While we’re away celebrating, I somehow conned Kirstin into taking over the blog and share how she met her husband, Farrell. You’ll see why this was necessary in a few sentences. Love stories are kinda our favorite and so is Kirstin, so read on love-lovers and then go fan out on her space!
Hi! My name is Kirstin, I’m a 26-year-old American expat currently living in Ghent, Belgium with my husband and son. I write about and post photos of my travels and my expat experiences on my blog Ivory Pomegranate. My husband and I have had quite an international theme going in our lives, pretty much from the day we first met. Let me tell you all about it.
I can still remember the day. It was the first day of my spring semester Arabic class in January 2008. I had spent the previous semester studying abroad in Amman, Jordan. I didn’t know anybody in the class that well and felt nervous, even though there were less than 15 students in the class.
Sitting in a small study room in the library, we were all arranged around a big table. Being 19 years old, I was a bit boy crazy and sizing up my classmates as potential crush material. Nobody made my heart flutter until Farrell burst into the room, several minutes late. What I remember most from his entrance was his stylish blue peacoat and his obnoxiously large rolling backpack. The more he tried to be discrete, the louder and more disruptive he was. He frantically tried to shed his coat and settle into a seat when the flimsy desk he propped his backpack on flipped over. Not quite love at first sight, but he made sure, whether he wanted to or not, that the whole class took notice of him.
Over the semester I grew more and more smitten with him. Looking back, the lengths we went to in order to hang out with each other seem so obvious, but at the time we were both convinced that the other person just wanted to be friends. Farrell gave me an Egyptian magazine with my favorite Arab pop star on the cover. He drove from DC to Baltimore to pick up a friend and me from the airport in the middle of the night. We used mutual friends and study groups as excuses to see each other. “Hey, why don’t you come over for a movie? And let’s invite Farrell!” Thinking back, I wonder what our friends thought of our timid attempts at flirting.
Eventually our “friendship” progressed to hanging out at Farrell’s apartment for entire weekends at a time. We’d eat macaroni and cheese, listen to music and talk about everything, but for weeks we never went past coy remarks and fleeting hand-holding. Why the hesitation? It mostly had to do with the fact that I was the youngest person in our class at 19 years old, and Farrell was the oldest, at 29 (older than our 27-year-old professor!). Could we really make this work? Is the age-difference too much for us? Finally, in April, he made the move and we shared our first kiss. We had the very serious discussion about our Facebook relationship status and made it official.
The age-difference has turned out to be irrelevant to our relationship. Location has always been the wild card for us. In June, two months after we began dating, Farrell flew to Baghdad to work for six months. We met up in Egypt for a week in October to make sure we even remembered what the other person looked like, but lucky for us the spark was still there. We moved in together when he came back to DC.
A year later, we were both working in Iraq when we planned a vacation in Malaysia. One night we dressed up, had a fancy, candlelit dinner, and walked around the Petronas Towers at night. Farrell offered to take a photo of me, so I coached him on how to set the camera and where to point it, teasing him about how blurry his shots were. Why couldn’t he keep his hands steady?
Then he pulled out a ring, saying something about love and time and I couldn’t hardly understand the words. I was shocked and completely wrapped up in the joy of the moment. (A kind French tourist laid down on the ground to get a photo of us in front of the towers, much better than any of the photos Farrell took while nervously waiting to pop the question!)
We’ve been married nearly four years. Four years! Where has the time gone? Our global ambitions have continued to take us around the world, moving to Kyrgyzstan for three years and now living in Ghent (with an extra person in tow, our son Darwin). I could have never guessed on that day in January that the man stumbling into Arabic class would later become my ultimate favorite person in the whole world.