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And I Saw Her Standing There

Since we're being nostalgic this month, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and all that, how about we go even further back, to November 1979. The Iran hostage crisis had just begun on November 4, but I can't recall any of the other events. A month later, the Who Concert tragedy and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, I can recall them.

But on Saturday, November 17, 1979 something occurred in Montevideo, Minnesota, that changed my life. I was 17, and at a Lutheran Church youth meeting I first laid my eyes on a 16-year-old AFS exchange student from West Germany who would later become my wife.

Of course, I didn't recognize it as a life-changing event at the time. I only noticed her because we were both wearing AFS sweatshirts. That summer I had been an exchange student with AFS myself to Brazil. I remember talking to her, and thinking she was nice. It wasn't until we met a second time a couple of months later I realized that this girl was something special. That second meeting I associate with the Miracle on Ice, but according to the calendar that must have been a two weeks later.

Her town was 25 miles from mine, and she had no driver's license, so it wasn't so easy to keep in touch. The high school winter sports season was in full spring, and we managed to "accidentally" meet at various basketball and wrestling tournaments. The teams from my town were unusually successful that year, and her town had the largest gym to host the tournament games. Once the sports seasons were over, we had to go on our first real date, the James Bond movie Moonraker with Roger Moore.

And as it is with high school students, I took her to my senior prom, and she invited me to her senior prom. But I never made it... I crashed my parents' car into a bridge siding on my way to meet her. She found a replacement date that same evening, but only just for that night.

That summer she returned to Germany, and we thought our relationship would end. But we kept in touch, via the best means possible at the time, air mail. She continued her Abitur, I started college, and that winter we simultaneously came to the conclusion that our relationship was something worth continuing.

And no, the rest is not history, because it continues to this very day.

PS: If you like this nostalgic kind of stuff you may also want to read High School from October 2005, Young, Dumb and Excited from September 2002, and Christopher's Guide to the Expo from September 2000.

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