One day before our wedding at the Central Park Boathouse on October 10th, 2015, a heavy rainstorm drenched the city with a solid layer of water along with ominous clouds that were lit up by lightning and a ferocious wind that made you feel the impact of each thunderous drop.
The wedding rehearsal dinner was on this treacherous night; I feared the next day, our wedding day, would be similar in nature.
Our relationship only started a couple months prior, in the spring of 2015. I had just flown into the city from Hawaii the previous day. It was my weekly commute.
Here is my poem that captures my feelings on the day I met her:
The moment I got to see your presence, captured by digital signals — speechless and in awe of your existence.
No chat and no words could overcome the desire to meet you, wanting to move all plans set — to validate this feeling in my chest.
A crazy scientist kept me on the phone in his monologue speech, I simply hang up on him the second I was in your reach.
A sudden rush combined with being nervous — because I felt my chest heat up, a waterfall emerged — like steam reflecting from a furnace.
Embarrassed but determined to not allow any factor to come between us, I stayed calm inside and addressed each hurdle with its needed attention.
Cooled off and ready to restart our story, euphoria brought to the surface by simply diving into your eyes warmly.
Connected like we continued a past life journey interrupted, to find each other and the known feelings for one another — prior disrupted.
Not once allowing ourselves to communicate at a superficial frequency, fast forgotten the start through sweat — now I find us both with tears ready to validate the story of wet.
I can’t help myself to fall into your gravity, the dinner, the music, the noise — become background formality.
Holding your hand fills me with inner bliss, familiar is your touch guided with an ire abyss.
I can’t prevent myself from getting closer, the curiosity of wanting to smell you, knowing that only your lips kiss — will provide closure.
Once our well reaches the surface, the theme of waterfalls continues — awoken emotions not being able to hold back the surges.
Not wanting to end this natural flowing river through a dam called time, grateful I find myself — being allowed to witness this life’s design by Devine.
One month later, I was celebrating my 38th birthday and something odd occurred to me while I was introducing all my friends to my new found love — every time I would call her my “girlfriend”, it simply didn’t sit right with me. She was much more to me than that, on that day at that particular moment it dawned on me — I understood the true meaning of the honor to call someone your wife.
At that exact moment I asked my friend to find a diamond that could reflect my perfect, pure and divine love for her. Shortly after, my friend found the right stone, I designed the ring that was worth offering to the love of my life.
Here I was, 8 weeks after I met her — with a ring in a box, hidden in my sock drawer, giddy and full of excitement. But I’m supposed to wait to ask her after she returned from her Vietnam/Cambodia/Thailand trip. If I give it to her now, she might be robbed and killed for it there — why would I put her in danger like that?! My mind was having a full out war. In the end, I couldn’t hold back. I needed to know, I needed to see her face, her reaction — I desired to see her joy mirroring mine.
So there I was, Mr. bumbling impatient — on one knee in her living room, asking her to marry me. The resulting glow, smile and heart melting response gave me all I needed to reassure my inner fears.
I remember asking her, “ so, where do you want to get married?” She responded in her typical decisive way, “What about the Boathouse?” I had no idea where that was or what that meant, all I knew was that her wish was my command and so I quickly called upon my fairy godmother well connected friend, Chandra. She said “Ok, I will try!” — And my response was simply “Great, thank you!!”. Little did I know at that point what the Boathouse was and what a big deal it was to have it as your wedding venue ( I heard later that the waitlist for a wedding there is at least 1–2 years) I imagined some strange yacht club in Long Island with a view of the ocean, a pier, with a patch of grass for the ceremony.
When Chandra called me and announced that she not only got the Boathouse as our venue, but that she also got us the 10/10 date — I was still too naive to take in the impossibility of what she had just accomplished.
It was only after people’s reaction that I started to grasp the gravity of how big of a deal it was.
Venue, Ring, Bride, Groom — check, check, and check!
What about the last name?
My Albanian last name “Kryeziu” came up in one of our pre-wedding discussions. I recall the internal debate and the moment I decided to take on her last name. Kryeziu means Blackhead, a bird in the Albanian region. It really has no special meaning to me, along with the fact that no one could pronounce it and took so much my time to explain how to pronounce it. There were just too many cons on my list to hold onto it. Besides, Yoon is well established in her profession with the name Kane. I respect her tremendously and wanted to honor and support the years of dedication and hard work it took for her to build such an impressive reputation in the 17 years of her career.
