How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
We have all heard of love at first sight. But with technology taking the lead in how we interact with each other, "first sight" can mean an IG profile photo or a swipe on a dating app. Whatever your preference is with finding the one, when you get that gut feeling, everything else will fall in line. When it came to bringing together now-engaged couple, Jameila and Brooklyn, all it took was a FaceTime call. So should we say, love at first FaceTime for this modern day love story? I think it has a nice ring to it.
Even when sparks were flying between the couple, it wasn't until moving across the country was when Jameila and Brooklyn realized that their feelings for each other were real. Brooklyn mentions, "When I first saw Jameila, I remember telling a group of friends in a group chat, that in another life, I would marry Jameila and we would have four children. So when the opportunity presented itself when we both were single, I was already planning to make her my girl."
After three years of dating, Jameila and Brooklyn believe in following those gut feelings and setting intentions behind them when it comes to love. Paying attention to your partner's needs and working together to make sure you show your love in different ways is how their love story became a success after one unexpected phone call. In this installment of xoNecole's How We Met, the dancer and strategy director walk us through their beginning, their courtship, and their commitment to take on the world together.
Courtesy of Jameila Cartman
How We Met
Brooklyn: We actually met each other via FaceTime in 2013 through one of our mutual friends. I was on FaceTime with my friend and I saw Jameila walking in the background. My initial thought when I saw her was, 'Oh my God, who is that?' There was just this natural radiance of beauty that attracted me to her when I first saw her. But nothing really happened until we finally met in person in 2016, when I was moving to Atlanta.
Jameila: My friend and I were on tour for The Color Purple for two years, so it happened multiple times where my friend would call him and they would be on FaceTime together. But in 2016, we met in person at his going away party in Chicago, before he moved to Atlanta. At the time, we were both in relationships. So we just stayed friends. Then, I moved to Atlanta a year later. I actually initiated us hanging out in Atlanta via Snapchat after I moved because I didn't know a lot of people out there. I didn't see us hanging out as a way to get intimate or anything though.
Jameila: So before I say this, we both disagree on what our first date was (laughs). For me, my first date with Brooklyn was when we went to this taco spot by his place. We started to really talk about each other's history and got to know each other better. We had already been hanging out before then, but I don't consider anything before that an actual date (laughs).
Brooklyn: In Atlanta, my apartment building was on top of this sushi restaurant. I remember her coming by and we decided to go have sushi. We were chilling and talking like good friends would do. But in the back of my head, I was already planning to make her my girl (laughs).
Jameila: Let me just say, Brooklyn is a very special man (laughs). He knew that I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and wasn't trying to jump back into another one so soon. But Brooklyn definitely was courting me and letting me know that he could be an option (laughs). He has done so many things for me even though we were not together. One thing he did for me was plan my 25th birthday party back in Chicago.
That following weekend, I had planned to visit this other guy I was talking to who lived in Missouri. Brooklyn even drove me to the airport to see the other guy, girl (laughs). When I was in Missouri, I honestly could not stop thinking about Brooklyn. The Missouri guy was actually a really great guy, so it wasn't even like that. But I just couldn't help myself with contacting Brooklyn. So that's when I knew. And literally when I got back, two days later Brooklyn and I got into a relationship.
Brooklyn: For me, the moment was a weekend I spent with her. For background, her mom stayed in Georgia, but far away from the city. With Jameila being a dancer, she would get out of dance class late sometimes. So because her mom didn't want her trying to rush home at 1 a.m., she started pushing for Jameila to spend the night at my place since I stayed in Midtown. So that one weekend with Jameila, I just noticed that being with her was different for me. I usually can be irritated with other people, but with Jameila I wasn't. I could spend hours and hours with her and it made me think, I could spend the rest of my life with this woman.
"I just noticed that being with her was different for me. I usually can be irritated with other people, but with Jameila I wasn't. I could spend hours and hours with her and it made me think, I could spend the rest of my life with this woman."
