How We Met
So how we met wasn’t like any typical encounter with a woman I’ve ever had before. I used to be a shy guy before I gazed upon this beautiful woman. In her grease-stained black pants and long golden brown and black braids swaying in each direction she shifted to, I was struck with a thought and feeling I’ve never had. I wanted HER! Something came over me and I just had to have her, not necessarily a feeling of her being “the one” but the thought that “She is definitely something”. I thought this as I stood by a sink in a soaked apron, peeling cucumbers, when she came up. I was thinking, “I could use this time to say something to be the first to engage”, but she shot first. “Can you pass me the white gloves?” Dazed by not knowing what she really said I looked aimlessly only to have her excuse herself and reach across to grab the gloves only about 6 inches from my face. We awkwardly laughed and exchanged names. Leoniqua… had no issue saying her name, but like everyone else, I was astounded by its uniqueness and beauty. I forgot most of the questions she asked me except for “…like what ethnicity are you?”. Came across as a bit odd but I mean looking like I’m from several different parts of the world, I could understand that it peaked her interest. I still chuckle at the surprised look on her face. I figured she thought I was mixed but never would she have guessed French. I couldn’t help but notice a distinct change in body language when I told her that I was Haitian, seconds later I added “…and a little German too” before we went back to work. Couldn’t help but feel I did or said something wrong, but I didn’t care, I wasn’t going to let that be the end of it, because I wanted HER. As the creep that we all have dwelling within us, I searched her name on Facebook remembering exactly how to spell her name for such an occasion. Facebook messages led to numbers, numbers led to smiley emojis and then our first date at the beach. Deep conversations steered to a wonderful base understanding of the kind of person Leoniqua is/was, her morals, views, and values formed a conviction within my heart and mind that I was going to make her mine.
How They Asked
There we were, awestruck by the peaking of the bright orange sun over the mountains that touched clouds… but before I get to that part, we could never forget the blessings that God gave us on our journey to our final vacation destination.
We were planning to go somewhere nice, somewhere that we can enjoy for our last few days together and to remember while I’m overseas working contract security for a year. Iffy about the ticket pricing, cost of the overall trip and not getting a passport for Leoniqua in time, our options were limited to the states. The question was where were we going to go in the start of the cold months?! Well, I’ve always wanted to see what Alaska was like, but she didn’t feel all too compelled to settle for that place. With time running out I place all my faith in God to allow us to go on this trip. I bought tickets, reserved Airbnbs and screenshot everything to organize so that she would understand it all. Once I did all that, I couldn’t believe what I had done. I was praying and praying that my company was going to approve my vacation time that aligned with the dates of the trip. Sweating and sometimes worrying and coming up with plans for any contingencies, I had to remind myself that it’s in God’s hands and that if I did right, I’m sure he’d bless us. Then about 2 days before, WHAM!!! My vacation days got approved and I was ecstatic.
We both packed up and checked 3 times before we were satisfied that we packed efficiently. On Monday, November 12th, we drove to Orlando, FL from Saint Augustine, FL and then flew to San Francisco, CA all the while taking pictures, making silly faces and enjoying our intimate time together. We had a 20-hour layover in San Francisco which was perfect; we were going to see the Golden Gate Bridge just as planned! Well, it didn’t work out that way. You see, because of the smoke and the timing of when we woke up, the location of Airbnb and when our flight departed, we just didn’t have the time. So instead we took a detour through the lovely Golden Gate Park. Our detour had no effect on our spirit or sense of adventure, we continued big-eyed and happily! We had used an Uber to get to the park but had foolishly stopped at one end not noticing that the park was miles long (that was purely my fault LOL).
We took a picture by this great windmill, which was cool and antique, before seeing a map and choosing to make haste to the Japanese Tea Garden in the center of the park. Another Uber used, and we finally made it. It was a very nice Garden, such luscious greens and beautiful historical and religious statues. After that, you wouldn’t guess what God had blessed us with again. The Botanical Garden sat just across the street and admission was FREE! We checked the time and said, “Shoot why not, I think we have enough time” in a not so confident way, “We could at least do a little bit of viewing”. So, we entered, the gentleman at the admission booth offered to watch our luggage as we made a quick walk through which was very thoughtful of him. We were amazed by the large trees and beautiful flowers and plants in this botanical garden, it felt like we were somewhere completely different. Not noticing the time too much we didn’t expect to briskly walk through about 2/3 of the Garden before we had to leave for the airport. We were ready to fly from San Francisco to Seattle, but we saw that the plane was late, and the flight plans had shifted. Once we made it to Seattle, we were ready to a touchdown in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Not quite! The delayed flight made us miss our flight to Fairbanks, but then again God blessed us with a wonderful customer service lady who gave us 48$ in vouchers for food so we went on a food shopping frenzy! Googly-eyed with a little drool at the corner of our mouths, we went to spend on whatever we desired at the airport. Pastries and treats that were half off, water bottles and little snacks rested our minds about what we were going to eat for breakfast and lunch. Our flight came within that next hour. WOOHOO! Fairbanks, here we come! or so we thought, Anchorage was our next destination… UGH, another delay?! We were worn down by uncomfortable plane rides and airport benches. We got all the sleep that we could’ve but dang it was cold even in the airport. Our approximately 6-hour layover led into the morning and that’s when we saw it… the beautiful sunrise over the cold blanketed mountains that gave us a warm sensation inside knowing we were in Alaska! Once our flight came in, we boarded the plane quickly and that flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks was about 42 minutes of the beautiful morning sky, white powder snow sprinkled all across the land and tall trees, brittle dead trees and frozen lakes.
We arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska around 11:00 am Wednesday morning, and we took an Uber to our reserved Airbnb. Feeling the weight of exhaustion, we took showers and hit the sack for some sleep before our main event of this journey. When we woke, we decided to venture out by walking to the nearest store, Walmart, to have fun in the snow and grab some snacks. If anyone asks if it’s cold in Alaska, you just have to look at them silly. It was anywhere between 2- and 10-degrees Fahrenheit! It was freezing!!! Nevertheless, we had tremendous fun creating snow tracks, throwing snowballs and holding each other’s hands in the freezing cold. Finally, we headed over to a local hotel for our scheduled tour pickup at 5:00 pm. Our tour guide was a spunky young lady named Susie. Oh! I almost forgot to mention that it was also God’s blessing that we were the only ones on this special tour of a The Aurora Ice Museum, Chena Hot Springs and the Northern Lights sightseeing!!! The ride up to Chena Hot Springs was long, it was dark outside and pitch black if you turned off the headlights. We noticed we arrived at our destination when we saw the bright neon lights emitting from a greenhouse on the site of the Chena Hot Springs Resort, and we were absolutely excited!!! There was a little gift shop we perused ourselves and bought souvenirs before our actual ice museum tour. We saw ice sculptures that were unbelievably cool, and the inside of the museum looked like a wedding venue made of ice! The appletini that we ordered at the ice bar was served in a one of a kind ice sculpted glass and was definitely picture worthy! We went to eat after the tour of the museum and had some delicious food in this small little restaurant located at the resort. After dinner was the biggest thing we were anticipating, the HOT SPRINGS!!! We were so excited for it and let me be the first to say that we were not disappointed!
Indoors they have a pool that is warm and two jacuzzies that are VERY hot, and a door leading outside. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’ll tell you that yes, the door that leads outside leads to a natural hot spring! Everyone who comes to enjoy the hot springs must venture into below freezing temperatures in only their swimsuits to soak and be soothed by the warmth that flows all around. At that late-night time, the outside temperature was in the negatives. Being exposed to that freezing cold air would make anyone immediately shiver and scream out remarks about it… but once your toe touched that water warmed by the earth’s core to a nice 105 degrees, you melted into the water in sweet relief. We were allotted a time of 4 hours to soak in the springs and do what we pleased, and that free time was more than we could handle. So, we cut it short by a little so that we could try to spot the Aurora Borealis/ Northern Lights. Our tour guide drove us to a few of her favorite spots to get great views of the Northern Lights and we enjoyed them. Staring up into the sky with many constellations in view is a spectacle like no other. We spotted the Aurora at our first stop, it was weak but still beautiful. We had no idea there was a scale that predicts how bright it would be the following night, but it was still a wonderful sight. If you can picture a beautiful sunset sky with dark blue clouds and that streak of pink/reddish orange across the sky, it’s like that but complete darkness and a band of green streamed through space!
After all the excitement we were both considerably exhausted. I was nervous, and with the box stuffed in my left jacket pocket, I couldn’t let that be the last stop. I remember looking back on it thinking, “that should’ve been the spot” but absolutely no regrets because this next area had such an open sky. I felt like you could see all of space, each and every individual star from that spot! Before we were about to leave, I asked the tour guide to throw on the moose lights, (you’ll have to Google that if you don’t know what they are), and I decided that this would be the most perfect spot. At around 1:15 am, in -4 degrees Fahrenheit, under the beautiful sight of the Aurora, my teeth chattered like a typewriter as I did my best to recite a haiku that I had written for Leoniqua. I spilled my heart out for her; she looked so still and so calm and joyful as if she had anticipated this. I got down to one knee, and I pulled the ring box out of the snow that was by my foot, which I knew she didn’t expect and uttered the famous words that every princess expects to hear. She almost immediately said “YES!” without hesitation, and I would even say that she said it without thought, but I’m more than certain that she was ahead of me in this game of chess. Our tour guide was nice enough to take pictures for us during the proposal; even though the pictures came out blurry, we were still excited and grateful to have them. Basking in our happiness, we cuddled next to each other the whole ride back to our Airbnb, joyful in the present and excited for the next step soon to come!