On the first Wednesday of February The Flame marked three years of presence in the Cottage Bistro on Main Street in Vancouver, BC. I had the fortune of telling my story as the fifth in a line up of eight other entertaining storytellers.
Without further ado, what follows are the words roughly as I spoke them:

I was walking my dog in Tel Aviv one morning and started hearing female yelling coming out of an apartment. When I was just across the street from their window I suddenly heard: “I’M NOT WEARING THAT DRESS TO MY WEDDING!”.
“This actually happens” I thought.
My story is about two Jewish weddings: one that I didn't know I’ve inspired and one that I didn't know I had.
My elder brother was planning his wedding in 1991. He banned any discussion within the family until three months before the event. This worked pretty well until exactly… three months before the event. As soon as my parents heard about his plan to have an unorthodox ceremony my mother cried out “What will grandma say!?”.
And indeed our grandma, took my brother for a serious talk. A talk that made him approach me for advice. I felt for him for this stupid mess, but I said “You should have known our family better”.
I thought he could still let them understand his point. After all it was his life and his choice. But he backed off and a few weeks later I was asked to pick up the Rabbi on my way to the wedding.  
So here I am, dressed up in this happy looking coverall leading the Rabbi down the stairs to the pool where the ceremony was about to begin. The Rabbi, dressed in a simple black suite, was ready to do his business and bring happiness to another Jewish family.
Six months later I realized what a shocking sight we must have been. As I was sitting at my parents’ place my mother brought it up. The minute she saw me from the pool below she knew she would not say a word. “After all, thanks to you he was getting married”.   
“Thanks to me!? It’s because of you!” I said. “People can live together without all of this nonsense.” “So you’re not going to get married?” she asked, tears welling up her eyes. “Of course not!” I exclaimed. Obviously she wasn’t prepared for that but it must have helped her not to expect anything when I moved away from Israel ten years later to live my girlfriend.   
Anat was introduced to me by a friend when I was living in Tel Aviv. She said good things about Anat, but also explained: “You know, she always gets involved with the wrong guys”. Anat was doing her PHD in Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is only 60 km away so we got in touch but it kind of didn’t pick up.  
And also, there was this guy in Jerusalem that got involved with Anat just before we had a chance to meet again. I was thinking, “OK, who’s the wrong guy now?”
By the time that relationship dissolved Anat was negotiating a post doc research position in Vancouver, BC. So we agreed to stay in touch just to keep options open.
Open in a way that I soon met another dog owner in one of my walks. Very quickly I realized she was only interested in getting pregnant. Unfortunately I was nothing more than a walking sperm bank for her. It didn’t last long… There goes the wrong guy again.
My emails with Anat gradually warmed to the point that when that guy from Jerusalem happened to visit Anat in Vancouver, she didn’t consider it fair to hide it from me.
That year I wanted to buy a digital camera. It was vastly more expensive in Israel than anywhere else. I knew that Anat was planning a home visit some months ahead. So after asking her if she could bring it with her I purchased my first digital camera on the web to be shipped to Vancouver. I was getting really excited.
As soon as I laid my hands on the camera I went for a weekend to test it with that dog owner slash sperm hunter. By then we were not dating anymore..., I think. When I got back from the weekend, Anat and I finally picked up from where we started a year earlier.
When it was time for Anat to return to Vancouver I decided to take a two months break to check things up. In that time I had a chance to explore Vancouver and see what opportunities might come up for me there.
It takes time to get used to Vancouver. As I was approaching the edge of sidewalks I noticed cars were slowing down. “What’s wrong with them” I was fuming, “Can’t they see I’m waiting for them to pass?!”
So very quickly I realized that this was probably the place I always wanted to live in. I don’t know, maybe I was in love.
I went back to Israel to pack everything I had and returned to Vancouver after a-n-o-t-h-e-r v-e-r-y l-o-n-g  two months. We knew that of all things (!) one of the quickest ways for me to get a work permit was to get married. Because we had a good feeling that our marriage could even last, the idea of going through the civil ceremony right after landing here didn’t look hasty to us. Well, maybe we were in love.
We found a lovely marriage commissioner two blocks away from us. At the time we were living across the street from CuppaJoe on west 4th avenue. The manager was happy to let us do the ceremony on the second floor.
We decided to ask Lori, our favourite barista if she’d like to be our witness. When we went there it was Rob’s shift. He didn’t realize we were that close. He said we looked to him like old friends. So he became our first witness. The next day I only started to talk with Lori before she said “YES” with a big smile.
On our wedding day, we thought it would be a good idea to call our families in Israel and let them know… Well, they all sounded so happy and congratulated us. Anat’s brother even managed to arrange for flowers to be sent to us from North Vancouver.
As we were moving stuff around in the coffee shop, I noticed a familiar face outside the door. We didn’t bother to invite anyone to our wedding but in Anat’s lab they knew about it.
So, here we were, joined by about eight scientists, all dressed up for a wedding in ties and fancy dresses. Without giving it much thought, our charming little ceremony turned into a celebration.
After years of knowing what kind of wedding I wasn’t going to have I suddenly got exactly what I felt it should be: an intimately personal event that is symbolically public.
Our marriage commissioner then thanked us for letting her do her first Jewish wedding.


jonny.b. said...

You never told me any of this story,i like it,Jonny.

YarOn Stern said...

Thanks. And I might even tell this story again in the coming weekend beside a bonfire in Langley (BC).