Falling in Love

Cristina and David

As told to Cliff Williams

Edited by Cliff Williams from a recorded and transcribed conversation with Cristina on October 26, 2023. She and her husband, David, have been married for almost twenty-five years. She was forty-four when we talked. The two live in Denmark.


Cristina was born in Romania in Eastern Europe under the communism of Nicolae Ceauşescu. “It was a very closed country then. You were not allowed to know what was happening in the world, and everything was censored. But I had a happy childhood. My parents, grandparents, and I all lived in the same house on a small farm. I loved going to school.

“When I was ten years old, in 1989, the revolution came to Romania. The communist party was abolished and the dictator was thrown down. Then Romania became more open. Romanians began learning about democracies in Europe, and a lot of people were seeking to help us Romanians.

“One of my grandcousins eventually got an organization in Denmark to make friendships between some of the cities in Denmark and the city in Romania my family lived near. A lot of Danish people started coming to Romania to develop agriculture. I was good at English, and I went around with the Danish visitors as an interpreter. 

“My family had a Danish family stay at our house every summer. When I was seventeen, that family invited me to visit them in southern Denmark. So I went and helped take care of their children. Even though I enjoyed being there, I was very lonely and a little bored, because there were not a lot of young people I could meet. After a month, I went back to Romania to finish high school.

“And then there came this boy.”

First Encounter

“I was standing at the top of the stairs at the entrance to my aunt’s house where my mom was combing my long and curly hair. I suddenly noticed a boy I had never seen staring at me as though he was mesmerized.

“At first I thought he was the brother of some boys in another Romanian family, because he looked a little bit like one of them. But it turned out he was from Denmark doing volunteer work in a kindergarten in Romania. He had just finished high school.

“We got together and talked about the literature we were interested in and about our life views and values. He was very nice, and he gave me undivided attention, which I liked quite a lot. It was also exciting to talk to someone from another country.

“I was singing in a choir, and I discovered that he and his family also loved music. Both of us had been to Prague in the Czech Republic, and we both liked Franz Kafka, the writer. So we had some things in common.

“I said to him, ‘I’ve just been in Denmark for a month. If you want, I could take you out and introduce you to some of my friends.’ I thought he shouldn’t have the same boring experience I had had in Denmark. So that is what I did. We traveled a lot in Romania.

“After working in the kindergarten each day, he went to the high school I was in and waited for me in the winter cold so that he could walk with me to the railway station, where I took a train to go home. It was only a fifteen-minute walk, but I always enjoyed talking with him. He was easy to talk to.”

Continuing to See Each Other

The two continued to see each other at intervals. “David went back to Denmark after half a year. He started university studies, and I had to finish high school. Everyone said we wouldn’t stay together because of the distance, which was nineteen hundred kilometers by car or train.

“During the next year and a half, we traveled back and forth between Denmark and Romania every second or third month. It was easier for him to travel because he had a Danish passport. Every time I went out of Romania, I had to apply for a visa to Denmark, plus transit visas for Germany and the Czech Republic. It was very expensive and time consuming.

“I had a calendar, and after he visited I marked the days left until we saw each other again: ‘Okay, now ninety days left, and, oh, eighty-eight.’

“There were no mobile phones then, so we couldn’t talk to each other every day. And my parents didn’t have a phone. His parents had a phone, but it was very expensive to call to Romania. Near our house in Romania there was a public telephone house with those old, yellow phones. My uncle paid me to teach English to his son, and I bought telephone cards with all the money I got, which I used for calls to David at that phone house.

“The phones had a limit—you could not talk for more than three minutes at a time, which was when they closed you off. So we did that many times in a row. His parents got some very high telephone bills. We also had to set a time for the calls—eleven o’clock at this number in the phone house.

“One winter day, it snowed really heavy and my train was delayed. I got off the train close to the time I was to be at the phone house for a call from David. It would take me twenty minutes to walk there. I was like, ‘I cannot miss this phone call. I cannot miss it.’

“So I went to the corner of the street, where there was a stoplight. I opened the door of the first car at the corner and said to the driver, who was a man, ‘Can you please drive me to the phone house?’ I just sat in his car. He had no idea who I was, but he was very nice. He said, ‘Okay, I’ll take you.’ I explained things to him as we went. When we stopped, he said, ‘Go. Run.” He would not allow me to pay him for the ride. And I managed to get to the phone house for the call.” 

To Denmark

Cristina and David decided to do something about the distance between them. “After I graduated from high school a year and a half later, I got a one-year student visa to go to Denmark and study at a university there.

“I’ve always been adventurous and a little bit of a rebel, so this was a new and different adventure. Everything in Denmark was fresh, and at first I knew only David. He became my anchor, which meant quite a lot to me. He introduced me to his family and to some of his friends.”

Becoming Engaged

The two knew that they wanted to get married. “Some people say that they get cold feet, but I was never in doubt that David was the right one. He was very clear with me that he was not in it just for the fun. So I always had the knowledge that what he wanted was to get married. And that is what I wanted too.

“We were very much in love with each other. It was very intense, the way we felt. We didn’t have much money to do a lot of things, but we knew that we wanted to be together. He was everything to me.

“On the twenty-first of December, 1997, when I was visiting him at his house during the first year I was in Denmark, he surprised me. He turned the candle lights on, and as we were sitting at a table, he asked me to marry him. It was very simple, but it was nice.

“We got married in 1999.”

Married Love

Cristina reflects on being married for almost twenty-five years: “One of our strengths as a couple has been that we are very good at talking to each other. We never go to bed without checking in about how our days were. It is very seldom that we don’t get to do that. For me, this is one of the things that has kept us going. I have just been to the United States for three weeks, and we talked every day: ‘How was your day? What did you do today?’ We are both very aware of the importance of this.

“When I moved to Denmark, we spoke English to each other because I couldn’t speak Danish. But step by step I transitioned to Danish. A person’s language shows very much of who they are and what they are thinking. So when I learned Danish, I got a new layer of insights about David.

“About ten years ago, I came across an idea in Søren Kierkegaard, a well-known Danish thinker, that changed my life. I had been very quiet for a long time and had lost a sense of having a voice. I said yes only to please people, not because I wanted to. This was not in my relationship to David, but in general.

“Then I went to a lecture by a specialist in the thinking of Kierkegaard. The lecturer talked about Kierkegaard’s concept of ‘stepping into existence.’ That resonated with me, because it was about our interactions with each other. But it also had a spiritual level to it: ‘I am allowed to have a voice. I can be what I want to be.’ That changed quite a lot for me.

“I think a lot of women have the feeling that they are vanishing into everything and everyone else. You are there, but you’re not really there. This is especially true for women who have small children, as we did about a decade ago. 

“That was a time when David and I reevaluated a lot of things in our lives: ‘How do we want our lives to be? Where do we want to be? And how do we continue?’ We both made some changes, professionally and privately.

“These are things that can make or break a marriage. Luckily, it has been good to check in with each other to find out what our paths are: ‘Are we on the path together? Or are we going our own ways?’

“We each have our own lives and we work at different places, but we walk on the same path with respect to personal values. That has been a strength.

“Kierkegaard  has a quote I love: ‘When you meet someone, you have a piece of their life in your hand for that moment.’ In a marriage, you have some responsibility for how the other person is. There is a lot of wisdom in that.”

© 2023 by Cliff Williams


About Cliff Williams

Home page