My mom always used to say, "when you know, you know." She always told us to trust that "gut feeling" we get about something. She also used to tell us to believe in love at first sight, something I found hard to believe to be true. Well let me tell you- I know love in first sight is real. I can also confirm that when you know, you know.
I signed on to play in Australia in 2018, my second stint in the country and on the Sunshine Coast. I knew a player on the women's team would be picking me up from the airport and that I would be working in the office around the club with her as well. I knew her name was Carlie Smith but that was about the extent of what I knew.
Now the flight from New York to Australia is long. I mean LONG. It took about 28 hours in total travel to get to Brisbane. But I was prepared for what was coming and I knew the beautiful place I was going so it was well worth it.
I landed in Brisbane and I walked through customs and the gate and there she is. Do you ever make eye contact with someone in the back of a busy airport filled with hundreds, if not thousands of people right away? I mean you look and that's the first person you see and they're also looking right at you? If you do, go take that person out on a date because that is your soulmate. There is no other logical explanation that through hundreds of people in our sight line you connected with that person first.
I spoke before about love at first sight, well the first words that came in to my mind were something along the lines of "Sh*t." I knew in that very second, in an airport filled with people, that I was in big trouble.
I walked over and in the most Carlie fashion, she looks at me and laughs, and asks, "Can I take your picture?" Of course I obliged, but if Carlie really knew what she was doing then she would have asked me for my last dollar because I was so taken aback by this stunning girl I would have given her whatever it was she wanted.
Over the coming months, Carlie and I worked together in the office of the club, dealing with their junior programs and community outreach. The job wasn't overly exciting by any means, mostly admin stuff at that point, but I woke up each morning excited to go to work just to see her. People around the club and in the community started to take notice and would say to us individually, that there was an unbelievable connection between the two of us. We would laugh it off, but inside, I knew she was the one.
I finally got the courage to ask Carlie to the beach one night. She sat me down, looked me in the eye and said, "Eric, I would love to." Just kidding she shot me down, but for good reason. Neither of us, me in particular, were ready for a relationship.
I'm an over thinker. I over think everything. So this one messed me up, because I wasn't sure if it was one of those "it's actually not the right time and that's what she really meant" moments or if that was a "no, piss off" kind of moment (my American people will appreciate my Australian vernacular there."
Regardless, I stayed persistent because in my life, persistence has always paid off. So I asked Carlie again... and again... and again. Finally I thought to myself, "you know what, if she doesn't want to thats fine, just leave it be." and so I did. For a week. Then she finally said yes. We went to the beach one evening, sat there and just talked for hours. Like 8 hours to be exact. We stayed at the beach until 4am or so before I dropped her off at home.
As a whole, I am really introverted. I have found it difficult in my life to open up to people and thus have always been quieter. But with Carlie, I couldn't stop talking, and we spoke about some things that are incredibly personal to me- my mom and her passing, my relationship with my dad and brother, what I want to really do with my life. We even discussed our biggest insecurities as people, which isn't usually brought up on night one.
From that moment on, we were, and have been inseparable. We spend every day, night, hour, minute and second together. We got a lot of jabs about it, but until you understand true love and real connection, you will always think it's strange. All my life, I have wanted my own time and space. I needed to just have my alone time, with my thoughts, with whatever was occupying my life at that time. With Carlie is different.
Different to the point that we have each turned down opportunities that would put us away from each other. Now the good thing about Carlie and I, is as professional athletes, neither of us suck in our respective field. I seriously mean that. Finding a team that wants both of us, has not been an issue to date. Now, we have run in to one team offering more for one of us than another will, but we have always made our judgements on what is best for both of us and it has worked flawlessly thus far.
In March of 2019, after a visit to America and back in Australia, I knew it was time. I had enough experience to know that Carlie was the woman I wanted to marry. There was no doubt. Although we weren't together very long, as my mom would say, when you know, you know.
So I got down on one knee, and made the best decision I had made to that time. I said, "Carlie, will you marry me?" and finally, I didn't get a no first.
In the subsequent time we have lived in four cities- the Sunshine Coast, Wollongong, Canberra, and now Adelaide.
There will be plenty of stories to come about my life with Carlie, but for now, you have the gist of the beginning.
Here's to hoping you find your true soulmate, because if there is one thing that I have learned in this life, it's that there is no better feeling in the world than finding your counterpart.
Much love to you all and thanks for taking the time to read.