My younger child Amelia, English teacher living in Spain (and amateur roller derby star) is engaged to be married

January 17, 2017 is an appropriate date to announce the engagement of Amelia Altalena Solkoff to Javier Blanco.

The date marks the 1925 birthday of Amelia’s late paternal grandmother Miriam Pell Schmerler zt”l who was close to Amelia and her sister Joanna.

Amelia teaches English in Pontevedra, Spain (on the Portuguese border) where she is also an enthusiastic member of the local roller derby and rugby teams. With the exception of brief visits to the United States, Amelia has lived in Spain for three years, previously residing in Pamplona as well as spending a summer working on farms in the Basque region and the Canary Islands.

Amelia Solkoff displays her engagement ring which Javier Blanco puts on her finger following (according to male chauvinist tradition) Javier request that I give him my daughter's hand in marriage. (Readers are requested to explain why it is her "hand " Javier requested rather than her left elbow or her right big toe.)
Amelia Solkoff displays her engagement ring which Javier Blanco puts on her finger following (according to male chauvinist tradition) Javier’s request that I give him my daughter’s hand in marriage. (Readers are requested to explain why it is her “hand ” Javier requested rather than her left elbow or her right big toe.)

Javier Blanco is a sergeant in the Spanish army. The couple met in Javier’s hometown of Pontevedra where his mother and brother reside. Javier and Amelia currently live in Toledo.

The couple plan to marry in Pontevedra or nearby during the summer of 2016. The closest airport is Vigo, the fastest growing town in Spain. [Editorial note: Plans schmans. The couple married in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on August 6th. They honeymooned in Jamaica.]

Extensive additions, revisions, and amplification of Amelia and Javier’s engagement and marriage will appear on this site. Suffice it to say Amelia’s mother Diana Bass, sister Joanna, Joanna’s husband Jade and I are delighted.

I was present at the birth of both my daughters. I watched them grow up, receive an education, become employed and generally suck up a large portion of my energy (a process which continues to this day). Watching my daughters marry (when images of their birth continually flash through my mind) is a startling reality.

Especially mystifying to me are my daughters’ attraction to military men, each of whom I approve.

My primary hero is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose practice of non-violent resistance I have held up as an example to my daughters. I received conscientious objector status from my draft board during the Vietnam War which was an evil war. Perhaps, I have a recessive military gene. Go figure.

Javier plans to obtain a library card before getting married.

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3 thoughts on “My younger child Amelia, English teacher living in Spain (and amateur roller derby star) is engaged to be married”

  1. You invite explanation about the hand thing. Why a hand and not a toe? It is an ancient European custom to seal agreement to a compact or alliance with a solemn handclasp. We still do this today with a handshake – “shaking on it” means we agree that the deal we have just worked out is morally and in some cases legally binding. Apes can manage this with toes, but people find it awkward.

    Also the clasping of hands is a symbol of a couple’s joinder. It is a synecdoche (a figure of speech in which the part represents the whole), standing for the uniting of their bodies, and by extension of their whole beings. This is reflected in the traditional marriage vows where the couple promises “to have and to hold.”

    In the Episcopal marriage service the priest “shall cause the Man with his right hand to take the Woman by her right hand”; he makes his vows in this position, and then she does the same to him. In the Eastern Orthodox service the priest literally ties the couple’s hands together with a cloth band. In pre-Christian Europe a trial marriage was instituted by handfasting.

    In the Old Testament also, clasping of hands was a symbol of accord. Thus Jehu asks Jehonadab: Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? When Jehonadab answered, It is, Jehu replied, If it be, give me thine hand. 2 Kings 10:15.

    In the Mithraic religion initiates were called syndexioi (joined by the right hand). I hope Amelia and Javier are going to have a Mithraic ceremony, slaughtering a bull over a grate and showering the initiates beneath with hot blood. That always gets a party going!

  2. It is not difficult at all, or vast or complex. If you have ever (1) shaken hands to seal a bargain, and (2) expressed affectionate sentiment by holding hands with someone, then you understand what this is about.

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