How We Met
Spencer and I first met when were were 14yrs old during our freshman year at Southwest DeKalb High School (SWD) in Decatur, Georgia. We frequently interacted with one another due to being placed in numerous classes together (as we were both in the gifted, accelerated, and AP programs) in addition to bonding over the fact our birthdays are day apart (February 9th for me & February 10th for him). Although we had gotten to know each other very well over the course of four years, aromantic relationship never manifested despite our frequent playful banter and flirty remarks we would make with each other in class or passing through the halls.
In 2006 we graduated from SWD and went our separate ways for college. He attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. and I attended the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, GA. Throughout college we were able to loosely stay in touch via Facebook and of course we always remembered each other’s birthday as we had coined each other “birthday twin.” After graduating undergrad in 2010 we both went on to grad school; again at different institutions, (he attended Tulane University and I attended the University of Cincinnati) and still only kept in touch via social media.
Years passed by as both of us continued our academic endeavors and other projects in order to achieve our professional dreams, when in 2014 I suddenly received a private Facebook message. February 9, 2014 (my birthday) it was Spencer wishing me a Happy Birthday and informing me that he was back in our home state of Georgia and should hang out some time. Since I had known Spencer for so long I accepted his offer and we exchanged numbers.
Winter storms that year in Georgia led to events the news outlets dubbed “Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse.” The storms crippled metro Atlanta, vehicles were stranded, there were massive power outages, and the roads were in treacherous conditions. At my parent’s house the power was never affected, so my dad and I decided to go out to the store to pick up some more supplies. One day, due to the terrible road conditions my dad and I decided to go to the store in an area we didn’t frequent that much because it was a much safer route.
After my dad and I picked up our supplies from Publix, we decided to go into Dollar Tree to take a look at the Valentine’s candy. As fate would have it, I hear my name being called in the store (despite me trying to be incognito with my hoodie on). As soon as I turned around I saw Spencer’s smiling face and I was blown away because I had not physically seen Spencer since our senior year of high school. We briefly chatted and we commented on the irony of seeing each other so soon after we had exchanged numbers online just a few days prior. After our encounter, we began to start texting and calling each other frequently getting to know each other again.
Due to our hectic schedules, Spencer and I were not able to casually hang out until May 2014. That month we went to Stars and Strikes bowling alley in Sandy Springs, GA and had a great time talking, laughing, and playing games. As we were saying our goodbyes and discussing how we should hang out again Spencer looked deep into my eyes kissed me. I immediately felt the sparks fly after that kiss and to this day I cannot remember any kiss I have not shared with him. The week after our first kiss, Spencer called me to share his exciting news of getting accepted into Mercer University Medical School. I was elated, but with that news and working on a doctorate degree myself, we made the decision to continue dating for his first year and to make it official when he got over the first year hump of med school. As a result, July 9, 2015 Spencer and I officially became a couple.
During his medical studies and my continued doctoral studies we became closer and closer, started going on trips, and more. February 2016 we decided to go to Myrtle Beach to celebrate our birthdays and Valentine’s Day. We celebrated Valentine’s Day a day early on the 13th at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach at the third annual “Splash of Love” in which we enjoyed music, drinks, a four course meal, full access to the aquarium, and each couple seated in the aquarium had a special view of an aquatic tank (we were seated at the tank of the giant squid). The event was so much fun and absolutely stunning, we had nothing but smiles going back to the hotel. The next morning (Valentine’s Day) we decided to get up early and enjoy the ocean view from the glassed in Jacuzzi. It was a beautiful day with the ocean sparkling and we had the area all to ourselves. As we lounged and enjoyed the warm waters Spencer grabbed my hand and said, “I love you.” With no hesitation I replied, “I love you too” and that was the very first time (but not last time) we said it to one another.
how they asked
Fast forward to the end of 2017, we knew 2018 would be a year full of celebration and accomplishment; however, I never in a million years would have guessed that we would be celebrating our engagement. 2017-2018 was Spencer’s last year of medical school so summer-winter 2017 Spencer was traveling all over the country for away rotations and interviews to prepare for Match Day in March 2018. Summer 2017 I was notified by the U.S. Department of State that I was selected for a student internship and that I would have to live in Washington, D.C. for three months in 2018. As we were both getting ready for big events in 2018 our relationship remained strong, healthy, playful, and full of encouragement.
Our 2017 holiday season was filled with Match Day preparations for him and work/housing preparations for me to live in D.C. for 3 months. Little did I know, Spencer messaged my older sister on Facebook in November telling her it was time for “you know what” and to keep it top secret. New Year’s arrived, we rang in 2018 together, and on January 6th I was on a plane to D.C. Being out of the picture for three months, Spencer and my sister Brandee exchanged text messages, met up to go ring shopping, and purchased what I consider to be my “dream ring.” I was completely oblivious to what was going on despite our daily FaceTime sessions and even when he flew to D.C. twice for my birthday and Valentine’s Day I suspected nothing.
Right before my internship ended in March 2018, Spencer called me to tell me he had planned a trip for us to stay a week in Myrtle Beach in April to celebrate my time at the State Department and to celebrate him matching Emergency Medicine. I thought it was a fantastic idea because we had not been to Myrtle Beach since February 2016 and we both had so much fun despite the cold weather. Upon arriving home, I eagerly awaited our week long vacation in April so that I could unwind and spend some quality time with Spencer.
