I imagine the early conversations between my mother and father as some sort of romantic movie.
The one where the boy likes the girl, but the girl isn’t so sure at first. And then the next thing you know you’re watching a supercut of them moving in together, getting married, having kids, and living happily ever after.
And this isn’t that far off.
But I like to think this small part of my family history is much more special and cosmic than something you could watch in the theatres or pick off of a bookshelf.
The fact that my parents ever met in the first place feels like some sort of divine miracle in my heart. Somewhere between the hustle and bustle of my mother’s busy flight attendant life and my father’s immigration to the United States and the shift of jobs and living arrangements, they crossed paths in Clayton, Missouri.
The year was 1991, and in the wake of the Gulf War happening on the other side of the world, Trans World Airlines (TWA) laid off 3,000 people. One of those 3,000 happen to be my mother, Laura Grysiewicz. As a flight attendant based in New York City, she saw more of the world by the time she was 24 than most people see their whole lives.
But with the lay off and her lease ending at her 118th Street apartment, she found herself moving back home to St. Louis, Missouri. She got a job as a sales associate at The New York Suit Exchange in Downtown Clayton, figuring she’d get called back to fly soon.
Meanwhile, my father—Jai Khodai, a tailor by trade—travelled to St. Louis for a weekend to help a friend with a business no other than The New York Suit Exchange.
He expected a short trip. In fact, after passing through St. Louis his plan was to move to Florida to get away from the cold. But as you may have guessed, he never made it there.
What was meant to be a short business trip turned to weeks to months to 28 years, two children, and three grandchildren.
“I thought he was cute, but kind of cocky,” my mom said when I ask her to recount the story. “He was trying to impress me. He liked me first, but I was like ‘Oh, I don’t know.’” I laughed as they bantered back and forth about who liked who first or where they first went to dinner.
My mom recalls my dad’s suspenders and lit cigarette; my dad recalls my mom’s outfit and tightly curled har from her perm.
“We didn’t have cell phones then, so every chance I had, I used to bother her every moment I got,” my dad said. My mom doesn’t see the way he looks at her when she’s not looking. I take it all in, each detail a part of my family I never want to forget.
They moved in together less than a year after they met and were married the following June. The rest is history, they say.
When I think about how many little things could have prevented my parents from ever meeting and falling in love, I think about how improbable that our small family of four ever came into existence in the first place. But they chose to choose each other, even if that meant changing everything they had originally planned.
It’s the reason I don’t believe in the saying, “the right person but the wrong time.” Because the right people are timeless.
When something or someone is right, you drop everything and run with it. Because the right people make you want to throw away your plans and follow a different path because you just know you’re in for the most extraordinary adventure.
The adventure for my parents is still happening, and I feel incredibly blessed to witness their adventure first hand. Through the best of times and the worst hardships I can think of, I know what it looks like to really love someone- and to continuously choose them- through it all. It is a gift I am eternally grateful for.
So, here’s to changed plans. Here’s to timeless people, to choosing them no matter the odds.
Here’s to you, Mom and Dad.