How We Met
Once upon a headlock…
It’s more than just a hashtag – Let us explain. The year was 1988. The place is Brookside Elementary playground. The time, recess.
Those who know me know that I have always been a tomboy. And I have always had an interest in wrestling. But I have always been a bit of a bookworm and would constantly be reading under a tree somewhere… or in a tree, depending on my mood. One day I was reading during recess, under a tree, while some of the boys were roughhousing on the playground. I became so engrossed in their play-wrestling that I put my book down and just started watching them, cheering a few on from the sideline. At some point, a boy who I always thought to be rather cute caught my eye.
…so, there I am, trying to decide/figure out what to do on the playground, when an arm wraps around my head, fingers locking with those on the other hand of the person capturing me in a headlock. And we stood there. I looked up at this adorable face looking down at me, sheepishly smiling, and squeaking out a “HI!” … and I start laughing. We still stood there…. Now, both laughing. Neither of us knew what else to do, other than that.
Oh… you’ll notice the change in what we refer to as “typing voices”… we do this with our Holiday cards.
We were instant friends, from then on. The best of friends. Always looking out for and sticking up for each other. Making the other one laugh, cry, throw up, etc.
Now one would have thought that we would have exchanged contact information, but yeah… at that age I was just thinking… I’ll always see him at school so there was no need. Due to the crazy school zoning rules of the good old Town of Greece, I ended up at Hoover Drive and he ended up at Athena. But we would run into each other throughout the years – at mutual friend’s birthday parties…places of employment… I even almost asked him to prom after randomly bumping into him at Party City. Always friends but we never dated or even expressed any sort of interest in one another more than best buds.
We’d carry on with our lives, finish high school, go to work (or college), and see other parts of the world, separately… but we’d always find ourselves running into each other and sitting down for coffee, food, or cocktails, and catching up. As the years went on, we had ALWAYS stayed in contact with each other. However, in my mind, it seemed our lives were too different from one another, our paths were too far apart, with only brief and periodical reunion trails, and we might not see too much of each other for quite some time. That is, of course, until I first entered Warwickshire. As I’ve always had an interest in historical time periods (medieval and Renaissance, for example), I thought it would be fun to check out the Sterling Renaissance Faire and see what shenanigans I could take part in. I was walking a dirt road, not far from the Field of Honour and the Washer Well, (possibly chasing the pickle cart), when I noticed a familiar, beautiful face, and stopped dead in my tracks. Without hesitation, I called out to her.
It was a really hot day at the fair and I was wearing my Irish dress, léine AND an arasaid. I was on my lunch break trying to navigate my way through the crowded walkways, stopping by a beverage stand to pick up some ice for my bodice chiller. For those who don’t know, the magical glass blower in the shire made these wonderous baubles – Bodice Chillers – decorative hand-blown glass tubes that you would place in the cleavage after putting on your corset or bodice. It could also double as a vase for your Bosom Blossoms – flowers purchased that were placed in one’s bosom. Just as I filled the glass tube with fresh ice, beginning to feel its cooling effects, I hear my name being shouted above the noise in a familiar voice, though I could not see him yet. I spun around just in time to be lifted off the ground in the tightest bearhug ever with his face only inches away from mine. And we just stood there locked in this embrace. I didn’t know what to say or do…, especially since the newly placed ice cubes in my chiller had already begun to melt and the jostling of him lifting me off the ground sloshed ice cold water down the inside of my dress and léine. We just stared at each other for a while, neither of us saying anything.
I’m not sure when, but I did, eventually, set her down. We started catching up as much as we could, considering that one of us was working. We, each, knew that the other was reachable through social media and had gotten each other’s email and phone numbers. Again, we’d always remained in contact, always come back into the same space, and made the best of the precious few moments we had, together. Our run-ins were as random as we are. Even at the regular spots, such as Vertex nightclub, or Princess diner. There was even a time, one night, after Vertex, that we’d kissed, just once. All this before that day in the shire… which would be the last we’d see one another, for about 13 years. Yet, remained in contact.
We’d had our share of personal battles and navigations, and have dealt with the onslaught and aftermath of bad relationships. We were always there for each other as sounding boards and sturdy shoulders, but there was something that stayed with us, both, through the years, that we did not internally realize about ourselves, earlier, nor were aware of with the other: We both had carried a bright torch for the other for as long as we knew each other.
