Picture a journey through time and space. Sometimes life can start on a whim, or in this case, a wing, specifically British Airways flight 67, departing London Heathrow for Philadelphia on November 5, 2010. An auspicious day: the one on which Guy Fawkes was arrested attempting to blow up the House of Lords. And the very day when, 83 years later, in 1688, the Glorious Revolution began, when a Dutchman, William of Orange, overthrew James II to become King of these shores.
Nearly three-and-a-quarter centuries later, another famous Dutchling, Amanda Zuydervelt, was boarding the very same plane en route to the City of Brotherly Love to meet her destiny. Not that she knew that at the time: she was too busy chugging champagne with TV celebrities in first class, while her future husband sat back in coach enduring eight solid hours of turbulence. During that period, two things happened: first, we met, albeit briefly, while disembarking;and second Elliot was whisked off to be interrogated by American officials as to why an American-born citizen wasn’t flying on an American passport, while Amanda continued on to hotel to meet the “British American Project” group that we were away on a conference with. Yet finally we did properly meet. Think of Brief Encounter meets Four Weddings, with a splash of Withnail andI’s drinking gamesthrown in. Amanda asked why I hadn’t joined the rest of the group off the plane, and when I told her about my interrogation at the hands of customs officials, and realising that I was in receipt of an American passport, she immediately inquired: “How do you feel about marriage?” I replied by saying “I’ll probably marry my girlfriend first,” dashing her immediate hopes of gaining an American Green Card the easy way. Yet our time wandering the streets of Philadelphia was magical, taking us from the famous LOVE sign to Rocky Balboa’s jogging steps. Amanda even found time to nearly get us mugged by some giant angry dude, while also nearly knocking all my teeth out on a Philadelphia sidewalk thanks to her errant ways with a Segway machine.
Yet with the aid of many FUN and NIVE beers we survived, as did our relationship. We didn’t get together at first. That would have been too easy. Life isn’t made that way. But life also has a way of drawing people together – people who are courageous, and patient, or both. We of easy modernity mock its work for its fatalistic overtones, but destiny plays a part in everything we do.
So we enter life two by two, marching down the aisle, through the streets of life, hopefully to add two legs to those four, and then two more, as we grow as a family. Together we have trod the earth on three continents: North America, Asia, and Europe. While we have been a deux, the two of us have, collectively or in spirit, travelled to Beijing, Shanghai, Manila, Edinburgh, Philadelphia, Portugal, Ibiza, Hong Kong, Paris, Burma and India. We have trod the clay soil of Berkshire and the granite peaks of the Montmartre, and delved into a life that neither of us knew could be so good, or so rich and fertile.
Meeting each other that day, November 5, a day so resonant for so many, changed our lives. Sometimes it takes a rocket to change our lives. For us, it was a chance meeting aboard an airline, and the realisation that two minds, once met, could join and become one. We hope you will come and join us to make our union complete.
Amanda & Elliot