April 8-14 was our vacation dates and we spent the week basking in the sun, enjoying the pool, the beach, going to Broadway at the Beach, and more destinations. The weather was excellent and we had plenty of time to enjoy the shops and numerous activities. Throughout the week during the morning hours Spencer would let me know that he would be taking the car to either run errands, pick up some things from the store, visit an old med school buddy, and etc. Each reason seemed legit to me because: I knew that there were a lot of things that just happened in his life that he had to prepare for pertaining to his upcoming medical residency, I know that he typically forgets to bring things on trips, and we both know the med school colleague that stayed in Myrtle Beach as she gave us some suggestions on what to do/where to go. I did not find out until later on that the reasons Spencer gave to take the car were all elaborate ruses to prep for my engagement and my immediate family was in on it the whole time!
April 13th (Friday the 13th) Spencer suggested we go to Ripley’s Aquarium since we had not been there since the Splash of Love on February 13th 2016. I thought it was a fantastic idea because I wondered if the aquarium would be different from the last time we were there. We arrived to the plaza where the aquarium is located and before I could start walking toward the entrance Spencer says, “Let’s get ice cream!” I immediately agree because I absolutely love ice cream, but unbeknownst to me Spencer was actually trying to kill time so the aquarium crew could prepare for his “special surprise.” When we get to the aquarium after eating ice cream, Spencer starts suggesting that we should do all of these things at the aquarium such as the glass boat tour, visit the pearl harbor exhibit, stroll through the aquatic exhibits, and lastly attend a “dive show.” I happily agreed because it sounded like it would be a fun filled day and the last time we were at this aquarium was after hours, so these activities were not available.
We get into the aquarium do everything that was on our itinerary and around 1:00 PM we come to the last thing on our list, the dive show. The Rainbow Rock Dive Show was set in a replica coral reef environment where the diver is doing tricks in the tank and feeding all of the beautiful rainbow colored fish varieties. As the diver finished performing, the woman whom was giving information and telling us interesting facts about the tank asked if any one wanted to come up and ask a question. Spencer immediately stood up and made his way to the tank in front of the crowd. I did not get up because I just though Spencer genuinely had questions about the show, seeing as he had been very interactive during the other aquarium activities. The speaker then asked Spencer if he had someone with him who may want to come to the front as well. He immediately called my name and I was hesitant because I truly didn’t have any questions to ask, but I got up to be a good sport. Spencer had the microphone and went into a speech on why he had such a fond memory of the aquarium, how I was included in that memory because we spent our very first Valentine’s there, and that it was nostalgic being back. At this moment I am confused and thinking in my head, “I know this isn’t what I think this is.” Next thing I know I see Spencer slowly lowering himself to the ground and it was at that moment I just blacked out and absolutely heard nothing but, “Starlett, will you marry me?” Despite still being in shock I quickly said “Yes” and I was still in a daze. I turn around to see the diver in the tank holding a sign that said, “Starlett, will you marry me” and as I am fighting back tears I manage to utter, “Will you please get some pictures of that sign so I can show my family.” Spencer; still holding on to me and now laughing says, “Look at all of these people with cameras, they are not regular aquarium guests, they are photographers.” Then he unveils a bouquet of my favorite flower varieties and my favorite picture of us on an easel. At this point I am overjoyed, completely surprised, emotional, and still confused.
After all of the commotion I tried to pull myself together and I FaceTime my sister to tell her to get mom and that I had to tell them something. As soon as they saw my face on camera they yelled, “Surprise, Congratulations, We Knew” and just laughed heartily. My face was in complete shock again and I started crying and said, “How did you know” and they said, “Spencer let us in on this project because he has been planning this since before you left for D.C. and even as you returned.” I couldn’t believe he was able to keep such an intricate plan without my knowing for so long and on top of that recruit so many other people to keep his secret for him. Once we got back to the hotel I was still overcome with emotion and Spencer was all smiles knowing that he had given me the surprise of a lifetime.
As soon as we got back to the room, I received a phone call telling me to go downstairs to pick up a package. I started crying again because I just knew that this had to be from my family. I made my way to the front desk lobby and everyone yelled, “Congratulations” then handed me a box of chocolate covered strawberries and a bouquet of balloons with a card attached. I told everyone thank you and walked back to the room. Once I opened the door, I saw a card envelope with my name on it and a Tiffany box along with another box on the bed. I opened the card on the strawberries box first and I was right about it being a gift from my family. I then read the card on the bed, which was from my sister along with the Tiffany box that contained a necklace she had engraved with my future initials (SMC). The other box held a pair of diamond earrings that matched my engagement ring, with a note from my sister saying, “Every lady should have a matching set.” Seeing these gifts on the bed made me realize that my sister truly was part of his plan the entire time and that they collaborated together throughout each step and that meant the world to me.
Being a horror movie fan, Friday the 13th has always been one of my favorite days, but April 13, 2018 will always be remembered as the most memorable Friday 13th/Freaky Friday of my life.