I remember it plain as day – Memorial Day Weekend 2002 – 18 years ago. He walked up – bright smile, golden tan and sunshine yellow bathing suit. In that slow, Southern drawl he said “Heather? It’s so good to finally meet you in person.” We hugged, though we’d never met before, and it was as if we’d known each other our whole lives. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning…

I was 26 years old and early into my professional career. I took a side job at Ann Taylor so I could get a discount on the wardrobe I needed for work. It was there I made instant friends with Tiffany. Fun ensued. You can picture it. Mid-twenties. Atlanta in the early 2000s. Large groups of us out every weekend in Virginia Highlands. It was, as they say, a time to remember. I had gone from one serious boyfriend to another up to this point. But during this season I found myself single. I dated some, but this was that perfect time for big groups of great friends. We all mixed together like one big motley crew. And, I loved every minute of it. 

Tiffany and I were thick as thieves. Her friends, my friends – they all became one big crew. It was the beginning of 2002 and summer was approaching. Tiffany invited me to go with her and a huge group of friends on their annual Memorial Day weekend pilgrimage to the beach. I jumped at the chance to put my feet in the sand. They had been taking this trip for probably 10 years at this point. I was a newbie. A huge group of guys and gals from Atlanta met up with a huge group of guys and gals from Nashville. They’d met years prior in Panama City Beach, stayed friends, kept in touch the remainder of the year, and returned every Memorial Day weekend since. They’d moved from PCB to Destin, Florida and that’s when I got included.

This may come as a real shock to you, but I’m a planner (note the sarcasm). I love to schedule, coordinate, organize and instruct. And, a trip like this with nearly 30 people was no different, even if it was my first time. So, when the emails started flying, I immediately jumped at the chance to help Matt Adams from Nashville coordinate some logistics. To remind you, those of us out of college in the early 2000s weren’t on Facebook. There wasn’t social media (thank you, Jesus). We weren’t really texting each other much yet and, if you did, you had to punch the numbers multiple times just to get to the intended letter, so it was much easier just to have an actual call or email. That’s where it started. 

For months, Matt and I went back and forth via email on songs to include as he crafted the perfect Memorial Day weekend playlist (though those weren’t a thing yet). He was putting it altogether on the 2002 version of a mixed tape, albeit CD. He and his friends had built an enormous stereo speaker system, run on car batteries and he was the DJ extraordinaire. 

Those emails, however, turned into harmless questions about how the work week was going and what was on the docket for the weekend agenda. He had a girlfriend. I was going on dates. I had never laid eyes on the guy – not even a picture – so the whole back and forth planning was innocent…initially. Then he asked me for help.

One day, I received an email from Matt where he wanted to know if he could ask me for some advice. “I’ve been dating this woman for awhile now. It’s getting complicated because she has a son who is growing close to me. I take that relationship very seriously. We’ve been together awhile, but I know the next step for us is not marriage. I’ve determined it’s time to end things. I want to handle this well. Here’s what I’m planning to say….what do you think?” Oh no! He can’t say that. So, I did what any good publicist would do. I prepared talking points for him and coached him through exactly what to say. And then I waited to hear how it went.

And I waited. And waited. And waited.

Every single time we emailed or spoke after that I would ask how the conversation had gone. He still hadn’t had it. Finally, I inquired. What was taking so long? Why hadn’t he talked to her yet? He confided in me that he’d promised to refinish her hardwood floors and he wasn’t done with that project yet. He knew that when he did have the conversation, he wouldn’t be going back over to her house, so he wanted to keep his word and finish the floors first. 

Whoa. I was impressed.

Eventually he did go on to have that conversation and his relationship did end. So, when it was time for the Memorial Day weekend beach gathering, we both showed up single. Sort of. A few weeks prior, I had been introduced to a mutual friend who lived in Atlanta and was also going on the trip. We went out casually on two dates. He was kind and fun. Nothing serious. Not even a kiss to date. 

Then Matt Adams walked up all tan and charming, with that sexy, low Southern drawl in his bright yellow bathing suit and I was undone. We spent the next few days flirting like it was our job, including our infamous first kiss on the dance floor at AJ’s (classy, y’all). As the Memorial Day weekend came to an end, he asked if he might see me again. He knew that I was in Atlanta and he was in Nashville, but he was willing to make the drive as often as I would consider spending time with him.

The very next weekend one of my sorority sisters was getting married. I asked him to be my wedding date and he’s been it ever since.


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AUTHOR: Heather Adams
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