+ dating story +

Wil and I weren't supposed to meet. I know that's a tough sentence to read, especially since we're about to commit the rest of our lives to one another, but its the truth. Let me tell you the story about how we met and fell in love.

April 2009 was the toughest month of my entire life. I had an emergent medical problem, ended a tumultuous relationship and got laid off from my job all in the matter of a week. I was completely devastated. Everything that I had been working towards my entire life was slipping away from me.  My career, my home, my dignity, my EVERYTHING was going to hell in a hand basket and I felt too helpless to do anything about it.

I couldn't even fall back on salsa dancing, my favorite past time, because I couldn't afford to get into the salsa clubs. Thank God for my friends. If it weren't for them, I don't know how I would've gotten through this month. I was so incredibly sad and a total drag to hang out with, but they dragged me out of my house and forced me to go out with them; they even payed my way when we did something that required money.

Our Nation's Capitol. My luck started to change when my girlfriends, Kellye and Sharon, asked me to drive them to Washington D.C. for a salsa event. In exchange for chauffeuring them to our nation's capitol, they offered to cover my gas and tolls and pay my admission to the party...not a bad deal if you ask me. This was the first dance-related thing I had done in a LONG time and it was the first time I was looking forward to doing something in an even LONGER time! We hopped in my car and talked and laughed the whole drive down to D.C. At that moment, I felt better than I had in months. It got even better when we got to the party.

I hadn't seen many of my dance friends in months and they all greeted me with such genuine happiness and sincere joy that I was practically reduced to tears. There was more talking and laughing at the salsa event and a good amount of dancing, too. While I was making my rounds in the room, I bumped into my DJ friend, Jose Rodriguez, who was working the event. He asked the same questions that everyone else did: Where have you been? What happened to you? Are you okay? But he asked another question, the answer to which ended up paving the road to my Honey Love...he asked, "Are you going to Flava Invasion?"

Flava Invasion 4: "Chaotica" was a salsa congress that I had been looking forward to for months and had planned on attending before I lost my job and all that other nonsense. When Jose asked me if I was going, my heart broke. All the momentum I had been gaining throughout the night came to a screeching halt. Just like that, I was smacked back into reality and proceeded to tell him, in the middle of a party, all the dumb luck I had had over the past month. Surprisingly, he listened patiently while I finished telling my sob story. After talking for what seemed like 2394852735 minutes, he asked me one final question: "Would you like to go to Flava Invasion?" WASHENOTLISTENINGTOMEATALL?! I had just spent half the night telling him why I COULDN'T go to Flava and he STILL asked me if I was going...I had to stop myself in the middle of that thought; that isn't what he asked me. I asked him to repeat his question to make sure I had heard him right. I had. He was asking me if I, despite EVERYTHING I had told him, would still like to go to Flava.

Wow. How? Now it was my turn to ask the questions! "What do you mean, exactly, Jose?" He laid it out for me like this: If I could get down to Atlanta, he would hook me up with a hotel room and a pass to the congress. Can you believe it?! To this day, I am still SO moved by the generosity of this friend of mine. I was too excited to even dance anymore! I spent the rest of the night trying to figure out a way to get to Atlanta; I was going to go, dammit! I totally needed and deserved a mini-vacation after all the B.S. I had gone through that month. After the party was over, I collected my girlfriends and started the long drive home. It was during that leg of the trip that I found out that Kellye was going to Atlanta, too, AND SHE DIDN'T KNOW HOW SHE WAS GETTING THERE YET!

I almost crashed my car when she told me that she had no idea how she was getting to Atlanta. She told me that she was looking into airfare and was getting discouraged that tickets were running around $300, round-trip. I did the math in my head and figured out that we could DRIVE from Philadelphia and get to Atlanta and back for WAY less than that. She told me she would think about it (I guess it was asking a little too much to have her commit to that kind of trip at 4:00 in the morning) and get back to me by Wednesday. Just to let you know how close I was cutting it, we were having this conversation early Sunday morning and the congress started that upcoming Friday afternoon. I paced my home for the next three days, waiting for Kellye to let me know what she wanted to do, until finally I got the call I had been waiting for: SHE WANTED TO RIDE DOWN WITH ME!

