A Big Easy Wedding?! Sign Me up!
I truly believe that EVERYTHING happens for a reason. It was not a fluke that I came across an email for a free wedding in New Orleans. In fact, NOLA holds a special place in my heart. It was the place where I celebrated my 30th birthday. It was the place I escaped to after my dad and my rabbit, Skylar, passed away within days of each other. NOLA was also the place where I received a surprise proposal from my A1 since day 1, Alain. And now, one year later, I received an email about a free wedding in the same place where we got engaged? This ain't a coincidence. This. was. fate.
Below is my Round 1 entry submission that started it all:
I almost gave up on love. After going through several failed relationships that broke me mentally and spiritually, I wanted to be done with it all. I came to the conclusion that closing that chapter of my so called life and adopting a pet would be better than more heartbreak. The universe however, had different plans for me.
I remember hanging with my girlfriend Shereese and complaining about the lackluster men in my life who wanted nothing more than to "have fun". Shereese suggested that I go on a dating app called "Plenty of Fish" (POF) where she was having a lot of success. I have never heard of the app before but being the optimist that I am, I decided to give love another try.
My experiences with this new found dating app turned out to be a major FAIL; so much so that I shared my worst online dating experience on my YouTube Channel (https://youtu.be/p5sJkdyy_fg). After that encounter, I was ready to throw in the towel, delete the app and retire from dating for good; that was until I received a message in my inbox from someone who piqued my interest. It wasn't the standard "Hey" message that was typically sent. This guy actually took the time to read my profile and in turn asked me a thoughtful question about my passions which aligned with his own. I end up visiting his profile page and discovered that we were both interested in film and photography among other things.
From sending messages directly through POF, we moved on to text messages (FYI, I gave him my Google number LOL), voice calls, video chats and finally we decided to meet in person which I have a particular routine for. Before I go on a date with someone I meet online, I make sure that I tell both my sister, Joan and my friend, Shereese, where I was going, the name of the person and I would also send them a picture of the person just in case anything were to happen; better safe than sorry right?!
Alain and I decided to meet in a public space at 34th Street Herald Square in NYC. I'm the type to show up early and go incognito just in case if I didn't like what I saw in person I could get the hell out of dodge quick and fast! Luckily, it didn't come to that. As a matter of fact, when I saw Alain with his neat locs pulled back into a low pony wearing a yellow shirt-the color of optimism- I somehow had a good feeling about him and so I stuck around. We had an amazing first date in the city taking photos at the Highline as well as the Top of the Rock. I didn't want our date to end and I could tell that he felt the same way by the way he held my hand and wouldn't let go; but It was after midnight and I had to leave. I knew then that we would be seeing a lot of each other from there on out. We dated for the entire summer of 2013 before making our relationship official on Thanksgiving Day.
Three years later, our relationship got stronger while at the same time, my father's health got worse. Dad was diagnosed with terminal Liver Cancer the day after the Easter holiday and he passed away just a few months later on June 1st 2016. To add fuel to the fire, my pet rabbit, Skylar passed 10 days later due to a gastrointestinal condition. I remember feeling angry for both my dad and Skylar leaving me. I wanted to get away from it all and decided to book a flight to New Orleans for my birthday on June 15th with Alain, my support system.
When Alain and I got to our hotel, my sister called me frantic and screaming for me to check my YouTube channel. My immediate reaction was that I got hacked; and technically I was- by Alain himself. When I accessed my YouTube page, I saw a video which was titled, "Jasmine, Will You Marry Me?" (https://youtu.be/JLnZRaR0apc) which Alain uploaded. That moment for me felt so bittersweet; to have lost my dad and my rabbit within the same time frame, then be blessed to turn 30 years old, going to NOLA, getting proposed to by the love of my life on my birthday and then suddenly realizing that my dad wouldn't be here to walk me down the aisle was all so emotional for me. I cried both tears of joy and sadness after watching the video (https://youtu.be/Xiu2RlhqBBU?t=133) but of course I say YES!
To think, I almost closed myself off to finding love but my innate optimism wouldn't let me. I found my diamond in the rough and I feel so blessed that we were able to find our way to each other and I look forward to us spending our lives together. No matter the negative experiences I have gone through in the past, I always remember that it's always darkest before the dawn.