How We Met
I was a 20 year old student who had just transferred colleges for the third time. It was when all the difficult stuff in my life had already happened. Almost two years after the biggest heartbreak of my barley 18 years of existence, I finally found a college I actually wanted to graduate from, and I accepted that I was an extremely dramatic person that was slowly starting to figure out life. However, my heart had no plans to move on.
However, my heart had no plans to move on any time soon. At this point I like to say I was in the “love doesn’t exist” stage. Where I was completely immune to feelings, and people, and the idea of heart-aching I-can’t-live-without-you love. I had NO idea that by actively not looking for love it would find me.
Fast forward to a couple of months later:
It was a beautiful June Saturday morning and my mom was going to an annual event her and her Real Estate team go to every year. Needless to say, I loved going to work with my mom and any time she asked me I went without question. This day for some reason I wasn’t feeling it BUT knowing that I needed to get out of the house and get some sun on my skin (it was finally summer break) I got dressed and was out of the house.
I knew mostly all my moms work friends. Except for a few people that I had heard about but never met. Pat was one of them. My mom had spoken highly of her before, just like everyone else. We were handing out waters together and talking, laughing and enjoying the day. And just like that she looked at my mom and said, “She would be perfect for my son Joseph.”
I know what you’re thinking, “OMG your parents set you up…. how…. romantic….” It sounds like such a weird and uncomfortable situation but it was so different. First of all, I’ll be completely honest the minute she mentioned it I thought to myself, “Joseph is probably a HUGE creep”. I tried my hardest to be open-minded even though I told my mom repetitively that I was only meeting him in the daylight with a large group of people around. Remember before when I said I was a dramatic person? I also watch too much TV.
Anyway, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in HomeGoods with my mom specifically in the candle isle. We were arguing about blueberry muffin scented candles versus vanilla bean. She giggled at her phone, looked up at me and said, “Pat just texted me and asked when are we going to get the ball moving with setting you and her son up.” I laughed. I mean how couldn’t
I laughed. I mean how couldn’t you we were in the candle isle at HomeGoods and my mom was trying to get me a boyfriend. I told her she was wasting her time, but of course she didn’t listen to me. Moms never do.
It was exactly two days later, July 2nd 2013, I had a pending Facebook friend request from Joe Stam the soon to be 23 year-old from Yorktown Heights.
We got over the awkward “Hi, how are you, what school do you go to, what do you study, what’s your life plan, blah blah blah” stuff and just like that we hit it off.
I found myself giddy again. He was witty, sarcastic, funny, sensitive, and all around full of life with a similar story. We had planned a bunch of times to meet, but with both of our work schedules, family vacations and what not it kept getting pushed off. I talked to him for a few weeks until finally meeting at “Hot Bagels” in town.
I was so nervous but kept my confidence. I knew he would be nervous too. I mean COME ON it was basically a blind date. He was a typical guy that hadn’t changed his profile picture in 5 years and I had NO idea what he looked like. Not that I’m some shallow person but if he wanted to catfish me I set myself right up.
I arrived at the bagel shop a few minutes early and tried parking. I completely messed up and had to pull out and maneuver the car three or four times. I was literally slamming my hands on the wheel and probably cursing horrible words. I didn’t know he was parked directly in front of me the whole time, laughing uncontrollably in his car. He told me at that exact moment he knew.
The first few weeks with him were truly remarkable. We went for walks, and coffee, we went on dinner dates and to the movies. He opened the car door for me and came to my front door with flowers. He was straight out of a movie.
Our flirty relationship started around the beginning of July but I knew by the end of August I would be on the road again on my way back to school. I was dreading that day because I was afraid it would end. I was afraid it was all just a summer fling. After throwing the whole, “love doesn’t exist” stuff the window we started dating a few days later … and that was three and a half years ago.
how they asked
After being in a relationship for over three years, moving in together and starting a life I always knew marriage was around the corner for Joe and I. We talked openly about our future kids, the dogs we would have and even the kind of fence that would outline our house one day … it was very obvious that I was counting down the seconds until I became his Mrs.
It was no secret to anyone that knew us we loved adventure. We rarely ever went to the same place twice. We had recently made a pact that we would try and visit all 50 states of America and stop wasting our money and energy on the materialistic things in life. So just like that we booked an impromptu trip to Disney World, FL for our three-year anniversary.
