How We Met – by Rebecca: The summer before my senior year of college, I took an amazing opportunity in our nations’s capital. I accepted an internship that fulfilled two of my passions – graphic design and working with foster children. I arrived at the end of the week to get acquainted with the many young adults from across the country brought there from a similar life experience – we all had been in foster care as children. It quickly became one of the most memorable and impactful summers of my life. I feel in love with the city, my new friends and a young man I now plan to marry.
My family and friends would describe me as a independent, career focused person. I never expected to find the love of my life on this trip – and in a bar of all places! But they had a hunch that I would.. James, a friend from college told me right before I left, “I am certain you will find the One in DC” and my sister, Teryl expressed once I returned, “I KNEW you would meet someone!”
The very first weekend I spent in the city, my new friends and I discovered Rocket Bar – a “cheaper” place to hang out with lots of people our age. Early in the evening, I saw Gabe and without thinking, walked straight to him and introduced myself. I was immediately memorized by his whole face smile and enthusiasm about life. We talked for hours, oblivious to what was happening around us. Once it came time for him and his friends to leave, he asked for my number and assured me I would hear form him soon, even though he was going to “the Amazon to help save babies for 2 weeks!”. Not sure if I would actually see him again, I was pleased to meet such a gentlemen.
I went on with my summer, meeting new people and experiencing new things in DC. When one day, Gabe popped into my head. I was curious if he had returned from his trip yet so I texted him, “how was your trip?!”, no reply. Slightly disappointed I knew there could be many reasons not to hear from him. A couple of days later, however, I got a reply! He had just landed in the states and was happy to hear from me! Eager to see him, I invited him to meet up with me and my friends that night. Running on little to no sleep, he accepted the invitation. We once again spent the evening in our own little bubble and I learned all about his project in the amazon. His passion and selflessness for bringing clean water to native Amazonians was so inspiring. Once it was time to part ways, we shared our first kiss – in the metro station of all places!
Our next encounter would be 4th of July. Missing my own family on this holiday, Gabe invited me to a BBQ with his family (being from the south, I thought BBQ meant pork sandwiches, instead of a burgers and hotdogs, which I referred to as a cookout). Not only was I unclear about the type of gathering, I had NO idea what to expect from his family – had he told them I was just some random girl he met at a bar, nothing more than a friend, or a girl he was actually interested in? I was feeling brave and decided I would go anyways, what did I have to loose?
I rode all the way down the red line to the Shady Grove metro station where he rolled up in what he called the Soccer Mom mobile. If I wasn’t already falling for him, this nudged me one step closer – he didn’t care to impress me with what type of car he drove. It was another small detail revealing to me his character.
Nervous and excited I walk into his beautiful home and shook his father’s hand, “This is very brave of you” he said. I instantly relaxed. I knew Gabe’s intentions – he must have told his family that I was a girl he was serious about. I spent the day getting to know him and his family better and was nailed with questions myself! I was asked about my family and I had to explain the reason why I had so many siblings and why we all lived in different homes – we were in foster care as children and then adopted by each of our foster parents. Gabe was learning this personal information at the same time as his parents – before we really had an official first date! I immediately fell in love with his whole family and it was so clear the love and respect they all had for each other. Gabe’s parents were the perfect example of true love at 30 years of marriage.
We spent every free moment together until my summer in DC came to an end. I realized that we no longer could live in the moment and had to think about what we would do once I left to go back home to NC. Would this just be a wonderful summer fling or would we endure the hardships of a long distance relationship? Gabe’s initial thoughts were, “no, long distance is too difficult and I don’t want to do it, but I do want to see you again..” he paused, “what are you doing the rest of the summer? Come with me and my family to Florida!”. Happy that I would see him again, I immediately said yes.
So, we decided not to think about the hard stuff and look forward to seeing each other in a couple of weeks! Once I arrived home, I realized that I couldn’t afford the trip. We were both crushed. This meant our last goodbye was indefinite. Revealing to each of us how much we meant to each other already. Gabe fixed the issue by buying me a plane ticket to come see him!
Every moment with Gabriel felt like a fairytale movie. My heart was racing with excitement to see him again as I came down the escalator in the Orlando airport. I glanced through the crowd and spotted him standing there in a suite, holding a sign with my name in my favorite typeface (as a designer this was a very nice gesture to remember my favorite font)! A little embarrassed at the attention, we embraced each other, thrilled to be together again!
