Marin Arts & Culture May 2017 - Page 20

How We Met Connections Made Django Heckler and Angela Colombo Heckler W hen you grow up in Marin, it’s a lot like growing up in a small town. Especially when you grow up with a grandfather who was a long-time coach and teacher at San Rafael High School. Sunday dinners out were always a social event, as we didn’t pass a table at a restaurant without a “hi Ang” (my grandfather Angelo Colombo). But truthfully, it’s one of the things I’ve long loved about Marin, somehow everyone who has the good fortune to live here knows that it’s special and so, we’re all connected. I attended Terra Linda High School, and at the time there were just 800 (or so) students in the whole school, so there was a good chance you would run into most of them at one point or another. I knew of this guy with a “cool name” two grades ahead of me simply as the “track star.” Django was named after gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhart by his parents. He later said he remembered me as “a cheerleader” but that was the extent of our interaction —teenage labels. Django graduated in 1996, and went to Chico State and I graduated in 1998 and headed to UC Santa Barbara to later receive a BFA in Theatre. Fast forward to 2005. I had just moved home to Marin County after graduating from college and living and working in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara for several years. I was thrilled to be coming back to Marin with a new job close to my family. In the same month, Django had moved home to Marin as well after completing his six-year contract with the Marine Corps. One night, as we were out with mutual friends, we were 20 MARIN ARTS & CULTURE reintroduced. I looked up and thought, “Where have you been all my life?” We didn’t see each other again until the night before he left. Django joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 2000, right before 9/11. He had left Chico State to transfer to UC Santa Barbara. While at UCSB, he decided to join the reserves in order to help pay for school and to serve his country (his family had a long history of military service). He graduated from UCSB with a degree in History and was activated several times after 9/11, but always stateside, never overseas. When he moved home in 2005 to Marin, Django had just signed a one-year contract as a firefighter (his job in the Marine Corps) on a military base in Taji, Iraq. After arriving back in Marin in October he would be leaving in January. I went to the going away party for Django, thrown by our mutual friend, and as the evening went on, so did our conversation. It turns out we had not only been at UCSB at the same time, but lived across the street from each and had never connected. While in Iraq, Django kept in contact with friends and family through emails and wrote incredibly descriptive stories of his time there and the dichotomy of having been in the military and now serving on a military base as a civilian. His primary function was crash/fire/ rescue when the military men and women came back from being outside the wall. We started emailing each other and the emails went from every so often to weekly and sometimes daily. We were getting to know each other through letters without much access to phones (these were pre-iPhone and Facetime days). That year in October, a group of friends was going to meet Django in Bali for one of the two R&R’s he was able to take. I decided to tag along. Django was home just three months later. Six months after that we were buying a home together, the following year he proposed and the following year after that we were getting married. Two people, who went to high school together, lived across the street from each other in college but yet didn’t meet until it was right— right before he left for Iraq for a year. Connected by not much more than our words, we feel so lucky to have met when we did and to have had the opportunity to get to know each other through letters home. Django and Angela now live in Marin with their two children (ages 5 and 2), where they both work. Django is celebrating ten years with the City of San Rafael and after many years supporting local nonprofits and causes central to Marin and the North Bay, Angela recently moved to the Marin Theatre Company as the Director of Development. She was previously the Director of Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Petaluma and Marin Symphonies and is passionate about supporting the arts and youth in Marin County.