I was finishing up a company conference in Orlando and figured why not start off at the happiest place on earth. In just three days we went to four theme parks, bought matching t-shirts, conquered Florida in August, and made so many great memories.
I can’t even tell you how many people texted me and said, “This is it! He’s going to propose to you!” In my head I started thinking, “Omg, is this it? Where will he do it? But what if I’m all sweaty? Is the ring in his suitcase? What if I find it? Do I want to find it?” Then I realized we totally aren’t the people that would get engaged in Disney (not disrespecting those who do!) We are just super private and I could never imagine Joe getting down on one knee there.
He would have to be in a flash mob or something and I think he would rather die first. Anyway, we came back from Disney and I truly felt magical. I hear Disney has that effect on people. Joe seemed different too. He was showing a little more PDA than usual. Lit candles around the house just because. Wrote me the cutest love notes every single day that week.
I didn’t think anything was unusual, because he was incredibly romantic in his own shy way, but I was totally loving the change of events. We came home to Connecticut to work for a few days and then started packing for Portland, Me our Labor Day weekend get-a-way.
I was SO excited for many reasons. 1. Although Disney was amazing I felt like I needed a vacation from our vacation. 2. My company had just ended our fiscal year so I was looking forward to some relaxation. 3. Maine is my **FAVORITE** place on earth. I had never been to Portland, but I was SO beyond excited to show Joe my favorite vacation state growing up.
The week came and went and we were off to Portland. I was like a little kid shaking Joe awake at 6AM on a Saturday. We arrived around 9/10 AM and explored the city. I fell IN LOVE. Every where you turned there were different types of art, the smell of fresh seafood, and an amazing harbor filled with boats. I knew this was going to be an incredible weekend.
We weren’t actually staying in the City of Portland. I did some research and booked us a room at a small inn on one of the private islands, Diamond Cove.
The island, called Great Diamond Island, was only a few miles long, completely private, only had golf carts as transportation, and required a ferry ride to get there. It was something we had never done before and I thought, why not, since we were trying new things.
We took the ferry over and lost service immediately. They told us that the islands had very poor cell reception. It weirdly didn’t bother me. I will be the first to admit that I spend most of my time of my phone or on my computer. It was comforting knowing we were in the middle of the woods, on an island, with no technology.
The second we walked on to Great Diamond Island and into Diamond Cove I was in awe. There was truly nothing like it. Rows and rows of trees and just quiet. It felt good to stand in the middle of the woods and just breathe. Reset. It was exactly what I needed.
I started to notice Joe acting a little weird but didn’t think anything of it. We were in a pretty unusual setting that I knew he was not used to. On the ferry he kept looking at his watch and I remember saying, “Relax we are on Island time now.”
Our room at the Inn was TRULY amazing. After checking in we spent about 15 minutes running up and down the stairs (yep, it was two floors!) saying how nice the place was. After clicking all the buttons on the TV and admiring every square inch of the space, Joe told me he has a surprise for me.
I automatically thought this was too good to be true. I just got to a private Island without service for anyone to bother me AND I had a surprise coming? He told me that the hotel had a private tour set up for us to explore the island, and the tour guide would take pictures of us at the most popular spots.
Back tracking a little, everywhere we go we try to take a tour or at least learn a little bit about the place where we are visiting. It was really sweet of Joe to set that up because he knows how important it was to me. Also, Joe always makes fun of me for taking a million pictures everywhere we go and I always yell at him for none of them ever coming out good.
Shout out to all my fellow girls out there who travel with their man and NEVER HAVE ANYONE AROUND TO TAKE A GOOD PICTURE. Anyway, Joe literally turned to me and goes “Okay let’s go now”. My reaction wasn’t “OMG babe that’s so thoughtful sure lets hop in the golf cart!” It was actually, “hell no I look terrible I need to change if someone is actually going to take good pictures of us.” LOL he knows I am like this so he laughed and watched me change and get ready for a half hour then we left for our tour.
The island was so beautiful and peaceful. I keep saying this but it was so true. It felt like the trees stood taller and the grass was greener. Our tour guide, Brian, who was a middle aged man that L O V E D the island and all of its history (I say this because never in my life has my brain tried to consume so much information thrown at me in such a short period of time – and I was a college student so that says something). The first spot he took us two was Sea Glass Beach.
