Her Side of the Story
We met on Thursday, June 25, 2009 at a BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn concert in Prospect Park. One of my closest friends, Zella Pirello, organized a small get together in the park that evening to kick off another great summer of free live music. Femi Kuti was performing that evening, which happens to be one of our favorite afro-beat artists.
I ran home straight from the office. In my scramble to get dressed, text messages and Facebook posts vibrated my phone right off the dresser. Michael Jackson had been hospitalized. I continued to get ready, flew out of the house and rushed to hop into a dollar van to head to the park. The radio stations had already begun to play nothing but Michael as the dj interrupted to announce that Michael Jackson had passed away. The van was completely silent, and a tear began to well in my eye.
I rushed to meet my friends. We all exchanged hugs and disbelief at Michael’s passing, but decided that we would commemorate him by not dwelling over his death, but celebrating his life by having a great time together.
As soon as Curt arrived, I was star struck. Before introductions could be made, I whispered “Dibbs.” to the girls in the group. That’s right, I called it!
Curtis was introduced to everyone one by one. I played it cool for the rest of the evening. Engaged in small talk, but did not make it too obvious that I was definitely interested. I did, however, make it a point to walk pass him from time to time and find a reason to casually touch him as I passed.
If you know me, you know that I am horrible at remembering names. I casually called Zella over and asked her what Curt’s name was. Zella began to laugh out loud. Curt had just finished asking Zella for my name.
I was ecstatic!
His Side of the Story
My roommates were all out of town at a wedding so I had no one to go to this concert with. I posted to my Facebook wall, in the hopes that other friends of mine would be going. Daisun Cohn-Williams responded so I headed to the park to meet him.
At about 7 o’clock I arrived at the park and connected with Daisun. Little did I know, I was joining a party that was already in progress. Daisun was hanging out with some of the coolest group of ladies I had ever met. They all introduced themselves, offered me beer, wine and snacks. The night was shaping up better than I imagined. We exchanged small talk and memories of Michael Jackson as we waited for the concert to begin.
Natalie’s smile and energy caught my eye. I watched her as she moved about her crowd of friends, laughing and chatting along the way. Every time she walked by she’d touch my arm or graze my side. To this day I remember each touch.
Femi began to perform around 8 o’clock. It was a great show! Natalie stood just a few feet in front of me and I could not help but to watch her move. Only problem was, I forgot her name. During the performance, I leaned over and asked her friend Zella for her name. Zella cracked a knowing smile that stretched from ear to ear and gave me her name.
After the concert, our group walked through Park Slope on the hunt for good food and beer. Slowly Natalie and I drifted to each other’s side, laughing and chatting on the way. We landed at Rachel’s Taqueria. Over tacos, fajitas and (mini) pitchers of margaritas, the butterflies began. Before the check was paid we exchanged phone numbers.
As we paid our tabs, exchanged flirty "goodbye's" and "Nice to meet you's", but something had started here. I wasn't going to wait too long to see Natalie's smile again.
Our First Dance
Her Side of the Story...
Two days after the concert in Prospect Park, DJ Spinna, hosted a night of reflection for Michael Jackson at a restaurant/bar called Sputnik in Bed-stuy Brooklyn. Zella made sure Curtis was in attendance. I arrived, stomach full of butterflies (late) in a white dress and heals (foreshadowing…who knows). Curtis met me at the door and we made our way into the steaming hot dance club.
The energy was infectious. Everyone was moving, laughing, crying, smiling, hugging, dancing and singing to every song. It was truly a biblical experience. We danced the night away with our friends. Midway through the evening, Spinna decided to slow it down, and played the first slow jam Curt and I ever danced to, The Lady in My Life. The crowd of sweaty dancing bodies melted away and we both gave into the peace of our sway.
