hatahBy the time we are married in October, Christine and I will have been together for over four years.  We had an unexpected start, which quickly turned into a long distance relationship. Those many miles turned into many milestones and here we are today planning our wedding.  Who would have guessed that a blind date would have led us to where we are today?

So let’s rewind back to September 2012. I was starting my medical residency in Hartford, Connecticut and had just completed my third month of the new job. I had one week off from work, which I decided to spend back home in New Jersey.  While I was home, my sister Angela randomly texted me and asked if I was interested in being set up on a blind date with a girl whom she was told was attractive, ambitious, and shared similar interests as myself. Her name was Christine.  My sister never actually met Christine and she was very clear about that.  Angela had mentioned details about me with her friend Zaara, and it was Zaara who immediately thought we may be a good match for each other.  If it weren’t for my sister and Zaara, Christine and I might have never have been.

So there I am, with nothing more than a name and phone number. I remember pacing around the house, working up enough courage to make the call.  After a bit of time, I nervously called Christine and she agreed to meet later that same week. The following day, I went to Philadelphia to meet my close friends for dinner at a restaurant, which ironically was called “Jones.”  (I didn’t think much of it at the time but looking back maybe this was a sign?) I told them about the approaching date and expressed my initial hesitations. Besides the typical first date jitters, my greatest reservation was that I had just moved to Connecticut for work and would be living there for the next 3 years. A long distance relationship commuting from Connecticut to New Jersey didn’t seem like it was in my foreseeable future, especially as I started the busiest time of my life. Nevertheless, I put these feelings of uncertainty aside, and decided to go through with the date, simply looking to have fun and never expecting to meet the girl I would one day ask to marry.

On the day of our date, Christine informed me she would be coming from Florham Park, NJ, where she was starting her first day on the job as a new attorney of her current law firm.  We decided to meet at Alfonso’s, an Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria that I used to go to when I was growing up.  After parking the car, I anxiously walked to the restaurant, spotting Christine standing in a long-blue striped form fitting dress. She looked absolutely breathtaking and was more beautiful than I imagined.  That night, we sat at the end of the bar, ordered pizza, and laughed together until the restaurant closed. We were so caught up in conversation that they had to ask us to leave.  As I walked Christine to her car and we said our good byes, I remember I couldn’t stop smiling.  This meeting with such little expectation turned into something so wonderful.

QuoteAndyAnd the rest, as you know, is history.  Looking back, neither of us had any business agreeing to go on that date – myself, passing through town while visiting home, and Christine, starting a new job and moving into a new place that same week. It would have been so easy to pass-up meeting each other but thankfully we both took a chance

Since that time, we have endured countless hours through endless traffic. We have braved hurricanes, winter blizzards and car-trouble, just to spend the weekend with one another. I would say the distance apart made us realize the most important thing in our lives was having each other. When you find someone so special in your life, the sacrifices you make stop seeming like sacrifices at all.  It only took moving 150 miles away for us to finally meet, as we lived across the river from each other while she was in law school in Camden and I was in medical school in Philadelphia. I consider myself lucky to spend the rest of my life with someone who is so incredibly loving and genuinely kind, who is equally beautiful on the inside, as she is on the outside.  Christine is the best person I know. She has allowed me to become a better person and I couldn’t be more excited to say “I do” on our wedding day.

hatcjIf ours were a story grounded in fate, chance or destiny then likely our beginning would have come years earlier. For the three years I was living in Camden, attending Law School, all that separated Andy and I was the Ben Franklin Bridge. That, and the fact we had never met.  At that time Andy was living in Philadelphia, occupying the same streets I frequented with friends on evenings off. If our paths crossed back then, it was unbeknownst to either of us. It took us both moving away from this space we both shared (Andy as far as Connecticut) and the unlikely meddling of two very special people to bring us together.

