THIS WEEK'S X SAID /X SAID LOVE STORY IS STRAIGHT OUT OF A MOVIE. MARCO AND NICOLE HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER SINCE HIGH SCHOOL; THEY STARTED OFF AS ACQUAINTANCES BUT AFTER YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP, THEY FOUND THEMSELVES FALLING FOR EACH OTHER.
MARCO ADMITS THAT ALTHOUGH THE TWO WERE JUST FRIENDS, HE ALWAYS KNEW HE LOVED NICOLE. HIS STRONG FEELINGS FOR NICOLE WERE OBVIOUS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE PROCESS OF CREATING NICOLE'S ENGAGEMENT RING, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU HEAR THE MEANING BEHIND IT.
NICOLE'S ENGAGEMENT RING HOLDS 1.08 CARATS. THE NUMBER 108 IS YOGA'S SACRED NUMBER AND REFERS TO SPIRITUAL COMPLETION. THIS NUMBER WAS KEPT IN MIND WHEN PICKING STONES AND NOW REPRESENTS MARCO AND NICOLE'S UNION AS WELL.
AND NOW, MARCO & NICOLE'S LOVE STORY.
How did you meet Nicole?
I met Nicole in high school. She was always beautiful and always had my eye. We were friends at first.
How long have you been engaged?
3 months already! Mamma mia!!
Who asked who out & why?
I asked Nicole out on her 24th birthday. She had a potluck at her house with all of our mutual friends in attendance. Before that night, we had our moments but I was growing tired of chasing her. I decided to leave the party early. She asked me to stay. I told her that I wasn't going to chase her anymore. Again, Nicole asked me to stay. And so I replied, "If you want me to stay, you have to kiss me." She hesitated and was embarrassed because friends were nearby. So I motioned to leave. She grabbed me and kissed me.
Where was your first date?
Grounds for Sculptures, an outdoor park with art, in Hamilton, NJ. For the first few years of us being together, we would return on our anniversary.
When did you first realize you loved Nicole?
How did you propose?
I woke Nicole up out of her slumber with the ring in hand and on one knee. Yellow garden roses laid next to her bedside leading to a Russian cooked breakfast. A car was packed and ready to take a weekend to Lake Placid, where we hiked and enjoyed lake vistas. After a pleasant weekend, we returned to New Jersey to have dinner with our parents. To Nicole's surprise, awaiting were also many friends and family. We rolled up on the grass of the backyard blasting Latina music, surprising those that were ready to do the surprising.
Do you see children in the future? How many if so?
Sure, the more, the merrier — we need help with winemaking!
What is your favorite thing about Nicole?
Nicole always is able to make sure we stop, enjoy, joke and laugh, love and be loved, no matter the situation or what life throws at us.
What is Nicole's biggest quirk?
Nicole loves to sleep. From time to time, she wakes up in the middle of the night, grumpy, and thinks she won't be able to go back to sleep. As a teacher, Nicole wakes up early, so rest is important. Usually, I tell her a corny joke, give her a hug and she returns fast asleep.
Between the two of you, you pretty much have the beverage industry covered. Tell us about Nicole's tea business.
Nicole loves tea and all things natural. She grows tea in her garden with her grandma and mom. In their NJ garden, herbs and flowers grow organically. At season's end, her family harvests, drys, and packs an assortment of teas into small Mason jars. Nicole writes a cute poem atop each and every jar. Nicole has been writing cute poems since she learned how to write.
How did you meet Marco?
Marco and I met a long time ago. We actually have known each other as far back as high school — I remember when he was the cute chubby new kid who moved to my town. But we weren't really friends then. We only started to get to know each other in high school, probably when we were 17-18, when we were in the same friend group. He was silly and quirky but also relaxed, and always made me laugh, so he slowly but surely became one of my closest male friends. We went to college in different areas (Philadelphia and New Brunswick, NJ) but still went out to concerts and shows with friends during university breaks. Our schools weren't too far away from each other so I would see him sometimes at university parties. It somehow happened that we became closer, and he was my shoulder to lean on when I was feeling out of it or was sad when an ex-boyfriend and I broke up. I always knew I could call him and rely on him as a good friend but didn't see our relationship as something more than friends until later on.
How long have you been engaged?
We've been engaged for about 3 months now :-).
Who asked who out and how?
It was fall of 2013 and we had both just graduated from university and returned from being abroad. We were both living in our hometown for a year, and Marco and I had been talking a little bit more as a result. He asked me to go with him to Grounds for Sculpture, an outdoor sculpture park and museum in central New Jersey, where I'd never been before. It was a beautiful and crisp autumn day and we walked slowly through the park discussing the different art pieces and making jokes. I even did a headstand at one point and tried to teach him how to do it. He of course made silly faces at many of the sculptures and cracked me up. It was the first time we had hung out on our own in quite some time and we really enjoyed each other's company.
Where was your first date?
It's hard to say. I feel like Marco has been taking me out on dates, subtly, since the beginning of college. We have been good friends for a long time so even some of our hangouts have felt like dates. But I'd say that we had our first real date at either Grounds for Sculpture (mentioned above) or in Paris.
