At this time, I didn?t even know that Ema was in Romania, only someplace in Europe. Ema didn?t think I would be interested in coming and staying in a place like Romania, and she didn?t see how she would ever be able to come to America. At a point, in December, she tried to break off our relationship because she felt that it was only going to hurt to be in love with someone who you could never meet. Trying to break this off only made us both feel miserable though. We needed each other, but we didn?t know how we could be together.
During this time of almost a month when Ema stopped talking to me, I visited a church - St. Matthew?s cathedral - with a friend because it was the church where his grandparents were married and it was a landmark in Washington, DC. It seemed like most Catholic cathedrals, but when I was about to leave, I noticed that there was a small room with a place to pray and it had murals of St. Francis. I had read some things about St. Francis and was intrigued by him. So I felt compelled to go into this little room. While I sat down in this room, I felt very affected by the imagery of the saint and of Jesus in front of me. For the first time in my life, except maybe when I was Baptized, I felt a real connection in my spirit with God. I felt like I had no choice but to get down on my knees and just listen, to see if he would have anything to say or show me. I began to cry and I realized that I was living my life too much with my head and not enough with my heart. I felt that God was telling me to live by my heart that he would guide me and I should trust him and not try to out think him. I should give over control of my life to him. So I decided that I would try to live this way and whatever he had planned for me I would accept. Soon, Ema decided to start over with me, and we shared even more of our hearts with each other.
At the end of March, 2002, six months after first talking with Ema, I decided to come to Romania to be with her. When I saw Ema?s face at the airport - her big dark eyes alive with excitement that I was there and real and all for her - my heart leapt too, and I knew that I had made the right decision. After being here a month, I asked her to marry me and she said yes. We got married on May 25, 2002.
But, first, I needed a place to live when I got here. A week before I came to Romania, I had found some offers online to rent an apartment from a real estate agency in Bucharest. I exchanged e-mails with an agent and told him what day and time I would be here. He said that he would line up some places to see the day I got here. I got his name and phone number and I assured him that I was serious.
When I arrived, Ema called the agent on his mobile phone. He seemed very surprised that I actually came and that I called exactly when I said that I would. I was very surprised that he hadn?t called any places to see if I could view them to rent. My experience with real estate agents in the U.S. was that they were very aggressive to move properties and wanted to show them as quickly as they could. Ema explained to me that he probably didn?t think that I was serious and that he wanted to wait and see if I actually showed up before he did something. This was my first experience that I had in Romania with what I would find out was a basic mistrust in the society. People don?t trust their government. The government doesn?t trust the citizens. People don?t trust their employers and they don?t trust their employees. People don?t have much trust or confidence in each other in general, and this mistrust breeds an environment of more mistrust. Soon, I would find out that there is a lot of reason for mistrust based on the corruption that exists in the day-to-day functioning of the institutions and also from the legacy, the shadow, of the former communist system.