Samara and Clayton)
How We Met
Clayton and I met on May 29, 2011, in the most unexpected of ways. I visited The University of Florida for a pool party, held by a fraternity that my sorority was extremely close with. At the end of the day we made our way to a restaurant, Bento Cafe, where all the visitors from different cities usually stopped to get a quick bite before hitting the road to go home. Neither Clayton nor I were from UF but somehow it was destined that we met that day…. As I sat at a booth with some of our closest friends, in walked Clayton to say “hi”. It wasn’t on purpose to see me, but I swear, if I could have had romantic background music, fireworks, and the world would have stopped around me, then that was definitely how I felt at that very moment. He reached out and shook my hand with a simple, “Hello, I’m Clay!”, and my heart dropped. I still remember his flirtatious smile and the warmth of his hand.
It was the biggest, most gorgeous smile I had ever laid eyes on. After he left our table, I turned around and everyone that was surrounding me was gleaming. I knew they saw my reaction and I was so bashful, I quickly shut down their ideas of calling him back to sit at our table. However, my persistent friends didn’t pay any attention to my resisting. Instead they decided to make sure he came back and wedged us into the innermost part of the booth, where we awkwardly (and uncomfortably) sat next to each other for the rest of dinner. We easily and quickly took to each other’s personality. I still can’t put into words how perfectly our personalities meshed and I couldn’t figure out why or how. We talked about things like our first organic chemistry exam on that following Tuesday, different schools- same day and the same exact time. Eh…I considered that first one a coincidence. We talked about our undergraduate majors, career aspirations, and things we like to do for fun.
One after the next, after the next… I was confused. I felt like he was the twin I lost at birth but somehow I was becoming more and more mesmerized by him. After trying to convince me to stay in Gainesville for the night and continue to party with everyone, I resisted again and made my way back to Tallahassee. I thought about him the whole drive back and the whole next day. I could not shake the thought of him and I wanted to kick myself for not getting his contact information. Finally, I found my way onto good ol’ Facebook, where I searched and searched for him. After an hour or so of looking, I saw him post a comment on a friend’s Facebook who was there with me at Bento Cafe. BINGO! I instantly clicked on his Facebook and that’s when I saw his birthday- January 17th. Now, I’m not a horoscope enthusiast, but this was my icing on the cake. His birthday happened to be the day before mine… We were literally born HOURS APART! I knew instantly he was the one. Of course, that wasn’t my deciding factor but through the years of ‘growing up’ together, the flaws, the way we viewed life…as cliché as it may seem, we’ve always gone together like peanut butter & jelly and meeting at Bento was destined to be.
How He Asked
Our proposal goes back to being so infatuated with our close birthdays. For years after we met we made sure to celebrate our “special” birthdays with a bang! We’ve done it all; house parties, hotel parties, vacations… you name it! We’ve always made it as memorable as that feeling of finding out we were born less than a day apart. So for our 6th birthday celebration together we spent a magical weekend at Eden Roc on Miami Beach. Clayton set up the most relaxing massages in the morning; we lounged by the pool, sipped on champagne, and slowed down our life for a weekend to just enjoy the company of each other. We laughed, we loved, we relaxed, and we made the simplest of memories… something that we can’t say happens too often in the hustle and bustle of life. I still can’t put into words how this whole day felt even before the proposal happened.
After sitting down for dinner at Nobu, and another bottle of wine later… I confessed to Clayton that I had found a jewelry card in the house about a month ago and I knew a proposal was eventually coming in the future. If I knew Clayton, I knew he was still shopping. But for my sanity, all I wanted him to do was to stop leaving a trail of information and keep me wondering. At dinner he acted weird. His leg was shaking nonstop, he seemed antsy, and a little irritable. I was so upset, I thought he was mad at me because he thought I was snooping around and found that card. After, I spent about 30 minutes trying to convince him to elope instead that night and to forget about the ring. (I was ready! I was VERY READY!) Somehow he convinced me not to. For the record… I wasn’t snooping…a lot (haha). I was sad that I ruined our amazing weekend with a confrontation, but what was unexpected was what happened next…
Finally, it was dessert time. In my slightly inebriated state, I asked the waitress to repeat the dessert menu 3 times to me. Unfortunately, I still sat there undecided. Clayton uttered, “Get the bento box… Just get the bento box!” And me, the stubborn girl that I am, I went with the cheesecake instead. So out came 2 desserts. One of which I was ecstatic for- the cheesecake, and then the other- the bento box. The waitress muttered, “It’s on the house.” I opened the bento box and there sat a little brown object. At first I thought it was chocolate cake and then as Clayton leaned over to grab it, I quickly realized what was happening.
He instantly dropped to one knee and out came the waterworks. The first few words that came out of his mouth were, “Samara, back to the day we met at Bento…” and then I realized I wasn’t going to stop crying. After wrapping up dinner, we walked outside, heading back for our hotel room… and lo and behold, as I turned the corner all of our family and closest friends stood there waiting to share this memorable night with us. What left me most speechless was when we called our parents, who we expected to be in two different cities miles apart from us, but were actually in the same city celebrating for us.
They told us they spent the whole day together, talking about us as children and now adults, what the future held for us, and eagerly awaited our phone call to tell them the good news. After almost ruining this AMAZING moment, this was definitely the fairy-tale engagement I [surprisingly] never expected.