We got out of the cart and spotted all the different colored sea glass that washed up on shore. Instantly, I picked up a million pieces and rubbed the softness on my face (yeah I know I’m strange). He took some pictures of us and we went on our way.
The next spot we went to was another beautiful location on the island. It was called Moon Gate Garden and over looked the marina. We were going to stop to take some pictures, however, there was a wedding going on and the bride and groom were there! I remember thinking to myself what an absolutely breathtaking moment I’m so jealous! (we took the picture below later on).
We zipped along the dirt paths looking at abandoned bunkers (the land used to host an old war fort) and pretty beaches. Our next spot was inland and was right on a small lake. I honestly felt like I was in the notebook. There were weeping willow trees lunged over into the water, swans swimming around, the cutest white gazebo I EVER saw and the most romantic little bridge.
Obviously, I looked at Joe and said “I NEED LIKE TEN PICTURES.” I must have not noticed how nervous his face was since I was sprinting in front pulling his hand. Brian started snapping away at the scenery and then positioned us on the bridge. It’s hard to describe the next few moments because I am fully confident that I blacked out, but I will try my best to recap:
We took the picture and I started looking over the edge of the bridge. I was pointing out little lily pads and cute ducks in the distance. I didn’t even notice that Joe wasn’t answered my questions or responding back to my conversation.
I turned around to look behind me and I saw him standing there in the middle of the small bridge. His eyes were glazed over, he had a slight smile but also serious look on his face. He pulled me over and grabbed my hand, which was shaking uncontrollably. In my head I thought, either he’s having a stroke or THIS IS THE MOMENT.
I remember as he grabbed my hand he recapped the moment he saw me for the first time in the parking lot of Hot Bagels trying to park my car. Then he started getting down on one knee and LET ME JUST TELL YOU LADIES this is by far THE SEXIEST THING YOU WILL EVER SEE.
Yes, romantic too, but I remember thinking DAMN he looked good all committed. Tears FLOODED my down my face. I was already ugly crying and he didn’t even say anything. As he was getting down I was screaming, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING STOP” and I guess I said it so many times he said, “Do you really want me to” and clearly I said no no no keep going.
I literally have NO idea what he said after all that because my brain was doing back flips and I was pretty sure that if he wasn’t holding me so close to him and so tight I would have fallen over and passed out. I do remember him saying the 7 most important words, “Jocelyn Falco Almodovar will you marry me?” I then screamed YES without even letting him finish and jumped up to kiss him a million times.
Brian, our stealthy tour guide turned proposal photographer snapped so many amazing pictures to capture the moment.
It took me about ten minutes to look down on my ring and think OMG IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? We walked back over to the cart and Brian continued on the tour.
Joe was a little surprised he didn’t just bring us back to the Inn and mouthed to me, “I’m so sorry we are stuck with him.” I laughed because it took me a full hour to fully compose myself anyway.
Since we had NO phone service I connected to wi-fi and FaceTimed all our close family and friends (my mom was in Woodstock NY literally stopping strangers in their tracks and telling them). It was nice being in a secluded place because we were able to enjoy each other without the distractions of telling people, posting on Facebook, etc.
Friends and family sent over tons and tons of champagne and word got out around the little island because every one we saw congratulated us. My giddiness and need to show EVERY ONE I saw my shinny new ring might have also tipped people off that we just got engaged.
The proposal happened on Saturday Sept 3rd, and we didn’t get home to tell the rest of our friends and family until Monday Sept 5th. It was perfect to just be with Joe and celebrate the best day of our lives. Literally THE BEST DAY EVER.
To this day people ask me if at any point I knew about the proposal. Like I said in the beginning, when you date someone for so long and openly talk about your future you know its coming some day. Each trip we went on I secretly hoped it would be the time! But when it wasn’t it made it more fun for me to wait and see.
The ring was also a surprise! He custom designed it in NYC with the most incredible jeweler. I am still in complete shock that I now have a fiancé and we get to plan our fairytale wedding. Crazy to think a few months before we met I PREACHED “love doesn’t exist”. I am so happy Joe was able to prove me wrong!
Our love story continues as we still plan to travel all over and experience new things every day. Our wedding will take place June 30th, 2018 in Rye, NY. We are counting down the days.