Staci was 18 and Eric was 23. They were on a 7 day cruise with their families to the Caribbean. She was from New Jersey and He was native to Florida. This love story is worthy to be a modern day Titanic… but set in the tropics and ends in happily ever after.
Eric: “I saw her on the first night, it was in the cruise night club. For me it was love at first sight. I was on the second floor balcony and everyone below was dancing. It was such a weird feeling, I was really attracted to the overall family but I was like in love with her. I remember my cousin was talking to me and everything was standing still. Later that night, my cousin and I were playing guitar in the hallway and not many people were out. I hear her and her family coming and as she passed she drunkenly yelled out to me “You play that guitar!”
Staci: “He stalked me for about 7 days.”
Eric: “Well I knew I only had 7 days to get to know this girl. There was this pull to her and the family. The next day I saw them in the hot tub. I went into that hot tub SO NERVOUS. I introduced myself and I was excited because she turned out to be so cool. The whole rest of the trip I just walked around that cruise looking for her. I had this life changing feeling one night when I approached the family. I walked up to them and asked her mom if I could sit with them.”
Staci: “I was 18 years old! I was in my prime! My mom, the entire cruise looked at every guy and shot them “Don’t even think about it” eyes. But she had this good feeling about Eric. She still takes a lot of credit for our relationship.”
Eric: “Suddenly everyone got up to do the Cuban Shuffle (Upon interviewing, I didn’t have the heart to correct him that it’s called the Cupid Shuffle… Bless his heart.) and I didn’t know the dance so I stayed there sitting with her mom. Her mom said “You should go!”. So I did, and I made some jokes and I got everyone to laugh.”
Staci: “I thought that he was the funniest person ever. He was so funny. We had such a good time. We drank so much and danced a lot.”
Eric: “I spent everyday just waiting to see this girl. The week was ending and I knew I loved her. I had never had this kind of connection with anyone. We exchanged numbers and I got in the car after my family had waited for me like 20 min. They were all teasing me and my grandma said “Oh he’s in love!” I turned to my entire family and I said, “I’m going to marry that girl someday.”
After 6 years Staci moved to San Fransico. They had always kept in touch and once she was in the same state as Eric, they had made trips back and forth via a 7 hour bus ride.
Staci: “We were so poor and the mega bus was so cold. One time for Valentines he surprised me. I was sitting at home texting him, gross and un-showered. My sister said she had to pick up a friend from the bus station so I went along. Eric was texting me very convincing texts from work and even sent me a picture of himself there that he must have taken earlier. When he started walking towards me at the station I was like “UGH shit I look disgusting!” We had been doing long distance! I hadn’t even shaved my legs! Before this moment he had only seen the glory version of me!”
The love birds did 2 years of long distance before Staci moved to LA. Her advice on how to make it possible:
Staci: “I honestly think that if its the right person, it’s the only recipe for it to work. It just has to be right. It can’t be the type of person you have to work to make the love happen. There has to be there so much love and you really have to trust them. We were constantly talking.”
Eric: “We talked so much that there wasn’t ever a time I didn’t know what she was doing. And it wasn’t because I needed to know, it was because we really wanted to know about each others days and were invested in it.
Eric and Staci finally began their lives together in LA. It was always known they were planning on getting married. In fact, Eric had a tattoo of Staci’s name on his finger long before they ever talked rings.
Eric: “My mom wanted to expedite this process so last christmas she gave me her old diamond from her original engagement ring. My dad had given her a new ring awhile back, but she held on to this for a time that would eventually come.”
Staci: “Which is just so cool that she wanted me to have her old diamond. It really made me feel so special. And I didn’t know, even though we talked about rings, that she had given this to him which was a complete surprise”
Eric: “The first step was getting the ring because all I had was the stone. So I called around and I landed upon Raffi Jewelers and this guy was the man. It felt to surreal having the ring in the house. I had to hide in in my music equipment so she wouldn’t find it.”
Eric and Staci brought along their roommate Ben and friend Nick to LACMA since they had never been. Eric loved that LACMA was such a city landmark and knew that was where he wanted to pop the question. That morning he wrapped the ring box in paper towels (concealing it as an apple) and a banana to accompany it for good measure. When they completed their tour of the museum, Nick said he wanted a picture of the couple within the iconic lamp posts.
Staci: “All of a sudden, after they were done taking pictures, Eric turns around and pulls a banana out of his pocket. Then he unfolds the paper towels and gets down on one knee. He doesn’t say anything except “Will you marry me?” I was so confused. I had no idea what was happening. I looked at Ben and Nick like “What is going on?!” While they were both filming and photographing the whole thing.”
“You know what they say, There’s no romance in LA.”
Lyrics from Eric’s band ‘The Clumsy’. While this is seemingly the culture here, especially in an artistic industry, where negative beliefs on marriage are at large, I asked the love birds how they kept faith in their present and future.
Staci: “I think its really important to stay interested in the things the other person is interested in. If I am not involved in the things that take up so much of his brain space this would not work at all. I would feel like “I need attention, focus on me.” You just have to understand a creative person is always going to be in that place. You have to be invested in their vision.”
“Make the most out of the little moments. Even just going out to run some errands is one of our favorite things to do.”
“We found early on in our relationship I was being really hard on myself and he was really being hard on himself. We thought let’s treat ourselves the way we know the other person would treat us. I would have to remind myself that Eric wouldn’t want me to be treating myself this way and he would never treat me like this. Self love… you have to love yourself.”
Eric: “We are lucky because we have loving parents that also get along. So we have this super thing of support. We’ve already had 5 Christmas’s where both our families are all sleeping under the same roof. For me, that’s probably the biggest recharge. Just seeing the perspective of her family, us, my family and how we all fit together as a whole. When I look at her I don’t see LA at all, she doesn’t look like LA. It looks like life and home wherever we are.”
Staci: “When we are out here, away from everyone, we are each others family. We also have such good support from our friends. No one was like “She took us away from our guy!” They all welcomed me from the start.
Eric: “Whenever friends come to me with their short term relationships dissolving I always try to remind them that it’s not such a bad thing. Be happy you got out if it so the good can come to you. You may be in pain but you can be optimistic for the right path you don’t yet know about.”
I absolutely loved shooting and interviewing this inspiring couple. Love can come at you in ways you never see coming, and sometimes it developes unconventionally. Hope your heart grew a few sizes from their contagious happiness.
Love & All