…as told by Gil
Our story begins in 2004, a year that cast an impressionable shadow full of pain, loss and uncertainty. As many Floridians were driving north in an attempt to flee the swirling winds of an eminent hurricane, Lee was driving south – often times in the only car on the road- in search of a new chapter in her life. I was equally alone, driving back from Miami following the passing of my father. The weather and the craziness that filled that time were very metaphoric of where Lee and I were in our respective lives the summer before we met.
Just as the swirling winds can carry a leaf to some new destination, sometimes swiftly and oftentimes erratically, so did fate lead us to find each other. Lee and I would later come to realize we shared many interests, one of which was/is an almost unhealthy Internet habit. It was this addiction, coupled with the swirling nature of fate, that lead us to meet online.
We had each registered on several dating websites, both of us in the proverbial search for “something new”. Our paths crossed on a site called Tickle.com, and the process of meeting didn’t take long at all. Upon our initial contact, Lee sent me a message through the service. “Here’s my number. Call me.” A wonderful first date and many long, late night phone conversations later, we were officially dating. We will both tell you that at first the relationship was nothing serious. We will both admit that we applied the ‘no strings attached’ label to our dating. Looking back on it now, we will both tell you it was unlike anything either one of us had experienced before.
However, happily ever after was still a long way from being realized. 2005 would challenge and often strain our relationship. Lee would learn to open her eyes to the idea of something new only to find me continuing to struggle with the idea of letting go of something old. At many times more frustrating than rewarding, with the downs seeming to far surpass the ups, the perfect times in our relationship were fleeting. Still, when we did find them they were indeed perfect, and like before those perfect times were unlike anything either one of us had ever experienced.
For me, it was over ‘sofa talk’ one evening at her place. Lee will tell you it was over margaritas at a Mexican restaurant in Temple Terrace. The exact moment at which we both realized we had fallen in love with each other notwithstanding, 2005 proved to be a whirlwind year in which Lee and I came together despite adversity, uncertainty and – as Lee would quickly say – my overall stupidity.
2006 would usher in a series of experiences that would change our lives forever. I introduced Lee to the music of Sister Hazel and it quickly became a key part of the foundation of what we share as a couple. This mutual love for music introduced us to many, if not most, of the individuals with whom we share a common sense of community. With each concert, road trip and get-together, the bonds grow stronger and the memories overflow.
Lee and I are also drawn together by our mutual connection to family and our “rais’n”. Even though we grew up on opposite ends of the cultural and municipal spectrum, our respective upbringings are very similar in nature. We both share a strong appreciation and need for family, and each trip home, be it to Miami, Florida or Henry County, Alabama, brings us closer to each other as my hometown becomes hers and vice versa.
Thank you for taking the time to read about how Lee and I found our way into each other’s lives. Having said that, we both firmly believe the circumstances that allowed our roads to cross were not so much the winds of fate but rather the hand of God directing us as He intended. Our faith in God and the power of His will sits both at the core of who we are as individuals and as a couple. We are forever thankful to God for the many blessings with which we’ve been graced, and you are definitely one of those many blessings that bring joy and happiness into our lives.