I can’t believe I am doing this but I told you all a year ago that I was going to practice being more transparent, so here it goes. In this post, I am sharing the entire roller coaster of a story that is us. This story involves Greg’s Bumble date, break ups, new relationships, music, secret getaways, pregnancy, and even Pricilla Presley! Now this is ALL THE DIRT, but it occurred to me when you all left comments about how perfect our relationship looks, that it is important to share the ups and downs, because all relationships, even the perfect ones, need work and the best relationships have the wildest stories! Of course, you all know how it ends, but here is the never before told story of Mr. Greg and me.
The Bumble Date | That Wasn’t Ours
This part of the story isn’t necessarily ours but it definitely leads to what is now Mr. Greg and me.
I was having a party at the boutique that I previously owned and my dear friend Joelle stopped by to support. She wasn’t able to stay long because she had a hot date. Luckily the date was a few doors down from my shop so she got to swing by and have a glass of wine with me before meeting what could potentially be a relationship match. She told me all about her Bumble match. He was a former Marine, had tattoos, worked for FedEx, went to law school and got his JD… I remember being so excited for her. He sounded like a huge catch!
Before I get into the story any further, I want to paint the picture. This is Joelle. She is super smart with a Masters in Business, the Vice President of a successful company, Memphis’ top socialite, and as you can see, absolutely gorgeous.
Back to the story…
Joelle went on two dates with her attorney Bumble man (at the time, I didn’t know his name) which seemed to be going well. I knew that she was just dating casually, and other than the occasional chitty chat about boys, that was the last I had heard of him.
The Instagram Request
One sunny July day, out of the blue, Joelle texted me and asked how I knew Greg Nolan. I told her that I didn’t. I truly had no clue who he was.
She replied, “You guys are friends on Instagram.” and proceeded to tell me his Instagram username.
I quickly looked him up. “Oh Yea,” I replied, “He friended me a few weeks back. I checked out his profile and thought he was cute but it’s not my style to reach out. I had completely forgotten about that little interaction.” I replied.
She proceeded to tell me how incredible he was and that we should meet. I asked her how she knew him and that’s when she gave me the scoop.
She reminded me of her Bumble date in the Spring, the former Marine that is now employed at FedEx. I immediately remembered the story because when she was describing her date that day, I was super excited for her but also felt a ting of jealousy because I too was on the market, but wasn’t having any luck.
PUMP THE BREAKS!!! As she is going on and on about how incredible he was, I had to break in and ask the question that I am sure you guys are all wondering, “Then why aren’t you dating him?” I asked apprehensively. She explained that while they were casually going on a few dates, she was also starting to talk to an old flame of hers, Evan. She told me that after her and Greg’s second date, she sent him a polite text, a few days later, thanking him for the nice evening, but that she had rekindled a relationship from the past and wanted to see where that would go.
Well… in the photos below, you can see how that went for Joelle. She is now married to Evan and has sweet little Isabelle. Her and Evan also attended our wedding reception last week and we are planning a lake house trip with them in a few weeks!
Back to the Instagram request…
Joelle asked if she should put a little bug in Greg’s ear to let him know that I thought he was attractive. As I said, not my style to reach out, but I didn’t say a friend couldn’t do it for me! Joelle messaged Greg and told him “A little birdie told me that she thought you were cute.” Of course, she championed me as she always does (she is an incredible friend) and within 10 minutes of mine and Joelle’s text conversation, Greg sent me a message in Instagram!
We exchanged numbers and texted back and forth for about three weeks. Then, in August we met for the first time at Half Shell for oysters (which just so happened to formerly be Joelle’s family’s restaurant…was it a sign?) and instantly fell for each other. We spent tons of time together and began dating exclusively, but there was just one issue, we were both divorced.
We had quite an amazing relationship for the first 8 months. We spent tons of time together, went on dates, and did the normal couple thing.
But, as I said before, while we had both been divorced for about 4 years, we both had emotional baggage from past relationships. We never really talked about marriage, but honestly, that wasn’t the issue. I was ok with never marrying again. Divorces are tough so why put yourself in a situation where you could possibly have to do it again?
