As a romantic, you always dream of your own Cinderella story of how you meet your true love. Your eyes lock, the crowd falls away, fireworks start to fly, etc. And as a hopeless romantic, you can at times tell yourself that you’re not destined for magic like that. Well, let Melissa and I be the first to tell you, that magic is real and we’re the proof of that. Here’s why.
The way Melissa and I first met was nothing short of incredible. One December evening during the Disneyland Holiday Celebrations, Melissa found herself stuck amid a cluster of parade onlookers, talking to her sister while waiting to meet up with her friends in front of the Tomorrowland sign. So there she was waiting.
For me, I wasn’t planning on going to Disneyland that day. I was making my way back home, navigating through unruly LA traffic, driving southbound on the 405 Freeway from LAX. With construction everywhere and lanes blocked, I cross over to the 5 Freeway. No luck, just as bad. With time on my hands and a large amount of traffic in front of me, I took the next available exit for a break – Disneyland Drive. With my annual pass in hand, I thought to myself, wait out traffic and enjoy a few rides. Little did I realize at the time, my world was about to change.
Fast forward a little bit and Melissa is still waiting for her friends, underneath the Tomorrowland sign, the Disney parade starts and I’m utterly bored wandering around the park as most lines for single riders are too long. So hearing the parade in the background I think to myself, ‘catch your favorite ride while everyone is watching the parade and then head home.’ For those who know Disneyland, the holiday crowd is like the stampede from the lion king, crowds everywhere, you can hardly move, and navigating through it looks more like art and a contemporary dance than walking through a crowded subway. So what did I do? I artfully danced my way across Disneyland from Frontierland, weaving through people to get to Space Mountain (my favorite ride). I make it through clusters of people only to get stopped by the parade. No passing. I wait. Finally, a break opens up leading to the entrance to Tomorrowland. That’s when the magic kicked in.
For this next part, I need to give you some background. First, Melissa and I are both born in South Africa, which means we both speak Afrikaans. Second, there are only about 85,000 people in the entire United States that speak/recognize the language. And third, the odds of randomly running into a fellow South African in any situation who is a possible romantic partner is approximately 0.03% (yes we did some number crunching).
So there I was weaving through the crowd and all of a sudden I hear Afrikaans. Like a needle in a haystack, there it was. So with laser focus, I narrow down the source. And there she was, on the phone talking… in Afrikaans. So now what? Well not knowing what to think or what to expect, I thought to myself, “There is a stunning girl. Beautiful. Blonde. And speaking Afrikaans.” So how do I approach her? To be honest, I didn’t think about it a whole lot. I did the only thing I could think of. The only thing that would come to my mind. I walked over, grabbed her phone and apologized, to the person on the phone in Afrikaans, that this pretty girl is now busy and that she will call her back later. From there, like any gentleman would do, I returned her phone and introduced myself…
… and that’s how we met…
From there the crowd fell away as the minutes and hours flew by. We talked about our love for Disney, the randomness and the odds of meeting each other, and how we both got to be there. We talked about where we grew up, and how some of our families knew each other. What was most incredible about our story, isn’t just the odds in how we met, but also that we had lived down the street from each other most of our lives, both in the USA and in South Africa. So Melissa was in a matter of speaking, the girl next door. And even though we never knew each other growing up, we almost did meet nearly a dozen times. It’s as if we were two planets orbiting each other. Here’s usually the part where we believe destiny kicks in… Nearly 15 years ago Melissa met my brother. Nearly 35 years ago our uncles were friends in High School. And More than 60 years ago our grandfathers were socializing with one another during a town hall meeting in a small rural farm in South Africa.
As for how we fell in love, it was probably the easiest thing for us. This may sound peculiar, but it was all second nature. Loving Melissa was easy. As if I loved her before I knew what love was. And with that, the weeks and months flew by quickly. We made a point of traveling a lot together before we married. On average we took an adventure every four months. At first, it was little trips, Carmel, and Vegas. Later it was Walt Disney World and Hawaii. We even were blessed with the opportunity to travel internationally and visit our families in South Africa.
In the end, loving and marrying Melissa, is a lot like going to Disneyland. At first, you’re in awe of how amazing everything is, then this wave of comfort and the feeling of “tuis” or “at-home-ness” overcomes you, but through it all, you still see and enjoy the magic in everything.
Love you babe. Love you more.