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Posted by on Feb 14, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 2 comments

Happy 25th Anniversary, Marieta Dalla




Today, I’d like to tell you about the most important person in the world to me.  Her name is Marieta.  We were married 25 years ago on this day.

How did the time pass so quickly?  Where did all the years go?

The first time Marieta came to my eyes was an unexpected instant of perfect clarity, a fleeting moment of pure bliss.  She was too beautiful, I thought to myself.  I had no shot being with her.  I didn’t stand a chance.

But stars do align sometimes.  Gravity can be an inexplicable force.  Lightning strikes.

That first date was awkward.  The first kiss even more awkward.  Still, I wouldn’t change anything, and why would I?  Instead, I’d joyously re-live it over and over, again and again, if only that were possible.  If only I had the power.

These past 25 years haven’t been merely extraordinary.  They’ve been unimaginable.  Were they always easy?  No.  Were there challenges?  Yes.  Finding buried treasure usually requires some serious digging, some personal sacrifice.  But in the end, it’s worth it.

Remember the places we went?  Remember the things we saw and the people we met over the years?  Some remain, and many more are gone now.  Remember the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells, and the soft embrace of our hands joined together so many times as we soaked in the rest of the world?

I do.

Those memories remain alive.

Not because of me, but because of her.



Teenage Marieta sometime during the late 1970s


Marieta and I first met in March 1990.  We went on a blind date which was arranged by a mutual freind.  Since then, she’s been on my mind every day of my life.  From that very first gaze.

But long before I came into the picture, Marieta had a wonderfully interesting life in Bucharest, Romania.  She spoke four languages.  She graduated from college with an engineering degree in structure and design.

The photo below is my favorite one of Marieta.  It was taken just before we met.  She’s standing on the balcony of her apartment, gazing over the city on a cold winter day.  There’s a sweet innocence infused with strength that really comes through in this picture, don’t you agree?



My favorite photograph of Marieta, taken about the time of the Romanian Revolution, in 1989


The story of how Marieta and I met bears tellng.

One afternoon, I was driving by myself in central Bucharest.  I accidentally struck a pedestrian who dashed illegally across the middle of the street (he was injured, but recovered).  While filling out the official police report of the incident, another man about my age (I was 27 at the time) assisted me.  Because my Romanian language skills weren’t precise enough given this was a serious legal matter, the man was very helpful when dealing with the authorities.  After that, the man and I became good friends.

Soon thereafter, he asked if I wanted to go out on the date with the friend of his girlfriend.  We would go on a double date.  How could I resist?

The four of us met and ended up going out to a restaurant called “Pesca Rus.”  This was an exciting time to be living in Eastern Europe.  A golden age.  The revolution had just happened and communism had ended, which means things were suddenly open.  Just about everywhere you went in those days people were eager to go out in public and talk for the first time in decades, especially to foreigners.  But if I was interesting to her, Marieta was far more so to me.


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On one of our first dates, along the famous Blvd. Casa Republicii, and the grand palace (barely visible in rear), which was then the largest government building in the world


Marieta and I enjoyed a most unusual courtship period.  We didn’t do the usual boyfriend-girlfreind routine.  I think that’s what made our relationship a little more special.  We were even part of history.

This was an intense time of political upheaval.  There were protests and demonstrations everywhere.  Marieta and I went to the demonstrations every day for three months straight.  We sang songs and listened to speeches.  Sometimes, things turned violent and got dangerous.  I even got arrested once.  And Marieta was with me at all times, right there on the front lines.  She became my barricade.

I wanted to marry her, if only she’d accept.  First, I asked for her father’s hand in marriage, because that was the Romanian custom and the way things were done back then.  Fortunately, he said “yes.”  Even more fortunate, Marieta said “yes.”


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Marieta becomes an American citizen in 1996


Five years later, Marieta and I were living in Washington, D.C.  The photo above shows the day she became a proud new citizen of the United States.

I remember the days leading up to the test and the ceremony.  I remember Marieta studying her citizenship guide and memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance, the words to the National Anthem, and even certain articles of the U.S. Constitution.  She took her responsibilities and new citizenry seriously.  Coming from her background perhaps, gave her a special appreciation for what we have here, those things that many of us often take for granted.

Here’s another of my favorite photos of Marieta (below).  About 20 years ago, we were driving through Brussels one afternoon and this just seemed like the perfect place to stop and snap a photograph.

It turned out pretty good, I think.


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Marieta in a city park in Brussels, Belgium during the mid-1990s


One sees lots of different things in the span of time that we’ve been married.  One sees the other person as they really are.  One sees the changes that inevitably come with the passing of time.  One also experiences changes within.

Sadly, because of the inevitability of change in life, some people grow apart over the years.  Others grow closer together.

I think in our case, we’ve grown closer together.  Some trees grow and end up standing apart.  Others grow and their branches become intertwined.



A few years ago, somewhere nice


Marieta works harder than anyone else I know.  She has a number of interesting hobbies.  She also does volunteer work, putting in many hours a week.  I would tell you more about all the things Marieta does, but she forbids me to do so.

You see, Marieta is a private person.  She prefers to keep the things she does for others to herself.  But I know very well about them.  She’s made living much easier for so many.  Trust me.  If only you knew.

When I dream of what I want in the future, sometimes there doubts.  How can anyone truly know what they will want years from now?  How can anyone know what will make them happy?  Will we be interested in the same things?  Will be have the same dreams and desires?

Probably not.

For many, the worst tragedy of life is making a goal, working hard to get there, and then achieving it — only to find it wasn’t worth the sacrifice.  I think most of us do that with some things.  We can’t help it, really.  It just happens.  And that leads to sadness and to disappointment.

But some things remain constant.  Love may change.  But devotion does not.  Devotion never wavers.  Devotion never changes.



Together in New Orleans last year


Since we said “I do,” several years have passed since those magical words of matrimony.  Twenty-five years, which amounts to 9,525 days seems like such a long time.

I sometimes wonder — wouldn’t it be nice to start all over again?

Imagine the joy of starting fresh, like this was our very first day together — the first day of the rest of our lives.

And so, let us begin anew.  Starting today.  Starting right now.

Here’s to the next 25 years….




  1. Nolan, thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute to your wonderful wife Marieta. You two are lucky to have such a special relationship. I love hanging out with the two of you because it is always and adventure and always fun. Hope you have a wonderful anniversary.

  2. The way you write is amazing. Beautiful. Happy Anniversary.

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