Courtesy of Jameila Cartman
Jameila: My favorite thing about Brooklyn is his attentiveness. Brooklyn is able to notice everything. I remember he would rub my legs after dance class, or he knows I'm a foodie so he is always making sure I've eaten. He is just really good at making sure he supports me any way that he can and I really appreciate that.
Brooklyn: I would go with her heart. She is legitimately a good person and it makes me think about how much of an asshole I can be at times. That's what I need. Being a Virgo, I can be better at being logical than being emotional. So she brings me back home and reminds me that we are all humans and not robots.
Brooklyn: I started plotting when I was going to propose to her when we decided to move to Los Angeles. After everything we have been through, I told myself if I am moving this woman across the country, I better make it a point in making her my wife. I proposed in December 2019 and I was putting things in motion around September/October. On my 29th birthday, I bought the engagement ring and made the arrangements for the location later on.
I started working with our good friend Dallas to set everything up. We made it seem as though she was going to dance for a concept video. And then, I would pop up out of nowhere and propose. I wanted to surprise her in a way where it spoke to how much I loved her, but because she is a dancer, we could use this piece as a way to advertise her dancing skills too.
Jameila: So for me, the day already started off weird (laughs). Even when Dallas told me about the concept beforehand, I thought it was weird too (laughs). I didn't even think it would turn into my proposal. But that morning, Dallas told me I had to get my nails done. Again, weird (laughs). So after that, we drive up to this beautiful house and we were waiting on the videographer.
While we were waiting, Dallas tells me that we only had one take to shoot the video, so we had to get the dance down right. We do the take and after we finished dancing, everyone is just standing around smiling. I'm just looking around confused and then I see Brooklyn come down the stairs. It was beautiful.
"I wanted to surprise her in a way where it spoke to how much I loved her, but because she is a dancer, we could use this piece as a way to advertise her dancing skills too."
Jameila: I would say sacrifice [has been my biggest lesson]. When it comes to love, I didn't realize how much you may have to sacrifice or compromise in a relationship. There is a lot of give and take. I think we both are pretty aligned with most things, but there have been little things we sacrificed for one another.
Brooklyn: Mine is going to be communication. I wouldn't say we argue, but we have had our disagreements. It's important that when you are trying to meet the needs of your partner and vice versa, it could all go smoothly by just having a conversation. Even if you talk about how something made you upset in the moment or something that made you feel happy. Instead of creating a narrative of your own, which I am guilty of, communicating with one another solves so many things.
Jameila: Moving away from my family was hard for me. It took a toll on our relationship where I felt I needed more time with Brooklyn since I was missing spending time with my family. We had to have a couple conversations around what was on his plate with the new job and everything, while finding that balance with spending quality time together.
Brooklyn: I would say with the pandemic and still learning how to effectively communicate with each other, last year during the holiday season was one of the toughest. But now we try to be as honest as possible when we are stressed about certain things and try to find a solution instead of making a situation bigger than it actually is.
Jameila: My top love language is quality time and physical touch. Brooklyn and I decided to be celibate until the wedding. So we came up with this thing called date wars to increase that non-physical intimacy for each other. We basically compete with each other on who can create the better date (laughs). I think adding these 'wars' was huge for me because there is so much thought and effort that goes into it. Filling in those spaces where physical touch would be nice, with more engaging moments have been the best.
Brooklyn: One of my love languages is quality time too, but it definitely has been hard. While sex is great, I care more about that emotional connection. When we decided to be celibate, we became more and more best friends. Sex can cloud that sometimes and instead of releasing how we felt sexually, we are more intentional now with talking things through. I don't think our connection would have grown stronger like it has now, if we have continued to have sex.
"When we decided to be celibate, we became more and more best friends. Sex can cloud that sometimes and instead of releasing how we felt sexually, we are more intentional now with talking things through. I don't think our connection would have grown stronger like it has now, if we have continued to have sex."