There are many logistical reasons to want to change my last name — and I am first and foremost a pragmatist. Still, there was this deep guilt and social expectation to follow tradition. Its as if the culture had deeply embedded in me with the irrational sexist belief that taking my wife’s last name is not only wrong, worse yet, a huge slight to my manhood.
Love does funny things to you. Ever since I met Yoon, she introduced to me for the first time in my life to what it feels like to love without conditions. To be loved and to love. I thought I had experienced love before, but I had no idea that those previous feelings were my momentary and shallow need to avoid being alone. Its only after experiencing authentic love, I realized that this kind of love is utterly life-changing and transformative. Like a hurricane, it rips through and uplifts the very roots of your being and changes everything you know about yourself and the world as you know it. Every dam and defense broke with its rising tide — my ego didn’t stand a chance.
I also realized that who I am, what I’ve been through and where I came from cannot be undone by the changing of my name. I was born in Kosovo, grew up as a child in Germany and grew into adulthood in the United States — so many cultural values and expectations are thrown at me, but I did not get lost, found my own path and established meaning from all of it without losing my sense of worth and self-value.
The best part of all this was my father’s reaction. Mind you he was at the wedding and should have noticed the name change- but it was a year later when he finally noticed and voiced his outrage. He told me that I had disrespected his origin, his values, and his family ancestry. He raged, “I was born a Kryeziu and will die as one! like all the ones prior to me!” This was over the phone but I swear I could imagine him thumping his hairy Albanian chest as he was yelling.
There was nothing that would have reassured me more than my choice to change my last name was the right one. He was not interested in how I came to this choice and my deep sense of respect and honor for my wife that influenced my decision. His reaction brought up all the years of his oppressive fathering. His need to constantly put me down in order for him to feel bigger.
This was the severing of his smothering narcissistic influence over my life. It validated my understanding of the long legacy of oppressive, misogynistic men in my culture and the damage that has been done to the women and children who depended on them for survival.
In the meantime, the storm raged through the night before our Wedding Day. The next day, we woke to the most perfect, clear autumn morning — filled with the delicious smell, colors and the magical light of Central Park New York.
The most memorable moment was when Yoon and I stood at the alter, in front of the crowd of friends and family to read our vows:
Yoon’s vows began with a poem she wrote:
“I was born female
From the womb of my mother
Into the arms of my father
Holding my brother’s hand
Until I was ready to walk
On my own.
I walked, walked and walked
Until I was certain
The earth I was treading
The life I was living
The soul I was given
Was my own.
So now the time has come,
I sand before you
A woman, ready.
I am taking my first leap,
With you, by my side.”
Our beginning: We met, you sweated, I wept.
Over a short time, in rapid pace, we understood the reason for our immediate connection:
2 immigrant children, one from Korea and one from Kosovo, who not only made it out alive but had the will to succeed in the world. You and I know about sacrifice, failure and survival.
All the losses, hard work and the burning drive to succeed, whatever the cost. We understand each other very well because we lived our own versions of it.
When our parents made their vows, over 40 years ago, they had no idea what life would offer them. We were born from fathers who were delivered into war torn countries and mothers who’s only value was to deliver hope into the world, in silence.
Our parents did not have the luxury beyond survival, sacrifice and hard work.
You and I, on the other hand, have the freedom to take a legacy of survival to evolution. From merely surviving to thriving, from sacrifice to generosity, from hard work to creativity. I, as your wife, stand before you as a mirror of your inner thriving spirit. The feminine to your masculine.
My love, you are the one I choose to be by my side. I will grow old with you, with grace, approach life with curiosity, and find interesting and challenging ways to live, love, support and nurture you. You are my best friend, my lover, my soulmate.
May our bond be blessed with abundance in mind, heart, and spirit. From this life into the next.
I found myself choking back a waterfall of tears fearful that I was in danger of all out sobbing- looked around and wondered how this well orchestrated, perfectly planned wedding was missing the one thing that would have saved me from public implosion, tissues!!
We both turned around to find a crowd with not one eye dry. Yoon’s vows had turned on the water works. The most armored testosterone driven wall street titans were brought to sobs and tears. After the ceremony, the sunglasses were back on in an attempt to hide swollen eyelids, champagne and wine were guzzled in an effort to bring themselves back to their tough armored big apple state.