“When I was a kid, my friends and I put together a time capsule. It was an old metal box and we filled it with things we thought were representative of our lives and buried it in the woods behind the school playground. The idea was that some kids in the future would dig it up and be fascinated by us and the way that we lived. A few years ago, when a group of us were home visiting our parents, we realized that we’d forgotten what we put in and went out there one night to dig it up. Other than a couple of Hershey’s kisses, which were completely rotten (we thought the future kids might be hungry), it was all still there -- MaryEllen’s Bonnie Bell Cherry lip gloss, Kathy’s sister’s Malibu Barbie (sorry Meg!), Liz’s heart locket and Mrs. Meow, my stuffed kitty. We’d also each put in a note saying what we would be doing in twenty years. I was going to be the next Amelia Earheart, traveling the world with my faithful dog. A lot has happened since then and I might not be a famous pilot, but I believe I have found my traveling companion and with him, I look forward to many years of adventures near and far.”
Throughout her childhood, there were indications that Sara’s path would be highly original and creatively populated. Horrified by the amount of food left unconsumed after family dinners, she began sharing the leftovers with the various creatures which lived in, around and under the house, making the Pryce household an extremely popular one among multi-peds. Her father, Paul, learned of Sara’s compassion and his unwitting status as nature’s landlord upon finding a stack of pancakes next to a mouse nest in the hall closet. After a loud exchange, Sara and her father came to the agreement that she would limit her distribution of leftovers to the backyard if he would call off the exterminator. Undeterred, Sara continued to fight for animal rights, waging battles with her mother for the right of Mozart, her pet snake, to sleep in Sara’s bed and striking a blow for freedom with the triumphant liberation of Sam’s ant farm.
The Standard is Set At the age of twelve, Sara Pryce knew with absolute certainty that she would marry Leonardo DiCaprio. The unlikelihood that their paths would cross near her suburban Chicago school did not soften her passion. Sara was a devotee of the child star’s sitcom, Growing Pains, to the point where Meg and Sam, her sister and brother, were not allowed in or near the tv room when the show was on, even in reruns. Absolute silence was required to take in the actor’s compassion, his deep soul and lovable quirkiness, qualities she would value again later, after a few decades of going through what her mother, Eleanor, refers to as “Sara’s Bohemian Phase” and Meg calls “Sara’s creepy obsession with guys who don’t shower.”
And then there were horses. For other girls, horses might be a phase, but Sara knew deep in her heart that this time it was for real and announced to her family, friends and diary (IN ALL CAPS! multiple times!!) that she would almost definitely marry Ariel, her thoroughbred mare. Afternoons, weekends and two entire summers Sara spent with Ariel where she lived, at the Karlesonâ€™s barn. To alleviate the cost of boarding Ariel, Sara helped out around the barn. It was hard labor -- grooming the horses, hauling hay bales, mucking out stalls -- and it exhausted Sara to the point where the thought of even the smallest task at home, such as cleaning her room or setting the dinner table, was too much to contemplate. Paul Pryce was of two minds about Saraâ€™s obsession. Ariel was an expensive companion. However, he was more than happy to defer the prospect of Sara dating and the horse not only kept Sara happily occupied, but clad in mud-encrusted jeans and the natural perfume of manure, his daughter was unlikely to attract the romantic attentions of any of the local two-legged creatures.
true love, part two
What Paul didn’t know (and Eleanor suspected but wasn’t about to mention) was that Sara had already begun the inevitable transition from horses to boys. She approached it with great efficiency, flirting with Danny Karleson, whose family owned the barn where Ariel lived and who worked with Sara, side by side, mucking manure and slinging hay. Quiet and intense, Danny had black black hair and blue blue eyes and looked like a (shortish, slightly pimply) movie star. As if that wasn’t enough to win her heart, Danny was two years older and had his own lemon yellow Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, in which he bestowed upon Sara her first kiss and officially became her first full-fledged boyfriend. Not long after, he also became her first ex, when their lack of common interests became painfully apparent and the new boy at school won Sara’s heart by reading a poem he’d written about insects.
A Car and its Boy
Saraâ€™s decision to go east for college, to New York University, was difficult on everyone in the family except Meg who, after years of sharing a bedroom, putting up with her sister hogging the bathroom and the phone, finally got her own room. As excited as Sara was to be out on her own, NYU was a different world. Greenwich Village was loud and confusing, her dorm room closet couldnâ€™t come close to holding her collection of cowboy boots and baseball hats and her roommate, Anezka, arrived surgically attached to a non-English speaking boyfriend. The adjustment was rough (and the long-distance phone bills for calls home were steep) but Sara soon recovered her bearings and by the end of her first semester had discovered the jazz clubs and tapped into the cheap ethnic food, consoling herself with the knowledge that her freshman fifteen (pounds) was at least somewhat exotic, coming from tuna rolls and tempura rather than pepperoni pizza and ice cream.
