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One December Night


Edward and I, one summer night. Print available.

Three years ago today, I met the love of my life. We celebrate two anniversaries – our wedding, of course, and the night we met completely by chance, and everything changed.  Here are our two versions of the story of that night that we each wrote a couple of years ago, when the memories were still crystal clear, so we would never forget:

The short version, as told by Dallas:

Well, it all started when I went to the TBQ party. I noticed him as he came in because 1.) I thought he was hot, 2.) He had a camera, and 3.)I’d never seen him before, even though I know a lot of the Twitter-photographers.  Later, when we were shooting the opening dance/music for the night, I noticed I had a better position for photos than he did, so I made eye contact with him for the first time and motioned for him to move closer as I scooted over. Later, I went to hide by Kaeo, who was doing the A/V stuff for the event’s livestream, and Ed ended up following me back there. We talked about photography, and he showed me his photos on his iPhone. I remember thinking, “Do I really have to look at this guy’s photos?” but then I also realized I’d just been complaining about no one seeing my own photos, and this was obviously one way to go about it. Plus, his weren’t bad. ;) Before we stopped talking, I added him to Facebook and we exchanged cards.

Later that night, he found me again, and literally dragged me onto the dance floor. Anyone who was there that night might remember my infamous ‘hooker-boots’, and my feet were already dying…but I danced anyway. Considering I can barely walk in them, I thought I did okay, but he now believes I can’t really dance. :P

Back with my friends, I was giggling madly about the whole thing. I don’t do the “meet-random-people-dance-with-them” thing…EVER.

He eventually came back and dragged me out for another dance, after which I pleaded mercy for my feet and we spent the rest of the night at the club just sitting and talking.

After the party was over, a lot of people were re-locating to Shokudo for food, and Ed offered to give me a ride there. I was a little hesitant getting into a car with a stranger, but I figured if he tried anything bad I could blacklist him on Twitter (yes, my logic…), so I went with him. We drove to Shokudo and sat in his car for 20 minutes still talking with each other before heading into the restaurant. He bought me dinner and we talked and talked and talked…

Finally, he admitted he had to be up for work in just a few hours, so I walked him out to his car, because I was catching a ride home with Kaeo. We slowly said goodnight, and then he lingered by his car door. I’m kind of blunt and impatient, so I finally asked him point blank, “So, do you want to kiss me?”

He said yes. And I said, “Okay.” And he did. Twice.

And that’s the story of how we met.

Pretty much love-at-first-sight. <3

February 2010 – Photo by Lisa Hoang of Windwardskies Photography

The full story, as told by Edward:

December 13th, 2009 seemed just like another day. I woke up, started browsing the news over breakfast and while prodding my friend @MochaBunni into action since we were due to meet up for the Two Beer Queers one-year anniversary tweetup later that evening. One of the reasons I was pestering her so early was because I was already getting a severe case of the lazies, this being Sunday evening and me having to get up early the next morning (remember this, it’s important later) for work.

Little did I know that my life was about to change drastically!

Unbeknownst to me, elsewhere in Honolulu Dallas Nagata was struggling with the same issue. Naturally a bit of a shut-in, Dallas was debating whether to go to the event at all and have to deal with the process of getting ready for the party. She had made the logo used in promoting the event, so her friends convinced her that it was her duty to show up and support the TBQ.

Little did she know, but she was about to approach a cross-roads in her life!

Later in the day @MochaBunni showed up to meet up with me so we could convoy over to Rumors (we were taking separate cars because we still weren’t sure we’d stay), so I rushed out and completely forgot the tickets I had printed out! About halfway there I realized that I had left them at home, and made my mind up then that if we could not get in I would just skip the tweetup entirely.

Dallas and I always make a half-joke about how close we were to not meeting at all. We thank Twitter and social media for creating the environment that allowed us to meet, but even then it almost didn’t happen. We might have gone on without knowing that the other existed, and continued feeling a sense of loneliness that we both admitted to having felt until we met each other. I guess explaining how unlikely the meeting was cannot account for the fact that we were fated to meet that night and could not have avoided it no matter how lazy we were about it!

In the parking lot, I break the news to @MochaBunni that I’ve forgotten the tickets, which she’s ok with, but we go anyway to check whether saying “do you know who I am?!?” would work…which it did since the TBQ had the presence of mind to print a guest list! (see, and you thought I was conceited!) And just like that we were locked in to the party!