The main concern for me was him introducing me to his son. Per his agreement with his son’s mother, we needed to be dating 4 months. That time came and went and still….no introduction. I didn’t press the issue but started to wonder if he saw me as long term. He had met my boys and they absolutely loved him!
After we hit the 8 month mark, I began to get antsy. The more I brought it up, the more he pushed away, explaining that his divorce was not as amicable as mine and an introduction would only anger his son’s mother and cause a huge mess.
“EXCUSES!” I proclaimed and then I decided we needed space!
The Break Up
I hosted the Spring Southern Elegance event at Graceland with Priscilla Presley. This event was huge for me. Not only would I be on stage with Priscilla, but I had invited her and a group of friends over to my house for a little dinner and to my surprise, she accepted the invitation. What was I thinking inviting a celebrity to my tiny little bungalow of a home, but you know me, go big or go home. That night, I went big!
We had an incredible evening. Priscilla was such a beauty and a kind hearted soul, telling us stories of her time at Graceland with Elvis and asking about our lives all the same. I was star-struck, yet there was just one problem. You see the picture above? Where is Mr. Greg?
That day we had a falling out which ended in a break. So, he wasn’t uninvited but, for obvious reasons he decided not to come.
The event at Graceland came and went, and so did a few days without Mr. Greg. He would text and check in, and I did the same, but time apart meant just that. I couldn’t understand why he was keeping his son from me, and he couldn’t understand why I didn’t believe his reasoning.
Now, here’s the part that not even my parents know. (Hi MOM AND DAD!)
Our little break was excruciating for me. We had only been dating 8 months but the emotional roller coaster that the split weighed on my soul was like no other. One minute I would be ok, the next I would be lying on the floor crying uncontrollably with hot sweats. I recognized that this feeling was extreme as it was not only mentally affecting me, but causing physical reactions.
I took a pregnancy test and what do you know. It came back positive. I was pregnant by a man that there was seemingly no future with. *Cue the deep dark hole.*
Now, I am a grown woman, 34 at the time, but I felt like I was 16 and pregnant. Not that I am judging, but I had that feeling of, what the heck am I going to do? How will I tell my parents? How do I tell my “Baby daddy?” OMG…did I just say BABY DADDY? I am going to be having a baby at 34, divorced, living alone, with two children of my own, and a man that will be an amazing dad but that I won’t be married to?
While not quite 16, I felt like a lost girl all over again. I sat with the news for a while and after a week, I began to see the light and come to terms that I would be a single mom. After all, my greatest gifts are my children, and while not trying to toot my own horn, I’m going to go ahead and *TOOT*TOOT* I am a damn good mother.
I told Greg of the news and he immediately came over. He was shocked but, to my surprise, he was happy. He started stepping back in and taking extra care of me, bringing me food and keeping me hydrated, coming over to tuck me into bed at night, and doing the usual. There was just one awkward elephant in the room, we were still on a break.
Never-the-less, I was warming up to the thought of this new and unexpected path that I would be embarking on and becoming content with our arrangement. We didn’t need to force a relationship to bring a life into this world. Also, I am a grown woman with a home and income. Life hasn’t defeated me yet and having a sweet little baby would be far from a defeat, it would be a blessing no matter what the situation. I had my first doctor’s appointment and was officially confirmed. Pregnant!
The next part is still pretty heart breaking for the both of us. We never even told our parents because we were only about 6 weeks in….
I woke up one day with terrible cramps, and then came the blood. I think you know what came next. After rushing to my doctor, a miscarriage was diagnosed. We never even got to tell our family *CUE A SECOND DEEP DARK HOLE*
Summer Lovin’ for Some & Heartbreak for Others
After the miscarriage I spent some weeks alone. Greg was around but we were both processing what had happened in our own ways. There was anger, hurt, and devastation on both sides. The light seemed to have faded from his beautiful blue eyes. I couldn’t help but think, maybe this was a sign. After some time, Greg expressed that he was ready for this stupid break to be over but I felt that the miscarriage was too much. I officially, but unofficially as you all know now, decided to move on. I didn’t want to move on at all, but I just didn’t see any other way. I told myself that I am a woman now, and as a woman, you have to make decisions that you don’t want to make but they are decisions that are best for not only yourself, but for your children. And so I did, I made that decision.