On September 8, 2012 I made the trek into New York City to celebrate my friend Zaara’s birthday. After some introductions and a glass of wine, Zaara and I got to some important girl talk. Zaara told me, “I have this guy I want to set you up with and I have been saving him for the right person.” Zaara went on to describe this man who sounded amazing…handsome, strong, smart (all things I would later come to find very true). Hardly one to leave out a single detail, Zaara must have forgotten to tell me that this ‘perfect guy’ she was describing was actually as much a stranger to Zaara as to myself. It turns out Zaara had only learned of Andy earlier that same night when she was talking with her law school friend, Angela, about her younger brother Andy. After dancing, and perhaps a bit more wine, I left Zaara’s party that night seriously mulling over this mystery man in my head.

Always a bit shy and reserved, to this day I still don’t know what came over me to agree to this blind date. Looking back, I think it must have been a matter of timing. Just a day shy of my birthday, I was in that dreamy place where my mind and heart were open to the possibility that this would be a year of real adventure, if only I seized it. And so I said yes, or more specifically, “Ok Zaara, I’ll do it!” Zaara’s response was not exactly what I was expecting, “Great…thing is you have to meet him in the next three days.” Finally, the catch.

For the many wonderful things Zaara told me about Andy, once more she conveniently left out perhaps the most interesting detail, that Andy had just moved to Connecticut and would be living there at least another three years to complete his medical residency. As it turned out, Andy was just in NJ for a short vacation and would have to return to Hartford in mere days. Having already agreed to the date I wasn’t sure how to take this less than minor detail. I was due to start work in exactly two days at my first job working as a lawyer. There’s perhaps nothing like the anticipation of a blind date to quash those first day of work jitters right? Wrong. I tossed and turned much of the night before, wondering and worrying about what my first day and first date would hold. All these firsts, a year of adventure it’d be, indeed. Even with all of the new experiences of my first day at the firm, the, six o’clock seemed to come quickly and I hit the road for Somerville, NJ, to meet Andy. Afraid the power suit I donned for my first day might not go over as well on the date, I managed to change into a blue dress by shimmying around in my little VW Cabrio.

It wasn’t long before I made it to Somerville and was waiting outside the restaurant where Andy and I had arranged to meet. There I stood, holding my breath when any 20 something year old man neared, silently relieved when a shady few kept walking past. Finally this handsome guy, with dark hair and broad shoulders threw me a smile as he approached and began “Are you?” He barely finished before I responded with a “yes”, figuring I better make sure this was my date even if it wasnt Andy. Lucky for me it was, and so in we headed.

We sat at the bar. He ordered Heineken, I ordered wine. Like a true gentleman he let me choose the pizza toppings. I chose basil, tomato, and sausage, and my decision made the way to focusing on more important things, like his big brown eyes, inviting smile, and that great strong jaw of his. As cute as I thought he was, somehow I wasn’t nervous, like I’d typically be. He was so easy to talk to and made me feel at ease. The others sitting at the bar probably thought we were old friends because it wasn’t long before we were joking and teasing. We sat for hours, going on about nothing and everything. I remember getting a text from my Mom asking if everything was ok. She assumed I was still at work, forgetting tonight I had a date. That was the first time I thought about how many hours we had spent enjoying our time together.
QuoteTineAndy walked me to my car that night and wished me goodnight. I felt like we had a great time, but I knew he would be going back to Connecticut in two days, so we didn’t make any firm plans to see each other again. To my surprise, he contacted me the very next day asking if he could see me again, explaining he decided to stayan extra day or two in NJ. I like to think that I was the reason for extending his vacation.  I guess he couldn’t go back to Hartford without a second date.

Frankly its frightening to look back to the very beginning of our story, thinking of how this man who now occupies the premier spot in my daily thoughts, is a person who might easily have never crossed my path. But once I get past that sad ‘what if’, an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness comes over me. For a long while I was waiting, my mom even tells me she was praying, for the type of man that Andy is, to come along.   It was about time, but well worth the wait.