It’s not very often that real-life romance kicks off in fairy tale fashion. I’ve been fortunate to experience this unusual twist a few times, most dramatically with my first love, California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky).
After meeting in the middle of an “NYPD Blue” shoot, Sparky and I were quickly in the throes of infatuation. Our initial days together were a whirlwind of intimate dinners, carriage rides in Central Park and talk of the future.
That first weekend ended with a diamond band from Sparky and a promise – that he would spend his upcoming vacation time with me.
Over the course of the next five weeks, we burned up the phone lines and Sparky made good on his word, booking a trip to London, where I was spending my junior year. During one of our conversations, I let him know my stance on sex – specifically, that I planned to wait until marriage to have it. Though he was taken aback by my revelation, Sparky didn’t waver when I asked him if he was still coming.
“Absolutely,” he said without missing a beat.
And so it was that, after a 12-hour journey from L.A., Sparky made his way to London to woo me like no other man had before. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of 1994…
April 27, 1994
After our long cab ride from Heathrow, we finally arrived at the Regent’s Park Hilton. Up in Sparky’s room, I began unpacking his suitcase while he freshened up in the bathroom. When he poked his head out and saw what I was doing, he said —
“I should just propose to you right now.”
“Haven’t you already?” I replied with a smile, and he laughed, remembering that he had.
* * *
I treated Sparky and me to a show — the haunting, dazzling “Phantom of The Opera.” Toward the end, I heard a sniffling sound coming from him and sure enough, he was crying.
After the lights came up, Sparky apologized for being so sentimental. I assured him he had nothing to be sorry about. Overcome with emotion, he looked at me and said with great urgency —
“There’s so much I want to share with you.”
* * *
Hand in hand, we walked to Trafalgar Square. There, with the majestic fountains behind us, right in one of London’s most sublime spots, we kissed — over and over again. As Sparky remained standing, I sat on the edge of the fountain and rested my hands on his shoulders. Forget soap operas and novels, this was the real thing!!
London’s Trafalgar Square: The perfect spot for romance
Next, we strolled into Covent Garden for dinner at one of my favorite Italian bistros, La Quercia D’Oro. The conversation flowed effortlessly, a surprise given that Sparky and I were still very much in the getting-to-know-each-other stage.
Back in my room at Commonwealth Hall, I lit some candles. As soon as Sparky touched me, I could feel my entire body respond. All we did was kiss, but it was a thousand times more passionate than anything I had experienced before.
After we said goodnight, I knocked on my floor mate Carine’s door to get her advice about whether I should spend any nights with Sparky at his hotel.
“If you want him to respect the decision you’ve made [to not have sex], then you have to respect it too,” she said.
* * *
Though I resolved to follow Carine’s counsel, resisting temptation proved to be easier said than done….
London was only the beginning for me and Sparky. Not too long ago, he reminisced about our time together in England’s capital.
“The week we spent in London was the best time I ever shared with someone.”
Fourteen years later, I feel the same way. Even when there’s 3,000 miles of geography in the way, some loves never leave you.