Henry & Marjorie
Our Courtship Chronicle
We met on 1 February 1997, a glorious summer Sunday afternoon, at the Cape Town Waterfront. I had already been in Africa for 3 years, traveling to the countries north of South Africa, and had just come down by train from Johannesburg. I dropped off my gear at a backpacker hostel, then walked down to grab a bite to eat at the Waterfront, the city's premier tourist complex. Marge was waiting tables at Black Steers Steakhouse, the first restaurant that I saw. I walked in, grabbed a table, and we exchanged glances. Many glances.
I asked for a job at the restaurant, got it, then got to meet and talk with Marge on a regular basis as we worked together. After a short period of coy banter and some batting of the eyelids, we started to date formally. I stayed in Cape Town for 6 months, spending much of it with Marge and the Bingham family.
When I left South Africa, up to Namibia, Marge actually tracked me down by calling all of the backpacker joints in the capital city. Somehow she found me at "The Cardboard Box" hostel, where she demanded to see me again. So in 3 weeks time, after Marge had arranged an emergency passport for her first trip out of the country, we met again in Zimbabwe for a final 2 weeks together.
Thus the chronicle begins. And thus it almost ends. We broke up, basically out of necessity (because we didn't know if we would ever see each other again), but we never really had closure. We had gotten closer than we had expected (knowing that it would be a temporary relationship even when it started) and there were many things that made us long for each other again.
A couple of years later, I learned that I had received a scholarship to go back to South Africa in June 2000 for a year. So Marge and I intensified their communication over email and the phone. We had been away from each other for over two years, and we were excited about getting back together. But this time, after our failed relationships with others, we came back together with the benefit of more maturity and wisdom. We both had had time to reflect on what it was we wanted from the relationship and how we wanted to be with each other. This time, we decided, we were going to allow ourselves to be a serious couple, living according to Christian principles and thinking of each other as long-term partners.
That year together in Cape Town (2000-2001), helped lay the foundation for our future. It was an intense year, full of relational growth and togetherness. But, of course, I had to return to the States and the relationship took on a long-distance character. But we found ways to stay close through telephone and email contact. More importantly, Marge came out to visit me in Connecticut twice, during the summer and Christmas vacations of 2002. That experience was an important opportunity for Marge to see if she could cope with America, and if she could deal being with me alone (as opposed to when we're in Cape Town, totally surrounded by her family).
I again took a year off from university to go to Africa, this time almost solely to spend time with Marge. I arrived in Cape Town in August of 2003, then we flew off to Asia for 3 months of holiday travel. To be able to travel together for 3 months was a great adventure, and it only confirmed our desire to be together. During that trip, as we lazily ate cheap, fresh seafood on the beaches of Kerala and Goa, we planned this wedding.
We got back to Cape Town just before Christmas and spent the next 5 months together, as Marge started working at her law firm and I did my own research. I had to go back to the States in May, but before I left, I proposed to her and she said "Yes!" But alas, we were forced yet again to be apart yet again for a whole year, until May 2005 when I flew in and helped prepare for the wedding.