PAUSE: Just to give you a little perspective on where I was in my head at this time. I have included a song that I listened to daily. Of course, not all the words pertain to us, but the ones that stood out to me were: “No light in your bright blue eyes. I’d do anything to make you stay.”
Ironic huh? I broke it off but wanted him to stay. Ladies, why do we do one thing but want a completely different thing? I guess I just wanted him to fight for it. I wanted him to want to stay….AND I WAS STUBBORN.
Weeks went by and communication started to die off between Greg and I. I started to reset and put the trauma behind. I focused on studying for the GMAT to get into the PhD program, and hung out with my friends as summer quickly approached. Greg would still text several times a week, and sometimes I would answer, other times I wouldn’t.
Eventually, I met another man. Some of you have been following since last June and got to meet Scott for a brief few weeks on my Instagram. He was a great guy and honestly, quickly became like my best friend. We had tons of adventures together and really enjoyed our time together. I only tell you all this because it’s true. Obviously, I still loved Greg but if you know how relentless I am once I put my mind to something, you would know that I am one to put emotions behind and throw myself full steam ahead to accomplish a task. The task was to move on, and it seemed that Greg was going to do the same… until heartbreak set it.
Not Taking No For An Answer
Just as it seemed that Mr Greg and I would eventually become a distant memory, a fight ensued. And what I mean by fight, Greg decided that he was going to fight for our relationship. When we sit outside on our patio in the evenings recalling all the craziness that was our dating life together, he tells me “I just woke up one day and realized that I couldn’t let you get away.” That summer he pulled out all the stops and did not let me get away.
When I didn’t reply to phone calls or texts, gifts and notes started arriving at my doorstep.
Two dozen red roses one day, a pair of Nike Air Force One’s the next.
I know, I know, Air Force One tennis shoes? Mr. Greg loves his tennis shoes and has always bought me what he calls, “The new hotnesses.” Those black Air Force One Nikes were the “new hotnesses” in his eyes. Can you tell what his love language is?
When I didn’t respond to the gifts, he took it up a level.
Now, before you all go thinking, “What a B*TCH you are Alex!” I am leaving out a lot of exchanged words and hoopla that goes on when relationships end. It’s all irrelevant now, just know that we both decided to step away, words happened back and forth, and I never looked back. Well I can’t say never because now, we are married. Let’s just say I didn’t plan on looking back.
OK, so back to taking it up a level. After I stood my ground and held on to my stubbornness steadfast, he popped up on my doorstep unannounced one day, completely in tears. My heart broke. I let him in and we had a talk in my living room. I held back crying with him, and stood with my word that things were over. That night, he emailed me this song. He told me he listened to it and cried thinking of me. I softened up.
While I was still trying to stay true to my decision, I began listening to this song daily. Clearly, my heart was softening despite what my head’s agenda was. Then, I received a stack of letters and a Catholic novena. In most parts of the south, Catholicism is one of the minority Christian churches, but we too share this in common.
There was a letter for every day that we had separated. I had no clue that shortly after we broke up he began writing these letters. I read the letters and I fell to pieces internally but on the exterior I kept my composure. After all, I had moved on and was talking to someone else.
The final attempt came when he left a medal at my door. It was his Navy Marine Corp medal with the Combat Valor that he received from the Iraq war with a note that read, you can give this back to me if I ever earn it. I was stunned. One of his most cherished possessions and he is just handing it over. I actually began to get a little worried. Was he just laying it on hard? Never the less, I cherished it, just as much as I am sure he did when he received it. It was in these moments that I knew we weren’t done. I fought it with every inch I had to continue without him, but there was no fighting the fact that things weren’t over.
Scott and I only dated for that summer. It is a relationship that I don’t regret for so many reasons, but it was one that could never go on when my heart wasn’t 100% there. No matter how hard I tried to follow what my head was set on, my heart was split.
