It was May 14, 1994 and I was sitting two rows behind Roxanne, a female friend from my alma mater Georgetown University, and a friend of hers that I didn't recognize. Little did I know that this unknown friend would change my life forever. When you attend a wedding as a single man, your adrenaline pumps in anticipation that you might meet someone new or at least hook-up for the evening. But from the outset, I got the sense that she was going to be different.
I could only see her from behind, but could see she was wearing a simple, elegant, backless black dress with black pumps. She had beautiful athletic legs and petite shoulders. I couldn't keep my eyes off of her during the entire ceremony. When she finally turned around, I almost fell off my chair! It was at that moment that I spent the rest of the ceremony focused on how I could get closer to her. Would I get a chance to speak to her during the reception? Would she accept my offer to get her a drink and if I was lucky, would she want to dance with me?
During the wedding ceremony, nothing else mattered to me: not the vows, not the bridal parties outfits, not the other guests. My only concern was how I was going to get the opportunity to speak to this woman. I wanted to find out what she was about. Did her personality match the overall energy that I was feeling just from seeing her? How could I convince her that I was worth talking to? I didn't even care that I had a date, Victoria, with me. We had dated in the past, but at that time we were just casual friends. I knew that I was breaking an unwritten code of conduct, but Vickie never complained because she knew that look in my eye. She had seen something similar years earlier.
It was at that point that I had found out her identity. Her name was Priscilla, a woman I had called "homely" in the past because every time I came to the DC area to hang out with Roxanne, she was never about to join us. But now I saw she was anything but homely. She was gorgeous!
Now I had to figure out how I would introduce myself to her, and apologize, hoping that my past snafu it wouldn't ruin any chance at conversation. When I finally got to our dinner table, she was sitting right across from me. By some twist of fate, I would get my chance to speak to her more intimately since she had decided to move right next to me to avoid some conflict that was on her side of the table. As we continued to talk and hang out, I was awestruck on how easy she was to talk to. It was nice to share some personal things about myself. The conversation flowed so nicely it was as if we had known each other for years.
The evening up to that point was perfect. So perfect, that I had to look up to the sky and chuckle a little because it was at that moment God was showing me the blessing he had provided. I just had to make sure I didn't mess things up. When you carry around baggage from past relationships, and the person you are destined to be with is finally laid before you, we will usually find ways to mess it up. That is, until we decide to trust and just go with the momemt.
Up to that point, I hadn't been too successful in the dating department. Most of my relationships had never lasted much longer than a year for a myriad of reasons. I was either "too black" or "too white." Not cool enough or not tall enough. Or they just couldn’t put their finger on why I wasn't worth spending time with: I just wasn't. I had always felt that I had to over-compensate for being a nice guy because women were always complaining there were no good guys out there for them. I always felt I had an edge because I would be that gentleman they were looking for, but in the end that wasn't the case.
One of rules I have always lived by, even as far back as high school, was to take the good things that happened from a past relationship and apply it to the next one. That motto would be put to the test in the relationship I had before I met Priscilla. The last relationship I was in was with a girl named Linda. It was a relationship that would cause me to assess what was really important to me when it came to finding a mate. Linda was pretty, fun-loving and fun to be around. But she said and did things that would crush my self-esteem to the point where I was no longer the good guy. When the relationship finally ended, I had to re-assess not only the physical features I wanted in a partner, but the intangibles that I felt would complement my personality and not stifle it.
So, I'm happy I was smart enough to realize that I was where I was supposed to be with Priscilla, and I was going to allow the evening to takes it course.
Before I knew it, the wedding and reception was over. It was time to say good-bye. I couldn't let this night end with the standard line, "How about I call you so we can get together." I had to figure out how I could extend this evening if only for a few minutes more. So I asked her if I could come back to talk to her, after I had dropped off Victoria. With a gentle smile and soft kiss on the cheek, her words echoed through my mind, "It's been a long day and I am leaving early in the morning, but call me tomorrow."
As I walked out the door, wishing I could time travel to the next day, I was suddenly thankful for the missteps of my past relationships. Instead of being weighed down, my past experiences had suddenly turned into the stepping-stones I needed to walk to the person I would spend the rest of my life with. I was able to be myself, and for the first time I had found the one person that would love me just for who I was. A person that loved to have fun, was sensitive, loved sports, but wouldn't be dunking a basketball anytime soon. Priscilla was everything I had literally asked for. She was beautiful, but not overdone. She was funny, but not obnoxious. Based on our conversations throughout the night, I could tell she was caring and very reserved. From an external perspective, she had two qualities that I considered were the most important on my list: she had beautiful, soft hands, and a killer smile.
It didn’t take us long to see each other again. I hopped on New Jersey Turnpike headed to Washington DC and had the most wonderful weekend of my life. Priscilla had cooked my favorite meal, Lasagna and had taken the time to get a French manicure, which was one of the things I loved about her: her hands. I never left her side after that. We were married 18 months later, and Olivia, our first child, was born two years after that.
It's been 18 years, 3 kids and a dog since I met the love of my life. And I am so glad that I did.