The Road to Atlanta. I can't remember if I cried when she told me that she wanted to drive with me, but it wouldn't surprise me if I had. I was floored by how, all of a sudden, things were looking up for me. Even if it was only for a weekend, I was looking forward to the opportunity to relax, be "normal" and forget my worries. I had less than two days to pack for this trip, but I didn't care! In my mind, as long as I had my dance shoes and a bathing suit, I was set. I was so excited, I couldn't sleep. Not sleeping ended up being ultimate reason why I ended up meeting Wil that weekend. 

Since I was unemployed, had no money and had NOTHING to do other than wait for potential employers to call, I stayed on the computer...Facebook, specifically. I spent HOURS in front of the computer and knew what EVERYONE was doing. I was admittedly in everyone's business, mostly because I had none of my own. I knew exactly which of my friends were going to Atlanta and unfortunately, there were not a lot of them. This was my first big congress and all of a sudden, I felt a little funny about going and not knowing anybody.

Kellye and I thought it would be best to start driving around 3-3:30am Friday to beat all the rush hour traffic on the way down south. I had every intention of sleeping all day Thursday, but I was too excited. At about 9:00pm Thursday night when I should've been in my 19328753th dream, I found myself wide awake. I signed onto Facebook and saw that my friend, Joshua from New York City, was logged in. I struck up a conversation with him and "found out" that he was going to Flava as well. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to meet up while we were at the congress. After that conversation, I was able to get some shut-eye; it made me feel better that I knew another person who was going to be at the event. I had no idea that reaching out to him would be the action that changed my whole life.

When Kellye showed up, we loaded the car and took off. We were both so excited to be on our way that we chatted the whole way down to Atlanta instead of taking turns sleeping, despite knowing that we were going to be dancing into the wee hours of Saturday morning. The longer we drove, the more energy I had. By the time we pulled into the parking garage for the hotel, I thought I was going to explode! I managed to contain myself long enough to meet up with Jose. To be honest, I was scared that he was going to renig on his offer once I got down there, but to my relief, he didn't. He said hello and gave me a key to the room I was going to be staying in as well as a pass for the entire weekend. I was in Heaven and I deserved to be there!

Although I hadn't really slept the night before and had been driving all day, I was WIDE AWAKE! I took a shower, got dressed and paced my 12' x 12' cell for 2398572305 hours until the congress officially started. On my way into the ballroom, I ran into my friend, Joshua. We talked a bit about our rides into Atlanta, took a picture together, promised to meet up again during the weekend and walked together towards the dance floor. Once I hit it, there was no stopping me. The music took a hold of me and would not let go. I danced to remember. I danced to forget. I danced to feel. I danced to live. I hadn't felt so happy and free for a very, VERY long time. I danced until the lights came on, signaling everyone to go back to their rooms. I didn't want to stop, but I knew that there would be more (and better) dancing the following night. I reluctantly went up to my room to get some shut eye in preparation for meeting my future husband a few hours later.

Saturday. Even though I was so tired from dancing and from everything I had been through over the past couple of months, I couldn't sleep-in. I normally don't sleep late anyway, but I was CERTAIN that I was going to sleep until 5:00pm considering: 1) I didn't get up to my room until 3:00am; 2) I hadn't slept in 2353245345 months; 3) That bed was DAMN comfy! Despite all of that, I was up at 8:30am with nothing to do. Rather than lay in bed and stare at the ceiling, I decided to grab the only other item in my duffel bag and head down to the pool. I scoped out the perfect lounge chair and started to set up shop for what I thought was going to be a long day of sunbathing. I had everything I needed: a towel, my iPod, my iPhone and 2308754 gallons of baby oil. JUST as I was laying down (I swear that only half of my back was pressing to the chair), my phone rang. It was Joshua.

Now, I'll be honest...I did NOT want to answer that phone. All I wanted in my life at that particular moment was that beautiful late April sun to scorch my skin for the next 6 to 8 hours. I think the ONLY reason I answered the phone was because I was curious to see what this acquaintance of mine could possibly want to talk to me about at 9:00 on a Saturday morning.

Food. He wanted to talk to me about food. He ran into some friends from New York at the social the night before and they were all going out to Ria's Bluebird to eat, what The New York Times called, "the world's best pancakes." I was so conflicted, but needed to give him an answer right away. I decided to base my decision on the answer to this question: Could I go there in gym shorts and a wife beater? Yes. I threw my clothes on and met him in the lobby.

