In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.
Do you remember the first time you fell in love? It is this indescribable feeling that takes over your body without warning. The lucky ones get to experience this feeling more than once in their lifetime. Regardless, if this feeling lasted for forever or just for a moment, we will always remember the person who made us feel this way. When you experience love, yes we are physically attracted to that person, but it's deeper than that. Love is about accepting someone for who they are on the inside and wanting to share your life with them.
On June 2, 2019, I was honored to witness two people devote their lives to each other because of that indescribable feeling. I was able to see my sister, Calina Kimbrough, marry the love of her life. As Calina exchanged her vows to the woman that became everything she needed and more, it was a perfect moment to see what true black love looks like and feels like. Before this moment, things actually moved a little faster for my sister and her now-wife, Rennetta Kimbrough.
Calina and Rennetta met at a nightclub six months before they became engaged to be married. Calina spotted Rennetta across the dance floor and knew she wanted to learn more about her. With the power of using her best wing woman, Calina asked her friend to see if Rennetta was single. After they connected and Rennetta walked Calina to her car that night, it was only right for Calina to return the favor by taking her hand in marriage and later walking down the aisle.
Courtesy of Calina and Rennetta
After being married for three years, Calina and Rennetta have created a successful life for themselves and their children. They started a clothing business together called LiXX Clothing and plan to expand this business in order to leave a legacy for their family. When it comes to keeping the love alive, Calina and Rennetta have learned that it is about showing up for one another and working together as a team. Showing up can mean different things to different people, but for Calina and Rennetta, it is about lessening the load for one another and communicating openly and honestly.
Love will always have its ebbs and flows, but when you are able to navigate through it with the person that gave you that feeling, any couple will tell you it's worth it. Calina and Rennetta continue to pour the love they have for each other into their new family. They have been able to set an example and display what love really looks like.
In this installment of xoNecole's "Our First Year", Calina and Rennetta share how love is about supporting each other, navigating through the good and bad, and valuing the importance of family. Here's their story:
How We Met
Netta: We both happened to be at this club called Taste. Calina was looking at me and actually sent her friend over to try and talk to me. I told the friend that if Calina wanted to talk to me, then she had to talk to me (laughs). But then after that, I didn't see her in the club for a little while and I got kind of worried. But she came back to the club and we finally spoke to each other. After that, I walked her to her car and it's been us since then.
Calina: So that night, I was persuaded to go out with my friends. I had no intention of trying to meet someone that night because I was completely fine with being single. It was my first time being at this club and I noticed Netta at the bar with one of her friends. I did ask my friend to go over to Netta and ask her if she was single. When my friend came back with Netta's message, I honestly got nervous. I felt Netta was out of my league so I basically left to walk around to ponder about the situation and to see if Netta would still be there once I got back (laughs). But I came back and Netta actually walked up to me. So we started talking, she walked me to my car, and yes we have not left each other's side since.
"I felt Netta was out of my league so I basically left to walk around to ponder about the situation and to see if Netta would still be there once I got back. But I came back and Netta actually walked up to me. So we started talking, she walked me to my car, and yes we have not left each other's side since."
Calina: So my initial thought when I saw Netta was that I like the way she dresses. I have always been attracted to her style and her confidence. Her confidence exudes from out of nowhere and she doesn't try too hard. After I got to know her and within those first couple of weeks, I thought she was pretty cool. But she was trying to play hard to get and I didn't like that (laughs).
Netta: At first I thought Calina was really shy. But I noticed her stance and that is what initially made me want to approach her. She is ultimately very beautiful. She is very smart and I love this woman.
Netta: I love Calina's intelligence. I don't think she gives herself enough credit for how smart she is. She's my beauty and my brains.
Calina: I love Netta's passion for family. Family is something that I look for in the people I date because I am very close with my family. Netta is always keeping family first in mind and she makes sure that our home is straight before anything. I truly appreciate and admire that about her.
