I was told, very kindly, by the amazing @jemscorner my lovely friend @takemeawaytocamelot that there might be a small interest in sharing how my husband’s and I’s cross cultural relationship (a born and bred celtic and very traditional Irishman and a wild brassy American woman) real life parallels Jamie and Claire.
@bonnie-wee-swordsman she would be interested in the crazy story of how we met as well. I think it would be easiest to star there and, if anyone is indeed interested, share a few posts from there. (Please know that I am in no way implying that the epic love story that is Jamie and Claire in anyway comes close to my own life. Only that through reading the books I found some very fun moments that reminded me of my own marriage and thought would be fun to share.)
I really felt for Claire, having to decide within months of meeting Jamie, to chose to follow her unexpected deep new found love, or be sensible and stay with her life on its stable, planned track. To risk it all, give up all she knew, live in a country with its own cultural rules, where she is an outsider. I faced something smaller but similar.
At 19 I was going to college full time, had a job, a car, and took care of my grandparents in California, where I was born. On Thanksgiving I was not able to travel with my grandparents to an extended family dinner. I was tearful at work realizing that I would be on my own for the holiday, when my boss at the University saw. She was from Ireland but had settled in California. She insisted I join her family. It was extremely kind but I was slightly terrified of how awkward it would be. Luckily for me she absolutely refused to take no for an answer.
So, at 10am Thanksgiving morning I found myself nervously walking down the street to my boss’ house. I immediately saw my soon to be husband taking with my boss and her neighbor at the door. My first thought was “shit, she has other guests. This will be so stressful.”
My husband’s mum grew up with my boss in Ireland. My boss was like his auntie and a very established professor and department head. She had told him a ‘colleague’ was comming to Thanksgiving dinner. He expected someone of similar age, not a 19 year old American girl.
My husband then spent the next several hours flirting with me while I acted a deer in the headlights, trying to be polite, professional and worthy of dinner at my prestigious boss’ home.
It finally clicked for me at dessert (thanks to a Father Ted quote of all things) that he was interested. We had a lovely night and, as he walked me back to my car, asked if he could see me again. I was more than busy at this time in my life (work, school, nursing my grandfather) but jokingly said I had the weekend off for the holiday.
My husband: Great what time can I pick you up tomorrow?
Me: Ha! Well, I like to sleep in…
My husband: 9am tomorrow then.
9am the next day the biggest bunch of flowers I’ve ever seen was staring at me through the key hole.
Unbeknownst to me, during Thanksgiving my grandfather’s cancer had taken a new turn. He was suddenly confused and not himself. My grandmother took him home and didn’t tell me much of what was bothering him.
So we had our date. A day of hiking arround the hills by the ocean and then a movie (Love Actually). It was amazing but I was clear that I was not looking for a relationship. And he was only in the US for a few weeks visiting. At the end of the date he asked to take me out again Sunday night.
Sunday night came with disaster. My grandfather was suddenly in pain and couldn’t speak. He couldn’t remember how to sit down or stand up by himself. So I comforted my grandmother, called an ambulance and then called my husband to cancel our date. His first question was how I was getting to the hospital.
Me: Driving behind the ambulance I guess.
My husband: No, you can’t do this on you own. I’ll be there in 20 minutes.
He was an hour away technically. But 20 minutes later, breaking all speed laws, he was there.
I had no family to help, no parents to rely on. I had friends, but this man who met me 3 days before swooped in. Took me to the hospital, helped me with the doctors (his dad was a physician in Ireland and he knew his way around.) He stayed with me there, drove me home, tucked me into bed and slept on the couch. The next morning he made breakfast, went to the store to stock up and basically stepped in to look after my grandmother and I. I was a very independent, strong willed girl who was used to caring for others. I had just ended a serious relationship (caught my older handsome man cheating. *coughFrankcough*). I was not looking to be serious with anyone and absolutely not prepared for a gallant young man to jump in to protect and care for me.
I was immediately amazed. But not willing to call it a relationship. My grandfather came home for hospice and my husband practically moved onto the couch to look after me. Eventually my grandfather passed away and some of the extended family showed to help with the funeral.
A few weeks later my husband had to go back to Ireland. I was sad but not willing to admit how much I cared. He promised to come back. And after a few weeks returned. I had never felt anything so powerful in my life.
But decisions needed to be made. Would we try long distance and hope it worked out? He couldn’t legally live in the US. He had work and family in Ireland.
So after a couple of months I decided it was worth risking everything. I made sure my grandmother was alright, I quit my job, withdrew from college and bought a one way ticket to Ireland.
I won’t lie, it was not a simple happy ever after. Adapting to a completely different culture, being an outsider, having to rely on my husband when I was used to being very independent, was tough. But I renrolled in school, got a job and we eventually moved to our own place. There were fights, and home sickness. It was cold and I was not always welcome (there was more than one argument with his sister in gaelic where I was intentionally excluded from the conversation) but it was true love.
We’ve been married for 10 years now, together for 14, and live in the US.
It was a miracle that the day my grandfather started to leave my life, my husband was entering it. It was a miracle that in just a few months I found complete soul deep love. And a miracle that I was crazy enough to choose it, even with the terrifying choices that came with it.
So that’s the story of us. Nowhere near as amazing as the fictional world of Outlander. But I was blown away when I read the books and very greatful to see someone else share even small moments that I could relate to.
True love does exist. It can last for years and across continents. The passion can grow with age and the fire burn brighter with maturity. Knights in shinning armor do exist (and they are as stubborn and exhausting and wonderful as you think.)
(Sorry for typoes but I knew if I thought about it too long I would chicken out. So here it is, mess and all.)
Romeo + Juliet (1996) by Baz Luhrmann and American Horror Story S03E01 (Bitchcraft)
The famous fish tank scene starring Romeo (Leonardo Di Caprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes) is paid homage to in the frat party scene where Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) and Kyle Spencer (Evan Peters) first meet. In this case, the fish tank is replaced by an ice sculpture.
One of the foremost minds in his field, Michio Kaku is probably the second most recognizable theoretical physicist in the world (after Stephen Hawking). He is the author of eight works of popular science, a number of which have been New York Times bestsellers, including his most recent The Future of the Mind. Dr. Kaku has passed through the University Book Store on a few of his book tours and is easily one of the nicest author guests we’ve hosted.