We got so many responses from readers for the “Happy Couple” contest, but one stood out so much, and touched so many that it really wasn’t hard for us to come up with our first winners. I’m attaching it again below just in case you missed it, but I warn you–you’ll need some tissues.
Congrats to Jim and Annette, the winners of the contest and recipients of the $100 Visa Gift Card!
Being a closet reader of “Beyond Black and White” for almost 8 months, I finally feel compelled to write and share my story. I am a white male raised in an upper middle class small southern town. I was brought up with traditional values of respect for others and to always “mind my manners”. Keeping with tradition, I married a hometown girl. By the time I was 49 years old however, my wife and I divorced. Rarely does life travel a straight road, and we are all subject to many twist and turns as well as a few reversals. This was mine.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for when I went on a dating website for singles 50 and over. As I was perusing the many profiles that were offered, I found one of a beautiful black woman riding a camel (of all things!). Aha! This girl has a sense of adventure! Her other profile picture had her under a large sun hat with the most gorgeous smile I had ever seen. I had never dated a black woman before. I have always been attracted to women of different ethnic backgrounds, but never really thought any would be interested in an ordinary white man like me.
Having nothing to lose online, I promptly sent her a message and asked about her camel riding experience. To my surprise she responded! We began chatting through the website. Through our conversations I discovered we had the same sense of humor and shared many of the same life values. I found her to be well traveled, highly intelligent, beautiful, spirited and above all, adventurous! She was everything I could have dreamed of in a woman. Three weeks later we went out; meeting at a Chinese restaurant. The date was a great first date! We spent the evening getting to know each other, sharing food, poetry, and lots of laughter. Afterwards, we went for a walk and shared chocolate chip ice cream on the warm summer evening. I knew she was special. As time went by, we would share dinners, movies, and adventures like hiking, kayaking, and ziplining together. My feelings were growing stronger, and one evening, I asked her if she would consider me as a candidate for her boyfriend. Much to my sorrow, she told me that she was not really in the market for a boyfriend at that time. She said I was a wonderful man, and would make a great boyfriend for someone. She even offered to set me up with one of her friends!
Time passed, and even though we were both dating other people, our friendship deepened. She was seeing a retired NBA basketball player. He was tall, dark, handsome and financially well off. She had admitted that she was really looking for her IBM (Ideal Black Man) and dating a white man was just “not as easy”. She was looking for the magic in a relationship and wasn’t going to settle for anything less. Nevertheless, our friendship continued to grow. She shared her perspective, experiences and world with me. It blew me away. I consider myself to be a smart man, but through our conversations I was ushered into a whole new world. She told me of the jobs, apartments, and promotions she didn’t get because of her color. She told me of slurs, name calling, and all the generalizations that some people make because she is woman of color. My heart sank as I heard her stories. She had so many reasons to be bitter about how people treated her in the past, but she never was. How could such an intelligent (she’s working on her second Master’s), beautiful woman be treated like this? Why can they not see her as the person I see? Her strength of character and forgiveness left me in awe. (As it still does!)
On Christmas evening we met as friends to exchange gifts. As we talked, she said she needed to share something with me. She asked if I would be interested in a relationship with her. I was shocked! We talked of many things. She told me after she had prayed; she knew the magic she was looking for was right in front of her if she just opened her eyes. I was speechless. I knew I could never be her IBM, and I was afraid that at some point my ethnicity would come into play. She said she realized that her ideal man didn’t have to come in a particular color. Her ideal man was what was on the inside, not on the outside. She took a leap of faith. Then so did I.
On the evening of December 25, 2013, I kissed Annette for the first time. Five months of friendship was now developing into something special. I was kissing my best friend.
Since then our relationship has blossomed into the beautiful flower it has become. Being in an inter-racial relationship for the first time in my life I have learned so much about her reality and about myself. She’s helped me grow in more ways then I thought was possible. To show her how thankful I was for all she has brought into my life I wanted her to see herself through my eyes. I bought a journal and wrote on every page what she means to me. Over the course of four months I wrote each day about a different quality that I admired. I wrote about her beauty, character, charm, intelligence, and the respect that I have for her. I wrote about her quirky sense of humor, what I thought her theme song should be (“Wonderful One” by Marvelous Marvin Gaye) and the future we could share together. When it was finished, I gave it to her and she cried as she read it. She said it was one of the most thoughtful gifts she’d ever received. Since I’ve met Annette I have never been happier. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I cannot imagine my life without her. I do my best everyday to love, honor, cherish, and respect the woman that she is.
Just recently we completed a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon (almost 30 miles) and lo and behold my friend did an article on the hike with our picture together on the front page of the local paper!
I hope that others can learn something from my story. Love is about character and compatibility. It’s about the joy each of you can bring into each others lives. It’s about the synergy where two people are greater together than they are separate. It is about the future that you want for yourself. It is about the goals you have in common, the sharing, and the desire to become a better person for the sake of another. Happiness, I believe, comes in all colors. And this, by far, has been one of the greatest adventures of my life!
Originally posted here.