THE FIRST MEETING
"We met through a mutual friend"
“It’s funny to look back on how our story began, almost five years ago – in Brooklyn, New York. Bedstuy to be exact on Greene Ave., between Nostrand Ave and Marcy.
I, Hope Pollonais, a young single professional in the Big Apple lived on the top floor of a classic brownstone living in an apartment with two young ladies (Jennie and Celeste) – a special place we called “525”. If you know – you know
So many memories were made at ‘525’ – and it would be a place I would be introduced to a young man that would change my life from that point on – little did I know.
It was the month of October in the year 2016 – I was doing light cleaning and a mutual friend of ours text and said he was coming through. This was no big deal because Trey would visit 525 frequently adopting the role of a ‘Roger’ from Sister Sister. But little did I know this was not going to be one of Trey’s regular visits. This time, he brought along a friend- this friend being Trent Gavin Turner, a southern gentleman.
I still remember that afternoon – I was on the stoop of my Brownstone in my house dress (yes tante attire) when I saw our mutual friend and his +1, Trent. Before making eye contact, I noticed his “duck boots and track suit” get up – casually cool. But not until later that night would I look at him differently. We kicked it – sharing laughs and banter before going our own ways that evening - only to reconnect later….
Later – leaving a Columbia University Black Alumni event, I received a call and text from Trey saying he and his friend were in Williamsburg and to pass through. Anyone that knows the L train at night let alone the weekend – it is the ‘ghost’ and if train. And anyone that knows me I am a notorious ‘flake’. Riding the L train – the train stopped at the stop I would need to get off to meet up with Trent. As it stopped, I told myself if the train continues without a stop at this station – I am going home but if it stops then, well you guessed it… I ended up meeting the guys at the address provided to find our mutual friend asleep at the bar and Trent with a drink in his hand grinning.
All I could do is smile. (cue any 90s song – it was a scene out of a movie)
I admit that I developed a crush on Trent Gavin Turner that very night!
That night is the night I would forever cherish, we talked about every and anything – little did we know parting that next morning that the same week, literally six days later I’d be in Atlanta for Spelhouse Homecoming ….. "I didn’t know what I thought we were. I just knew that I liked the fact that there was a 'we' for us to talk about."
During a late fall visit to New York, unbeknownst to me; my life would change forever. I’ll paint the picture for you, it was Saturday morning in Néw York City, Brooklyn to be exact. I was in town visiting a friend for the weekend. There was no reason for the visit, other than having a good time in the City that never sleeps. Early that Saturday morning, my friend casually suggested: “you should meet my friend, she’s in design and you’re in real estate, let’s stop by her place.” With no real itinerary for the day, I was game to meet this friend in design that was described as a “cool, dope chick”. My friend and I walked two blocks southeast from Lafayette to Greene Avenue (the heart of Bedstuy.) As we walked down Bedford, we turned the corner, I observed a person sitting on the stoop; it was none other than Hope Margaret Pollonais. Little did I know the stage was being set for a lifetime of adventure.
Hope and I discussed what my friend and I had planned for the remainder of the weekend. Hope made a few recommendations for places to check out, things to see. One of the biggest takeaways from our first conversation was Hope telling me I had a strong name, and names were important. Hope detailed the names of her father and uncles, Clyde Winston Pollonais, Cyril, George, Kenneth etc. My takeaway from our first conversation and meeting, this girl is different and interesting.
Fast forward to later that evening, my friend and I went out to enjoy the scenes, sounds, and experiences New York has to offer. Unfortunately, my friend fell asleep at the bar we were at (what a rookie!) In the back of my head, sitting at the bar, I was wondering what Hope was doing, and if we could possibly meet up with her. She mentioned that she was attending an Alumni Event at Columbia University, I googled mapped how far Columbia was from Williamsburg Brooklyn (it was far – especially with an incapacitated friend in town) Maybe mercury was in retrograde, who knows but the universe aligned, and Hope called my incapacitated friend’s phone which I was happy to answer by telling her my friend was asleep I would love to meet up. Next thing I know, Hope showed up to the bar (and to the rescue). We spent the rest of the evening talking about experiences and what we wanted out of life. I remember being lost in the conversation, but it had gotten late, and I had to wake my friend up and head back to his place. Hope and I texted the rest of the night (queue Michael Jackson – butterflies.) It was a night I am most thankful for and will be impossible to forget. I look back on our path's crossing and can only attribute it to Destiny.
"New Orleans, What a magical place!"
For about 3 months leading up the actual engagement, I spent a good amount of time planning the how to, finding the right ring, etc. Hope and I had discussed taking a trip to New Orleans several times. I thought New Orleans would be a great place to propose with it’s deep Southern, French, and architectural fabric. We spent the first two days celebrating Hope’s birthday with all the usual New Orleans experiences. There were po-boy’s in the French Quarter, high alcohol content Hand Grenades in the most florescent lime green you’d ever see. There was a brunch at Brennan’s (always a vibe), dinner at Cochon’s. We took an air boat bayou tour, with the tour guide in his thick Cajun accent spotting out gators, but all I could think about was delivering the proposal.
I decided to go on a walk in the quiet areas of the French Quarter, talk about the history and architecture, and BOOM; go for it. Later that evening, as we left the hotel, I was in need of courage, in the liquid form. Two margaritas later, at an undescriptive off the beaten path French Quarter lounge I told myself the time is now. Earlier in the trip, during our daytime excursions, I was scouting locations for the perfect place. I asked Hope to walk down further into the quarter. Hope seemed confused but obliged. As we were walking on Gov Nichols Street, I went for it. I yelled, I just rolled my ankle, leaned down… as Hope attempted to help me, I reached in my pocket and opened the box. Can you believe she said yes?
While I have thought about the experience of proposing, what could I do different? The only thing I would change would be proposing much sooner. I am the luckiest Guy on this planet.
“Love wins. It’s like in that moment the whole universe existed just to bring us together.
Throughout its many ups and downs, twists and turns, highs and lows, 2020 had proven to be a year beyond compare. After spending almost, a year indoors in response to the pandemic – Trent showed me that COVID can’t stop love.
I expected just a romantic birthday getaway in New Orleans for my 34th birthday, but what I didn’t expect was a proposal.
Trent’s gesture had me completely speechless
On Governor Nichols Street amongst the magical vibes of the French Quarter we strolled the cobbled streets - doing what we do best – just us. When suddenly Trent leaned over and started to limp, grabbing his ankle, saying “ow” but saying he had a pebble in is shoe. Lost and perplexed, I leaned over and started to grab his shoe, when he stopped me and took one knee…
At this moment, I swear the world stopped – a moment we shared – just the two of us. Our moment in time, where Trent asked me to be his wife and I said “of course, yes, duh, you know, finally”.
I am still smiling.