Journeys End in Lovers Meeting
I met Orrie five years before we started dating when my best friend Jessica invited him to stay with us for a weekend in Montauk. Neither of us made a big impression on the other. If you had told us then that we were destined to marry, we both would have been shocked. I had a boyfriend, although I do remember thinking Orrie was nice and very handsome. At the time, I wanted to live abroad and thought for sure I would marry someone from another country.
Shortly after graduating from college, I lived in Australia for 4 years. I was in a relationship the entire time with a man to whom I became engaged. We planned to move to America when we married and raise our family there. I even bought a wedding dress. However, it wasn’t long before I realized my fiancé’s values differed greatly from mine. I started to feel trapped. Eventually my unhappiness led me to break the engagement. The wedding dress I had purchased was destined to remain in my closet at my parents home.
On my trips home to the U.S. I often stayed with Jessica in Manhattan. My recent enthusiasm for CrossFit was fast becoming an obsession. I went to many different gyms, always asking Jessica to accompany me. Her repeated refusals, were based on watching Orrie on Facebook and concluding his CrossFit workout regimen looked weird. I, on the other hand, found it cool that Orrie and I shared this interest.
Two months before I was scheduled to move home, Orrie sent me a Facebook friend request. I accepted and he messaged me immediately, which was exciting. At the time, I thought he was way too handsome to be interested in me, and didn’t have any expectations of dating him. I was simply happy to have a new friend when I moved home, especially one who coached at a gym and could introduce me to the CrossFit world in New York.
We continued talking and grew to know each other a little bit more each day. Of course, we bonded over CrossFit and he would give me tips on daily workouts. I started to like him but wasn’t sure of his feelings. When I told Jessica that I was talking to Orrie, she said, “Oh yeah, I told him you were coming home. He’s interested in you.” That erased all my doubts and I started to flirt with him. Messaging each other during the hours we were both awake was a challenge due to the different time zones we lived in. Sometimes, I was so excited I would stay up all night talking to him. After a month of messaging, we started to FaceTime. The first time we spoke, we were both shocked—I hadn’t heard the New York accent in a while, and my accent had morphed into an American/Australian hybrid.
Leaving Australia was one of the most emotional times of my life. I had to say goodbye to all my close friends, knowing I might never see them again. At the same time I was excited to finally move home and be reunited with my family, and after months of flirting with Orrie, I was over-the-moon excited to see him in person again after all this time. He was the first person I texted when the plane landed. I had to drive near his house to get to my parents and was itching so badly to see him. After being separated by a distance of 10,000 miles, we were now a mere 15 miles apart.
Unfortunately, I could not see him immediately because my extended family had gathered at my parents home for my “welcome home” weekend, including my aunt and uncle who traveled from Boston.
During a previous FaceTime with Orrie from Australia, I had mentioned I was dying to eat good Mexican food at Chipotle. So he said, “That’s where I’m taking you when you get home.” True to his word, he made a reservation at Chipotle, and as I neared the restaurant, I realized that my car was following his. Some people say the “stars realigned for them;” in our case it was our cars.
My heart was no longer just beating—it was hammering with anticipation. The multitude of butterflies in my stomach would barely leave room for the meal. It had been five years since our initial introduction, two intense months on FaceTime, and finally Orrie and I were about to see each other in person.
I had dreamed of this moment for so long and always in a romantic setting. Instead, much like the song, our paradise had been paved into a parking lot. When we met, we gave each other a huge hug, and eventually a kiss. I couldn’t believe I was finally seeing him in person.
Unfortunately, my schedule for the next few days was hectic and I was definitely experiencing culture shock, but thoughts of Orrie were ever present in my mind. This all transpired during the Christmas holidays. Orrie invited me to celebrate New Years Eve with his family, but I declined for fear of jumping into something serious too fast. Instead, Orrie and I hung out together with a bunch of my friends. It was magical! After that night we were enthralled with each other. New Years Eve remains the marker by which we count our years together.
A few short months later, Orrie opened a CrossFit gym in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and together we rented a nearby apartment. I had a full time job as a speech pathologist in a school for deaf children and spent all my free time working at the gym. I was a huge help to Orrie, painting the entire gym. I already knew that I wanted to be with Orrie forever, but this was when our relationship solidified for him.
After a year and a half of dating, I was sure I wanted to have kids and raise a family with Orrie and he felt the same way. Having a baby was more important to me than getting married, and neither one of us minded when I got pregnant. I kept telling Orrie that if he asked me to marry him I wouldn’t say “no.”
However, unbeknownst to me, Orrie had already been planning to propose, on the one-year anniversary of the gym’s opening. We planned to host a party for our family, friends, and members of the gym on that day. I thought it would be a good day for Orrie to propose, but he never asked for my ring size or what style I preferred, so I had no expectations.
At the party, there was a moment when Orrie began to individually thank the staff members who had helped out with the gym. He mentioned me last and told everyone that he could never have opened the gym without my help. Then he got down on one knee and held out a jewelry box with a beautiful engagement ring within it. I got emotional and so did my entire family.
Everyone in both families knew the engagement was planned for that day, but only our siblings knew that I was pregnant. Orrie’s parents had already invited the families and our closest friends back to their house later in the afternoon for an engagement party. This was another surprise for me! During the party my mother said to me “Thank God ALL the secrets are out.” I just nodded in agreement.
Toward the end of the day when just the people who were closest to us remained, Orrie went to his car. He returned with framed photos of Orrie, me and our two dogs, and presented one to each set of parents in gratitude for their support, but in actuality it was our way of announcing that we were going to be having a baby. Our hands were outstretched close to each other in the photo, holding a pair of baby sneakers. Our parents said “Beautiful picture, thank you very much,” but did not pick up on the shoes. Orrie kept saying “Look closely at the picture. Look at the picture.” Finally his mother shouted “Are you cooking?” Our parents were stunned but overjoyed. It would be the first grandchild for my parents.
From then on, we were on a mission: we did a great job of planning the wedding in a single week for a date only five weeks after our engagement. The date was set for Thursday evening, Sept. 14, 2017. At last I would wear the wedding gown that had waited patiently for me in my closet. Fortunately, it flared out at the waist—perfect for my growing baby bump! Our wedding cake revealed we were having a son. Today we have two boys, Leo and Shai. We work out as a family and this fosters our togetherness.
I regard everything that happened to me before dating Orrie as a necessary part of my journey. It brought me exactly to where I belong.
“Journeys end in lovers meeting.”
― William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Rachel Markfeld is a wife to Orrie and mother of two beautiful boys. Orrie and Rachel have been married for 3.5 years now, and the family is heavily into staying healthy and fit. Rachel has been a Type 1 diabetic since she was six years old, so health has always been a priority for her. She spent much of her youth traveling around the world and spent four years working and living in Australia. She has been a speech pathologist for deaf children for over 10 years. Rachel and her husband owned a gym that unfortunately had to close due to the pandemic. Her husband started a fitness app in response called DadBod Fitness to help other dads stay fit, healthy, and be the superhero their kids think they are.