Love stories have been around for centuries, and they have all consisted of the same tale: boy meets girl, they fall in love, they get married and they live happily ever after.
How many love stories have you heard in which the boy visits his friend in Tokyo, meets a girl who lives there, boy and girl reconnect two years later, leading to an international marriage one year later? This is essentially the love story of Kurt Kleinberg, CHS math teacher, and his fiance Yui Toratani.
In March 2014, Kleinberg visited his friend in Tokyo over spring break. It was a spur of the moment vacation.
“It was my first international flight, and I had only been out of the country once before that,” Kleinberg said.
When a group of his friends were out to dinner one night, they met a group of girls who lived in Tokyo.
“I was dating somebody at the time so we just met, that’s it, there was literally no contact besides her name,” Kleinberg said.
Two years later, after Kleinberg’s previous relationship ended, his friends suggested that he try to contact the girl he met at dinner. Reluctant to the idea of trying to contact someone he had met briefly years ago, Kleinberg eventually reached out to Toratani through Facebook.
“The fortunate thing is Yui is her first name, which is very common, but Toratani is her last name, which is very uncommon,”Kleinberg said, “So when I did look for her later, there was only one Yui Toratani.”
At the time when Kleinberg sent his message, Toratani was receiving an influx of messages from Poland asking her to model after her photo was published on a Polish blog. As she was going through her Facebook, deleting hundreds of messages at a time, she happened to recognize Kleinberg’s name.
The two rekindled the natural connection they had two years ago. Their relationship bloomed after one simple message on Facebook; Kleinberg and Toratani FaceTimed on a regular basis and visited each other frequently.
“She came to visit me for a week, went back for two weeks and came right back for a week. Left, came right back three weeks later,” Kleinberg said. “She had probably visited me like three or four times in a three month period.”
Inevitably, Toratani was confronted by TSA and told that she had overused her Visa. The reality of an international relationship set in. So, the couple went to see a lawyer, and they were told that marriage was most likely the best option.
“In the lawyer’s office we kind of looked at each other and said, ‘I think we just got engaged.’ It was really informal and kind of weird,” Kleinberg said.
Toratani was finally able to come back to the U.S. in July. The two are scheduled to get married on Sept. 8, and plan to have two ceremonies– one in Japan, and one in the U.S.
The couple is stepping into a new, exciting stage in their lives, and Kleinberg looks forward to the unique aspects of an international marriage.
“She just brings a non-American perspective,” Kleinberg said, “Her culture has a general appreciation for a lot of things that we don’t necessarily have an appreciation for. It’s a different way of looking at life.”
Despite the excitement that their marriage entails, Kleinberg worries about Toratani being so far from home.
“I’m sure there’s going to be times where she’s just going to get sad. [Sometimes] reality sets in and she’s like, ‘I’m not in Japan, I’m not in Tokyo, I don’t have my friends around me.’ I want her to make friends. She doesn’t have a car right now. She’s at home all the time, and I’m at work all the time. I just want her to feel comfortable and loved and not bored.”
Regardless of the international hardships, Toratani and Kleinberg have accepted each other’s differences and backgrounds.
“She has embraced a lot of my dorky mathness,” Kleinberg said, “She does make fun of me, but our rings are mobius strips. She’s cool about that.”
As Kleinberg looks back on this love story, he is astounded by how surreal everything feels.
“This relationship, especially, seems like out of a movie to me. It is kind of crazy to think that later we’ll tell our kids this is how we met. We were 8000 miles apart and made it work.”