Extensive review of the night later in our relationship established that we noticed each other as soon as I walked in. I saw her by the dance floor showing off pictures to the twitter photogs surrounding her, and she looked up. Our eyes met for a split second but I kept walking, making a beeline for Cheyne who was the first friend I noticed. I made a mental note that I needed to meet “that girl” later in the night though, believe it or not, my intent was purely professional at that point–others told me that she was a talented photographer, and I wanted to get to know her so I could continue building my network of people to shoot with on occasion.

A little while after I got there, the event officially kicked off with an epic intro by the Two Beer Queers (who were dancing in the cages of Rumors! O.o), a few words of thanks to those in attendance, and then an intro to one of the local bands that would be playing immediately after. Once the band started playing all the photographers promptly jockeyed for position to get a few good pictures to represent their performance. Being one of the photographers present, I hurried over to get pictures and discovered that the spot I had plotted out was occupied by the pretty girl who I did not yet know was named Dallas. I started to make the best of the situation, not wanting to bump her from the place she’d rightfully earned, but she turned and saw me crouching into position next to her and offered to let me get in place. This she says is–of course–a big deal in the pro photography community but, being a philistine, the grand significance of the gesture went largely unnoticed by the recipient party…doh!

I was scuttling about saying my hellos when Dallas went to hide by Kaeo Kepani‘s secluded AV setup. I took this as my chance to talk to her while she was not being mobbed by her friends, so I furtively followed her (yay alliteration) to that little corner and said hi. I explained that photography was a big hobby of mine, and that she had come highly recommended by all the other twitter photographers, so I wanted to show a little of my work and see some of hers.

A funny bit of the “how we met” lore was her internal strife in the moments before she succumbed to my roguish charm. She told me that, overwhelmingly, whenever someone wants to show off their work it’s not worth seeing. The real reason she said ok was because she had just been complaining that not enough people saw her work my method was as good as any. She was not counting on my material actually being good, so it was a pleasant surprise and great relief to her that I hadn’t turned out to be a GWC (Guy With Camera). This broke the ice, and we started talking shop then gently moved towards more social topics.

A few observations and quips later, I started to realize that this was a very cool, smart, funny girl I was talking to, good looks and skills with a camera aside…great friend (remember, this is what I was looking for at the time) material. The conversation had slowed slightly, so I took the opportunity to present my card (yeah, I know!), exchange a quick Twitter Follow and Facebook friend, then bow out before any chances for awkwardness arose. This, it seems, was the right move.

I proceeded to going about and introducing @MochaBunni to more tweeps so that she could get plugged into the community, saying more hellos, then to dancing. One of the habits that I developed over years of church youth dances was to find the girls that were not dancing and “encourage” them to dance. I find that most wallflowers usually want to participate, but can’t find that chance, so it helps them and the party overall. After making the rounds (especially with @LaurieCicotello, who was in bandages that night and could not really go to the dance floor), I noticed that Dallas was not dancing which surprised me…this would not do! I promptly went over and asked her whether she wanted to dance, to which she responded “weeeeelllll….” which was good enough for me.

I dragged her onto the dance floor.

She danced with much more gusto than she was expecting and had a great time doing it! We stayed out for a few songs though her feet were screaming (and she would not admit this until later) by the end of it. She definitely earned points then because she did not really know how to dance (which she warned me) but was a good sport and followed my lead well enough for me to call her a liar! Again, once the set was done I took her to her friends and hurried away before the awesome had a chance to subside.

At this point, I’m told, she was officially intrigued. Who was this guy that was bound and determined to have a good time and drag everyone along with him? She says that at this point she started asking (and gushing) about me amongst her friends who were all teasing her because of the fact that she’s usually shy, and definitely does not do the “dance with strangers” thing. Her friends did not really know who I was at that point, so she was stuck having to wonder since she was not comfortable enough to approach me just yet.

I left and mingled more to keep myself from returning to this girl who had started to intrigue me more and more…I was so afraid of coming off too strong! Eventually, though, I returned for another round of dancing with Dallas, which was still just as fun as the first time. After that she finally admitted that her feet were killing her, but got wise to my ways and invited me to sit with her and her friends in the corner. After that we started talking.

We talked and talked and talked. It was already kind of late, so before we knew it we had talked through the entire TBQ tweetup! We weren’t ready to quit talking! Her friends came up and let her know they wanted to go to Shokudo for a little after-party treat.  I kept quiet, implicitly deferring to her decision, and let out a relieved breath when she balked at the suggestion that she had to leave right then. Seizing the opportunity, I offered to drive her to Shokudo if I was invited.

