The Mystery of Love

In this digital age, what would you do for true love? Would you allow yourself to embrace mystery, to become untethered and follow your heart?

I recently came across an article from a writer, David Vecsey, who wrote of finding love in the mysterious age, that time before texting, Facebook, e-mail, and easily traceable electronic footprints. It reminded me of how I met my wife in the middle of an epic two-year motorcycle journey. We didn’t spend our time visiting historic European cities and sights, we ventured into the wilds of America living off of love, cheap coffee and a small tent!

David related his love story for the New York Times which was subsequently published in Reader’s Digest. David retells the courtship of his future wife as a sort of mystery, a mystery that might have only been possible because it was done old school.

He bemoans the fact that the instant access of our electric age can take the mystery out of life and lead to the missing of more ephemeral opportunities. In the summer of 1991, long before the rise of the Internet and social media, the mysteries of life took a hold of his heart and sent him on an epic journey of love.

Backpacking in Europe when what you really want is an ocean away

David and Joelle met while he was still in college and she was a recent college graduate spending time in her hometown of Peoria, Illinois where he went to school. They became inseparable, in spite of the fact they both knew the inseparability would soon be coming to an end – David would be leaving for a European backpacking trip and Joelle would be moving to Chicago. They agreed to write each other, but it was 1991 and “write” didn’t mean e-mail, texting, or Twitter, it meant actually writing a letter and waiting for it to make its away across an ocean. It was easy to get lost and forget things that seemed monumentally important in the moment. And to be honest, David thought Joelle would be “waiting” for him, so off he went confident she would be there when he returned.

David landed in Frankfurt, Germany and began a journey that would expose him to some of Europe’s finest landmarks – the Roman ruins in Trier, summer solstice in Strasburg, a rock concert in a soccer stadium, and the amazing artwork and churches of his ancestral hometown, Budapest. In spite of this wonder, he felt alone. He missed his girl.

By the time he met his parents for a rendezvous in London, he was almost inconsolable. His soul was heavy and he sobbed his way through historic London. Nothing could requite the fair maiden he was missing. Oh the drama of young love!

Searching for his girl, but no answer

But hopeless and forlorn is no way to act, so thankfully his father ordered him to call his girl. So he did. But he had the wrong number, Joelle had already moved to Chicago. Her old roommate gave David her new number and he called, but nothing – no answer, no answering machine, no caller ID, no way to leave her a message. He wasn’t even sure if the number was correct. He kept trying but nothing. In 1991, people could get lost easily. Tracking someone down wasn’t as easy as Facebook or Google. And it aroused a great fear, what if she wasn’t waiting for him!

Still yearning, David and his parents drove to Wales but his heart was in Chicago. His parents had enough of what had become a blubbering mess, and sent him back to London to fly home and find his girl. Upon arriving at Heathrow airport though, he was horrified to learn that the round-trip ticket his parents had bought him could only be used out of Paris. Talk about the wind being knocked out of you! So he caught a boat to France in Dover and continued his journey.

The boat was filled with fellow students and they beckoned him to stay in France for new adventures – running with the bulls in Pamplona, a pretty young lady invited him to the coast with her friends – he turned them all down, he had to find his girl.

A one-way ticket to the rest of his life

Once he arrived in Paris, David headed straight for Charles De Gaulle airport. But getting back to Chicago wouldn’t be as easy as he thought. The United Airlines ticket line was utter chaos, and he was told it might be three weeks before he could get a seat and depart. He was almost in tears. But as fate would have it, he left through the British Airways wing to see ticket agents waiting on no one. He approached and asked, “you wouldn’t happen to have a ticket to Chicago today would you?”

“We do,” they answered, “but the plane leaves in 20 minutes.”

It was a one-way ticket that cost twice that of the round-trip United Airlines ticket his parents had already paid for, so he had to use the “for emergencies only” credit card his parents had given him. Soon he was airborne and headed for Chicago. Surely, this counted as an emergency!

In the Windy City he found his girl and four years later they were married. It was only then that he told his family how he had paid for his expensive one-way ticket home with the “emergency” card. And no, David did not explain what happened during those four years and why it took so long for them to marry! We’ll have to rely on our imaginations.

Life is a mystery. Embrace your adventures, do crazy things for love, follow your heart. You don’t get a do-over of life, make it special.

Click here to read the full story in David’s own words.

Featured photo credit: by Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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