our honeymoon in Italy.  We are not big planners, so we reserved a couple of days at each end in Rome to get our bearings and set out.  One of the coolest little towns in Italy is Assisi, you may have heard of St. Francis.  We get there at the same time as a big festival.

We are checking into all the inns and there is no room anywhere. At one of the hotels, the last one we are trying before we set out for the next town, we run into Father Joe — Pre-Cana Father Joe from St. Joe’s.  He’s traveling with a bishop from Philly.  (I thought he was a monsignor at the time, but a little research showed he was a bishop.)

“Hey Father Joe, How’s it going?”

“You guys got married?”

“Yup — we are just driving around the country for our honeymoon.”

The priests give our marriage a blessing in stereo then asked what our plans were.

“Yeah, Mary and Joseph — no room at the inn here — we are about to head out.”

The priests look at each other and laugh.  Father Joe keeps us in conversation for another minute or two as we didn’t notice the bishop step away and talk quietly to the manager.

As we are saying our goodbyes and thanking them for the blessing they tell us to wait.

The next thing we know we are setting up in a room overlooking the plains outside of Assisi.  The view was magical.

We never saw either priest again. It’s been 24 years, the blessing is still working. (We’ll take whatever help we can find.)

We didn’t realize it at the time, but the bishop from Philly was Pope John Paul II’s Head of Communications he later became a Cardinal.

Cardinal Foley got a new gig this weekend  So, I figure he can get this thank you note from where he’s sitting now.  Thanks for the room at the inn and especially the blessing.

Joe penned his love story and it was also published in The Huffington Post–

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-the-nerd-ferraro/a-bishops-whisper-from-ca_b_1146534.html

Plan to Marry

From the incomparable Lucinda Williams:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plYDoRFIFsk

when leaders can’t be trusted
when heroes let us down
and innocence lies rusted frozen
beneath the ground
and the destitute isolated
we’ve all been forgotten
and the fruit trees we planted are withered
and rotten
the abused and magnificent
suffer from infection
and the promises were given
but never with intention
war becomes common place,
secrets overheard and violence,
big business and love
is just a word
why do we marry?
why do we fall in love?
keep on believing in love
because love,
love is a mighty sword,
love is a weapon,
love is a lesson and we,
we are the conquerors
we are the soldiers
we are the lovers
that’s why we fall in love
why we believe in love
that’s why we marry

Engaged!

A long road trip can make or break a couple. Blake and Lindsay were driving from Tennessee to California when they took a detour to visit family and friends in Texas. Somewhere between San Antonio and Lubbock, Blake took yet another detour–onto a side country lane where wildflowers bloomed wildly by the side of the road. He told Lindsay he needed to stretch and she got out of the car too, and then in a rush of magical moments he bent down on one knee, popped the question and she said yes(!).

They are planning to marry in May 2013 and then begin their life together in Singapore(!). We wish them many decades of love, joy and adventure.

You can read how they met in our archives.

xo

Bruce & Diana

I was divorcing my first husband when I met Bruce. He lived in the neighborhood, but I didn’t know him much at all. He started coming around when I broke off my first marriage. He kept coming around and soon we were always together. I had my two girls from my first marriage and Bruce had five kids. We stayed together, without any rings or certificates, for more than a decade. Then we broke up, and I fell in love with another man and had another baby (a boy this time). The relationship didn’t last. Soon again I found myself with Bruce. Now it’s been 20+ years since we started our romance. Still no rings, no certificates, but we love each other. At this point, Bruce says, “This is it. I’m not letting you get away again!”

Tell me!

Valentines!

How did you and yours celebrate Valentine’s Day?
What special gifts were delivered or handmade?

On my way home from work last night, I stopped in a Hallmark store, and found it comical how many men and women were buzzing around for that last-minute card or box of chocolates!

On the train, there were dozens of men carrying bouquets of lovely, bright flowers. There were lots of heart-shaped balloons too. It was a festive commute.

An un-fancy Valentine

Photo by Vog

This has got to be this blog’s favorite day of the year, right? Instead of a long, sentimental post though, I’m readying Valentine’s for some of Philly’s cute students but, I can’t find my markers, so crayons will have to do for these Valentines!. So—

In the simplest terms—I wish all of our readers a Happy Valentine’s Day, and whoever it is or whatever it is that makes you melt and smile—I hope you’re loaded up with it today!

xo
T

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