Samantha and Cameron
How We Met
It was raining on Sept 24, 2011, as I shuffled down 49th street, outside of what is now FAO Schwartz, but what was then the NBC store, in sweatpants and sneakers, carrying a bookbag, a cheap umbrella, and unbridled confidence. I was 18 and had just moved to New York City from San Francisco, CA for my freshman year of college at Fordham University. I hadn’t even been to the city a month, but of course, like everything when you’re 18, I was an expert. And I was determined to check a huge item off my bucket list: seeing Saturday Night Live broadcast live from their midtown studios. I was – and still am – a HUGE SNL fan, and if I’m being perfectly honest, one of the reasons I was so hell-bent on moving to NYC for college as a headstrong teenager was for the proximity to SNL and all the magic it encompassed for me. If you don’t know, the general public can gain entry to SNL tapings by waiting overnight outside on the street, for what’s known as standby tickets. If not enough ticketed audience members show up for a given SNL taping, they open the viewing to the standby line and re-distribute the tickets first-come, first-serve. It’s completely free – you just have to spend Friday night outside on the streets of New York City outside the studio entrance. No biggie.
Anyway so there I was, king of the world, blindly confident and barely prepared for the long night on the streets I was about to spend. When I arrived on 49th street after my classes on Friday afternoon, the line was only 6 or 8 groups deep. In fact, it was so short that I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place. As loathe as I was to ask for help when I was 18, I also didn’t want to start this opportunity off in the wrong place, so I tapped the shoulder of a guy in front of me and asked: “Are you waiting in line for SNL?”
As it turns out, he and his group of friends were, in fact, there for the same reasons as me, and I’d come to the right place. If you’ve never spent time standing in line for extended periods of time, let me share a little secret with you: if you don’t talk to the people in line around you, it gets awkward standing around with them for hours and hours. So, after some time, the guys and I started chatting. There were five of them, and one of me, so I was pretty nervous. But we had a lot of time to talk, and it soon became clear that we had a crazy amount of things in common. Not just SNL trivia and favorite sketches and cast members, but other favorite TV shows, favorite movies, favorite bands, etc. I was a month into my freshman year of college, where I was just non-stop meeting new people, and suddenly there were these complete strangers on the street – who were from Boston, I later found out – who had grown up across the country from me and were the most similar out of anyone I’d met thus far. It felt like I was hanging out with the best friends I’d known my whole life.
And one stranger, in particular, was REALLY cute. So cute, in fact, that I did what any 18-year-old girl alone on the streets of NYC with a group of fun strange guys would do: I ignored him for several hours. Didn’t even look at him. Sat with my back to him. Made an effort to talk to everyone else except him.
But as fate would have it, at dinnertime, everyone had gone off to pick up fast food, leaving me and the cute guy fortuitously by ourselves to hold down the spot in line. His name was Cam. He was in a bright orange hoodie, beat-up Vans, and a turquoise Miami Dolphins hat, even though I think the first thing out of his mouth was how much of a New England Patriots fan he was. But what I remember is how he made me laugh. And his big, goofy smile. He had reddish-brown hair that was damp the entire night from the rainy chill and hazel eyes. And when he kissed me several hours later in the dead of night (sorry mom), after all, his friends had gone to sleep (edit: I found out YEARS later that they were ALL pretending), he was so nervous, but it felt like we were the only two people in the world. On a Friday night. In New York City.
The night of Friday, Sept 24, 2011, remains to be one of the craziest, adventurous, fun-filled rollercoaster nights of my life. We ate street cart halal chicken and rice and saw a couple of cast members pass in front of the studio entrance. We played football in the streets outside Christie’s at 5 am when even the cabs had slowed down. And at 7 am, we received our standby tickets, and strict instructions to return in 12 hours to line up inside the building, and hope that other audience members didn’t show up so we had a shot at seeing the show.
So… that was it, then. Our tickets were right next to each other, but what would the vibe be like after we’d slept and showered and this whirlwind night was over? Was this just a one-time story-like night I’d tell my nascent college friends about? Or was my gut feeling right, and… this was something more?
Cam and I exchanged numbers as we parted ways, squinting in the early Saturday morning sunlight. As I shuffled back 10 blocks uptown to my dorm, almost too tired to think, I couldn’t help feeling like – despite all the signs pointing to the opposite – this was the start of something real.
So I got back to my dorm and promptly passed out. I woke up a couple of hours later very disoriented, and the first thing I did was text, Cam. We had agreed we’d wake up at the same time and maybe grab an early dinner before the show. I go shower, and come back and check my phone. No response. I call him. Nothing.