The Big Day
Calina: One thing I remember about my wedding day was how calm I was. Normally, I have very high anxiety. I am usually overthinking and trying to fix things when I am super anxious. Mind you, on our wedding day, nothing went right (laughs). My favorite part of the wedding was when my dad gave me away to my son and then my son gave me away to Netta. That moment was something I pictured in my head over and over again. The fact that my father was eager to get me down the aisle and then seeing my son being happy to be a part of the wedding is something I hold dear to my heart.
Netta: I remember seeing her at the back of the room before she was going to walk down the aisle. I cried like a baby (laughs). She looked so beautiful. I was definitely nervous and I am usually not a nervous person. But at that moment, when Calina was down the aisle I thought to myself, 'This is it. No take backs!' (laughs).
"I remember seeing her at the back of the room before she was going to walk down the aisle. I cried like a baby. She looked so beautiful."
Courtesy of Calina and Rennetta
Netta: Calina is very different from any other woman I have ever dated. We would have real conversations about anything and I liked that we could do that together. I also felt like Calina was "put away". What I mean is, she wasn't mixed in any of the crowds that I was a part of and that made her sacred to me. I also think she was a saving grace after losing my mother. My mother passed on the 10th and I met Calina on the 10th. Everything just lined up and I just knew she was the one.
Calina: I am very much big into the kids. One thing that she had above other people that I've dated, is that she knows what it means to be a mom. Netta has three daughters and when she mentioned that when we were getting to know each other, that was a green flag for me. But more importantly, I needed to know if Netta knew how to be a parent. There was this moment when my son and I were at Netta's house. My son needed something and my son and her were having this conversation without me. I really needed to see that my son is OK with whomever I bring into my life without me needing to be present. I needed to see that someone is going to care for him the same way I care for him.
Calina: I wouldn't say there was a key defining moment for when I knew I wanted to take the next step into marriage. I will say that everything happened so quickly for us. We were dating almost six months before she proposed. But everything that happened within those six months was very pivotal for me. We were able to try different things and see if we could really blend our lives together in the smallest ways. So by the time the proposal happened, even though I wasn't expecting it at all, it was very reassuring to me. Usually I am the one that is ready to take the next step, waiting on the other person to be ready. But this time, it was the other way around.
Netta: I know that we took a trip to Louisville together and I don't know, something happened with us down there. I don't know what she did to me, but that day, I remember telling my sister that it may be time for me to take the next step. We were in the mall and we walked into the jewelry store. Calina spotted her eye on this ring. After she walked out, I dropped money on the ring right then and there. I can't explain what kind of power Calina has over me, but she got me (laughs).
Netta: My biggest fear was failing. I have seen so many failed marriages firsthand and that really affected me. I didn't want to fall into that category like everybody else. What has helped me get over that fear is that each year Calina and I prove that we can make it through anything together. Even if we have a disagreement, we always come back and work out our issues.
Calina: My biggest fear was being exposed. I have done very well keeping a wall up for the majority of my life. So being completely vulnerable and open to someone scared me. I thought that I was being open enough with her when we were dating. But in marriage, it is a whole other level. However, when I have slowly opened up to Netta more, she has proven that she is going to love me through it all. She may not agree with everything or accept everything I say initially. But she is willing to work through things with me and be beside me regardless.
"My biggest fear was failing. I have seen so many failed marriages firsthand and that really affected me. I didn't want to fall into that category like everybody else. What has helped me get over that fear is that each year Calina and I prove that we can make it through anything together."
Calina: I wouldn't say the kids were a challenge, but it ebbed and flowed. I know at one point I'm their favorite person and then the next, I'm not. I think that's just parenting in general (laughs). But for me, those questions like, "Are you going to stay?" or "Are you going to make my mom happy?" were definitely questions we had to work through and I make sure I reassure the kids all the time.