On my way to meet Joshua, I ran into Jose and asked if he, too, wanted to throw down on some pancakes. I don't think ANYONE can say no to pancakes, ESPECIALLY when they're the "world's best." Of course he was game. We met Joshua in the lobby and hopped in a cab to Ria's. If I had known that I was on my way to meet my husband, I may have thrown on some clothes and put on a little make-up.

Everyone was already sitting down when we walked into the restaurant. There were too many names and faces to remember, so I put my nose in the menu, picked my meal (pancakes, duh) and just sat and laughed at the breakfast banter. This group of friends was HILARIOUS! I learned that they all knew each other and had travelled together for this event. Everyone was playfully picking on one another and having a wonderful time. The pancakes were phenomenal, the coffee was delicious and the price (remember, I'm broke and unemployed) was reasonable. During breakfast, it was decided that we were going to walk back to the hotel, buy liquor along the way and spend the rest of the day drinking by the pool (These folks must've been in my head).

At that point, I felt like a giant pancake and welcomed the 1.6 mile walk back to the hotel. Besides, it gave me a chance to talk with Joshua and thank Jose for the 3495872309875235th time for giving me the opportunity to be there. It was also during that walk, that I noticed the little guy in the little cap, pulling up the rear of the caravan.

There he was: My Wil (Before I go any further, let me remind you that I had JUST come out of a doozy of a relationship and had ZERO interest in getting involved with anyone, LET ALONE someone I had met 3298547203875 miles away from home). I don't know what drew me to the back of the pack, but there I found myself walking next to my future husband. He was sniffling and sneezing and I asked him if he was sick. He told me he wasn't sick; his allergies were acting up. This is how you know I wasn't looking for anything from him beyond a quick conversation--my answer: OHMYGODYOURALLERGIESAREACTINGUPSOAREMINE! Yep, smooth like butter.

And there you have it, folks. The first conversation I had ever had with Wil was about our allergies and how much we wanted to punch them in the FACE! It still makes me giggle when I think about it. I don't know how we pulled it off, but we managed to talk about our allergies all the way to the liquor store. After we (well, they) bought some booze, we hoofed it double time back to the hotel. Wil was walking too slowly (this is still a problem in our relationship), so I ran ahead with Joshua and Jose; besides, I didn't want him to think I had a thing for him because I DIDN'T!

Saturday Afternoon. Once we reached the hotel, everyone separated to get into their swim gear. If you remember correctly, I already had mine on, so I went straight to the pool. I didn't know how long they were going to be or if they were going to come back at all, but I didn't care. THIS is what I came to Atlanta to do: R-E-L-A-X!

I found a new lounge chair, directed it towards the sun, turned on my iPod, lathered 209854735 gallons of baby oil on my baby body and started to roast. Eventually, the rest of the gang showed up and set up shop close to me. I kept my distance for the most part and just watched them all drink and carry on for the afternoon. We all talked a bit, we laughed a bit, we swam a bit, we drank a bit...nothing too serious, really.

At some point (the sun and liquor threw off my time-keeping skills for the rest of the weekend), Wil and I found ourselves sitting on the same lounge chair. Up to this point, we had our one conversation and shared a couple laughs over conversations between the rest of the group. He offered me a sip of his drink and started asking me about Philadelphia. We were having a nice, friendly conversation when all of a sudden, he dropped this bombshell on me: "You have really pretty eyes." Game over.

His compliment totally caught me by surprise. Like I said, I was NOT in Atlanta to meet anyone; I was there to dance and tan. It took me a couple of seconds to compose myself enough to acknowledge his statement and respond appropriately: "Thanks, so do you...actually, they're the SAME COLOR! Are we narcissists?!" Again, smooth.

He laughed. I laughed (I may have blushed, too). We continued to chat until the group realized that it was time to eat again. They invited me go out to dinner with them and I panicked. I had already spent the $10 I had allotted in my trip budget for food on breakfast that morning. I WANTED to go, but I couldn't AFFORD to go. I was about to excuse myself from the outing when Joshua approached me...AND OFFERED TO PAY FOR MY MEAL! Gotta love good friends.

Again we separated to freshen up, only this time, I did go back to my room. I tried to fight it, but I couldn't get rid of the butterflies I had in my stomach. I was excited about going out to dinner with everyone. In the couple of hours we all had spent together, they really made me feel like part of their group. I was also excited about having the opportunity to spend more time with my new friend, Wil. I was enjoying talking to him and he was nice to look at; it's only conversation with a person I'm never going to see again after this weekend, right? RIGHT. That's why it took me 239857230875 minutes to get ready for dinner.