Alright, so it turns out boys you meet on the street are not the endgame. Annoyed and sad, but not sad enough that I couldn’t be excited for hopefully seeing SNL soon, I put my phone away and continued getting ready for the evening. I would take MYSELF out, then, hang out in midtown before I needed to arrive back at the studios.
But this is a story on HowTheyAsked so you already know how this ends, right? The teenage boys predictably all slept through their alarms. While I was getting ready, Cam called me a bunch, but I didn’t pick up, so he texted me to meet him and his friends down at a pub on – you guessed it – 49th street. I walked those ten blocks slowly, so wary that he wouldn’t be there or something else would change or go wrong. But there he was, standing outside the pub entrance, looking so handsome showered and in clean, dry clothes. He had the biggest smile on his face like he genuinely couldn’t wait to see me again. He kissed me like we were at the end of a rom-com, but as it turns out, it was the beginning of the rest of our lives.
P.S. You KNOW the stars aligned and we made it into SNL that night! We saw the dress rehearsal taping of the Season 37 premiere, with Alec Baldwin as the host and Radiohead as the musical guest. It was everything I dreamed it would be and more. We’ve now seen live tapings of SNL 6 times over 8 years.
How They Asked
For our eight-year anniversary, Cam told me to take the day off work, but he wouldn’t tell me why. He said he had a day of surprises planned. Just like the day we met, when we woke up the morning of Wed Oct 9, 2019… it was raining.
Our first stop was brunch at The Jane restaurant in NYC. When Cam and I first started dating, we ate at a lot of diners, as we weren’t exactly in the financial position to wine and dine each other at fancy places. But I stumbled across The Jane and was SO enamored with their menu and ambiance, that I REALLY wanted to go. Cam and I actually saved for a few months to be able to afford a bougie brunch there, on a cold Sunday morning when we were about 19. It was fun to be able to go back for a spontaneous brunch to celebrate our 8-year anniversary. On the way to the subway, Cam walked me up MacDougal street by Washington Square Park – a reference from one of our favorite songs.
Cam was just getting started. Our next stop was the Hypar Pavilion rooftop lawn at Lincoln Center, where we used to hang out when I was in college at Fordham University. Since Cam is from Boston, we dated for four years long-distance until I graduated, and we moved in together in Brooklyn. When I still lived and worked at Fordham, Lincoln Center was a classy (and free) place to hang out that was basically in my backyard. Unfortunately, the roof was closed due to the rain, so Cam was frustrated, but it was also completely deserted, so it was really peaceful to stand there and watch the rainfall on the reflecting pool. Once again, it felt like we were the only people in the city.
From Lincoln Center, we headed to the Rockefeller Center concourse, where we had spent SO much time during all of our SNL standby adventures, always sneaking in to grab quick sandwiches and trying to charge our phones in public seating areas. We sat on a bench and people-watched for a while, reminiscing about all of the shenanigans we got up to in the Rockefeller Center building.
Cam had been FURIOUSLY checking the weather app on his phone, and the absolute SECOND it stopped raining, he took me outside to the plaza. We watched the flags dance in the wind and an earlier farmer’s market wrap up their apples and bread. Eventually, we made it down 49th street, to the exact spot where we met, across the street from Christie’s, outside what was then the NBC store but what is now FAO Schwartz.
Cam took my hand and told me how happy he was to have met me 8 years and 2 weeks ago, and how he had no idea that when he arrived in the city in 2011 for a fun boys’ weekend with his friends, he would be meeting the girl of his dreams. He told me one of the moments that stood out to him the most from our time doing SNL together (this is a true story that I had completely forgotten about!), was a few years after we met, when we happened to be doing standby on a particularly cold night, and we went to a nearby McDonalds together to try and warm up. Cam was laying with his head in my lap when he noticed I was crying a little. He asked me what was wrong. At the time, my older brother had just gotten engaged, and I told Cam that I asked my brother: when did he know my sister-in-law was who he wanted to spend his life with? As children of divorce, the idea of marriage seemed so foreign and almost irresponsible to me at the time. My brother leveled with me: he looked me in the eyes, and said, “I just knew.”
Cam told me he’d always known with me. He got down on one knee. It all happened very fast. He unzipped his jacket pocket to reveal a small velvet box from Catbird, and popped it open. Inside was a sapphire ring we’d looked at on the Catbird website several months ago. And then, kneeling in the exact same spot he had been in when I first asked him if he was in line 8 years and 2 weeks ago, Cam asked me to marry him!
And I said YES!