Courtesy of Jameila Cartman
Brooklyn: If you plan on taking that step into marriage, make sure that that person is your forever person. There are going to be moments where people in society are going to make you feel like you are boxed into a situation that you are honestly not sure about. Fear can actually be a good thing leading into anticipation, but having doubts is a whole other thing. There is no set time frame when you will know if this person is the one for you, but be 100 percent sure you are ready before taking that step. Do not take anyone on that roller coaster, including yourself.
Jameila: Definitely go at your own pace. It is not up to society, or your parents, or your friends as far as what's best for you in your relationship. What works for you and your partner, do not question that. Be honest with the feelings both of you have towards each other in order to focus on each other better. Other people's opinions can really cloud your judgement on things.
For more of Jameila and Brooklyn, follow them on Instagram @j_dance and @the.blackgatsby. You can also follow their love story on their YouTube channel here.
Featured image courtesy of Jameila
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We all live for a good hot girl summer, and there's always a time and place for turning up, especially when on vacation. On the flip side, wellness is a priority for many Black millennial women. And you know, the older you get (hey, geriatric millennials!), the more you'll need a good turn down (via relaxation, meditation, and self-care) to match the turn up. On a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, I was able to enjoy the perfect itinerary for you to embrace both wellness and balance on your next trip to Mexico.
Puerto Vallarta, located on Mexico's Pacific Coast, is a key vacation hotspot for many who enjoy watersports, nature adventures, and nightlife. It's also home to The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta, a beautiful property nestled among the shade and serenity of 14 acres of palm trees and accented by a 410-foot private beach.
And after quite a bit of traveling that included more late, lit nights and early, groggy mornings than I care to admit, my recent visit to the resort was just what the doctor ordered. It's the perfect base for your Puerto Vallarta itinerary.
Photo by Bronwyn Knight/The Westin Resort & Spa
A Rustic, Tranquil Room Infused With Luxury
Located just five minutes from Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport, downtown Puerto Vallarta, and upscale shops in the marina district, The Westin is located central to all that makes the beach town a must-visit for anyone planning a trip to Mexico. You get the best of both worlds, with serenity just outside your suite doorstep and a bustling oceanfront community just a short walk or drive away.
This was important to me since I'd never been to Mexico before and really wanted to experience not only the beautiful landscapes, amazing food, and culture but be in a central location where I could get a diverse preview of what the region had to offer.
Courtesy of The Westin Resort & Spa
The true gem of this trip was my stay at The Westin, because, well, seeking balance and relief from constant travel was at the top of my priority list. From the moment I stepped into my suite, I was welcomed by the scent of white tea and the sticky cool breeze circulated by the palm trees---letting me know that rejuvenation was literally just around the corner.
I had a view of the pool and ocean on the 7th floor, allowing me the chance to catch the sunrise in the morning from my private patio. The warm earth tones in my room were offset by the colorful Santa Fe vibes of the resort's exterior buildings and artwork---a contrast I greatly enjoyed.
I also enjoyed amenities like the full-size soaking tub, open shower, marble vanity with more than enough counter space for all my toiletries, a plush robe, and branded slippers (which were offered in plastic). I especially enjoyed The Westin's signature "Heavenly Beds" with linens that were actually soft and relaxing and weren't tucked tight as a mummy's wrap. (Y'all know what I'm talking about. At some hotels, you literally wake up with leg cramps after fighting to get out of hard sheets in the morning, but not in this case.)
Good Eats... Whether Plant-Based Or Craving Mexican Flavors
The property has six main options for food, drinks, and snacks (along with your resident Starbucks), including three of my favorites: the Arrecifes Seafood & Steakhouse, El Palmar Restaurant, and La Cascada Restaurant & Bar.
