Kelli and Jim are our newest couple feature on the blog. When you speak to them, it is like you have known them forever. I hope you enjoy reading about their journey.
What are your names?
K: My name is Kelli, and my husband is James.
J: I usually go by Jim.
What are your cultural/ethnic backgrounds?
I am of Bahamian descent (with southern roots), he is Irish (mostly) and English.
How did you meet?
I met my husband through an ad I put in the NY Daily News. This was in March of 1992. I was 18, he was 28.
I chose him out of about 60 men because when I retrieved the messages, he was one of the few that seemed sincere. The men who reached out were anywhere from 19 – 56 years of age. I figured, I told you a little about myself, they should do the same. Most of them just left a name, age, their phone number so I could call them.
When I first met James, I really was not interested in being his girlfriend because of the age difference. We talked on the phone for about a week, and went on our first date a week later. He almost stood me up because he couldn’t find my address. We only lived about 7 miles from each other, but he . He almost did not ask me out on a 2nd date because of the way our date ended.
Our first date lasted about 6 hours. We went to a movie (My Cousin Vinnie), a diner for lunch & bowling afterwards. A snowstorm started when he was taking me home. It was the first day of spring, so we were not expecting it. He flattened his tire and thought the date was ruined. I got out the car to watch and tried to help out. He dropped me off and called me to tell me he got home safe.
I told I enjoyed my date and he asked me out on a second one. I did tell him I had other dates throughout the week. He was disappointed to hear that, but I went out on a second date with him. He asked me to be his girlfriend then. I said, “Yes.”
Did either of you find the dating process challenging?
I did not find the dating process that challenging. I’m glad I weeded out the men who were not serious. One guy I went out with, before Jim, wanted to make out on the first date. I was not attracted to him though. I later found out that he was married. Also, the guy I dated before Jim, smoked, which was a dealbreaker for me.
Jim, on the other hand, did find it challenging. Most of the women he went out with would tell him, “You are a nice guy and all, but you’re not my type.” He says he picked up one of his dates and she was really uptight for whatever reason. This was from white women he dated. He did have 2 other black girlfriends before me.
Given the current political climate, was dating interracially challenging? Did you find that your political leanings were a barrier at all?
As far as political views, I am independent or moderate. I always have been, but I lean conservative. He was conservative, but now he’s moderate. At the time we did have disagreements about politics, so we agreed not to talk about them.
For the lady, did you ever find that you had a dry spell in the dating process? If so, how did you get yourself out there again?
I did not start dating until I was 18, mainly because of where I lived. There was an epidemic of teen moms and I did not want to become one. Also, I lived in one of the worst & dangerous areas in Brooklyn, New York. The guys in my area were worse than trash. I put my ad in the paper for the fun of it because wherever I went, I could not find anyone suitable for me. Whether it was the library, the movies, the museum, you name it, I could not find anyone. If I did find someone I could connect with, they did not notice me.
For the lady, do you feel that your skin tone made it challenging to date as a whole? If so, how did you overcome that?
I am not sure about my skin tone because I have a medium complexion. I do not think that made a difference. I think it was challenging because of my shyness and low self esteem. Also, I am short (5’2) and this might have been an issue. Jim even told me he preferred a woman that was taller, as he’s 6’3. I was not toned, but I was thin when I met him. I just started overcoming my shyness and I am almost 46. As far as my self esteem, it still needs some work, but nowhere as low as it was.
Where are you now in your relationship?
We have been married for 26 years, and celebrated our anniversary in July. We also have a 25-year-old daughter.
When did you know it was going somewhere?
I knew this relationship was going somewhere after the second date. I also found out recently, from my mother-in-law, that I was the only woman he bought to meet her, ever. Jim told me that by the time he was 30, he wanted to be married and have a family. I did not mind being married young because I felt there were not any viable men out there. He asked me to marry me after he got promoted at work. I got pregnant shortly after that.
Do you feel that your location is really welcoming of interracial couples?
When we first got married, we lived in Brooklyn. At the time, I did not believe it was very welcoming. We did not see many interracial couples at all. I got stares and glares from black women, surprisingly. Black men would either point and laugh or say nothing. I think white men and women were afraid to look or say something.
We moved to New Jersey in 1998. Our neighborhood is mostly Asian. Where we live, and in the surrounding communities, there are a lot of interracial couples. My daughter actually knew a lot of biracial kids growing up. I heard NYC is now one of the best places to be an interracial couple in. I believe that interracial couples are welcomed here.
What is your ideal date?
Our ideal date is dinner and a show, like a comedy, concert or a play. Sometimes we enjoy other activities, like a picnic lunch or a walk in the park. A day at a museum is also ideal. We used to like movies, but not so much anymore. The last movie we went to was great.
I am an old school wrestling fan, so we went to see “The Resurrection of Jake the Snake Roberts.” It had a question and answer period at the end with him, two other wrestlers and the producer of the movie. There was an autograph session at the end where I walked up to Jake. He just grabbed me and hugged me, while thanking me for supporting him. There is a picture of us somewhere on my facebook page and in my stories.
What is the best thing that you like about each other?
K: I like his smile and how he makes me laugh. I love when he is affectionate towards me. J: I like her dark humor, her personality, her smile and her tiny dark dainty hands, for some reason.
What is the best part about being together?
Kelli: The best thing about being together is enjoying each other’s company.
Jim: Shocking the hell out of people.
What is your favourite shared memory?
Our favorite shared memory is when we went to New Orleans, twice with my family. Also, going to the Afropunk festival in 2013 was memorable as well.
I hope you enjoyed reading Kelli and Jim’s story. Of all of my interviews so far, this is the most unique meeting I have seen. I love that they have beautiful relationship now. Congratulations on 26 years! Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you are interested in participating in a couples feature, please leave a comment below, email me at [email protected], or connect with Christelyn Karazin.