The Secret Get Away
Needless to say, Scott and I split. It only took one weak moment in our relationship that Greg swooped in. “His war ships were lying off the coast of my delicate heart.” Remember that quote because it is very relevant as our story, up to our engagement.
Back to Scott and I splitting… we had a falling out in July. I was confused, stuck, and also conflicted. Greg asked me to go away with him for a weekend to talk. It took a lot of convincing as I knew I would have to “eat shit” (pardon my French) with my family and friends. I had touted that I was done for some time now while I found myself being swept up on a whirl wind secret getaway with a man that I had tried so hard to stay away from.
I agreed to a secret weekend. I didn’t tell a soul. It was Ben’s weekend to have the kiddos, so I packed my bags. He took me to, what I have called my “secret spot” for years. He had never been with me but now, we were going to experience one of my favorite places together. On the way there, I played a song that seemed to sum up everything I had been suppressing for so long, my true feelings. (Another song coming your way)
We got to Hot Springs Arkansas and the world seemed to fade. We were back in time. If you have ever been to Hot Springs, you know that it thrived in the 1920’s and is full of rich prohibition history, just my scene.
When we were there, we passed by a jewelry store (Lauray’s) that I would often peruse over the years as I visited this magical town. This time, I was with a man, in a roller coaster love story, who wanted to browse. I was very skittish about going in to browse this time, but thought, there’s no harm in it. After all, I am only going to look at all of the beautiful pieces as I have always done through my years of visiting Hot Springs.
We enter the store. I look around, and my eyes fixated on a beautiful diamond ring that instantly stole my soul. Ok, ok, maybe “stealing my soul” is a bit too much, but I surely was mesmerized and Greg caught on instantly.
We finished up our incredible “secret trip.” It seemed that for two days, everything was brand new. The world had started over and I finally came to terms that this is the man that I love.
We came home and a few weeks later, in his living room, with a FedEx package in hand, he asked me to marry him. He had purchased the ring that day and had it delivered to his house. In his living room, after opening the mail, he knelt down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Pretty crazy, huh? Well ladies and gentlemen, that’s how I roll. My life wouldn’t be “life” without a little spontaneity and a lot of craziness. The truth is, I love this man with all of my heart, and he had made it clear that he loved/loves me too.
This is Us
Next month marks our 2 year anniversary from the day he first texted me. So much has changed from where we started. Obviously, I have gotten to meet his son, and even better, have gotten the honor of becoming his step-mom. My single mom family with two little boys has grown into a full blown family of 5 and I love it. I often think about what Thanksgiving and Christmas will be like once our boys are grown and we are old. What will their wives be like? How many children will each one of them have? I am truly looking forward to that moment when Mr Greg and I can look at each other in our old wrinkly faces and then look at our big family sitting at the table in front of us and say to each other, “It all started with this wild and crazy love story.”
I asked him once we got back together if he knew he would be giving me those letters one day because he began writing them when I would have nothing to do with him. There were at least 20 letters that were delivered on my door step and 20 more in a letter journal that he gave me after he asked me to marry him. He told me he really wasn’t sure but they were just as much for him to talk to me when I wouldn’t answer his calls or texts as they were for me to understand his feelings for me and his reasonings if we ever got the chance again. Wow, those letters mean more than anyone could know.
Like any couple, we get in arguments and have our ups and downs, but any time I feel that we just don’t meet eye to eye, I pull out those letters and read his heart sprawled out on paper. Instantly, I am brought back to the story that is us, our base, what built the relationship that is Mr. Greg and Birdie.
Birdie you ask? Well that is his nickname for me. He coined that nickname when we were broken up and it just stuck. I won’t tell you all the reasons why I am Birdie. We have to have some secrets to ourselves you know.
So there you have it, all the details of our story. It’s real, raw, and completely, unapologetically US! I am so grateful to be sharing with those of you who wanted to share in our journey and we hope to bring many more memories to the table in years to come. You know I will keep you all updated, but until then just remember, no love story is perfect, what makes perfection is that there is love there and a will to fight for each other, stand next to each other, and be there for each other, no matter what.