Since this trip was all about balance and self-care, I especially loved the option of The Westin's "Eat Well" menu, which featured tasty dishes and plant-based options like the ensalada de salmon ahumado con quinoa (quinoa salad with smoked salmon), enchiladas de tofu (red or green tofu enchiladas), and the matcha hot cakes (matcha pancakes).
Guests can also choose the “Detox For a Better You” package (which includes special "detox menu" items like fresh juices and energizing shots) or the "Vitamin Sea, D + Me” package, which includes a healthy starter and poke bowl.
I also enjoyed a few Mexican-infused staples like the chicharron de rib eye (rib-eye chicharron appetizer), tacos (tacos, and more tacos), the huevos motuleños (sunny side up eggs in a delish ranchero sauce, served with plantains, refried beans, and potato wedges---a favorite Mexican breakfast of mine when I'm in the States) and the filete de dorado a la parrilla (a creamy fish dish with risotto and asparagus). Because, balance.
The 24-hour room service was amazing in that food service was actually available into the wee hours of the night and was prompt. And, of course, there were plenty of opportunities to enjoy a snack along with authentic tequila, a Modelo beer, a refreshing mocktail, or simply a carton of purified water by the pool or at the beach.
Photo by Bronwyn Knight/The Westin Resort & Spa
Seaside Yoga...For Even The Most Distracted Mind
Another high point of my visit was the early-morning seaside yoga session, where the two instructors guided us through an hour of meditation to the sounds of the ocean and their soundtrack of soothing chimes. I'd always fantasized about doing this after seeing people in movies enjoy outdoor group yoga sessions with the backdrop of paradise, and it was definitely worth it. While I often can't concentrate or stay in the positions long enough to really relax during a traditional yoga session (I'm more a HIIT or bootcamp type of girl), being among the natural elements in an environment that forced me to clear my mind and zone out a bit did the trick.
If yoga isn't really your thing when it comes to a deliberate activity of self-care, they have a workout studio where you can use cardio and weight-training equipment or enjoy tennis courts, cocktail/mocktail classes, and nearby golf courses.
Courtesy of The Westin Resort & Spa
The customized experience here took this spa experience up a notch. I wanted specific attention paid to my cramped hands (from lots of typing and computer work), my feet (from lots of walking through airports in the past three months), and my neck and back (where I hold most of my stress kinks). She did not disappoint.
I rarely rave about spas because oftentimes, even the "luxury" ones fall short for someone like me---who battles with anxiety and whose whole experience can be ruined by small details like a dirty mirror, slightly musty towels, or a masseuse who just doesn't have a good bedside manner. But at The Westin, each element fit like a well-coordinated dance of pampering. It was divine!
Every element of the experience complimented the other. The oil used wasn't sticky or greasy and smelled divine--- complementing the aromatherapy elements emanating through the room--- and the music matched the vibes. She didn't talk me to death or press too hard or too softly. I've been to spas where you can hear the outdoor noise of other guests, the music is distracting, the masseuse is too chatty, or the overall experience from entrance to finish just was not as calming as intended.
The spa also offers facials, manicures, pedicures, a steam room, and waxing services, and you can book a couple of sessions with your bae or get a massage in your suite.
More Must-See Activities
The resort's location is super-convenient, so if you want to see a bit more in terms of tourist attractions, food, shopping, and culture, you can venture off within walking distance or a short drive and enjoy. Be sure to take some time to visit Puerto Vallarta's infamous Malecon Boardwalk, with its sand sculptures, colorful bars, street shops, and art galleries, and explore Zona Romantica (Romantic Zone), with its cobblestone streets, boutique hotels, and local flair, and enjoy a boat ride from Puerto Magico to Playa Majahuitas, where there's a trendy beach club and options for snorkeling. (We even had a visitor by the name of Coda, a seal who offers smiles and kisses!)
I'll definitely be adding the Westin Resort and Spa in Puerto Vallarta to the list of my go-to spots to visit in the world when I need to rejuvenate and refresh.
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Featured image by Gary John Norman/Getty Images