We ate a Japanese steakhouse within walking distance of the hotel. Nothing too exciting happened while we were out, except the group asked me if I wanted to meet up with them at the social later that evening. Definitely.

Saturday Night. Getting dressed for the social gave me quite a bit of anxiety. I didn't have much to wear and the stuff I DID have wasn't particularly fantastic. I convinced myself that I had no reason to be fretting over it; it wasn't like I was trying to impress anyone (ahem, liar). Well, I finally decided on a pair of jeans and a green shirt (which ended up becoming my name for the evening and beyond) and walked downstairs to meet everyone. The dance floor was PACKED! I spotted my crew on the sidelines, but I didn't want to seem too eager to join them. I did what any woman in my situation would do: I started dancing on the opposite side of the room; that didn't last too long though. One of the guys in the group saw me and grabbed me to dance. He pulled me over to the side that my new friends were dancing on, blowing my cover. After a couple of songs, the moment I was secretly waiting for arrived: Wil asked me to dance.

The butterflies were back. As soon as the pulled me close to him, I broke. I couldn't fight the attraction I had to him any longer. Yeah, he was sexy...and smooth and gentle, too. Dancing with him was like dancing on a cloud. I was so into being with him in that moment, that I didn't even realize that a new song had started. We must've danced 3 or 4 songs in a row, but I didn't want to stop. I'm pretty sure he asked me if I was thirsty during that last song (which I was) and if I wanted to go upstairs with him to get another drink. Smooth as a baby's bottom.

I really wasn't prepared for what happened next. While we were walking towards the elevator, he started asking me 21 questions. "Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have any kids? Where did you go to school? What size shoe do you wear? Where did you get that birthmark? Paper or plastic?..." So. Over. Whelmed. Why was he asking me all this stuff ON THE WAY TO THE ELEVATOR? He had all day to ask me these things, but instead, he decided it would be better to ask me during a 5-minute field trip to his room. Um, okay. I don't know why and I felt crazy for doing it, but I answered everything he asked. By the time we got up to his room, he knew everything there was to know about me (the elevator was running pretty slow). I guess he liked my answers because after we got up to his room and poured our drinks he turned to me and stole a kiss.

I wasn't prepared for that either. What was I thinking?! I had JUST gotten out of a relationship and here I was in ATLANTA kissing a STRANGER from NEW YORK in his HOTEL ROOM! Stop, Danielle. And I did. As thrilled as I was to have this beautiful man making a pass at me, I just had to stop. It made NO sense whatsoever. After we left his room to head back down to the party and even while we were dancing again, I kept reminding myself that I lived in Philadelphia, he lived in New York and we were in Atlanta. I can't tell you when that mantra I was repeating in my head lost it's effect or changed meaning, but I can tell you that it was sometime between 3-7:00am. What happens in Atlanta, stays in Atlanta...or so I thought.

Sunday. Late to bed, early to rise: that was the theme of the weekend. It was 9:00 Sunday morning and I was getting ready to make my way down to the pool...again. But my phone rang (well, text messaged)...again. But it wasn't Joshua, it was Wil. WHEN did I give him my number?!

Sun + Alcohol/iPhone = New Contacts

Anyway, my new buddy wanted to know if I was interested in joining him for breakfast at Ria's again. Like I mentioned before, no one can say no to pancakes. I threw on some clothes and met everyone down in the lobby again. Sunday was pretty much a repeat of Saturday: breakfast at Ria's, drinks by the pool, dinner (at Hard Rock Cafe) and dancing. Wil and I left the Sunday night party early to "hang out" at the hotel. We didn't come right out and say it, but we wanted to spend as much time together as possible before we left the next day. It was another late night spent laughing and talking. I didn't want to admit it, but I was really starting to like this guy. I was pretty bummed when I left from his room that night. We had made a really good connection, but chances were that I was never going to see him again. He did say that he wanted to see me before I left in the morning, but I wasn't going to hold my breath.

