Why do they call those who believe in true love “hopeless romantics”? As a proud member of that society, I think “eternally hopeful romantic” would be a better label.
Once, seemingly a lifetime ago, I was a recent college graduate on my way to a three-month human rights law fellowship at the Centre for Human Rights in Pretoria, South Africa. A gawky South African, a Research Assistant at the Centre, picked me up from the airport, and insisted on taking me straight to a pub for a “Savanna” (the local hard cider). The next day we went on our first date, that weekend we drove several hours for a romantic overnight at a game lodge, and a few weeks later I moved into his parents’ home to escape a bad situation at a guest house. When I called my folks (from an international calling center – this was before Skype or Rebtel), I gushed that I thought this young South African, John, was “the One.” They advised that Mr. Right also had to be Mr. Right Place and Mr. Right Time, and opined that I was too young and John lived too far away for us to make a relationship work. Both happy with our lives on opposite sides of the world, John and I decided they were right, and parted as friends when my fellowship ended.
I kept in touch with John (and his family) for the next 7 years. It was nice to have a confidant who knew me so well but knew no one else in my life – I could say anything to John. In late 2010, I received a second human rights law fellowship through Harvard Law School. I emailed John, to ask how he would feel if I came back to the Centre for Human Rights (where he had since been promoted to LLM Program Coordinator and Lecturer). John was cautious, afraid of destroying the glorified memory he had of our perfect love affair, but I felt I had to see him again.
It was a gorgeous man who picked me up at the Johannesburg airport this time, with a huge bouquet of roses and a kiss. The next evening (New Year’s Eve), John admitted I was the only woman he’d ever loved, and I knew, for certain this time, that he was “the One” for me. To make a long story short, we were married the following New Year’s Eve, and John immigrated to the U.S. At last, I had the man of my dreams, but I wanted more.
I’d been told, repeatedly, that I could not have children. After being hit by a car in college, I lost a lot of weight and my hormone levels dipped to dangerous lows. Years of different diagnoses and treatments followed before it was determined that my pituitary gland had been damaged. I was able to regain weight by taking hormone supplements, but was informed I would never be able to conceive. The hopeless romantic in me refused to give up, so I was thrilled but not surprised when, less than a month after another round of tests concluded I was not ovulating, I learned (on Mothers’ Day 2012) that I was pregnant. Nine months later, my son Colby was born. Now my life is complete!