Netta: For me, my challenge was not knowing everything about Calina. There were certain things that I had to find out later about her. It was mainly because I didn't feel prepared to help support her with her struggles or at least learn how to support her. I don't want to say it was because of a lack of communication. But to her point about her fear of exposure. It definitely played a part in the beginning of our marriage.
Courtesy of Calina and Rennetta
Netta: I want to say communication. If we do not talk to each other, everything goes downhill. It's important for us to talk to each other about if we are in a good mood and especially if we are in a bad mood. That is the biggest thing for me.
Calina: I think an important lesson is to make sure you do not lose yourself in the other person. I have done that plenty of times before and even in my marriage. Netta has definitely been my mirror. She has reminded me that I need to establish who I am outside of being a wife and doing things that make me happy at the end of the day.
"Netta has definitely been my mirror. She has reminded me that I need to establish who I am outside of being a wife and doing things that make me happy at the end of the day."
Calina: I like to show up for Netta by realizing how I can support her. How can I lighten the load for her when she is stressed or when she needs to just take a breath. That is how I like to insert myself. Now Netta would agree that sometimes I don't just lighten the load, I take the whole thing (laughs). But then that's not good, so I am definitely working on that. But yes, just reassuring her that I appreciate her and that I am here to be a true partner/teammate.
Netta: I am very protective of Calina. I always try to make sure that no harm comes to her and take the load off of her as well, when I see her juggling so many things. I also like to make her laugh when I see her in a bad mood. I try to brighten her day the best way I can.
Calina: I would love to say the ultimate goal is til' death do us part. I want us to be a strong example of black love. Not lesbian love, but black love period. I feel like that growing up for me, I was shown the example of what a healthy union looks like. So being the exception of everyone and showing how true love works in a marriage is a good common goal for me.
Netta: I agree with her. But I also want to add that I want us to take our business to another level. I want us to leave a legacy for our children.
For more of Calina and Rennetta, follow them on Instagram @only1_sereniti and @baklikinevaleft.
Featured image courtesy of Calina and Rennetta
'K' is a multi-hyphenated free spirit from Chicago. She is a lover of stories and the people who tell them. As a writer, 9-5er, and Safe Space Curator, she values creating the life she wants and enjoying the journey along the way. You can follow her on Instagram @theletter__k_.
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Sabrina Dhowre Elba Admits To Not Initially Knowing Who Idris Elba Was When They Met
Model and entrepreneur Sabrina Elba recently recalled the intimate moments surrounding the fateful day she first encountered her husband, Idris Elba.
The couple, who have been together since 2017, met at a jazz bar in Vancouver when Idris was working on his film Mountain Between Us. Years later, in April 2019, following a whirlwind romance, Sabrina and Idris would tie the knot in Morocco.
Since then, the pair's love story has become "couple goals" among many for various reasons. The list includes the numerous times Sabrina and Idris have showcased their love on social media. Another factor contributing to the duo's likability is that Sabrina and Idris have displayed over the years that being with the right partner can elevate one's career or passion in life.
Sabrina and Idris have collaborated professionally in several businesses, including their Coupledom podcast and skincare brand S'Able Labs. In a June interview on Jemele Hill's Unbothered podcast, the 34-year-old opened up about the events leading up to when she met Idris and how she initially didn't know who he was.
Sabrina on Meeting Idris
Sabrina, who was living in Vancouver at the time, said that the same night Idris was in town, she went out to a jazz bar for an event called Slow Jam Sunday for a friend’s birthday.
Around that time, the model was getting over a breakup and claimed she wasn't interested in a relationship because of how badly her previous one ended. In a past interview, Idris revealed that he, too, just went through a breakup before meeting Sabrina.
"This is so funny. I [had] just gotten out of a really bad relationship, so I was not this person. I was like 'men are trash. They suck.' I'm literally ready to switch it on up or something because I was so over it," she said. "I come to this party with a night off at work that I prebooked because I was working literally every weekend. But it was my girlfriend's birthday party, so I was there kind of by chance."
