Diana & Sako: Going the (Long) Distance
February 10, 2011
Before they got together, the chances of Diana and Sako Brockmann bumping into each other were pretty low. Diana lived in Washington, DC and Sako was 4,300 miles across the Atlantic in her native Finland.
Luckily, Sako loves travelling to exotic locales – and taking lots of pictures. Diana saw some of those pictures on Facebook, and emailed to compliment her on being such a great photographer.
"From looking at her picture I fell in love with her right then and there," says Diana. But she didn't know if Sako would even write back. "When she did, I was in a meeting and got an email on my BlackBerry," says Diana. "I almost fell off my chair, I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't wait to get out of that meeting."
That was the beginning of a long-distance relationship they kept going by email, phone, instant message, and the occasional visit. "As I got to know her," says Diana, "I found out that my gut feeling was right."
"When we started going back and forth, it was just so easy to talk to her," adds Sako. "I wasn't afraid to share my thoughts and feelings with her."
Then Diana got a blessing in disguise – she was laid off from her job right before a trip to Finland. Instead of the planned five days she spent six weeks there.
Sako says she told her, "'Why don't you stay longer here now that you can, so we can see if we can actually get along living under the same roof.'"
"When I first I saw her in those pictures she just seemed like the most genuine and true person – that's exactly what she turned out to be," says Diana. "She has the biggest heart."
But as those six weeks drew to a close, the couple knew that something had to happen. "I just couldn't imagine my life without her," says Diana. "The distance really solidified the fact that I just wanted to be with her, and I couldn't stand saying goodbye to her one more time. It was killing me every time I did it."
"I've been in a long-distance relationship before," says Sako. "They don't work. You have to make the decision – either you're going to go for it or not." So they moved together to New York, where Sako had gone to college. It wasn't too long before they were talking about getting married and having kids.
"It was Halloween, and we knew the store that we wanted to buy our engagement rings from," says Sako as she talks about the night they got engaged. "We were dressed up as ketchup and mustard, and we happened to pass that store on the way to the Halloween parade. I said, 'Let's just go in and see the selection they have.' So we went in – as ketchup and mustard. The people in the store thought it was hilarious and took pictures of us. We found the rings we wanted, and Diana said, 'Let's just get them now!' So we got them and put them in her purse and went to the parade."
"The rings were burning a hole in my bag," says Diana. "I was nervous the entire night, which was cold and rainy, thinking 'Oh my god, when am I going to do this, when am I going to do this?' I wasn't planning to do it that night – but I thought, 'I have them, I should just do it.' I had wanted to plan a romantic evening, but I just couldn't wait. Right before we got home I said I'd meet her there and got a bottle of champagne. Later on – after we changed out of our costumes – I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. That was one of the few spontaneous things I've ever done in my life."
"It was still romantic in a way because we were both so soaked, and we had just been in the parade," says Sako. "It was sweet."
The couple got legally married in Connecticut after a ceremony in New York. But whether they can stay there is unclear because the federal government doesn't recognize their marriage. Sako is currently in the country on a three-year work permit, which she may or may not be able to get renewed.
"A friend from my hometown met a guy who lives in DC," says Sako. "They got married two months before us, and she received her green card in the mail six months later. It's not the same for us – we have to worry about whether I can stay."
But for now, the couple is just enjoying being together. "She's my best friend," says Diana. "I got lucky enough to marry the love of my life and my best friend."