Nathan... Nadia and I randomly met pre-Covid on a normal Monday night at a Tampa Bay Club Sports bowling league about a year prior to really "meeting" her. The infamous Facebook DM was used to wish her a Happy Birthday back on 01/05/2020 which was my skilled and very romantic ice breaker! I offered to also buy her a drink for her birthday and if anyone knows Nadia, there was no way she was going to say no to FREE. Our 1st date was at Salt Shack On The Bay in Tampa then we finished at the very upscale Green Iguana off Westshore Blvd where there were a number of free beverages enjoyed while singing and dancing! The most pivotal day of our early dating was when we planned to meet at Tampa Bay Downs. Nadia was about 2 hours late! I decided to hang out while having a few drinks, gambling, and eating all the BBQ. For some reason, I felt this wait would be worth my time and ended up being a longer commitment than we both realized. Finally, there was the invite in which Nadia asked me to meet her at the local but very classy bar named Rudy’s in her hood and for those who know the spot, know. We enjoyed a few beverages and at the end of the night, I was a gentleman and took her home but she failed to allow me to use the restroom at her place so I gave her a kiss goodnight then immediately went to the closest gas station to use their facilities. To my surprise, my phone rang and guess who didn’t want the night to end?!?! She asked why I left and for me to join her which I did. Although there was a full expectation that the evening would end in fireworks, we literally sat on her couch in her living room and talked for about 3 hours into the night and that is when I knew I met my person. I fell in love that night. I was happier than I had ever been in my life and decided to ask her to "go steady" on 02/22/20 after an ax throwing session at a local brewery in my hood called The Loop. It went something like, okay, we are both going to stop dating others and be exclusive which meant goodbye to all the dating apps. She accepted the challenge! Then the Covid shutdown started in March of 2020 and I officially could not get rid of her ♥! Nadia Christina Santiago is my Queen. Nadia.... Everything Nathan said is absolutely accurate (just the description he gave above, not generally speaking)! The feeling of knowing you found your person isn’t one feeling. It’s a full habitat of emotion that happens like Florida rain in an afternoon out of nowhere. You don’t know where you are going, and COVID certainly didn’t allow for many food and beverage options, but the emotions are the navigation that feels like you are moving all while standing in lush la-la land. Our COVID experience was so different because of each other, real love was the antibody. I can’t imagine going through COVID with anyone else and that turned into not feeling like I could do life without him. The fireworks did happen that evening on a couch after 3 hours of banter. They were emotional fireworks that spark your soul and my soul fell in love with his on that evening. The 2 hour tardiness on our Derby date did happen also, but there is some saying out there about-always late but worth the wait-and it was for us both. I can’t imagine our story being any different. I can’t imagine someone else to sing John Legand with. I can’t imagine beating anyone else at flip cup or betting on basketball with or sleeping in hostels with in foreign countries. Our story is one where we have been each others air earth and fire and will continue to water the concept that love conquers all.
Treat people the way you want to be treated and trust your gut, even when Plan A ends up being a disaster. Plan A - Nathan acquired the desired ring 💍 and we made it back to Tulum (check). Next plan was to go to our favorite bar/restaurant/music spot on the beach at Berna (failure Berna done burned down aka cartel). Plan B - Trust in us bc things have always worked out to perfection. We made our way to Dos Ojos Cenote and on the way in, a random man named Victor stopped us to give Nathan a gift from his son and before we continued to the caves, he stopped Nadia with “Beautiful….you know these caves are sacred to the Mayan people. You will walk in a Princess but you will walk out a Queen ❤️ “. Right then Nathan knew this was the special moment, and took advantage of securing the ring while Nadia waited in a hammock, in the middle of another country with beautiful scenery. We got engaged! On the way out, Victor stopped Nathan and shook his hand firmly so he could remind me - “You know, happiness is not for today, it’s forever”. We're so excited to celebrate this next chapter in our lives with you.