As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.
This is The Keshinros' story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
So, my husband and I met on Tinder.
We were both working in Peru but in different cities. Me, as a chiropractor, fresh off of a three-month stay in Ghana, seeking a new start by relocating to the country. I never saw black people (well, maybe one every four to five months) in Peru so I think this drove me to join Tinder—totally hopeful that I would somehow, someway find other black people. My husband, Ola, is a professional basketball player, landing in my town for a basketball tournament. After connecting on the app, we missed an opportunity to actually meet in person. But as luck would have it, his team was invited to a second tournament in my town two weeks later. After he arrived for the second time, we had our first date where we talked for hours and hours at a coffee shop. This date was different, nothing like I had been used to in the past. Shortly after, he left for Spain—9000 miles away.
But even far apart, neither of us could shake each other. So, we decided to see what was between us.
I was born Dominica (Caribbean), but also raised in Miami. Ola is born American but raised in Nigeria. As we began dating, we quickly learned that although we are from different sides of the world, our cultures are so similar (of course because everything began in Africa).
My village in Dominica had no more than 200 people that lived there, so for as long as I can remember, I was a big fish in small pond. I always dreamt big, throwing myself into my education, something I considered as my way to a better life. My family eventually migrated to Miami, which was definitely a culture shock to say the least. I ultimately adjusted, and have lived in the states since.
As for Ola, he is super family-oriented. Like me, he was also partly raised by his grandmother who instilled in him values of honesty and integrity. His first love was soccer but after a growth spurt at age 16, he gave it up and transitioned to basketball. He moved back to the U.S. for college at 18. He's the better cook and a true team player. I'm the small town girl, that's very outgoing and active in my community. Our qualities caused us to naturally gravitate toward each other's energies, which is why our love blossomed.
Back to our dating story, after meeting overseas, our friendship organically evolved over time and we decided to enter an exclusive, long-distance relationship—which lasted for five years (our entire relationship).
And yes, ladies, it was tough at times.
There were times where I traveled to Spain (or wherever he was located at the time), and he would be traded to a new team during the trip. We've spent countless holidays unsure of what was next. We would go months and months of no physical touch. It was very hard. But it was also rewarding.
Wait, did, sis say "rewarding?" Yes, girl. Because it was.
It may sound crazy, but for us, long-distance was great. The first year was tough, sure, but within that time, we built so much trust, which is important. Of course, communication was key, but the long distance? The long distance allowed us space and time to grow individually—thus creating a strong foundation.
And for me, the more I learned to love myself, the better partner I became.
We got engaged May 2019 in Santorini, Greece, with plans for a Summer 2020 wedding. Ola was on his last go-round with overseas basketball, and I was settled in New York. But then...COVID. Because of the pandemic, he was summoned to come home five months earlier than expected, which as we all know, no one was mentally prepared to be locked up in the house for months at a time—especially New York, who was completely shutdown. But it was all a blessing in disguise because our quarantine has been amazing; it's been super fun. We've cooked, we've binge-watched shows, learned about investments. We even joined TikTok haha.
And now, oddly, thanks to the Rona, this is the longest time we have ever spent together in our entire relationship.
You know, as a mental health advocate, I've learned the importance of knowing and appreciating where you are in life—and even appreciating the unknown. My husband used to always randomly say to me, "I appreciate you," which is what made him stand out to me. But in order to have my magical love story, in order to get to that other side, I had to be open to an unknown situation.
Ladies, you should absolutely be open to a long-distance relationship if distance is not a deal-breaker for you. And even if it is, you should still at least consider. It's not as scary as it may seem. Long-distance relationships can be the most fulfilling type of relationship there is.
And my advice to anyone that is considering one is this:
Only share this journey with the right person. Ladies, this life is not for everyone. And honestly, I'm not sure a long-distance relationship would be for me, had it been with anyone other than Ola. My husband and I are on the same page, we are truly best friends. We both know how important our relationship is to the other, and we admire, and most of all, respect that.
Communicate. Communication is the strongest form of love you can show to your partner. It's not possible to do this successfully, or in good health, without it.
Build up the woman you are. Love yourself before any person on this earth. It will reflect in your sustainable and key relationships.
Trust. Ladies, you know how we are, but refrain from any of that. If they've never given you a reason not to, trust your partner completely.
Today, Ola and I are happily married, taking on this pandemic and doing life, together. We recently wed, in what we consider our mini wedding (we decided to postpone our destination wedding in Mexico, mainly because we have family members who live in other countries, including both of our moms). In the meantime, we wanted something simple, minimal yet beautiful, special, and memorable. We (really, I) picked Central Park because it represented me perfectly. I love the outdoors, nature, and water. We hired an officiant and a photographer for an hour. There was very little planning. Only our immediate family that lives in NY attended (my sister and niece, his sister and dad). There was no reception--we found a nice Italian restaurant near Central Park and we had lunch.
And we were dressed simply as well, him ASOS and me, FashionNova (did not wear white because I already have a white dress from the original wedding day).
It was perfect.
Our love story may be different from what most expect, but its ours. Ultimately, with the pandemic, and with currently living within the same city, we don't know what the future holds. But we do know that having four thousand miles between us, is a test we, without a doubt, can handle.
The Keshinros' big wedding may have been canceled but their marriage is not. They recently wed, and they're inviting you to join them on their journey by subscribing to their YouTube page. You can also follow their black love on Instagram at @ola.nes.
Feature image courtesy of BSM Photography.