English Patience Two years later, Sara was on a plane to London, following her newborn wanderlust on a semester abroad. Her parents, watching their daughter drift even further east, tried to be happy but Paul couldnâ€™t resist telling his daughter that British water was scientifically proven to cause pimples. Once again, Sara was faced with the adjustment period (Warm beer! Cricket! Eggy bread! Bollocks!!) and once again ate her way through it. This time, it was with Tapas and Indian and Pakistani food, to which she was introduced by a very nice bloke who taught her to drive on the wrong side of the road and took heron whirlwind weekends to Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon and Marrakesh. By the end of her semester, sheâ€™d acquired a suitcase mentality and the connections which led her, after graduation, to an internship -- and ultimately a job -- with Oxfam International.
“I had this uncle, Cliff, my mom’s brother, who used to take me aside at every holiday and tell me stories about his life and things that he’d learned. He called it imparting his wisdom. I don’t know why he singled me out -- maybe he thought I needed the knowledge more than anyone else. Most of the things he told me were either sort of obvious (never put anything in your ear; when in doubt, throw the football to the tallest guy) or silly (every year on the night before your birthday put a list of things you want to accomplish under your pillow and sleep on it) but a lot of it was really good advice. Being a kid, I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have, and I’ve forgotten most of the things he told me. Fortunately, I was just smart enough to hold onto a few pieces of Uncle Cliff’s wisdom and I’ve found them really useful. Your real friends are the people who, without needing an explanation, would drop everything and come if you asked. If you want to discover who you are, deep inside, look no further than your family. And, perhaps most important: Marry the woman with whom you want to share the good news and the bad news, the woman who makes you laugh, the woman who makes you want to be a better person.”
A Big Baby
Jeff Bohler was born tall. His father, Carl, recalls that first night in the hospital nursery, watching his baby stretch his arms and legs to the limits of the bassinet. He pictured his boy a few decades down the road, bringing glory to Philadelphia as center of Carl’s beloved Seventy-Sixers. This dream he did not immediately share with his wife, Mary, who had overstuffed the nursery drawers with every imaginable type of infant outfit and was preoccupied less with her very long baby’s future than with the question of whether she would be able to exchange all those clothes for a size (or two?) larger. In the meantime, she donated the incredibly cute sailor outfit she’d planned for the ride home to the hospital consignment shop and sent her sister, Meg, out to the closest Woolworths to pick up a blue terrycloth onesie.
Through his early years, Jeff tried out many potential callings. Aunt Meg was convinced that the force and pitch of his voice, particularly when he was hungry, would lead him to stardom at the Metropolitan Opera; impressed and exhausted by the relentlessness of his arguments in favor of later bedtimes, Mary thought sure he could be a courtroom lawyer, when he began wrapping the cat in post-op bandages, a career in medicine seemed likely. But his greatest strength seemed to rest squarely in his left arm, which he used to propel peas across the room, his sisterâ€™s dolls down the stairs and, once, a golf ball through the living room window.
Early Career Thoughts
By age six, Jeff’s arm was thoroughly warmed up, he was standing eye-to-eye with ten year-olds and his bedroom was papered with posters of athletes. There was little doubt that he was going to be a player, the question was which sport. Unable to decide, Jeff opted to try them all. Within a few years he was the star of pretty much every league except hockey, which he tried and at which he would have been fine if it weren’t for the ice and the skates. His Little League team made it to the State Tournament behind Jeff’s pitching arm and, a few years later, that same arm quarterbacked his Pop Warner football club to a single season record of points scored. As basketball center, he was not quite Sixers material, but Carl was okay with that. He was happy to have someone to share his March Madness passion and Philadelphia Eagles angst. And for one glorious baseball summer, father and son traveled the North east, and managed to see a game at every major league park, culminating with a weekend trip to the Hall of Fame.
A tough break
In addition to travel junkets with his dad, Jeff discovered many other benefits to life as a teenage jock. Shyness is generally not considered valuable currency for a high school kid, but for one wearing a uniform, scoring points for the home team, quiet equals mysterious and every high school girl loves a tall handsome enigma. Unexpectedly (to Jeff at least), he was adored by teachers, coaches and classmates, but was a particular draw among the cheerleaders, few of whom were tall enough to see past his shoulder blades. When Jeff broke his leg during a family ski trip, he was miraculously endowed with dozens of amateur nurses, and even his high school principal said he would drive him to and from school if the bus was too much trouble. Most of the girls were more than happy to offer a shoulder to lean on, even after he had removed his cast and was walking without crutches. With the encouragement of his best friend Dale (also a jock), Jeff pinned his first girlfriend, Cindy Platt. Though a cheerleader, Cindy was also on the quieter side, and she and Jeff went on long wordless dates for the next two years. Somewhere between playing and watching sports, dating and hanging out a Jakeâ€™s Pizza for hours at a time with his friends, Jeff managed to fit in enough studying to graduate third in his high school class. His coach claimed he could have made the football team of a smaller school, but Jeff opted to stay close to home and attend his dadâ€™s alma mater, Penn, and limit his sporting life to spectating.
