How We Met: “We met on a cruise.” I love seeing people’s reactions whenever we say that. “Really? No way. Are you serious? You’re kidding. I can’t believe it!” (And the like.) If only it was that simple. But yet, in a way, it was.
You see, we had both just come out of some pretty crazy situations. After recently agreeing to divorce my ex-husband, I was dealing with all sorts of chaos – betrayal, financial stress, changing jobs, losing friends, and learning how to just find joy in the simple things each day. I had basically invited myself on a cruise that two coworkers of mine had booked. I had never been on a cruise before, but all I could think of was that I would be able to shut out the previous six years, even if just for a few days. Needless to say, I debated not going. Thankfully, I listened to a wise friend at the time who simply said “you need to go – you’ve had a hard month, a hard year, you need a break.” Little did I know.
It was also Alex’s first cruise – and ironically, he almost didn’t make it either. Because he didn’t have a current passport, he realized the day before the cruise that he needed to make the three-hour one-way trip home to get a copy of his birth certificate. Thankfully, he did. Having also been in a long-term relationship before that had also ended in hurt and betrayal, Alex then had a season of less-than-ideal dating relationships that went sour. He had recently decided he wasn’t going to date again until he found someone that he knew was “worth it.” Little did he know.
We met the first night. While in the club with my girlfriends, they kept begging me, “Sabrina, puh-leeeease dance with someone!” (Note: of course this was my alias name – I had insisted we all have them. Why not, right?) After an hour or so of my “if you try to dance with me, I will cut you” look, I decided to peruse the room. Then the best thing happened – one of those group dances started (you know, the cupid shuffle or the like). It was then that I saw him – drink in hand, laughing and smiling, dancing with his friends – only his friends. I watched him for a bit, scouted his surroundings, noticed he was looking at me so of course discretely and intentionally did not make eye contact. After a few minutes of this, I told my friend “he looks sweet – I MIGHT dance with that guy.” Two seconds later she’d grabbed me, grabbed him, pushed us together and there we were. “Hi, I’m Alex,” he said. “Hi I’m, Sabri… uh, I mean, Faith.”
That night, we talked for at least three hours. Within the first two minutes, I had told him many things, pretty much along the lines of “I’m legally still married – trust me, you don’t want any part of this; nothing is going to happen here now, or EVER;” and “you seem so sweet – you should really just go enjoy your cruise.” Sentence after sentence, I was appalled at how much we had in common. Literally. It was almost like I had met a male version of myself – yet in so many ways, I was intrigued. Being the gentleman that he is, Alex offered to walk me back to our cabin. However, being the smart (some say paranoid) woman I was, I kindly replied “heck no” and thanked him but reminded him I had no way to know he still wasn’t a creeper. So, since I refused to give him my cabin number, I said he could find me the next day on the boat if he wanted to see me. And he did. Not only did he find me that day, but also the next five days. After almost a week, that final morning as we said goodbye, he politely said, “I know you may say ‘no,’ and if you do, I’ll respect that. But may I have your phone number?” By that point, I knew he’d try to contact me even if I had said no. So, I gave him my number.
Over the next year, living eight hours apart, we stayed in touch. Sometimes texts, sometimes phone calls, and sometimes visits – through it all, Alex was a friend to me. He prayed for me, wrote to me, sent me pictures, encouraged me, and listened to me whenever I needed. Sometimes it was a few seconds, sometimes hours. Sometimes we didn’t talk hardly at all – I was healing from years of pain. But then, in the middle of it all, I realized something. I loved him. Not just because he was kind to me, not just because he was handsome and loving, but he was an amazing guy. Amazing. Like, very aware of his faults, could deal with my baggage, could deal with my hurt, my pain, my frustration. When I confronted him with something I didn’t like (it could be as simple as his spelling), he could handle it. Not only that – he wanted to handle it. Over and over again, he kept saying things like “I want to be here for you, you are worth it.” I was so confused. For the first time in my life I remember thinking, “Is this real? Is there really a guy who wants to deal with me every day?” And yet, he did. And he does.
how they asked: One year after we met, Alex moved to my city. We both knew at that point that we wanted to be married, but I wasn’t ready. I needed more time. He said he would wait as long as I needed. And I knew he meant it. A few months later, I told him. “Alex, I’m ready to discuss the ‘when.’” And we did! It wasn’t but a few weeks after that we had a day full of fun planned – church, picnic, fishing, and a nice dinner. I was going out of town for work the next day, so Alex told me he wanted to take me to a nice dinner that night. However, on the way to dinner, Alex said his boss was out at our favorite pier with his family and he wanted to stop by to say hi. “We’ll only be a couple minutes,” he said.
Well, as we walked further and further down the pier (one of our favorite spots), I kept saying “I don’t see them, are you sure they’re here?” It wasn’t until we were almost at the very end that I saw them – the signs “Will you marry me?”
It wasn’t until probably ten minutes later that I realized he had one of my dearest friends, Valerie, photographing the entire thing. I have no idea what he said past “From the moment I met you…” All I remember is thinking, “I knew from the moment I met you.”
I found out later that he began saving for my engagement ring only a few weeks after we met.
Alex and I were married on May 11, 2014.
Photos by Valerie & Co