This is just to say, I am affianced to Sergey.
I’ve been saving my 50th post for this!
Bahá’í engagement means that not only have we decided that we want to get hitched, but our parents are on the same page. Thank you, parents! See my parents’ creative Naw-Rúz present to us below:
Most of you already know the story, but for those who don’t, here’s a little info lifted from my “Why Sergey” essay.
On July 5, 2013, I stepped off the airplane into the Holy Land. After getting through immigration, I was welcomed by my contact person from the BWC. There were a number of contact people there, including Sergey, who was there to pick up two of my orientation mates, Elika and Bahman. I was too tired and disoriented to make much conversation, but a photo Bahman sent, showing the three of us posing together at the train terminal, evidences at least some interaction. Through my daze on the train to Haifa, I listened to the conversation around me (how were these people so lucid?); Sergey said that he had not yet been to the beach. That lack of enthusiasm for beaches told me we were soulmates.
Just kidding. It actually took me a number of months—four, to be precise—to realize my attraction to Sergey. I didn’t see him much in the course of a week; an archival assistant has little professional reason to interact with an IT project manager. But, as luck would have it, we were both taking a Farsi class with my coworker Farideh. I would usually arrive a few minutes early; Sergey would usually arrive a few minutes late. (He claims that I always reserved a special smile for him upon his tardy entry.) Whereas I am a very quiet student, dutifully taking notes and asking the occasional question, he would ask loads of questions, gesticulating energetically, and remark upon the connections between the apparently infinite languages he knew—Russian, Romanian, Hebrew, German, English. Fortunately, neither of us had a knack for Farsi, or perhaps he would have found my stumbling attempts to speak the language more off-putting than charming; he seemed quite inspired by my small successes, congratulating me with a “Very good!” Occasionally, when I had given a response, I would feel like Sergey was looking at me a bit too long, but then figured it was just because I was in his direct line of vision.
Then, one day, everything changed. The occasion was the Birth of the Báb, celebrated on 5 November. After the program and circumambulation had ended, I found myself in the midst of the crowd that gathered to socialize in the small space in front of the pilgrim house. Feeling claustrophobic, I moved to the periphery, where I saw Sergey, apparently also alone. We greeted each other; I inquired after his Farsi studies. “I don’t like big crowds,” I commented. “Me neither, I would rather be somewhere above the crowd, maybe a roof, where I could watch,” he said. (Soulmates.) Then he invited me to join him and his friend Vafa for falafels. If I ever write a children’s book, I think it will be called Vafa Awfully Wants a Falafel. Although I usually abstain from crashing other people’s plans and from unforeseen falafel outings, I said sure, since I needed to head that direction anyway to find a replacement watch battery. It is important to note that I had been suffering greatly for the past week since my watch had died, leaving my wrist naked and me tardy.
So, Vafa, Sergey’s friend from Ukraine, led us to a small falafel shop in the Hadar district, the kind with mirrors above the slim counter so you can watch yourself spill pickles and drip tahini. Or at least that’s what I did. Afterwards, Sergey insisted on paying for my sandwich in a chivalrous move that I came to realize is a deep-seated part of his character. At that point, I was ready to set off after the battery and leave Sergey and Vafa alone, but instead Vafa left, and Sergey insisted he would help me. “This is my new mission,” Sergey said. “And I don’t give up until it’s accomplished. Plus, it’s for the sake of the BWC, since your office needs you to be punctual.”
For some reason, nearly all the watch stores were closed, and all the stores selling batteries didn’t have the cell I needed. (I can’t help but wonder if perhaps that was providential, as it gave us a reason to spend more time together.) After nearly an hour, when the sun had set, I was ready to call it quits. But Sergey told me not to give up so easily—there was one last store. I was skeptical. It was a hardware store with big things like tires and tools. But he insisted, and lo and behold, in a tiny set of drawers on the counter, we found the right battery. Sergey put it in my watch, and to my elation, it started ticking!
Over six months later, and five months since we made our “character investigation” official, my watch is still ticking away, leading us closer to our eternal union.