Soaked in sweat from head to toe, with the party coming to an end, our group decided it was time to head home. Completely dehydrated and hungry, Curt and I headed to the diner for an early morning snack. Over waffles, fried chicken, eggs, bacon, sausage and toast (yes, all of that), we reflected on an awesome night of dancing and started to get to know each other. With our stomachs full and the sun starting to rise, Curtis hailed a cab to take me home. The cab pulled up and I could not stop staring into Curt’s eyes. The kiss was coming! Curtis leaned in and the sparks flew! I stepped into the cab with a smile so big my cheeks hurt and said good morning.
Our First Date
His side of the story
The following Tuesday on Friday, July 3, Natalie and I met for lunch at the AOC Bistro, a French bistro a block away from my apartment. We talked and laughed, and time seemed to disappear. We had so much in common it was kind of insane. Likes, dislikes, families, love of food. As she spoke I could hear commonalities in opinions my sisters Alexis and Maya had. I could hear the opinions of my mother. She quoted Kat Williams for God’s sake! I smiled and laughed the entire meal.
We were wrapping up lunch and I asked Natalie, what her plans were for the rest of the afternoon. Natalie was on the job hunt and had a few interviews the following week. She was hoping to take advantage of the July 4 sales and planned to go suit shopping at SYMS on Rector Street in Manhattan. I did not want our time together to end, so I asked if I could join her. Natalie was shocked, but agreed. I helped her pick out suits and humored her as she paraded around after she tried them on (we all know Natalie loves being a “model”). After an hour or so we headed back to Brooklyn.
On the ride back I asked if she had anything going on for the rest of the evening. She smiled and asked “Where to?” We stopped at my place, had a drink, and made plans to go to the Pavilion Movie Theater to see Transformers. We walked to the theater, but the show sold out so we headed back to my place watched to Kat Williams’ DVD’s. The afternoon became evening, and then the middle of the night.
At a little after 1 in the morning Natalie said she had to go home. What started as an innocent “lunch date” ended up lasting over 13 hours. I borrowed Theo’s car and drove Natalie home, kissed her goodnight and watched her walk into her house. I went to sleep that night, knowing that life would never be the same.
From this date on we were inseparable. We spent the years that followed growing in love. With the support of our families and dearest friends, we made plans to spend the rest of our lives together.
Her side of the story
I am the luckiest girl in the world!
His side of the story
Shortly after I decided to propose to Natalie, I realized a window of opportunity to celebrate our engagement would be on a cruise to the Caribbean with our close friends. I was ready to give Natalie one of the greatest surprises of her life.
I enlisted the help of Jeanene Hegeman (spouse of groomsman, Dan Hegeman, and co-organizer of the cruise) to plan the actual proposal. We talked through some ideas and came up with an on-board scavenger hunt.
I was able to shake off (most of) my nerves when we arrived on the ship and was ready for the activities ahead. The scavenger hunt was scheduled as the first group activity. Jeanene clued the rest of the group into the activity and its true purpose. We met everyone in Dan and Jeanene's room to discuss the scavenger hunt and rules just before we began.
By the time they said “Go” to start the game, Natalie was already at the elevator and did not notice that no one else in the room had moved. Natalie was all about the win! We ran upstairs… we ran downstairs… we ran outside in a downpour! She wasn't quitting… She was winning! No matter what!
Finally it was time to bring her to the fifth deck where the rest the group was set up for the surprise. When we arrived, Jeanene gave us the impression that we were in last place, but we had a chance to win by solving a puzzle. The chance to win the challenge made it easy for everyone to sneak behind Natalie for this great surprise...
The rest of our trip was a dream. We traveled from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba and Curacao. We laugh and call it our "Engagement Moon."
Thank you Jeanene, Necole, Josette, Dan, DR, Marquis for helping me plan the surprise proposal of our dreams!
Thanks to Mom and Dad Estrada for sharing Natalie with me and for your blessing.
Thanks to Mom and Dad King for your love and all of the support you've given me.
Thanks to Nat for officially calling Dibbs!