LOVE MAKES THE
WORLD GO 'ROUND
14 February 2003
I've always been a sucker for a good love story. Especially a happily ever after story.
I can't count the number of times I've seen An Affair to Remember -- the falling in
love hard and fast, the promises to split, learn to "grow up" and to reunite
again, the incident that destroyed it all, the meeting again, the happily ever after. I
love that stuff.
I love the scene in Sleepless in Seattle where they're watching the movie,
sobbing, reciting all the lines together. I have seen the final 5 minutes of Affair to
Remember so often I don't even need to see the rest of the movie. Just those 5 minutes
are enough to bring me to tears--happy tears.
Come to think of it, I love Sleepless in Seattle too...waiting through the whole
movie hoping that they'll find each other, that they'll live happily ever after.
I want to believe that things like this happen in real life. That you do find your
happily ever after, even if it doesn't happen right away, even if you have to work for it.
It does. I watched it happen in my own back yard. It's one of my favorite real life
The story starts on a rainy evening in a lonely motel in Oakland. I had received a call
from Sonia, a Brasilian friend of a friend who was traveling around the country with her
cousin and her cousin's boyfriend. There had been problems among the trio and Sonia was
desperately unhappy--and scared. She had run out of money and couldn't get home. She
needed to get away from her companions and remembered that she had my phone number. I told
her I'd be there right away and made the hour and a half drive to meet her at the motel.
She was in tears, speaking in halting English. She made me a cup of tea and a piece of
toast and we sat and tried to talk, in her halting English and my halting Portuguese. At
the end of the hour or so I spent with her, I invited her to come and stay with us for
however long she needed to. She would have to tell her travelling companions, but she
thought that was what she wanted to do. They delivered her to our house the next day and
she settled in.
She managed to find a job working in a B&B for a woman who had a lot of Brasilian
connections and wanted to help her earn her way back to Brasil. She also began to explore
the local social scene and that was where she met Charlie.
Charlie was a grad student in the university's enology and viticulture department. They
hit it off right away. In a short period of time, she announced that she was going to move
in with Charlie, where she lived until the day when she had to return to Brasil.
There were tears, professions of love, promises to see each other again, and then she
was gone, back to her side of the world.
In the beginning they communicated frequently. It was the days before e-mail, so they
had to make do with letters and occasional phone calls. As the months--and then the
years--passed, communication got less and less. "I can't understand why I don't hear
from Charlie," she wrote to me more than once.
Charlie was not a letter writer, and Sonia sadly began to accept that it had been a
fling and that she had to get on with her life. And she did. She had learned English here,
which made her job prospects in Brasil much greater and she got a good job--I can't
remember the company now, but after she worked there for a year or so, she had the
opportunity to travel to the US for the company. She decided that she would take a side
trip while here and come to California to see us. Charlie was not mentioned.
She told me when she planned to arrive and gave me her flight number. As it happened,
we were going to be out of town that day and could not meet her plane. "No
problem," she said. She would just take a bus to Davis and I told her that I would
leave a key so that she could get in. We would see her the next day.
I don't know what made me do it. i hadn't seen Charlie since she left Davis, but I
found his phone number and called him. "I don't know if you want to know this,"
I said, "but Sonia is going to arrive. We can't pick her up and she's going to come
to our house by bus."
There was a long silence.
"What is her flight number?" he asked, softly.
We didn't see Sonia for a week. She called at the end of the second day to let us know
she was with Charlie. The first week stretched to two and then to a month and then to
three months. We visited them at Charlie's home on a vineyard in the Napa Valley and I
loved to see how glowing Sonia was.
Then the day came when they announced they were going to get married.
It was a small, lovely ceremony at a wedding chapel at Lake Tahoe. I was the matron of
honor. Now they have two children (we just attended the graduation of their youngest child
from grammar school) and two years ago we attended the cremonies when Sonia took her oath to become an
They live in a lovely home overlooking a valley, with 2 kids, a dog and a horse.
When I look at them, I see that their love is still strong. They have found their
happily ever after.
Happily ever afters aren't just for movies. They happen in real life.