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How do you know when you’ve found ‘the one?’ As we get older, we realize that finding our soulmate is not as easy as it seems on TV and in movies. However, there are always stories we come across that remind us that true love exists.
One of the joys I experience being a writer is hearing good stories, and what better tale than a love story? I had the privilege of interviewing two black men, and we discussed the idea finding ‘the one.’
Derrell & Yari 
How did you meet your fiancée? 

In the early spring of 2016, Yari slid into my DMs when she noticed I hadn’t swiped right on (the dating app) Bumble. At the time, I was dating another woman and [luckily] my dating profile existed – along with my Instagram handle in its description – though I did not have the app installed on my phone. Yari’s message came a month before me and the woman I was seeing parted ways. A month later is when I replied, asking Yari to forgive me and my silence and if the offer for a drink and conversation had expired. It had not! Now, we are here: madly in love, planning a wedding and talking about future baby Derrella’s and Yarell’s.
How long did you two initially date? 
We dated 2 1/2 years before I proposed.
Who were your biggest influences in regards to love, dating, and relationships? 
This is a tough question, because there are multiple parties responsible. My parents taught me how to love by example because I was exposed to their marriage as well as their nurture as their son. Their love was selfless, limitless, warm, authoritative at times, but always in my best interest.
My practice of intimate love and dating comes from dating past women. This taught me what I wanted and didn’t want in a partner, how to seek and cherish companionship, and at times how to be alone and how to be okay with being alone. It taught me the pain of heartbreak and responsibility of communicating and most importantly the necessity of vulnerability and how to protect vs. exploit it.
My practice of faith and my personal relationship with God taught me how to practice self love and spiritual love from a young age. My understanding of God and curiosity of how other faiths receive God taught me the diversity, ambiguity and vastness of love. This informs the value of love I give to myself and others.
I’d say, my understanding of Love is influenced by the collective of experiences with love and the ways in which I gave and was given it. These interactions taught me how to receive, process and reciprocate that love to Yari. As we grow, we continue to learn how to be each others’ nurturer, lover and protector, which I learned from family, past lovers and God – they taught me how to love and have made me who I am now. That’s a lot of words. The End.
What has your relationship taught you? 

My relationship has taught me to always tell the truth because – like my mother – Yari knows everything even if I don’t know she knows. But the fact that I know that she knows, I’ll always know to tell the truth, because she will always know the truth even when I think she doesn’t.
Which brings me to the next thing my relationship has taught me: Always seek peace. It’s more peaceful to do right. Just do that.
She’s also taught me the emotions and sensitivity that come with being a Cancer man, so I am well aware of how philosophical these answers sound and I am at peace with that because I’m soft and gooey beneath this shell.
How did you propose? 
Yari was away two weeks for work. The day she left, I picked up the ring and stashed it in a hiding place. One week later, I flew to LA to film a food show. I landed back in NYC on the morning of 9/22/2018 and immediately called her mother to get approval of my proposal. I was home by 8:38am, grabbed the ring, went to her mom’s spot, flipped open the box, and my beautiful mother-in-law tried on the ring (while whispering something endearing in Spanish). She accepted my offer to take her daughter’s hand in marriage, and a long hug was shared before I left the room. I then hopped on the bike, hid the ring in its hiding place and went to perform my weekly food show at Bed Bath & Beyond. I was home by 5:45pm when I saw messages from Yari: “Hey my flight landed. On my way home.  Three mins away.” I then thought to myself – while standing in my drawers, eating grapes in the kitchen – “We haven’t seen each other in two weeks. When will we miss each other this much again?” I then ran into the room and grabbed the ring. She walked through the door seconds later and on cue said, “Hey babe, it’s me. Your future baby mother, and future wife”. Not yet realizing the prophecy of her words, she dropped her bags off and came into the kitchen, where I was, in my drawers, on a knee holding the ring. She cried a lot then we went to dinner. It was night time, but I was forced to take pictures of her holding her hand up to any and every light source we could find.
When did you know that you were in love? 
By the second date I knew I would marry Yari. We’d gone to the McKittrick Hotel to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and I’ll always remember the way she moved: like a smooth medley of Shakira and Mary J. Blige. She was so organically fly and confident that every twist she made looked good. Imagine the illest Moonwalk you’ve ever seen, but that was just her regular walk. I swear she was floating that night, twirling in circles with a spotlight just on her. Had me open like a book. I had never met anyone like her and was sure from previous relationships that I never would again. That night I saw her float like the goddess she is (which influenced her green ring) and that’s when the love flower began to bud.
What are your thoughts on ‘the one?’ How did you know you had found yours? 
I prayed for Yari. It’s etched inside her ring.
Prior to her, I felt I’d learned what I needed to learn about love and was ready to commit to It full time. So I got on my knees, prayed for guidance and wisdom, then went out and looked for It. I put myself on apps, went on dates, dated women for a few months, and along the way learned what I wanted and didn’t want in a partner. I also learned how bad of a communicator I was and became aware of the protective shell I hid in during moments of discomfort in past relationships.
I knew Yari was special, because I went out of my way to make sure she knew how ready and prepared I was for her. I went out my way to over-communicate in ways I hadn’t in the past and stayed present in situations where I had previously reduced to my shell. I listened to her needs and was consistent in nurturing them. She did the same. And, staying consistent with the theme of God and love being synonymous, I knew Yari was the one because I saw God in her. She made me feel every form of Love I’d ever known…and some. She is my direct line to the source, in the flesh. Our Love is spiritual. Our lights our equally brilliant. That is how I feel, and what others see. That’s how “The One” makes you feel.
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