Sabrina also revealed that, coincidently, the night she took off for her friend's birthday celebration was the same night Idris had the day off and was convinced by his stunt double to attend Slow Jam Sunday.
"Slow Jam Sundays is an amazing night in Vancouver. It's the one night I would probably go to, but you wouldn't see me out often because I was a weekend worker. I was working at restaurants and service industry, your weekends are taken up," she stated.
"Idris was filming this film in Vancouver and had one night off in Vancouver because most of it was filmed sort of up north in the mountains. His stunt double convinced him to go to Slow Jam Sundays. By chance, we were both there."
Further into the interview, Sabrina disclosed that her friend was interested in Idris at first and went to flirt with him. However, the Daddy's Little Girls star dismissed the friend's advances because Sabrina had caught his eye.
When Sabrina's friend informed her about what happened, she admitted that although she tried to put up a front for her friend's sake, the S'Able Labs CEO was happy because she thought he was also attractive. Following the discussion, Sabrina and her friend went to the section where Idris was, and the couple realized how much they had in common, from the music choices to their background.
"So I go over, and we have like one of those conversations that you just feel like you've known this person for ten years because we're singing the same songs. When a song comes on that I love, he's like, 'I love this song.' I'm like, 'what?' Like I just had this like cultural connection. He's African. I'm like,' Where are you from?'" she said.
Sabrina On Not Knowing Who Idris Was After Meeting Him
As the topic shifted to Idris' celebrity status, Sabrina explained that she didn't know who he was until after it was brought to her attention by a few people she met outside of the bar.
"When I went outside, I realized because there's a group of people there, they're like, 'Oh, you're talking to Idris Elba,'" she stated.
When asked about how well-known the actor was when they met, Sabrina shared that Idris was widely famous in America but not so much in Canada and that the one film she saw him in was the 2009 thriller Obsessed.
Sabrina would add that even after being told who Idris was, she couldn't recollect where she knew him from until her friends mentioned the movie.
"Well, so the film that I had seen was Obsessed... I feel Idris Elba now he gets recognized so much. In that moment, unless you were kind of in that zeitgeist, he was definitely a lot more popular in America," she said. "I don't think I would've known it even when they said that was him. I was trying to remember, like, my friends were like, 'yeah, he's from Obsessed.' We're like, 'Oh, yeah.'"
After figuring out who Idris was, Sabrina shared that when she re-entered the venue, she doubted a relationship would form between them given his occupation, the short timeline he would be there to shoot his movie, and the constant temptation that could flock around him due to his status. But despite Sabrina's uncertainty, they would exchange numbers before she left.
"So I went back inside, we started chatting some more, and he was like, 'Let me take your number.' I was like, 'Alright,' and then I left," she stated.
The model explained the reason why she left the event was that her friend, whose birthday she was celebrating, wanted to check out other spots. When the night was coming to an end, Sabrina hailed a taxi to go home when she received a phone call from Idris. The entrepreneur revealed that the Takers star stopped her from entering the cab and urged her to get in the car he was driving, and they spent the whole night talking until 8 a.m.
"I got in his car, and we spoke till like 8 a.m. easy. It was probably like 2 [a.m.] at that time. We just had the most intense, amazing conversation," she said. "It was the first time I ever connected with someone to the point where I was like, I went home the next day called my friends, I was like, 'I think I found my soulmate.'"
Sabrina revealed that from that fateful night, she and Idris became inseparable. The couple would be long-distance for a brief stint of their union until they acknowledged how difficult it was to maintain that type of relationship. Sabrina ultimately decided to move in with Idris although she was skeptical at first, she claimed it was one of the best decisions she's made because she found her "soulmate."
Sabrina Elba's First Night with Idris Elba Sounds Like a Romance MovieModel and philanthropist Sabrina Elba joins Jemele to discuss her marriage to actor Idris Elba, and their heartwarming, love at first sight origin story.SUBS...
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Feature image by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Space NK