Yes… the last time we physically saw each other was that day at Faire in 2011. I was living in Virginia and he was in New York and due to some of life’s challenges, I rarely came home for a visit until 2018. And even then, we missed each other due to schedule conflicts. As was mentioned we did keep in contact via social media… always commenting or liking each other’s posts but also the occasional direct message, especially when one of us was going through a rough patch. We would always let the other one know that they were never alone and could always depend on the other for emotional support. But we never shared how we truly felt about each other. Then, after a lovely girls’ weekend with my bestie in Maryland in June 2021, I got the random thought, “Hmm, I wonder what Nick is up to.”So I texted him “what’s up and hey what are you doing 4th of July weekend because guess who is coming home? We NEED to hang out!”I set my phone down and went into my kitchen to start dinner because I didn’t know if he was online or how long it would take him to respond.
I work in retail. Lead supervisor at my store. #2 on the alarm call list. Living 5 minutes from the store. I sleep with my phone. I missed some of my friends. I especially missed my Jenn. When my phone went off and it wasn’t a random spam call or text, or some other fluke notification, of course, I went right to it. And, somehow, we missed the passing of about 6 hours. After that, we called and chatted every day and night. We talked about many different things, both past, and present, and our conversations became revelations. One big one, in particular. While discussing things we’d always looked for in a partner, we realized that we had it, right there, in front of us. All along. But we never knew it, before. We were stunned beyond belief. We started to open our dungeon doors and break our silence. I tried, first, to be subtle, while she tried to find the words, only to, ultimately, have her tell me she needs it spelled out that I was in love with her. So, I spelled it out. In phonetics. I repeat INDIA SIERRA PAPA ECHO LIMA LIMA ECHO DELTA INDIA TANGO OSCAR UNIFORM TANGO, over! She was stunned that I confessed. I was stunned that she understood it. We were stunned that I was surprised that she understood it. I should’ve known better.
So right at that moment, even with the distance, we decided that we needed to start dating right then and there. We somehow had stayed in contact all these years so there was no way we were going to let distance stand between us. And the rest, as they say, is history. I ended up moving back to Rochester. We both spent a short amount of time living back at our parents’ houses before our townhouse was ready and then we finally moved in together.
This is the short version.
How They Asked
It was just an ordinary Friday… we both had gotten home from work, and we were making curry together. He had never made curry before, so I was showing him my favorite recipe and we were doing it together. My mother had texted to see if we wanted to go out for drinks and we were deciding what we were going to do. This was also the Friday before Mother’s Day AND happened to be his mother’s birthday. We set the timer for the curry to simmer, and I sat down on the couch to see what was going on on social media.
As a magician, I took advantage of this moment of self-imposed misdirection to go upstairs and grab something. I came back down with a t-shirt box to give her. I told her there was never going to be a better time to do this. She opened the box to reveal some Star Trek gifts and a pair of slipper socks (the bottoms read “COFFEE BY DAY”, and “WINE BY NIGHT”). They were on top of folds of tissue paper that hid a variation of a t-shirt she expressed interest in. She wanted one that said, “Support your local paranormal investigation and elimination service… date a Ghostbuster”. One could not be found, but it could be custom-made. And it was. With one difference. What she read, as she unfolded the shirt, was “MARRY a Ghostbuster”! Along with it was a Ghostbusters uniform name patch with her “hopefully” new last name. While her attention had been on all of that, I got into position with the ring she now wears. She didn’t let me actually ask her, at first.
I was very surprised by all of these… gifts out of the blue? Then I read the shirt… Marry a Ghostbuster? I was like, wait, what? I looked up to see him on his knee between the couch and the coffee table. I believe I said, “Yes. Yes. Thousand times Yes!”… before he even said anything. While laughing he asked if I could let him ask me first. I was like… oh yeah, of course. So I let him ask me, I said yes again, he put the ring on my finger and then we Googled what direction you are supposed to wear a Claddagh when you are engaged so that we got it “right”.Turns out my mother had known for months because he had asked for permission first. We let our families know and then we announced on social media that we were engaged. We decided to wait about three weeks before planning anything to just enjoy being engaged, finally.