I was working as an au pair (nanny) in Paris in the summer of 2011, and Marco had been studying abroad in Rome. He came to visit me in Paris one weekend and we had this awesome time together. We cooked at my aunt's apartment, went to Montmartre and the Sacré-Cœur church there and ate crepes, walked around the Marais district, and hung out in Buttes-Chaumont Park at my favorite cafe, Rosa Bonheur. In Buttes-Chaumont Park he did something daring -- when I told him I really wanted a piece of the Space Invader art piece sitting on a rock in front of us he looked at me and said, "You can do anything!" and gently but confidently pulled one of the red glass squares off of it and handed it to me. A few moments later, after talking for a bit, he tried to give me a kiss. But I was shy. The last part of the day involved us going to Père Lachaise cemetary, a beautiful space on top of a hill. We walked to all the famous people's graves: Chopin (my favorite composer), Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison from The Doors. When we got to Jim Morrison's grave we did what everyone does there which felt sacrilegious but also exciting. We chugged a bottle of wine, poured some on Morrison's grave, and smoked cigarettes in honor of the musician. An older couple from Colombia was doing the same thing and we all laughed together.
When did you first know you loved Marco?
I had a lightbulb go off in my head one day in winter of 2013 and something inside me told me that it was time to give him a real chance. I knew at that moment that there was nobody else for me, and nobody else for him. I knew he loved me. Later on in our relationship, Marco did something that no one has ever done for me, and that when I knew I loved him. He took a ripe grapefruit and peeled all the skins off one by one, slowly, so that I could eat each piece and enjoy the sweetness of it without the bitterness of the skins. Such a sweet gesture (literally and figuratively)!
How did Marco propose?
Marco proposed on the summer solstice this year, in early morning, on June 21st, 2019. I'm a teacher and it was my last day of school so I had no idea it was going to happen. I had been out the night before at a friend's event in Brooklyn and Marco had been away for a week in D.C. on a business trip. I knew he was getting home that night and so I was excited to get home and see him. When I did get home, we hung out for a bit (even though it was quite late) and I was just genuinely so glad to be able to see him and spend time with him again. But when I said I was going to bed, he told me he wanted to sleep on the couch because he "felt pretty awake." I was a little confused by that but didn't think much of it.
My alarm went off the next day, and Marco walked into the room and said good morning, asking if I wanted to sleep a little bit longer. I should have noticed this because he rarely wakes up before me, but I said "yes" and slept a little more. The next time the alarm went off, I heard Marco's footsteps in the room and he turned the alarm off again. He walked up to me and softly rubbed my shoulder. I turned over and saw him there kneeling down. He gave me a kiss and hugged me.
"Good morning, my love," he said. "Will you marry me?"
I perked up. "You're joking!" I laughed, since he had been joking about proposing for the past few months.
"No, I'm not," he said, and pointed to the yellow roses on my bedside and laying on the floor in a line, leading to the kitchen. That's when I knew it was actually happening. I said yes and he put the ring on.
He held my hand and I got up and followed him into the kitchen where he had prepared a Russian breakfast with all of my favorite foods - sour cherries, caviar, cheese, sour cream, black currant. There was also champagne. I was really excited but also nervous because I was worried about going to work.
He laughed. "You're not going to work today, Nicole. I emailed your principal. We're going upstate to Lake Placid for the weekend. I borrowed a car from my parents last night and its packed and ready to go."
I was really excited. Throughout the day I woke up and got more and more giddy. We had an awesome engagement weekend outdoors in nature, my favorite place, and came home to New Jersey to drop the car off on Sunday afternoon. Although Marco had told me to pack a nice outfit so that we could have dinner with our parents on Sunday, little did I know that once we got to his parents' house, there would be 50 + family members and friends waiting to surprise us. When I saw all of the cars on the street and realized it was happening, Marco cracked up and turned on a reggaeton song that we love. With the music blasting, we literally drove into the backyard in the car and surprised everybody. There was food and wine and lots of conversation and it was just such a nice moment.
Do you see children in the future / how many if so?
Yes — 2-3. I'd love to have twins...!
What is your favorite thing about Marco?
I love his positive nature, happy personality, sense of humor, and lighthearted way of being. I also love that he is driven to achieve his goals and dreams, as this inspires me to do the same.
What is Marco's biggest quirk?
When he's really caffeinated and at home, Marco does impersonations of made-up characters that only we know and dances like a maniac. He has this hilarious manic side that I'm fortunate enough to witness at home a few times a week — hahaha.
Tell us about Marco's adventures in wine? You must enjoy the "fruits" of his labor :-)?
Marco has been making wine since he was young, and I've been lucky enough to enjoy the "fruits" of his labor since we started dating!! I usually help out a little bit with the process, whether that is helping crush the wine or just being a taste tester. Marco specializes in southern Italian wine and loves making it as it really connects him with is roots. His dad is Sicilian and his mom is Calabrian. Wine also has a connection with food, which I must mention that he also loves. He's also a great cook. All of Marco's wines that I've tasted have been really interesting and some are quite funky. I think he dreams of one day making wine in Italy and selling it in the United States...we'll see :-).