Brianna and Tarek
How We Met
I first met Tarek while he was visiting Springfield College on a recruiting trip in the Spring of 2012.
Coincidentally, Tarek was interested in the Communication/ Sports Journalism department at Springfield, the same major I was in. We bonded and exchanged brief conversation about the major and hung out with friends for his two day trip to the east coast campus. I found it odd that a Los Angeles guy was interested in a small private school in Springfield Massachusetts of all places.
A few months later nearing the end of summer 2012, Tarek reached out to me via Twitter sharing his acceptance and decision to attend Springfield in the Fall. He asked what classes I was in, I responded and wished safe travels ending the Twitter conversation with a smiley face which left Tarek hopeful.
On the first day of school in September 2012, I was grabbing breakfast in the dinning hall with some of my roommates when I noticed a familiar face repeatedly passing by. After a few times passing by, I recognized Tarek and knocked on the window to wave hello. He second guessed the wave was to him, but with no one else around, he laughed a bit and returned a wave and smile.
No more than fifteen minutes later, my roommates and I had finished breakfast in the dining hall and were now leaving the Student Union after getting coffee. I recognized Tarek outside walking in the opposite direction, clearly still lost. I couldn’t remember his name off the top of my head, but I remembered it was unique. I quickly looked up the tweet he sent a few weeks prior to get his name from his profile. I yelled his name across campus to get his attention and wave him over to offer help. Tarek shook his head in laughter after I completely butchered pronunciation of his name as he walked in my direction.
He was lost, but it turns out we had our next class together. The rest is history.
How He Asked
Tarek and I have been able to grow and learn together, to lean on each other and to teach each other over the last four years.
In the summer of 2016 after being away from LA traveling the country with a reality show, I began feeling very uncertain and doubtful of my place here in LA and began getting homesick. Once I returned to LA from the show, I took some time off work and planned a trip home to the east coast. I decided I wanted to visit a few different cities to see friends and family while over there and I would cap off the trip with a visit to my Alma Mater, Springfield College.
In early September I left for my trip, I had only booked a one way ticket because I didn’t know how long I wanted to be out there. Once I was out there my emotions flooded me, I was immediately in better spirits being around my family and Tarek was constantly on my mind. I remember thinking several times while out there that I wished he was with me on the trip.
I finally booked my one way ticket home to LA with just one weekend left on the east coast. I planned to visit and stay with one of my best friends, an old roommate. The weekend unfolded perfectly. All my old roommates came to campus and were together again (excluding one who lives in Germany but we always seem to FaceTime her in) and we met up with all Tarek’s old roommates also.
We enjoyed the day in the sun around campus and at the football game and headed back to the apartment to figure out what we wanted to do. We ended up changing our minds for dinner from meeting up with the guys to getting Mexican and Margaritas instead, a tradition when all us girls are together. A few hours passed and we were ready to head out to the house to meet up with all our guy friends (Tarek’s old roommates- it worked out that we were all such great friends).
Little did I know that as we were on our way to the house party… Tarek was leaving it.
THE CHANGE UP
Once I booked my ticket to the east coast and had a weekend in mind to visit Springfield, Tarek booked his trip out there to surprise me. He told one of his old roommates that he would be flying in that weekend to surprise me and propose. This friend then coordinated and brought together all the other guys for the weekend. Tarek surprised them all at dinner- the same dinner that the girls and I were supposed to go to but decided against at the last minute. He then headed back to the house party to hangout with them all for a bit. Only the one friend he told previously knew about the proposal, the rest just thought he was there to surprise me.
I was in communication with one of the guys asking for the address and telling him the girls and I were coming over to hangout. None of the girls were aware of the proposal plan at all. Once I confirmed that we were in an Uber and on the way, Tarek left the house and stayed with another friend out there.
We got to the house and it was just such a surreal feeling to be surrounded by so many familiar faces and people that I loved and missed. All of Tarek’s old basketball buddies, his old roommates, my old roommates; Tarek was the only person missing from the equation. I literally texted him saying “You should be here right now.”
Jokes were made, games were played, memories were shared and laughs were had. At the end of the night the girls and I headed back to the apartment with pizza and wine.
THE SET UP
When I attended Springfield College I worked with the athletic offices to create a weekly athletic web series highlighting sports news on campus. This web series is still produced and published weekly online, so when I come back to visit the school, naturally I’ll go visit the Communication Director I use to work with on this.
This time, Brian, the Sports Communications Director I worked for, asked to interview me for the episode. I was ecstatic! We scheduled it for Sunday morning in a common spot, the middle of Blake Arena. **Springfield College is the birthplace of Basketball and the newly renovated/ addition of Blake Arena is a stunning court that we would film interviews on frequently.
I had planned to meet up with one of my old journalism professors for coffee just prior to doing the interview. He brought his two boys that I use to babysit while at school. This professor was also very close with Tarek so naturally we were talking about him quite a bit in our conversations. After our coffee and donuts, we walked across the way to Blake Arena where my interview was scheduled.
Once we arrived I saw another one of my old journalism professors, he was also Tarek and I’s advisor when we attended Springfield. He explained to me that the interview would be an alumni feature and hoped that I didn’t mind him bringing in a student photographer for the occasion.
Of course I didn’t mind this at all- so I sat down and began the interview.
Brian started the interview just as he would any other, asking about life, how I’ve been, life on the west coast and so on. He asked about the show I was just on and what that was like, he transitioned into asking about my support system in LA.
Then, he asked me about Tarek and for a split second I thought this was odd but I remembered this was an alumni feature; Tarek was also an alumni who also lived in LA so it made sense they were asking me about him so much.
After my answer, Brian proceeds to tell me that they reached out to Tarek and asked him to submit a video for the episode also, and that he wanted to show me the video so I could see. He started the video and I began watching..
It was a selfie video taken on Tarek’s laptop in his office at home. He started with “Hey babe” which pinched my stomach because how was Brian going to use “Hey Babe” in an alumni feature video, it was so unprofessional. But the video went on, Tarek spoke only to me in the video mentioning how he thought it was cool that I was back in the place where it all started between us.
He then pulled pictures into the video and gave our whole story of how we met on campus and how our lives have played out together since. It was such a special video at such a delicate time in our relationship; I had missed him so much and just wanted to be with him, through all the changing times I had on the west coast he was such a constant.
After explaining our story, how we met and his feelings of me being back where it all started the video just ended. I sat there crying and so confused. My make up was ruined, there was no way the interview was continuing; I looked at Brian disheveled and he raised his brow and slightly nudged his head in my direction. I took the gesture to turn around only to see Tarek was standing center court of Blake Arena, a total surprise.
While the video was playing he was quietly sneaking up behind me. I had NO IDEA a proposal was coming out of this interview and video until the second I saw Tarek standing there in his button up and Springfield College maroon colored pants. I fell over with emotion crying from shock and joy before I got up and ran over to him.
He whispered “I talk a lot so I promised myself I wouldn’t today” and continued to tell me how much I meant to him as he got down on one knee and asked me to take his hand in forever.
I said yes. Our love story continues on.
A special THANK YOU to Springfield College Sports Communication Director Brian Magoffin and his wife Del for helping Tarek in this cross country surprise!