In the mind of Dallas, a quick assessment of risk was made: Here was this stranger who had up until that point been perfectly civil, respectful and awesome…no signs of a creepy abductionist there. Also, Rumors is literally right down the street from Shokudo, so if anything suspicious happened in the three-minute drive she could quickly call her friends who would then engage in hot pursuit while she diligently worked on getting me blacklisted on Twitter. Yes, these are the factors she weighed whens she invited me to Shokudo and accepted my ride.

Dallas would probably like me to remind you at this point that she does not usually do any of this.

We got to Shokudo and settled in next to her friends, though we might as well have been a million miles away. We tried to bring them into the conversation or join theirs a time or two, but we always just ended up talking to each other…we couldn’t help it! I felt a little bad about it, but it could not offset how great the conversation was…though the best was yet to come.

I will take a moment to rewind a little and make sense of my previous statement. Earlier in the night, when we were adamantly proclaiming that we only wanted platonic relationships, I explained that my reason was because I was deploying in a scant few months and did not really want to deal with a long distance relationship which, in my extensive experience as an observer, tended to fail. This marked the beginning of a social experiment for Dallas: usually she censures herself until she can get a feel for the person, which can take months for her. This time she decided to be completely open, completely honest, and completely herself…after all, what could she lose? If she freaked me out, I’d be gone for a year soon enough! She’s been kicking herself for having even thought that ever since!

During the short drive to she broached every possible fight-starter conversation she could think of: politics, religion, LBGT rights, what BBQ sauce was the best at Maui Mike’s…if you can think of it she probably broached it, and apparently I answered admirably because we talked for at least half an hour in the car before we even went into Shokudo, and not once was there a disagreement that couldn’t be solved in civil discourse and agreed upon.

In the mind of Dallas, though, I had not yet endured the worst she could dish me…oh no! There was something much much worse, and during a moment of (not awkward) silence she reached into the inky black crevasses of her persona to pull out her final act in her herculean attempt to turn me off to her, or at least find a chink in my personality.

“So, zombies…” Dallas said.

“What about them?” I reply hesitantly.

“Are you ready for the apocalypse?” she retorts, sure that she has found her victory.

“Depends,” I respond, “are we talking Romero zombies or 28 Days Later viral zombies? If it’s Romero zombies we’re pretty much [expletive]ed…”

If that’s not fate, I don’t know what is.

And with that, the sphinx was silent no longer. Suddenly we were talking about survival tactics in Hawaii, then about her love of Star Wars and the Star Wars Extended Universe, then about Final Fantasy and other favorite videogames, then music, and pretty much any geeky challenge we could come up with. Parry and thrust all night, neither one conceding an inch of ground while exploring the full extent of our geekiness. I kept checking my phone…midnight…1:00 am…2:00 am…I knew that I needed to be up really early for work the next morning but didn’t want to give up the fantastic conversation! I also knew that–at least for me–this wasn’t just for friends anymore.

Finally at around 3:00 I knew that I had to leave, and let her know that I needed to go. She offered to walk me to my car and I accepted because it meant just a little bit more conversation with this amazing girl I’d just discovered.

We reached my car and and said goodnight. I lingered, telling myself that I was just going to watch her leave the garage back to the restaurant, but I knew that what I really, desperately wanted was to kiss her. She lingered, too, expecting me to get in the car but also harboring the same secret thoughts.

Dallas got impatient:

“Do you want to kiss me now?”


And we did just that.

Best. First. Kiss. Ever.

After we finished the first one and let go, I couldn’t help myself and pulled her in for a second, deeper kiss.

Best. Second. Kiss. Ever.

This, she would tell me later, reassured her that I had not merely kissed her out of any sense of obligation.

I made the drive home buzzing with excitement. So did Dallas, who I’m told would justnot shut up about me. I got home and plugged my alarm’s auxiliary out into my surround sound system and cranked it to make sure that I would be able to wake up in an hour and a half to get ready for honor guard, where I would raise the post flag.

I’m not entirely sure I slept that night.

After rendering honors to the flag, I was too excited to wait, and I didn’t have the time to. I broke one of the cardinal rules of dating and Facebook-messaged Dallas at what was basically the first possible moment, witnessing the rising sun while standing beneath a 30-foot American flag and tapping away at my iPhone, inviting her to see a movie at my place and hang out again.

About six hours later she woke up, read my message, and said yes.

The rest, as they say, is history.

How’s that for love at first sight?

Standing at the spot we first kissed about a month after we met.

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