Lately, I have been answering a lot of questions on Snapchat (which I love to do by the way, so keep them coming!). One question I'm asked a lot is, "How did you and Brooke meet?" In Snapchat, I keep the answer short because I don't want to type it all out... because that's what blog posts are for!
So, here is the full story of how Brooke and I met. Hold onto your hats, tissues and anything else around you because this is the greatest, most epic, incredible love story ever told in the history of time. Are you excited?
We met on Facebook.....
I'm just kidding, well sort of.
Brooke and I actually first met very briefly when I was in 5th grade and she was in 3rd grade. Our families went to the same church and one evening my family had The Courtney's over because my younger sister Samantha and Brooke had become friends at church. The year was 1995. The top song in 1995 was "Gangsters Paradise" by the rapper and poet Coolio. It was also the year we were introduced to Woody and Buzz in the cinematic masterpiece, Toy Story. Clearly, a good year all around.
Brooke's first memory of me was the following: I came running up the stairs from our basement at full speed, asked my mom a question, and then turned around and ran back down the stairs. That was it. Our first meeting and Brooke's first memory of me.
I, unfortunately, have no memory of this first moment in our history, but Brooke has a short five second vivid memory of it, which is odd for Brooke. She will be the first to admit she doesn't have a great memory, so I think I can explain her remembering this for one of two reasons. 1. She secretly knew that I was the man she was going to marry and she was in awe of me, or 2. She was in amazed at the size of my head as a fifth grader and shocked that I didn't topple down the stairs like a slinky. Either way, that is Brooke's first memory of me.
Fast forward to 2008, when the hit song was "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain, and we were introduced to Wall-E a cinematic look into the future of the human race... 😂 ... but, seriously.
It was April of 2008 and in the previous six months I had been fired from an internship, ended an engagement and moved back into my parent's basement, finding and taking the first job I could get, which was in a warehouse. It was not exactly the most exhilarating time to be T.J. Mousetis. It's actually really hard to believe that all of that only happened 8ish years ago. It seems so much longer. And yes, you read that correctly, I was engaged once before.
I remember one night specifically, sitting on the bed in my sister's room, on my laptop and while watching TV. It's actually really weird that I would be in my sister's room. Normally, I would just watch TV in the basement or living room, but for some reason, on that night, I was up in her room. It was at a time in my life where I didn't know what walk in love. was going to be. Walk in love. originally started as a fundraiser for a mission trip to Siberia, Russia. I had traveled to Russia twice now, both funded by walk in love. sales, and a third trip was coming up in July. I knew that I loved selling shirts, but outside of friends and family, business wasn't exactly booming -- mostly because it wasn't really a business. It had just been a fundraiser for the past three years, but I wanted it to be more. Around this time I had decided to order new, softer shirts with what I called "better designs." Looking back at the designs I have to laugh!!! Because they would NEVER EVER MAKE THE CUT NOW, but I was young and learning - still am learning!
That night I was trying to think of ways to take walk in love. up to the next level. I thought better photos would do the trick and Brooke's name popped into my head. We were Facebook friends and back in 2008, when Facebook was the thing you just added anyone you knew because it was so cool. Well, because of that, I knew that Brooke was a photographer, so while sitting on my sisters bed I looked her up on Facebook.
This was her profile picture at the time and I can't help but smile every time I see it. I remember thinking as soon as it popped up, "I have a crush on her." No joke, that was my first thought. It was crush at first sight. So, I mustered up all the courage I could and sent her a message. Unfortunately, due to Facebook changing the way they do their messaging, I've lost the original message I sent, but I can guess it went something like this...
I see you are a photographer. You might not know me but I am TJ and we go to the same church. I sell the walk in love. t-shirts and was wondering if you would want to trade photos for free shirts or something, whatever, if you want, no big deal, I LOVE YOU, oh my gosh, this is weird, you are so pretty, okay cool, bye.
-T.J. *In my mind - NAILED IT*
To my surprise, she said yes! And then we started chatting it up on Facebook.
I decided to ask her if she wanted to "hang out" before did the photos. In one of our conversations leading up to this hangout, she had told me that she never had a $1 McDonald's ice cream sundae, so I suggested McD's as our first date spot... Seriously, how did we end up getting married?
On May 18th, 2008, Brooke and I met at McDonalds. She was wearing a pink t-shirt with chocolate bunnies on it that made me laugh.
I didn't show up with a funny t-shirt, but instead, showed up with a dirt-stache because I was participating in Moustache May. Yep, first date at McDonalds and I had an 18 day old dirt-stache. I did buy the sundaes though, so... totally redeemed myself!
We sat at McDonalds and talked about our jobs, families and lives. After we enjoyed our ice cream, I asked her if she wanted to go to a park and keep talking, so we went to Reidenbaugh Elementary school and sat on the swings and continued to talk for a few hours. She had her camera with her that night, so I asked her if she would take my Moustache May photo for the next day. Yeah, it was a daily photo posting event. I wish they would bring it back, maybe someday!
In that parking lot at Reidenbaugh Elementary, Brooke took her first, of many many, photos of me, dirt-stache and all.
A few days later I came over to her house for a second date and that's when I told her I loved her. I was madly in love with her from the moment we started talking, and still am to this day as I listen to her read to our daughter in the room next to me while writing this.
Five months later, I asked her to marry me in October 2008 and seven months after that we got married in May 2009.
I can't help but smirk at that little smirk on my face in that photo. Your life can change in a moment. It had not been a great year for the young man in that photo, but one encounter, with one person, changed it forever and I thank God every day for that.
So to answer the question, "How did you and Brooke meet?", I guess I'd have to say "I originally met Brooke for five seconds in 1995, then again in May 2008. After our second meeting, my life has never, and will never, be the same."