About six years ago, I had just finished filming a wedding special with my former boss and her husband on the island of Capri, Italy. It was one of those magical experiences where you wished you had cameras following your every move, capturing the stunning views, mouth watering pasta and unforgettable sunsets. Ok, so luckily for us, we actually did have cameras documenting pretty much every step (ha!) and our television special turned out to be one of The Style Network’s biggest hits.
A couple weeks after the wedding, my boss and I traveled to Chicago where we planned to do work from a few times a month as her husband lived there. She and I were living full time in Los Angeles so working from Chicago part time seemed like a dream (Hey, anything to get out of Hollywood for a minute). I was single and at a solid stage in my life where I felt like I had purpose, drive and on a good path. What was even more exciting is that Chicago and I had some history together. Some big history at that.
Many years prior, I took some time off of college to explore and experience life out of my comfort zone. Living in a big city was exactly what I needed. I wanted to see more, live more and find my happy, so I made Chicago my home during my early twenties. I left college, my family and close friends and moved away. This was my version of reinventing my life, taking a break, a risk, and forcing myself to have nothing but fun and let loose. And boy did I have fun! I lived with some really loyal, diverse, and fabulous friends in all areas of the city – from Wicker Park to Greek Town. I shacked up in some cool flats and could not have been happier (note: if you are single, Chicago is the perfect place to be). The first time I went to “Boystown” located in the Lakeview area of Chicago. I thought I died and gone to gay heaven. I had never seen anything like it before. It felt like a land just for gays. The clubs, bars, music, drinks, and dancing – I could not believe this place really existed. It really influenced me and allowed me to feel free.
This is when I met my best friend, Nicole who I text and talk to once a week or sometimes everyday when we get on a good roll. When you first meet Nicole, you are immediately overwhelmed by her big personality, laugh, smile and quick witted sense of humor. I was so taken back from her when we first met, she was so confident, independent, pretty and everyone around her loved her. Nicole and I clicked right away and dove feet first into an unbreakable friendship. If I was ever to win an award, Nicole would be on the top of my thank you list. She never passed judgement on me, encouraged me to be me and told me I could do anything I put my mind to. I looked up to her, she treated me like her little brother.
A couple years later, I eventually ended up moving back home and said goodbye to all my new friends and life in the city. My timeline of fun had expired and I was ready to finish college and get my degree. What I did not know at the time is that my friend Nicole would play even a bigger important part in my life years later.
Which brings me back to the fall of 2007, I just got back from Capri and made my way to Chicago where I check into the Four Season Hotel on Delaware Street. My boss and her husband lived just a couple streets away in a brownstone where we would meet up for work in the mornings. When I walked into my hotel room, I remember looking out onto Lake Michigan, the surrounding buildings, cars below and people strolling down the street. The scrawny younger me use to run around this very city on the L train with hardly any money to his name. Grabbing a dirty martini with my friends felt like the biggest luxury back then so finding myself sleeping in a big fluffy bed at the Four Seasons was a fantasy. I had one of those full circle moments standing in that hotel room.
The next day as I woke up in Chi-town, I called my best friend Nicole as it had been a really long time since we last saw each other. She lived a few blocks away on Ontario Street in a swanky apartment where we use to sit outside on her balcony, blasting cheesy music and drinking red wine. I had a charity event to attend to with my boss that evening but Nicole invited me out afterwards to her favorite Irish bar called, The Kerryman on Clark Street. I still recall what I wore that night; a black button down shirt from Zara, charcoal grey skinny jeans from H&M, a boat knot bracelet from J. Crew and white Lacoste shoes with the green alligator on the fronts. Nicole had been at The Kerryman with her friends from work, Allyson and Nick. Just a few minutes after I arrived, Nick and I started talking straight away about practically everything. I remember him buying me beers and his bright perfect smile (it could seriously knock your socks off). We all would take breaks to go dance throughout the night, Britney’s “Gimme More” was thee song at the time. As the night went on, Nick and I flirted, laughed, and continued to chat about our families, goals, dreams and everyday life. There was a moment where I turned to Nick and told him casually that I did not want a boyfriend. He replied with the same response.
To show you how life works out in the most surprising and unexpected ways, as I finish writing this blog – I take a minute and pause. I look over to my left to only see that same gorgeous smile from Nick smiling back at me six years later. Yes, that is basically how I met my kind, amazing and handsome boyfriend. I will be forever grateful to my friend Nicole for dragging me out that night in Chicago.
For all my single girls out there who really want to fall in love, I am here to tell you it can happen. I want you to think about my experience for a moment. It took me time to figure out a lot about life and myself. I needed to find my own happiness first and get to a place where I started to establish a career and goals. For many of us, we grow up only thinking and caring about other people around us before our own needs. When you start to become an adult and jump into your twenties, it is a time for YOU. Go out and travel, explore, move away, meet new friends, and live a life where you can learn and feel inspired. The lessons that you will learn will help shape you into the person that you will become later in life. I am telling you to focus on you, take care of you, make mistakes, reflect and continue moving ahead. Love will happen to you when you least expect it and will be even more precious when you are at a place in your life where you feel happy in your own skin. Don’t give up.
The Other Hubby