It was 4am in the morning on Thursday, May 11th, 2006 when my alarm rang, waking me up for my early flight to Las Vegas. My best friend and I were flying out to Vegas for Mother’s Day weekend with my parents and we were all looking forward to a weekend of sun and fun! Little did I know, my life was about to change forever. We scheduled the first flight out on JetBlue so we could be at the pool before noon. After a smooth check-in, we boarded the plane and settled into our seats; my parents on one side of the aisle, my best friend, Shari, and I on the other. I glanced over to see who was seated next to my mother and to my surprise, there was this incredibly good looking guy. We immediately noticed each other and exchanged smiles. I was piqued with curiosity about this handsome stranger and felt there was an instant connection in our glances. I even whispered to my friend that I wished I were sitting in my mom’s seat!
The plane took off and periodically I noticed my ‘mystery’ man glancing over and smiling at me. I smiled back and watched as he engaged in conversation with my mother every so often. I wondered what they were talking about, wishing it were me having that conversation and not my mother! Midway through the flight, my ‘mystery’ man got up to use the restroom so I seized the moment and got up as well to see if we would exchange more than glances. Luckily, there was a line and the second I got there, he turned around and started talking to me. We were locked in casual conversation for several minutes as we waited. Both of us seemed gripped by our chat, but then the line ended, we each used the lavatory and returned to our respective seats. Still glancing over at one another from time to time, I felt my heart beat faster and I filled with excitement. How could that be for a guy I didn’t even know?! Shortly after, I noticed him checking his wallet to see if he had a business card handy. He did, and I watched him put it somewhere he’d have easy access to. Was he going to give it to me? Hmmm….I wondered.
Later on, a series of circumstances transpired that resulted in me sitting next to this incredible stranger. We immediately continued our conversation and more formally introduced ourselves. My ‘mystery’ man now had a name, Darren. We talked about everything from New York City, where we grew up, where we live now, what restaurants we like, what our plans were while in Vegas, etc. Conversation flowed easily – almost as if we had met before. Time passed quickly and before we knew it our flight was about to land. By then, Darren and I had already exchanged business cards, cell phone numbers and I was hopeful we would meet up at some time in the future. Multiple times he asked me if I ever wanted to go to dinner to drop him an email. I wondered if he was serious or not. As we got off the plane, we said our goodbyes and secretly I hoped to myself that we would meet again. We had an instant connection, an ease in our conversation and I felt like I knew him more than just a few short hours on the plane.
After being ‘peppered’ with questions by the inquiring minds of both my mother and my best friend, we collected our luggage and headed off to the Bellagio to begin our weekend of fun in the sun. Less than 30 minutes after we arrived at the pool, I received a text message on my phone. I assumed it was a friend checking on our safe arrival, but much to my surprise – it was Darren checking to see if we made it to the hotel and had our room. I responded to his text and as I closed my phone I thought to myself…”I think I just met the man I am going to marry’. I never shared that thought with anyone. Later that night Darren arranged for us to meet up for drinks, and then again a few more times while we were in Vegas. We were leaving a day apart so we said our goodbyes, me wondering if this would be the typical ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?” or will he be true to his word and we would see each other back in New York ….
Much to my delight, Darren contacted me immediately upon his return and we arranged for our first official ‘date’. From that day forward, we continued to see each other often, and our dates quickly developed into a solid, loving relationship. We met each other’s friends and family, escaped for a few weekend getaways and just enjoyed each other as our love and friendship deepened with each passing day. At the beginning of December, we boarded another JetBlue flight to Las Vegas to celebrate our six-month anniversary. It was another magical trip, one that solidified our amazing connection; a connection that I believe, only a few people in this world are lucky enough to find.
Six weeks later, I traveled to Budapest on a business trip and Darren flew over to join me for the weekend. Shortly after his arrival, we took a walk along the Danube River and while admiring the beautiful lights illuminating the city, Darren started recapping our relationship, the day we met and every detail from that day to the present. Then right there he turned to me and asked me to marry him. It was the most beautiful and special moment of my entire life and I could not say YES fast enough.
