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23 years... seems like just yesterday


Il destino. Destiny.

Some things are meant to be. Some people are meant to meet.

Gina and I were in the same place at the same time countless times throughout our childhood, despite living quite a distance from each other. I’ll write about that some other time. Today, a day before a very special day, I want to write about the day we met.

Just over 23 years ago, I didn’t know it at the time but I was about to meet my destiny as I wandered around an old building in a language institute in Birmingham.

I was lost, looking for the Japanese class that I had enrolled in for reasons that even I couldn’t explain to myself, let alone anyone else at the time. It was uncharacteristic of me to do anything like that, but I felt compelled to do it regardless. Actually, to say it was uncharacteristic is an understatement; I was a stroppy, arrogant, foul mouthed and angry young man who had just returned from a solitary and painful two year exile in Japan. I hated life, I hated people and I really couldn’t see the point in doing anything.

I remember finding the room where my class was supposed to be and pushing the large old door open, popping my head into the room and saying “Is this the Jap’nese class?” and no, ‘Jap’nese’ is not a typo. That was when I saw Gina for the first time and my life changed forever. Gina was sitting at a desk 15 feet from where I was and, exactly like a movie special effect, the room blurred and zoomed away while Gina appeared to zoom towards me. Time slowed, sound disappeared, my heart and breathing stopped, all of the pain, anger and hatred I had carried for years disappeared as I looked on her beautiful face and saw into her eyes. That moment has stayed with me and I still remember it now, as if it happened just a moment ago.

When I came back down to earth I shook it off. I didn’t want to inflict the emotional baggage I carried on anyone else so I instinctively tried to erase the experience and found myself a place to sit, readying myself for the lesson.

Throughout the next hour I did everything I could to not look at Gina and concentrate on the class but when it was time for a break, it was Gina who sat with me in the cafeteria and  whilst others wanted to join the conversation, we sat closely and talked as if we had known each other for years. I was happy for the first time that I could remember and all the walls I had built up over the years just came down for a little while as Gina asked about me and told me about her interest in Japanese art, her love for music, for history, for everything in life. I thought that she was such a contrast to me and I just couldn’t believe how well we were getting on. I didn’t say much, I mostly listened to her voice, which was and is like music to me, and watched her smile more brightly than any smile I’d ever seen before. When we went back to the class, I couldn’t concentrate again. Gina was nearby and I wanted to hear her talk of her life again.

At the end of the class, the room emptied, leaving me alone with my thoughts as I deliberately sat there for a while to give me distance from Gina and everyone else as the building emptied of students and teachers. I reminded myself that I didn’t want to be involved with anyone, it was madness, I had too much emotional baggage for anyone to bear and I remember feeling relieved that I had come to my senses. Anyway, she might not even be interested in me, I reasoned. Entertaining the idea of any other life dissolved and I got up and slowly left the room.

As I headed for the stairs, an urge came over me. I began to run and leapt down the flights of stairs, jumping five or six steps at a time, I rushed out of the building’s foyer and practically flew out of the front door. I stood there in the cold night air and looked left and right as if I were looking for somebody and I remember feeling disappointed. The street was completely empty. I still remember thinking, “What the hell was all that about?!”

Anyway, I headed to the bus stop and remembered feeling so alive as I smiled to myself, remembering the lovely conversation I had with Gina during the break. As I came around the corner to go into the bus stop, there was Gina with her Grandmother and I was greeted with that beautiful smile again. I smiled back and we started chatting again.

Over the course of the next 3 weeks, Gina and myself spent a lot of time talking, at the language class, at her college where I went to visit her, on the phone and then, exactly 23 years ago tomorrow, in Birmingham city centre on New Street and Corporations Street where we went to various shops together, just hanging out and talking before we went to her house and she introduced me to her family. That was November 29th 1986 and it was the first official day of our new life, although to me, that whole November was our first date and I will treasure it forever.

There is a funny thing, the moment I met Gina I knew she would write books and I knew they would be works that would make a difference to the world. I told her this before we even started dating. I never stopped believing this, to me it has always been a matter of fact and that one day it would happen, regardless of anything else in life. I have never put pressure on Gina about this either, she has just always accepted that I hold this unshakable belief in her. Now, her groundbreaking works on Utamaro will help scholars and connoisseurs for many generations to come and her first novel, let alone forthcoming novels, is not only fabulous, it has helped to heal wounds inflicted on us and many, many other people who have suffered from harassment and abuse, doing so with humour and grace, as well as bringing humour to many other people’s lives too. All I can say is, “I told you so.” Haaaa!

I’m posting this blog a day early because tomorrow I just want to spend the day celebrating, watching DVDs, playing games, having pizza and being here, in our special home, with Gina.

Happy anniversary my love, I love you more every day and I still can’t find the words to tell you how much I love you.

18 Comment count
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Congrats. Enjoy your moments

Congrats. Enjoy your moments together. The love you share. m

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Thanks Mary

It's hard not to enjoy them, we have a good laugh, it keeps us young at heart. :)

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Ryoma, I have a sneaking

Ryoma, I have a sneaking suspicion that Gina is just as happy to have found you. As for me, I'm so glad that you found each other and then that you found Red Room so we could all join your circle of friends. Congratulations to you both and may you both have many more years and novels to come. Susan

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Hi Susan

Thanks for reading and posting, especially as you are so busy lately! I hope you have settled in completely now, although I have to say, it usually takes us at least 6 months to things out of their boxes. :)

I try not to speak on Gina's behalf but I suspect that Gina is just as happy too. I am glad for that and do not take it for granted.

