When I was a young girl, I wanted a fairytale romance. I grew up believing I would get it. I deserved it! One day, my knight in shining armor would come sweep me off my feet and we would ride off to live in our posh castle somewhere. Ok, so I knew that wasn’t REALLY going to happen… But I at least wanted a cool, romantic story to tell our children about how we met! That would be easy enough, right?!
In my teens and early 20’s, I found no Prince Charming. But I did find a comedic lot of toad-like suitors! From one guy who took me to a strip club on our first date, to another who thought that taking me to a great, expensive dinner was enough for him to deserve dessert! I was with one guy for five years who was nowhere near a prince, much less his footman! When he ended up cheating on me, I decided I’d had enough. I was done! No more men…. EVER!!! I was going to be an old maid for the rest of my life, or a nun. Anything but men! I hung up my glass slippers, threw out my fairytale notions, and washed my hands of them. I quit believing in love or anything close to it. But, as they say, the moment you stop looking is the moment fate steps in!
My mom had been friends for about 10 years with a lady from her work. She’d been to our house several times, and I had been to hers once or twice. She had a son just a year and a half younger than me, but we were complete and total opposites! In high school, he had been the party hard jock type, I was the bookworm, artsy type. He was adventurous and had gone to the other side of the country for college, while I had stayed in town for mine. He lived in Florida and I still lived at home in Ohio. No way was there a match here!
He came to town to cook his mother and some of her friends dinner for Mother’s day. Did I mention he was also a very talented chef? Since our mothers were friends, mine was invited to the dinner, but she was unable to attend because she had out of town plans. So, I was invited instead. I had never eaten gourmet food before. In fact, I was the type of girl to go to a gourmet restaurant and order a hamburger… well done! I told his mother that I would go, but not to try and fix me up with him. I was done with men. I later found out he had said the same thing. No time for a girlfriend. I guess we were just asking for it!
I arrived at his mother’s house just a bit early. She walked me into the kitchen to meet her son, and I came face to face with the man who would revive my faith in love at first sight! He was wearing an old t-shirt, jeans that were frayed around his bare feet, and a pirate’s smile. I literally felt an electrical charge as I stood there and looked at him, shocked! I just had to touch him, so I reached out my hand and shook his, which was uncharacteristic of me. I’m more of a wave and say hello kind of girl. I felt the electricity pass between us. I was in total awe of this man. I hung out in the kitchen until dinner was served and asked him a million questions. “What’s this?” and “What are you going to do with that?” And, uncharacteristic of him, he politely answered all of my questions.
At dinner, he brought in the most beautiful food I’d ever seen! It looked like something straight out of a gourmet magazine, and had exotic names I’d never heard of… most of which I can’t remember today. But the food! Oh, I remember that well! We had ox tail and lobster bisque, and everything was piled up beautifully, towering above my plate. I looked at my pillar of cuisine and wondered how I was supposed to eat such gorgeous food. It looked like a work of art! His mother laughed at me and knocked over my tower with her unused fork. “Not so pretty now, huh?” she proclaimed.
He introduced the various dishes and asked how everyone was enjoying them, making eye contact with me as he asked about mine. Blushing, I told him it was wonderful! I’d never tasted anything like it! I looked at this man and thought, Good Lord, he is way too hot for me and way out of my league. There was no way he would be as attracted to me as I was to him.
After dinner was cleared, I was chatting with someone in the kitchen when he walked in and handed me the cordless phone. “Here’s the phone. If you have any plans tomorrow, give them a call and cancel them, because you are going out with me.”
“What?!” I asked indignantly. How dare this man, whom I had just met and barely knew, make such demands on me! I was miffed… but excited all at the same time. He actually liked me!
“Look,” he said, “I just called and changed my flight plans so that I could stay one more day to take you out. So, are you going to call?”
Inside, I was melting. He had changed his plans for me!!! How could this man who was so attractive be that interested in me? What had I done that had intrigued him so much? So, of course, I took the phone and canceled my plans.
The rest of the evening went by relatively quickly. At the end, he walked me to my car and we chatted for a bit, making plans for the next day. He also told me then that he had no plans to ever marry or have children. I was disappointed, but thought, what the heck, we’ll see where this goes! Then, as I turned to get into my car, he kissed my hand and we said goodbye.
The next day, he picked me up and we went to a very nice, local Italian restaurant called Vincenzo’s. We had great, non-stop conversation and he made me laugh often. He asked if I would cook for him some time, and I thought, Oh dear Lord, he wants me to cook?! But, of course, I said yes. By this time, I would have done just about anything this man had asked of me. He told me later that this was one thing that impressed him about me, since so many other women were too intimidated to cook for him.
We met up with his sister, some of their friends, and my best friend and went to a Reds baseball game. After the game, I jokingly said that he hadn’t bought me a souvenir to remember our date by, and he reached up into a tree and picked a leaf and gave it to me. I still have it today. 😉
I was sad for the date to be over, because I was sure that I would never see him again. He just lived too far away. But he said he would call and made me promise not to date anyone else. As soon as his flight landed and he was once again in Florida, he called me to tell me he had made it home safe. For the next month or so, we chatted by phone for hours on end, sometimes late into the night. Then, one night he called and said he had made a decision. He was moving back to Cincinnati. He wanted us to become more serious. He really thought we had something and wanted to give it a more honest shot.