Darren is the love of my life, my best friend and the man I cannot wait to share the rest of my life with. There is no greater love than the love we share and I look forward to someday telling our magical story to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Maybe one of them will be as lucky as we were to be on a plane and find the person they want to be with for the rest of their lives.
As a founder of IGA Worldwide Inc., the worlds largest independent in-game advertising company and luckily, one of the leading advertising agencies, Avenue-A | Razorfish selected us [IGA] as the Breakthrough Company of 2006. Extremely excited about this award, I was asked to come out to Las Vegas to accept the award on our companies’ behalf and spend some time at their publisher summit.
On the morning of May 11, I arrived at JFK Airport in New York extremely excited about my upcoming weekend as this was a fantastic honor to receive the award. All went smoothly- from getting to the airport, getting through security, and getting onto the plane. I was late to get onto the plane because I was using the WiFi that JetBlue provides in the terminal, so most people were already seated as I entered the plane. While I was making my way towards my windowed Exit Row seat, I noticed that across the aisle, there was a beautiful woman who was busy chatting with another woman next to her (turns out, it was her best friend).
As I sat down in my seat and got situated, I was fortunate to have very good seat neighbors as I’ve sat next to some terrible ones in the past. As we were accelerating down the runway for take-off, I glanced over towards the beautiful girl across the aisle and we had made eye contact, and I made up my mind that by the end of the flight, I wanted to speak to her and learn more about her… something was very intriguing!
I was making casual conversation to the woman to my right through the beginning of the flight and even helped her open her snacks. She was traveling with her husband (to her right) and she told me that her daughter was across the aisle and that she was sitting with her best friend. I was so excited to hear that it was her daughter that I fancied because I was “in” with the mom – and hopefully the daughter would follow. Over the first half of the flight, we chatted about what line of business I was in, why I was going to Vegas, our JetBlue experiences, and other casual topics.
About half way into the flight, I had to use the restroom so I made my way towards the front of the plane. The daughter (beautiful woman that I had made eye contact with) followed me up to the front of the plane to the bathroom line and while I was waiting for the people in front of me to finish using the lavatory, I engaged her in conversation and quickly found out her name was Sherri. We talked for a few minutes and it just felt so easy- I knew that I’d be speaking to her more on the flight.
After I had used the lavatory, I decided I’d go back to my seat and it turns out that her father had gotten up, and Sherri took his place when she came back to her seat. Her mother was now between us and they engaged in typical female chatter for a bit. After a little while, her mother got up to use the restroom and Sherri moved to her seat so there wasn’t an awkward empty seat between us. We picked up our conversation right where we left off on the bathroom line and talked about what we both did back in NY, the reasons we were going to Las Vegas, favorite restaurants and shows. About 2 hours went by and it was time to land – time had flown by! I had no idea that we had chatted for 2 hours straight…
We exchanged phone numbers, business cards, and I told her that I’d call her when we got back to NY to go to a restaurant that we had mentioned during the flight, Lupa, which was one of my personal favorites. After we deplaned and went back to our respective hotels (Bellagio (Sherri), Caesars Palace (me), I had sent her a text message to see if she had arrived safely. She answered quickly and we engaged in a short text conversation and decided that we’d meet later that evening.
The rest is history – we saw each other almost every day we were in Las Vegas and amazingly had the same restaurant reservations pre-booked before we had arrived. Must have been Karma!
After we both arrived back in NY, we saw each other consistently and blossomed into a beautiful relationship over the next 9 months. We ventured back to Las Vegas in December 2006 (via JetBlue) and celebrated our 6 month anniversary. It was a fantastic time! A few weeks back, Sherri was on a business trip to Budapest and I came out at the end of her trip to spend time with her and experience a whole new country together. Little did she know, I had brought an engagement ring with me and totally surprised her the first night I had arrived.
I guess the saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but luckily, we met 30,000 feet in the air somewhere over Colorado. Had we actually met in Vegas, who knows if we’d be so happily engaged today? The wedding is set for August 2007 and our families, friends, and ourselves, couldn’t be any happier!
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