Monday. Damn. Back to reality. Back to Philadelphia. Back to being unemployed, broke and lonely. I really, REALLY didn't want to go back home, but I had no choice. I collected my things and my friend and headed down to the lobby for the last time. Wil had told me to text him when I was leaving so he could meet me downstairs to say goodbye, so I did. I wasn't too shocked when I got this text message back: "Um, I can't make it down there. Have a good drive. Be safe and call me when you get home so I know you got there alright." That's paraphrased, but yeah...you can imagine what was going through my baby brain at that point. I sighed, muttered under my breath, "What happens in Atlanta, stays in Atlanta," put the car in drive and didn't look back.

I was in pretty good spirits on the drive back north. Let's face it, I had a pretty KICK-ASS weekend! I got to go to a salsa congress for free, got to meet awesome people, got to eat great food, got to lay in the sun and got to forget about my worries for a couple of days. Not to mention, Kellye and I were BOTH able to get in touch with family members of ours who lived in South Carolina and we went out to lunch with them! That put us back a bit time-wise, but it didn't matter. All in all, life was good. The ride went pretty quickly and before we knew it, we had pulled up in front of 1827 Olive Street. Unloading the car only took a couple of minutes and then I was alone again to make an important decision: Should I or should I not call?

My new friend seemed like a genuinely good guy. No games. No hangups. No gimmicks. He came across as the kind of guy who knew what he wanted when he wanted it and went for it. Period. Maybe he really COULDN'T make it to the lobby when I was leaving. Maybe he was taking a shower. Maybe he was blowdrying his hair. Maybe he was glued to ESPN (the NFL Draft was that weekend and we were both watching it together). Maybe he REALLY DID want me to call...NAH! My experience with men up to that point was that they said one thing, wanted and expected you to do another and got angry when you followed their instructions. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided to let him know that I got home okay...but I emailed him rather than called him; I mean, it WAS 12:30am and he had told me he had to work the next day. Happy medium.

I slept like a baby that night. I'm pretty sure that I was woken up by a text message at 10:30am...from Wil. More butterflies. All it said was "Good morning. How was your drive home?" We went back and forth a bit; me telling him about my drive and him telling me about his flight. Finally, he got to the point and asked, "Why didn't you call?" I was speechless. He really DID want me to call (giggle). I told him that I had gotten in late and that I didn't want to bother him since I knew that he had to work the next day. I mentioned that I had send him an email letting him know that I was okay. What I didn't know was his "smart phone" wasn't too smart and he didn't check his email regularly. Oops, my bad. I didn't want to bother him too much at work so we made plans to speak on the phone later that evening. Butterfly farm.

I hadn't been that nervous about a phone call in my life, SERIOUSLY! I paced around my house for the ENTIRE day, waiting for the argreed upon time to arrive so I could call my friend on the phone. I felt like a teenager with a high school crush. My heart was racing as I was going through my phone to pull up his number. I think it skipped a beat when he answered, too. God, I loved his telephone voice (which sounded pretty much exactly like his regular voice, but not). I was scared that we weren't going to have anything to talk about, but that wasn't a problem at all. Also like teenagers, we stayed on the phone with each other for a good two hours that first night. He told me he wanted to see me again, as did I. By the end of the conversation, we had decided to see each other again that weekend.  

The Road to New York. What the hell did I get myself into?! Was I on drugs? Had I forgotten that I had no job, no money and no gas to get up to New York?! Yeah, apparently. Who tries to date a guy who lives AN HOUR AND A HALF AWAY when she doesn't even have two pennies to rub together?! This chick right here. What the hell was I supposed to do now? I was smitten and I had made a promise, two things I don't take very lightly. I had less than three days to figure out how I was going to get up to the Bronx. Then it dawned on me: my grandmother lived in the Bronx.

Duh. Wil and I had talked about the fact that ALL of my family lived in New York and that I had missed them all terribly, but it didn't occur to me that I could actually go there and stay with them. It made perfect sense, really. I mean, why was I staying in Philadelphia anyway? I didn't have any money and was having a hell of a time finding a job. Why not stay with my family in New York where I didn't have to pay for anything and go to Philadelphia when I was lucky enough to land a job interview? It made perfect sense to me and luckily for me, it made perfect sense to my grandmother, too.

The rest of that week went by so slowly. I passed the time by submitting job applications, cleaning my house and texting my friend. When Friday finally came, I raced out of the house at a minute past rush hour. My plan was to drive up to my grandmother's house, shower and change, then head over to Wil's apartment.