The Call of the Wild
The vastness of Penn and the anonymity enjoyed by new students were adjustments other high school hearthrobs might have had trouble making, but to Jeff it was somewhat of a relief. He could go back to being quiet. He continued to enjoy playing sports, especially without an audience, and translated some of his passion to the outdoors. The summer between his sophomore and junior years in college, Jeff spent six weeks on an extreme Outward Bound trip. There was more than a little skepticism from friends and family about the prospect of a jock who previously couldnâ€™t tell poison ivy from climbing ivy, but Jeff turned out to be a natural. He learned to make a fire, find and prepare his own food and identify dozens of bird calls. He took up stargazing and learned the constellations which gave him a new and slightly humbled view of himself in the world. The following two summers he signed up as a camp counselor, becoming one of the camper favorites, partly for his magic tricks, including pulling oars out of their ears and making tree stumps disappear.
jeff sitting on large numbers
Much to the surprise of everyone whoâ€™d seen him try to keep track of his allowance, Jeff took to economics at school, and decided to select it as his major. He liked the orderliness of numbers, the way they could tell stories without a lot of flash and hype. His friends asked him to balance their checkbooks (his roommate suggested he charge for the service, an idea Jeff rejected) and more than one girlfriend backed off early in the relationship when he suggested they put together a clothing budget to limit her non-essential spending. Jeff graduated with honors and continued on to get an MBA from Rutgers. Wooed by several large firms, Jeff chose the intimacy of a small partnership, at Brown, Stroud and White where, after accidentally calling Mr. White by the wrong name, he excelled working on economic development for small international non-profits. Within two weeks in New York City, Jeff had discovered the chess tables in Washington Square Park and quickly became a regular, showing up on weekends and the occasional summer evening. At first, his record was dismal, but within a few months, he was winning almost as many games as he was losing.
Sara & Jeff
To any Peruvian or anyone who knows anything about Peruvians or South America in general, Sara does not look even remotely native. With her green eyes and wavy brown hair, she could possibly be of Spanish ancestry, but most would peg her as American or Canadian. Yet to Jeff, who was on his very first South American business trip and arrived on the same flight from JFK completely exhausted and thoroughly confused, Sara looked like she knew what she was doing and that was good enough for him. For her part, Sara was so flattered to be mistaken for a local when she barely knew the country herself that she adopted a bad accent to respond that yes, she could help him and perhaps accompany him to the city center. Only the driver was not fooled and frowned into the rear view mirror the entire ride into town while Jeff asked questions about Lima and Sara answered as best she could and made up the rest. She agreed to be his guide that evening and they had an enjoyable dinner. They also shared a good laugh after the waiter basically outed her by ignoring her bad Spanish and speaking to her in English. He walked her back to her hotel and the next morning, she took a bus to the small village where she was helping farmers establish a local market for their goods.
a case of mistaken identity
Renewed Acquaintances Over the next seven months, both Sara and Jeff stayed busy with work and their social lives. Each was the star of the funny story the other told their friends about the guy/girl they met in Lima, and both had occasional thoughts of looking up the other, but their lives were busy. The details depend on who tells the story, but there is agreement that the next time they saw each other, it was a sunny Saturday and the Union Square Farmers Market in New York City was crowded. Sara was wearing jeans or a sundress and was or was not holding hands with a guy named Jack, who was either very friendly towards Jeff or glared at him. Jeff was holding a bag of vegetables and carrying a bouquet of tulips or wildflowers. The conversation was awkward until Jack left them to buy cheese. Sara gave Jeff her card, touched his hand and told him to call or Jeff asked if he could call Sara.
A Natural Engagement
Some relationships are smooth, other are tumultuous; Sara and Jeff’s was both. Sara moved into Jeff’s apartment after subletting her own, a controversial move Jeff took as lack of commitment and Sara considered a safety net. Both traveled often, rarely with each other, though when they were together, they would plan long days of “tourist,” in which they would take turns showing each other their favorite parts of the city. Their joint trips tended to be dramatic, like the fantastic to hike to Machu Picchu, where Jeff got food poisoning and Sara, while watching him throw up behind a giant fern, secretly decided that he was the one. When they returned home, she gave up her apartment and he knew it was real, panicked and had to be talked down by their friend Matt, who Jeff will forever credit with saving their relationship and Sara claims saved Jeff’s life. He proposed on a weekend hike in the Adirondacks, using a hollowed out walnut as a spontaneous engagement ring. Sara accepted in front of the squirrels, the birds and a black bear who celebrated that night by eating all their food while they were sleeping.
Published on Jul 9, 2010