My love and I met in in 2002. I was already attending The Beacon School since freshman year and Richardo transferred in 11th grade. Beacon is a school with a rigorous admissions process and Richardo was hoping to attend Beacon since freshman year. His application was finally accepted as a transfer student. While in high school, our circle of friends intertwined a bit we didn’t spend that much time together. We were friendly acquaintances. We graduated high school and continued our separate lives at different colleges.
After completing just one semester of college at Temple University in Philadelphia, I transferred to Hunter College in NYC to be back home and closer to my then boyfriend, and future father of my daughter, Jayda. Unbeknownst to me, Richardo was also attending Hunter College. We ran into each other in the library from time to time, however, most of our interactions were through social media. We remained friendly, wishing each other happy holidays and other pleasantries.
One day in July 2014, I received a DM from Richardo through Instagram, asking to take me out. It totally caught me off guard. Over the years I never thought he looked at me as anything other than a friend. The timing could not have been more perfect. I had finally gotten over a terrible break up the month prior and after beginning some steps of healing I decided to approach life from a place of “Yes!”. The old me would have rationalized not taking him up on his offer. “It’s too soon.”, “I’m not ready”, “We know too many of the same people”, but the new me was ready to see what life and Richardo had to offer. We agreed to spend an afternoon together in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The night prior, I slept at a girlfriend’s house. I was rushing to leave her house, get to my own, shower, change and get ready for this date. Needless to say, I was running late and kept him waiting a little while. I was already filled with anxiety and being late only added to my nerves. I was relieved that when I finally arrived at our meeting point, he was just as gracious and warm as a complete gentleman would be.
He planned a very nice first date. We started off with lunch at Sweet Chick. He had the Chicken and Waffles, I had the Kale Salad and he fed me from across the table! That is something that up until that point I had only ever seen in movies… how romantic! From there we went to his favorite coffee shop. I don’t typically drink coffee so instead, I tried their coffee soda. It didn’t taste anything like the name would suggest, thank goodness; it was surprisingly very good! With our beverages in hand, he then took me to this bizarre little hole in the wall bookshop, which was nothing like your ordinary bookshop. Here, people had drawn and written in notebooks and left them behind in this weird library of original pieces by New Yorkers. It was one of the most unique attractions I had ever visited and I couldn’t believe I was seeing so much of the city that I hadn’t seen before. All these magical things had been right under my nose, including Richardo.
After spending some time looking through the notebooks, we continued to walk around until we found a park overlooking the river just in time for the sunset; just in time for me to be getting cold and needing to borrow his jacket. Romance on top of romance. All the while, we were catching up, cracking jokes and enjoying each other.
His car was in the shop at the time so we had to rely on the old iron horse. At the end of the date, we boarded the train together and I was pleased to learn that he was going to take me all the way to my building. When we arrived in my lobby, he began to say goodnight and I made the bold move of inviting him upstairs, which he did not turn down. This was just our first date but I figured I’ve known him for years, so why not? We went upstairs where we continued to get to know each other and had a great night.
From then we began dating. Richardo took me to different museums and events around the city. We talked and laughed endlessly. The best part about our budding relationship was that it was based on mutual understandings and impeccable communication. Neither of us was forcing the other to change their mind about the expectations of where we were headed and we both just wanted to have a good time. This was especially helpful because as a single mother, I felt no urge to introduce him to my daughter and he wasn’t ready to meet her either.
On a whim, Rick invited me to LA where he was going to visit one of his closest friends who happened to be roommates with my cousin, who Rick also knew because we all attended the same high school. It was short notice, but being one to now say yes, I said yes! We had different travel dates but met in LA where we had a fantastic experience bonding under the California sun.
Everything was going well as we continued dating for the next 6 months.
Then I turned 29.
Then I realized 30 was next.
Did I want to be married? Did I want more children? Was society a constant reminder of my ever-ticking biological clock?
Yes, yes, yes! I wanted all of those things. I hadn’t wanted them before and I knew for sure that Richardo did not want them. So I broke things off with him. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but it was the right thing to do. I learned from prior experiences that you cannot make people do what they’ve specifically said they do not want to do. Even if they oblige for the moment, people eventually do what they want, or they lash out in other usually painful ways. I respected him and his wishes, so I said goodbye.
For the next 4 months, I went hard in the dating world. I was determined to find my future husband, and it got really old, really quick. After going out on about 10 dates with about 5 guys, I decided it was more my speed to go back to the way things were when I was dating Richardo. Fun, free, easy and zero expectations. I put goals of continuing a family to the side in exchange for appreciating the life I already had.
I reached out to Rick one evening while I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday. He picked me up from the Queens strip club where I was and that’s when we picked up like we never left off. We began dating again, non-monogamously just as before. As only the universe would have it, we both had unprotected sex with other partners.
I was late.
She was late.
We were terrified.
The thought of either of us being pregnant with someone else’s child was frightening. Up until that point, things we pretty carefree between us but these pregnancy scares put a lot into perspective about where we saw our futures going. My period came, as did hers, but the scare was not in vain.
Rick went on a trip to Finland for work which is when we confessed our love for one another in a long distance phone call- even though the energy between us felt as though we were right next to each other. Our relationship progressed from that moment. We introduced each other to our families and what I thought I had planned for the future had been altered, yet again.
We began talking about getting married. He started becoming more present and intentional in my daughter’s life. He asked my father for permission to marry me and he told me to pick out my ring. Later, we went to the jewelry store where I had found the perfect ring and he purchased it. Good luck surprising me with this, I thought.
A month and some change later, I went back to LA to visit our friend and my cousin. I left Rick back home because due to the timing of the trip and his new schedule as a middle-school teacher, he was unable to join me. Our friends had a jam-packed schedule planned for me during my stay, complete with an itinerary. On February 10th, 2017, after a trip to The Broad Museum, a massage and dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, I was taken to Urban Lights, an installment of 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps, being told it would be a great photo op destination. When we arrived, my cousin asked me to record him singing. He’s in the music industry but he’s no singer. I held my phone as I awkwardly recorded him sing his rendition of “Here’s your Queen” from Coming to America, (he changed the lyrics to “Here’s Your King” a detail I didn’t put together until later). At the end of the song, he moves to the side and I see Richardo walking down the row of lights.
That was the ultimate mind fuck. All I could think was…
Where am I?
What is he doing here?
He’s saying things to me but I can’t hear him.
Oh my God, he’s getting down on one knee.
Is this really happening?
Oh my God, this is really happening! He flew across the country to surprise me!
While trying to catching my breath and looking over his shoulder, I saw that one of my best friends, Patria, also from New York had flown in to witness this moment. Another friend of ours, GG had also flown in from Colorado to photograph and document it all.
This was an incredible proposal that only the most incredible man could have pulled off. I am so excited to see what is in store for us. Richardo is my number 1 fan and is just as much as gentleman today as he was on our first date.
We’re getting married on October 6th and we couldn’t be more excited to share our lives and our love, together, forever.