Thank you for your very kind comments. I remember coming across your blogs long before I posted on any of them, I would tell Gina about what you'd achieved and how you'd done so too. Of all the people on RR, I can tell you that I hold you in very high esteem indeed and appreciate you posting here all the more because of that. Just wanted to tell you that. :)

Wishing you the best, always.

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I just had to


I just had to have my wife leave her computer, and come over and sit at my laptop to read your blog. She was as deeply touched as I was and because the love she and I share is so special, when we see another couple as happy with each other as Brenda and I are with each other, it warms our hearts.
Relationships throughout our society are so often taken for granted and sometimes I wonder how much different the world would be if everyone just loved and let themselves be loved. When we find our soulmate, it makes things that much more special and and I fully understand what you mean about "destiny." Today was a spoecial day for us, as that now I have a good job, finally, and things are beginning to come together, we spent the day traveling around and looking at apartment complexes and houses. It's such an exciting time to be sharing with each other, after moving from tents in a campground, to living with a friend, to now looking for our own place. On the horizon I can see even more, but like you, everything around me seems so much smaller than the love I share with my wife, that whatever I am able to achieve now is simply more icing on the cake.
I know you don't think of yourself as a writer, but I hope that someday you will write a detailed book of your experiences. Each time I read your postings to the RR, I end up walking away with a smile. So maybe you are in fact a great writer, or maybe I can relate so closely to what you write, that I enjoy it all the more. So....keep writing! :)

Your friend across the big pond...


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Thanks for your wonderful

Thanks for your wonderful message. Please say 'Hi' to Brenda for me too. :)

I think I know how you feel today, I have lost everything more than once in my life and have even been homeless twice. I feel such joy for you and your family, I really do. I hope you find your perfect place soon and I smile at the thought of the happy chaos you will experience when you move in, boxes everywhere, your first meal with stuff all over the place, happy and tired and in your new 'home'. A real home.

I wish you the best for all the good things on the horizon too. May they come to you swiftly and may they be everything that you hope them to be.

The following link might bring a smile to Brenda's face, by the way. It's an article from the Times called "Men married to smart women live longer" http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6872519.ece

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What a perfect,detailed

What a perfect,detailed story of your first meeting! It shows how deeply you love Gena.I feel like,I was there standing behind the door as you had opened it  and looked at Gena for the first time. Have a good, 'top of the world' pleasuring memory today. Now I know the reason behind your caring and loving type of husbanding .Very bad news for ladies, Ryoma can not be cloned,only can be reached through destiny. My love and blessings to you two.

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Thank you Jitu, for your

Thank you Jitu, for your kind and happy comments. I have a 'questionable' memory, but I will never forget how we met. It is as clear in my mind today as it was when I first met her. Isn't the human memory amazing? How we can recapture everything that all of our senses experienced decades before is just miraculous.

I wish you a 'top of the world' time today as well, Jitu. Thanks again for posting. :)

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just lovely!

What a great story, Ryoma! So few people are lucky enough to find their person -- their soulmate, you might say -- as young as you two did. Here's to your next 23 years!

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Hi Evie!

Thanks, I'm very happy that you like this story. The memory of our meeting are iprinted on my mind. It's a good thing really because I have a memory like a sieve! Hope all is well with you, Evie. :) Always love seeing your smiling face.

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Thanks for sharing

What a beautiful love story!

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Thank you for such kind

Thank you for such kind words! I love hearing other people's stories of how they met. It never ceases to amaze me how people can come together when considering the odds stacked against us. :)

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That was a beautiful story of your first meeting. You are so fortunate to have found your light. Isn't it amazing that when we meet the right person there is a part of us that knows that person even before we know their name? Someday I'll write of how I met my husband. It was one of those "butterflies in the stomach, weak in the knees, mind-blank" experiences that, even though it was over 20 years ago I recall as if it were yesterday.

Happy Anniversary to both of you and may you be blessed with many more wonderful years together.

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Hi Renee

I'm absolutely sure that many people would love to hear about how you and your husband met. I look forward to reading it. :)

I never tire of reading about people meeting, often in ways that would be hard to believe if they were written as fiction, and yet it happened. Truth is stranger than fiction in my opinion, our own lives and many people we know have been a testimony to that statement!

Thank you for your anniversary best wishes. :) 

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It takes two, It does takes two

Happy Anniversary to both of you and may you be blessed with many, many, more.

I have a strong feeling Gina's next book will be a powerful guide of 23 years together to continue her great works of helping couples staying together.

(Lessons of the "fruitful" joys of marriage)

The world certainly needs them!


Catherine Nagle

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Hi Catherine.

Yes, I couldn't agree more. Although it takes two, I will never hesitate to say that it's Gina who has been guide in our life, her wisdom, kindness, goodness, generosity of spirit, love and countless other 'Gina' attributes have made our life what it is.

Thanks for posting. As always it is such a pleasure to see you post. Hope all is well with you.

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Such a beautiful blog, I

Such a beautiful blog, I swear, I'm tearing up a little :)
Your memory is like one of my stories hehe <3
I wish you a happy future together, just as blissfull your past and present must be.


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Thanks Stephanie.

I don't know how to respond to such a beautiful comment. Thank you. I wish you the very same, Stephanie. :)