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Here’s to 17 Years How I Met My Wife
Whether or not you have kids, September can really feel like the start of the year. When the school buses hit the road and the weather cools off, everything seems to snap back into focus, as if the whole country is finding its rhythm again. But for me, September is also a time of celebration and reflection. The first of this month marks my 17th wedding anniversary with my wife, Estelle. I’ll never forget the day we met. It was a hot August day in 1997, and we were both in the midst of the first week at law school. After a disorientating orientation, meeting classmates and professors, and learning where my classes were going to be held, I’d made my way to the student union building to grab a quick meal. There, sitting at a table, was a stunning Korean woman. I was smitten immediately. familiarity with the language. So I passed by her table and threw out a phrase I’d learned. Her eyes lit up immediately. Unfortunately, my Korean was very limited, and she’d only been stateside for the past four years, so our first conversation was stuttering at best. But I did get her name, Estelle. Over the next six months, we had plenty of other conversations, many of which were my attempts to get her to go on a date with me and her politely rebuffing me. Then, out of the blue in March of ‘98, she called me. Estelle wanted to go to the Barrister’s Ball, a formal spring law school dance, and she I had just gotten out of the Army after spending a tour in Korea and had some
wanted me to be her date. I politely told her I was not interested in the ball and suggested we do something else that evening. Looking back, I can’t believe how close I came to closing that door forever. But you have to understand, my friends and I had no intention of dressing up for what seemed to be a rehash of our high school prom. Still, as averse to pomp and circumstance as I am, I couldn’t shake the thought that having Estelle on my arm would make for a lovely evening, bow tie or no. Eventually, my buddies and I decided, “Aw hell, let’s suit up and go!” That night ended up being life changing. After spending the evening with Estelle, I told my best friend, Mark Robinius, with utter confidence, “I’m going to marry that girl.” As you might imagine, Mark scoffed. Never mind that it was our first real date, we were also very different people. As Mark explained Estelle wanted to go to the Barrister’s Ball, a formal spring law school dance, and she wanted me to be her date. I politely told her I was not interested in the ball and suggested we do something else that evening.
it, “You’re a talker. English is her second language. How is that going to work?”
But despite the doubters, I can say there was never a time my conviction changed. Even after our first year, when I’d transferred schools to the University of Oklahoma, College of Law, we alternated weekends, traveling two hours each way to be with one another. We studied for and passed the bar exam together, and when I got a job working for NASA, she moved to Houston with me. It was there in Texas I finally decided to pop the question. We were sitting on a bench on the Kemah boardwalk, watching the kids run by and the Ferris wheel turn. I got down on one knee, and then the strangest thing happened: Seemingly out of nowhere, on the boardwalk in South Texas, three Buddhist monks in scarlet robes walked by us. Despite our Catholic faith, that kind of experience certainly gives you the sense this union is meant to be. We’ve had a blessed marriage ever since. Estelle, looking back on my youthful conviction 20 years ago, it wasn’t naive at all to think I was going to marry you. I’d met a truly magnificent person, someone without a mean bone in her body. You inspire me to be a better person every single day. How could I not want to spend the rest of my life with you?
Happy Anniversary, - Lee Berlin
1 Berlin Law Firm • DefendingTulsa.comwww.defendingtulsa.com
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