I have seen many romantic movies where a couple meets, falls in love, and then get married. These are time honored stories that have captivated people in movies and books, and the one thing that I never expected was that it would happen to me. This is my own love story.
It all began in 2000 when I was working at Apex Internet Services in Paducah, Kentucky. I had studied history and archaeology in college, but I never did anything with my degree afterwards, so with nostalgia for those days in college, I decided to take a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico to see the Mayan Ruins at Tulum, Mexico. I had been planning a trip like this for many years and never had the time to make it happen, but it was time for this to change.
I made arrangements with Carnival Cruise Lines, and because I was single and was not dating anyone, I was going alone. Many of my friends could not believe that I would do something like this alone, but for me, in the back of my mind, I thought it might also be a chance to meet someone. You never know how fate can change your life.
After boarding the ship in Tampa, Florida, I spent time exploring, taking in the views of the Gulf of Mexico as we traveled south, headed for the Cayman Islands. It was an interesting time wandering the ship by myself seeing so many couples enjoying themselves and living in the moment.
I came to the conclusion that most of the women that I met would not be single or alone on this cruise, but it didn’t matter too much to me because I still had Tulum to look forward to seeing.
On the second night out, the ship was to have a special event where everyone was to dress in their finest for the Captain’s dinner. After sitting at my assigned table for the cruise, and enjoying the fine food that was before me, my eyes struck upon a woman sitting at a table adjacent to me, wearing a beautiful red dress.
I had made friends with the people at my table and they noticed that I could not take my eyes off of this woman in red. They kept telling me that she didn’t appear to be with anyone either and to go introduce myself, but I was not in the right frame of mind to be so bold that night. One thing was for sure though, I would keep my eyes open for this ‘lady in red’ in the next few days.
The next day, the ship was planning to make port in Cozumel, Mexico which was where the tour would begin to go to Tulum. I had made the arrangements to take the tour, and when we all arrived, their were several tour buses ready to take us to the site. I kept looking for my ‘lady in red’ but I didn’t see her. This was a little disappointing but my spirits were still flying knowing that I would soon visit the reason I took the cruise in the first place.
Before arriving at Tulum, the buses stopped at an Obsidian factory so that those on the tour could buy souvenirs. It was at this time that my eyes spotted her standing just ten feet from me. The tour guide was telling us that we could have a sample of the tequila that was also made at this location. This was my moment and I knew it.
When I was given the drink, I strode up to her and introduced myself, and I asked if she would like to have a toast with me. We toasted to good times and meeting great people. Her name was Marcelle and afterwards, we talked a little more before we were called back to the buses to head out to Tulum.
Since, we were on different buses, I was not able to keep the conversation going but I was happy that I was able to break the ice and introduce myself.
After arriving at the ruins, I was in my element or as we say in Kentucky, “I was in hog heaven.” I explored everything that I could and every now and then, I would cross paths with Marcelle and we would just shyly smile at each other and say hello.
After the tour was over and the buses had returned to Cozumel, we had the rest of the day to explore the town before we had to board the cruise ship that night. I searched for Marcelle to see if she wanted to explore the town with me, and to my great pleasure, she said yes.
We had a wonderful time walking around all of the shops and seeing the sites, so I asked if she would like to join me later on the ship for a date. They were having a dance party on the deck that night and I thought it would be a great way to get to know Marcelle. She said yes, and I definitely knew that I was having a great day.
It was the kind of evening where time had no meaning. We danced and laughed for a while at the dance party and then we decided to go to the casino and play the slot machines. Before I knew, it was four in the morning and we had to say goodbye. It was a magnificent time for me and that evening was magical.
For the rest of the cruise, we had a great time enjoying the sites and all of the activities on the ship, but unfortunately, the time was fast approaching when the cruise would end and we would have to say goodbye.
The day we were to make port at Tampa, I learned that she lived in Orlando, Florida and since my twin brother, Ken, lived there, I told her that when I visited him, I would call her. I promised to email her and let her know how it was going in Paducah. It was time to go home and I felt as if I was losing a great friend.
Life back home continued and returned to normal, and Marcelle and I emailed each other a little, but as often happens, we lost touch with each other. I thought I would never see her again.
Then something happened that would change everything. The company that I worked for was bought by a company in Orlando, Florida, and I was asked if I would like to move to Florida and work for them. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I would run into Marcelle, but I knew it was a big city. Fortunately, I still had her email and I could always contact her when I moved.
Time became a blur with all of the preparations that I was making for the move and the transition to the new company. I found out that the day that I would move to Florida would be September 11, 2001. This was the day that our country was attacked by Al Qaeda, and my drive to Florida was a surreal event with no one on the highways but convoys of state troopers with all of their lights ablaze and sirens blaring. It seemed to be bad omen for my new life in Orlando, so I didn’t know what to expect.
After getting settled in my new apartment and my new job, I found Marcelle’s email address and asked if she would like to have coffee with a fellow resident of Orlando, and to my delight, she agreed to meet me. We met and I had a great time, and it seemed as if time had not separated us at all. We began dating exclusively shortly afterwards.
In 2004, I asked Marcelle to marry me and she said yes. It was shortly before hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne hit Florida and affected our life in Orlando. You may ask why I would bring up such scary events like the hurricanes right after mentioning that Marcelle and I were getting married.
Well, it turned out to be the reason why something wonderful happened. After the last hurricane hit, we were understandably frustrated with being cooped up in the house so much, so we decided to get out and go to a wedding expo to get ideas for our own wedding.
After we arrived, we saw that a local radio station was having a ‘Wedding under the Stars’ contest, so we decided to enter. The next day, we received a call telling us that we were one of three couples that won a chance to win a $30,000 Wedding Giveaway. All that we had to do to win was play the ‘Nearlywed Game’ on the radio.
The game was just like the Newlywed Game that was on television. One of us would stay and would be asked a question while the other was out of the room. The other would come back into the room to see if they would have the same answer.
By the third question, we were in trouble and in third place. We had only one chance to win. The last question was a bonus and was worth more points. We would have to answer correctly and the other couples had to answer incorrectly.
As a strategy for playing the game, I told Marcelle that if she was asked about previous girlfriends of mine, she could answer them all with Amy, my ex-wife, to keep it simple. However, there were no questions so far like that to help us.
The last question was for Marcelle to answer. She was asked who I shared my first romantic kiss with? Marcelle answered ‘Amy’, hoping that I would remember our strategy. Walking back in, I was asked the question, and I turned and smiled at Marcelle before answering, and I saw the concern on her face.
I did remember and answered ‘Amy’. We received twenty-five points for getting the question correct and this put us in the lead. All that we could do now was see if the other couples would answer correctly or not. Unbelievably, they did not and we won, and it was at this point that I knew that Marcelle and I were truly fated to be together.
We were given everything for our wedding, and we were given a three page spread in a bridal magazine. It was to be on Valentines Day and included a honeymoon in the Bahamas, and while there, we stayed in a villa that was twenty feet from the ocean. No one could have asked for a more romantic wedding and honeymoon.
To have everything fall into place so much for a couple, I feel blessed everyday with my fortune of meeting Marcelle on the cruise, being transferred to Orlando, Florida, and winning a fairy-tale wedding that neither of us could have ever imagined was possible.
All of the pieces fell just right for us, and because of this, I will always believe that it was meant to be.