Boy, was I nervous. Yeah, we had been talking on the phone for the past week, but what did I really know about this guy? AND WHY WAS I GOING TO HIS HOUSE?! The anxiety was killing me, but it all went away the moment he opened the door to me. The hug lasted 2409582735098375 minutes. It was like we hadn't seen each other in years. He held me so close and so tight, that I thought I was going to pass out. I felt at home in his arms and I didn't want him to let go. We ended up watching a movie together that night and met up with the rest of his friends on Saturday and Sunday to go dancing in Manhattan. When Sunday night came, I didn't want to leave. It was the second magical weekend I had had in a row and the euphoria was becoming addictive. I remember calling my mother on the way home that night and asking her if I could stay with her that following week. Of course she said yes and as soon as I woke up on Monday morning, I repacked my bags and headed back to New York. Wil and I were planning on meeting up for Cinco de Mayo.

Okay, I realize that I can't write about every single day I've spent with my Love Cub. Besides, I'm sure you aren't THAT interested and I DO have full-time job I have to go to; however, this part of the story is SUPER important. That Wil didn't "dead me" after the Cinco de Mayo fiasco is a true testament to the type of man I'm marrying.

Cinco de Mayo. Like I said, Wil and I decided to meet up for Cinco de Mayo. I need to point out that it fell on a Tuesday that year, which meant nothing to me since I was still freeloading, but meant that Wil needed to work the following day. That being said, on to the story.

The plan was to meet up with Wil and his crew at Iguana New York for some weekday drinks and dancing. At that point, I really didn't have much experience driving in Manhattan, so I decided to invite my sister along to be my co-pilot...except she didn't want to be my co-pilot; she wanted to drive. And she wanted to drive her car. And I accepted her offer immediately and without hesitation.

I didn't stop to think about what I had done. I was now at my sister's mercy. We had to go when she wanted. We had to leave when she wanted. We had to do ANYTHING she wanted, including meeting up with friends at ANOTHER Cinco de Mayo party before heading to the city. Natalie's golden rule: Whoever has the car keys makes the rules. We had agreed to only stay at this other party for an hour or so, but you know how the song goes...1 drink turned into 3 or 4. Natalie was completely drunk before that hour was up. Damn. 

My sister was my ride into the city so I was pretty much screwed. That was until one of her drunk friends came up with a brilliant idea: "Why don't you take Natalie's car into the city and have me drive her home from here in my car?" Surprisingly, my sister agreed to this plan (if she had been sober, this NEVER would have happened). I grabbed her keys before she had an opportunity to change her mind and teared down the turnpike.

I gave myself a pep talk on the way down and managed to convince myself that there was nothing scary about driving in Manhattan. What I REALLY should have been scared of was the parking situation. Realizing that as I pulled onto the West Side Highway, I texted one of Wil's friends to ask where I might get lucky. His answer: anywhere you can find. Okay, no problem.

Well, that must have been my lucky day because I found parking right in front of the club. You do see where I'm going with this, don't you? I locked my sister's car (twice) and walked in to meet my buddies. I was greeted with hugs and drinks, but before I was able to take a sip, I started dancing. It wasn't until an hour later that I was able to sit and talk to anyone. The first one I talked to was Wil's friend, Niecey. She knew my trepidations about driving in the city and asked how my adventure had been. I told her that I had no problems and had even had the good fortune of finding a parking spot right in front. Her jaw dropped.

"OHMYGODGETYOURKEYSRIGHTNOWYOURSHITISGONE!" I didn't ask any questions. We scrambled down the staircase, ran out the door and found...my sister's car sitting right where I had left it. I told her I had read the sign and I was 99.235432% sure that my sister's car was safe there. Silly Danielle. I should have listened to her instincts and moved my...I mean my sister's car...but no. I went back into the club and stayed there until 2:00am.

I was not prepared for what I saw when I walked out of the building which was nothing. There was NOTHING on the street! The car was gone. Awesome. Now, Wil could have gotten a ride home from one of his friends, but no. He stayed with me and accompanied me on my field trip to the tow pound at Pier 76.

My delusional thinking continued as I waited on line to liberate the vehicle. I thought I just had to show them my license, my sister's registration and insurance, give them my credit card and be on my merry way. That would have been right on target...if the car had been mine.

Since the car wasn't registered in my name, I couldn't pay with a credit card; I needed dollars...one hundred and eighty of them. I looked into my clutch. All I had on me was my license, chapstick, eyebrows, a credit card (no PIN) and $32. No dice. 