I flew down to Florida to help him pack up his things and to drive with him as he moved his life back home. He wanted to show off the restaurant where he worked, so, on his last night there, I ate at a little corner table from a menu specifically created for me. I was treated like a princess, being doted on by the staff. Afterwards, he told me he had a surprise for me, something he knew I would love. It turned out he had some friends with a sailboat. They took us on a midnight cruise. We sat on the bow of the boat, our feet dangling over the side and drank wine and enjoyed each other’s company. As we sailed through the water, a pod of dolphins emerged and swam in our wake. I was utterly thrilled! I had never felt so special. It was definitely the best date of my life! I was sad to leave Florida, but home to Cincinnati we came.
I stayed the night with him that first night, intending to go back to my house the next day, but that didn’t happen. I stayed three nights before I would return to my house. After one night, neither of us could sleep and he asked me to come back. I had never moved in with a man before, but after that night, we never lived apart again.
We stayed in Ohio for a year. Then, he missed Florida so much, he wanted to go back. I moved with him, living in a beautiful condo right on the beach. Our daughter came along just over a year after that. As anyone who has ever lived in Florida knows, the perils of hurricane season took away our living space, as well as my car. But we had each other and our daughter, and we were safe, thanks to the uncanny luck and intelligence of my then boyfriend.
He was soon offered a position at a resort in the Bahamas, and off we went again. We were furnished with a house on the resort, rent free. The island was three miles long and half a mile wide. The locals were very friendly, often looking after our daughter if she was seen in the company of someone who was a stranger to them. When one of our friends or family came to visit and took our daughter for a walk without us, they were asked who they were, since all of the locals knew our daughter. It seemed to me the safest place to raise our child. I was in heaven. I was a stay at home mother and wife on a beautiful island with pink sands and clear blue waters. I missed my family tremendously, but I was on the adventure of a lifetime!
Shortly after arriving, he gave me one of the greatest shocks of my life. He had ventured alone to one of the near by islands for a business trip. I had stayed at home with our daughter. When he had returned, he gave me a cold Big Mac, something I had been pinning for! Cold or not, it tasted wonderful! We settled in on the floor on a homemade bed of couch pillows and blankets and watched a movie together. At the end, he said, non nonchalantly, “Oh yes, I forgot! I did get you something! But you will have to close your eyes and put out your hands.” Ever the eternal prankster, I was alarmed! What could this be? If he had actually gotten ME something, he would have said something about it as soon as he had gotten home. So, I was certain this was a joke.
I cringed as he came closer to me, thinking it was probably something slimy or something made to scare me. “Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!” I repeated.
“Ok, fine, then open your eyes” he said, sighing.
I opened my eyes and he sat there before me with an open ring box in his hands. “Will you marry me?’
I looked at him, confused. He HAD said he would never get married, right? “Are you serious?!” I asked.
“Uh, yeah, pretty serious.”
“OH…. MY…. God!!!! Oh my God, oh me God, oh my God…”
I don’t know how long I babbled on like a fool, until he finally said, “You haven’t really answered me. Is that a yes?”
I leapt at him and screamed, “YES! YES! YES!!!!”
We talked about doing a wedding in Scotland, since his heritage was there and since I had always dreamed of getting married in a castle. But then settled on a wedding back home in Ohio so that our friends and family could afford to be there. Besides, there was a small castle near where we grew up, which would be perfect! These dreams were dashed when I returned to our Bahamian home after meeting my mother in Florida to go dress shopping. The officials told me that I was not a resident and that I would have to leave within two weeks unless one of three things happened. I would either have to get a work permit, and therefore work, marry a Bahamian, or marry someone who had a work permit. I had all of two weeks to accomplish this, or move back to Ohio without the father of my child.
One day before the two weeks was up, I walked barefoot on pink sands, laughing and giggling uncontrollably as rain sprinkled lightly down on us, and said I do to the love of my life. Reverend Flowers (yes, I swear that was his real name) asked him to “Repeat after me. I Joshua, take you, Angela…” Silence. He forgot to repeat, he was so nervous. More laughter, and I thought, thank God he messed up first! But I have to remember to repeat, too.
Then it was my turn. “Repeat after me. I, Angela, take you, Joshua…” Again, silence. Had I really just done the same thing?! And so, our wedding was a tell-tale sign of the laughter and love that we would often share during our marriage.
As is the Bahamian custom, the locals crafted an arch made of palm fronds and beautiful orange native flowers. Our reception was held at our house and our first dance was on the rug in our living room, while a two man band played in our bedroom doorway, beating a goombay drum and singing the rhythmic tunes like only the Bahamians can. It was a perfect night filled with love, laughter, and friends.
That was nine years ago, this June. It seems like only yesterday. I am still as in love with him and just as crazy about him now as I was then. We are so blessed to be able to still care for each other so much. I often wonder what it is about us that has carried us this long, when I see so many other relationships fail. Looking back, I realize that my childhood dreams really have come true. I did find my prince, although I would be more likely to label him as King Midas because he has an uncanny golden touch. Everything he does works out, even when it looks like there is no possible way. I may not have lived in a castle, but I have lived in some pretty nice places. I may not have had the two or three children that I wanted, but I do have one beautiful daughter who I absolutely adore, and can’t see how I could love another as much as her. My life may not be perfect by other’s standards, but I couldn’t see living it any other way! This, my friends, is the fairytale I wanted to be able to tell my child about one day, and I think it’s a pretty fantastic story, if I do say so myself! I pray that you all find your own fairytale happiness!