Meeting more of Gabe’s family and enjoying our vacation, we realized that long distance was worth it. I KNEW that I didn’t want to give up – there was no one else that I felt completely comfortable, secure and happy with.
Three months later we said the words we felt from the very beginning – I love you.
Two years later, Gabe once again played out the fairytale and proposed to me by singing “Marry Me” by Train with a live band karaoke in front of all of our friends. In a bar of all places and on the same street in DC where we very first met.
how they asked – by Gabe: Rocket Bar. Not the coolest or lamest bar in Washington, DC. It’s just Rocket Bar. It’s across the street from the Verizon center where the Washington Capitals, Wizards, Mystics and sometimes the Georgetown Hoyas play their games. Besides its great location and average standings amongst other bars, Rocket Bar has got to be one of; if not my favorite bar, in the whole world. Here’s why:
On June 9th 2012, I celebrated my graduation from George Mason University at my parent’s house in Gaithersburg, MD. I had earned my Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering. Unlike probably everyone who went to George Mason, I had never been into DC strictly to go out to the bars. So one of my best friends, Lmya, who came to my graduation party asked me to go out with her to celebrate one of her friend’s birthday. We wound up making our first stop at Rocket Bar.
While trying to integrate with Lmya’s friends (unsuccessfully I might add) I took a step back from the group to figure out how to, for lack of better terms, “fit in”. Like most engineers, you analyze a situation and then make a tactical decision or action based off of the data at hand. So I chose a standing table near the group, stood alone and observed them to see when I could jump in with a quirky, or relevant topic of conversation.
After standing alone for about 8 minutes, I heard a girl say to me, “How’s it going?” Little did I know that when I turned around, I would be staring into the eyes of my future wife. Her name is Rebecca James (soon to be Rebecca Stonebraker) and I didn’t learn much about her that evening, but I could tell something was different about this girl and in a very good way, especially when she seemed genuinely interested in things that I had to talk about which in many cases even I would deem boring.
She and I talked extremely naturally and easily which I had never experienced with someone else before so quickly. She told me she was from North Carolina and happened to be here in DC for an internship for six weeks during this summer. After, she would go back to school at Appalachian state as a senior where she studied Graphic Design. I was a little surprised she didn’t run after telling her what I majored in because of Engineer’s shining record of being the most fun people in the entire world.
After talking with Rebecca for I would assume was roughly an hour, my friend Lmya came up to me finally to tell me that the group had left and we needed to catch up with them. Rebecca and I exchanged phone numbers and I had to let her know that I was leaving for Peru in a couple of days for a project that I am still currently working on in the Amazon. I would be gone for 18 days.
To make a very long story short, the next time we met up, we had our first kiss and then spent the rest of the summer with each other as much as we could before she left to go home to North Carolina for her senior year at Appalachian State University. Thanks Rocket Bar!
About a year passed for us before we seriously started talking about marriage. I have never been someone to quickly jump to marriage. I think it’s good to get to know someone well before you make such an important decision with them such as marriage. But I knew that she was going to be the one I was going to marry. And when you know, what’s stopping you from asking?
I let another year go by before I popped the question at another bar in DC. I asked her co-worker, Laura, to ask her to come out to a work event to hang out. This would not be unusual since Rebecca works at a start-up company where they occasionally have work functions. This time I had them have it at Hill Country, where they have live Karaoke in there lower bar every Wednesday night. Since I am a quarter Filipino, I LOVE Karaoke (or at least a quarter of me does).
After Laura invited Rebecca to the outing, Rebecca invited me to see if I wanted to come along. I told her I was totally in. Unbeknownst to Rebecca, I had contacted the band and requested them to play “Marry Me” by Train. This was the song I was going to use to propose to her. I told Rebecca that I was going to invite our friends (and I invited ALL of our friends) to come to the event. And wouldn’t you know it, all 20 of our closest friends could make it that night to the bar!
Before we went to the bar, she and I were able to have dinner at our first date restaurant Clyde’s next to the Verizon Center. After dinner, we met up with her co-workers and our friends at the bar and… well… enjoy the film!
(Disclaimer: Please disregard the singing in the video. It sucks. I had been yelling all night to talk to people before it was my turn to sing and I could not hear the band over the crowd. My apologies to the death of your ears.)
Photography and videography by Russ Evans of Russ Evan Photography