Great. I couldn't call my sister to come and get me because I had her car. I couldn't call my parents because it was stupid o'clock in the morning and they both had to work in a couple of hours. Shit, Wil had to work in a couple of hours, too! Ugh, I knew this budding relationship was too good to be true. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and this was the moment I had been waiting for. It was over, I just knew it. All I had to do was walk over to where he was patiently waiting for me and tell him my dilemma. That would be his cue to leave. Except he didn't.

I walked over to him and told him what was the problem. Instead of getting up and leaving, this guy walked over to the ATM and took out $200 for me to get the car. Oh. My. God. I didn't question him because I had it all figured out: he gave me the money because he needed to get home. He was going to eat the $200 and never see me again. I was bummed because I really liked him and didn't want it to end like this, but we both needed to get out of there and this was the only way.

We got the car and I drove him home. When we parted ways, I really said goodbye like I was never going to see him again. It was a little after 4:00am and he needed to be up in 2 hours...I messed up BIG TIME! That drive back home was very long, very quiet and very sad. I put myself to bed as soon as I walked through the door and didn't wake up until 10:38am. My phone woke me. A text message to be exact. A text message from Wil. A text message from Wil saying he enjoyed our adventure and was looking forward to the next one. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!

Yep, that's the kind of guy he is. I figured he was just being nice because he wanted his $200, but no. I paid him back a couple days later and he kept me around long after he had the bills safely tucked away in his wallet. Within a couple of weeks (it was May 17, 2009 to be exact), he was calling me his girl. A couple weeks after that, he invited me to his brother's college graduation party where I met. every. single. family. member. he. had. This was getting serious and I needed to reconsider my living and work (or lack thereof) situation.

The move. Everything was going great between Wil and me, but the fact still remained that I lived in Philadelphia and he lived in New York City. This was a problem. Another problem was that I had still not been able to find a job in Philadelphia. I needed a solution, fast. I talked about my issue with my grandmother and she gave me a great idea. She suggested that rent out my house in Philadelphia, move in with her and apply for jobs in New York City. Why hadn't I thought of that?!

I talked it over with Wil one night and of course he was excited about the possibility of me being closer to him. I promised to start submitting my resume the very next day.

As promised, I sent out 34985730548 emails and resumes the next day and after only a few hours, had 34985730548 call backs! I had had no such luck in the Philadelphia job market and DEFINITELY wasn't expecting such quick interest in a city with seven times as many residents. I was totally blown away and it only got better.

Within two weeks I was interviewed, hired and given a start date at Gracie Square Hospital. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT! After so many months of everything going wrong, things were finally going right! This was cause for celebration. We decided to celebrate my new job and move to the Bronx at Harry's Burritos and it's there that I'm going to end our dating story.
We sat at a quiet table towards the back of the restaurant and got ourselves silly drunk on margaritas. We talked about the past. We talked about the future. We talked about how my new living situation was going to impact our relationship. Wil asked me how I felt about living with my grandmother and I gave him a drawn-out drunk answer. While I was talking he just sat there and smiled and stared and giggled. It was weird and I had to call him out on it (this part still gives me goosebumps when I think about it).

Me: "What's wrong? What's so funny?"
Wil: "Just ask me."
Wil: "Just ask me if you can live with me and I'll say 'yes.'"
Me: "Um, can I live you?"
Wil: "Yes."

And that, my friends, is how I came to live with my Sweet, Baby, Honey Love a mere six weeks after I began dating him. We've had a lot of adventures since then, including another tow pound experience. Every day is an adventure. Every day is a blessing. Every day we learn something new about each other that makes us fall in love all over again.

I said at the beginning the Wil and I weren't supposed to meet, but we did. That one little miracle had a domino effect on my destiny. That one little miracle changed my stars. That one little miracle changed my direction. That one little miracle changed my purpose. That one little miracle breathed life into me. I am alive. I am happy. I am content. I am part of something bigger than myself. I am blessed. I am cherished. I am independent. I am dependent. I am in love. I am loved. I am humbled. I am trusted. I am valued. I am focused. I am respected. I am provided for. I am grounded. I am satisfied. I am driven. I  married my best friend on November 11, 2011, my birthday. I am grateful. I am the luckiest girl in the world.
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