FacebooktwittermailFacebooktwittermail

I love a good romance, so naturally, it seemed fit to ask Scott and Irene to share their love story. Having met them separately on photowalks, I wanted to get the inside scoop on just what happened during the Be Mobile event!

Just like any other social network, love can be found anywhere – you just have to be open to it.  And I, particularly think that this love story is a very special one…

—–

His story

It was the week of Labor Day, 2013. Fresh off a hectic holiday-shortened work week, and still recovering from a three-day stint at the Gorge, a decision had to be made. “What will I do with this weekend?”

Moving here from Ohio three years ago has taught me one thing: you have to take advantage of the short-lived summers and really get out and enjoy the sun while you have a chance. Caving in to the desire to sit inside all day and watch NCAA football while eating pizza and ice cream was not an option.

Days leading up to the weekend, I learned about an Igers Seattle photo walk. My daughter and I had been to a few of those in the past and always enjoyed our time together exploring more of this wonderful state and meeting some great people who shared similar interests.

The Igers Seattle BeMobile meetup (also hosted by KING5 and WeAreJuxt), Facebook invitation was staring at me. I asked my daughter, Allison, if she was interested in going. She said, “yes,” and the plan was set.

Once the day arrived, we resisted the urge to avoid the drive from Snoqualmie and made our way to Olympic Sculpture Park in our favorite city on earth, Seattle.

Little did I know that this single decision would change my life. Forever.

Igers Seattle has enabled me to meet many photographers from this great area. One of the many photographers I really admired was Irene. I enjoyed her thoughtful quotes, intriguing adventures around the globe, and her sense of humor. Oh yeah, I liked her photos, too.

There is one particular photo of the Seattle skyline that she took from Alki Beach that made me jealous. It is an amazing shot featuring a sailboat on Puget Sound in the foreground. There’s another one of the Space Needle (viewed from the ground featuring red tulips). Incredible. Her photo from the Tulip Festival inspired me to go there in the Spring of 2013 to see it for myself. I tried to best her photo but failed (this would prove to become a recurring theme)!

Irene and I had shared mutual admiration for each other’s IG galleries for over a year. Despite having a few close calls at IGers Seattle meetups, we had never met in person. This was about to change.

Allison and I made our way to the huge red sculpture at the park to begin the festivities. After meeting and mingling with a few of the attendees, I noticed Irene.

She had big sunglasses on and her hair was up (which was different from most of the photos I had seen of her). I didn’t want to be “THAT GUY,” who just assumed it was her based on her ethnicity, so I squinted at the name tag in the late day sun and confirmed it was indeed “Ireney128.”

As I was talking to Bridgette about fantasy football, Irene came up and interrupted, “Are you Scott/SeahawkSanders?” I was taken aback by this boldness and said, “Uhh, yeah.” Then she was like, “I’m Irene, Ireney128.” And then we greeted one another and I introduced her to Allison (they followed each other on IG, too), and Irene introduced me to Lisa, who was there with her.

At this point, Bridgette and I concluded our futile fantasy football strategy planning and the photowalk was about to commence.

After Brad, Bridgette, Victoria, and a couple others spoke to the group, everyone broke up and began their quest to capture some great shots before the sun set.

As people were going their separate ways, Irene saw me taking some video footage. I told her I was shooting some video and she said, “Oh, 15 seconds of video?” I laughed because I knew she thought I was talking about shooting Instagram video and was surprised since I was clearly holding a camcorder. I didn’t know what to say. Nerves got to me so I just chuckled. I began to question why I was nervous around her. Something seemed different. I had always looked forward to meeting her but didn’t expect to feel this way about it once it actually happened.

Not long after the event started Irene left. Before she left we passed by each other again (around SAM). She said goodbye to me and I was left with one impressive first impression and found myself disappointed in myself for not talking to her more and was hoping there would be other opportunities.

After going home that night I put together some footage from the event. It’s no accident that Irene appears (around the 0:28 – 0:35 mark):

I really enjoyed meeting her and wanted to talk to her more. In my mind my video would be a way in, a way to see if my initial impressions were validated. I had planned to share this with her, but something happened before I had that chance. I received notification to a tweet of mine…from @Ireney128.

Irene was not only on Twitter, but she had been following me, for quite some time. I am one of those people who will go on social media for a while and then just fall off the face of the earth for a month or so. Obviously she started following me while I was on a hiatus. How did I miss this?

Once I saw her response, I immediately followed her back and also started to back read her tweets (in-between Seahawks/Panthers plays – this was NFL opening weekend and during the Seahawks @ Carolina game)!

After the Seahawks win, I sent her a direct message to share some Dave Matthews Band footage I had shot at the Gorge (I also noticed, long ago, that we shared a love of DMB’s music and was envious of her since she had actually met the band).

Once that direct message was sent, it started a back and forth that lasted for hours, until 1 AM. The more I read from her and interacted, the more I wanted to read and the more interaction I was hoping for. The spark was lit, on my end at least.

The next day at work the messages continued. I was consumed by it and really discovering that I was starting to really enjoy conversing with her. It was taking top priority over work, sleep, everything.

Finally I got the courage to ask her out. I suggested other friends may go to help ease the nerves, but I wasn’t sure if they would join or not. I was hesitant because although I knew what I was thinking and feeling, I wasn’t sure if I was alone in this.

Many messages later, the plan was set. We would go out Saturday, September 14th. She knew how nervous I was and suggested we start out at Black Bottle in Belltown to help ease into the evening and get more familiar with one another in a friendly setting.

 

As I arrived at her Queen Anne apartment to pick her up, I was overcome with anxiety. This was it. Here we go. Time to tell if this was the start of something real or just friendly messages misinterpreted by a guy starving for something more.

The moment Irene walked out of that apartment I knew I was done. She had me. I instantly knew the attraction was there, but what about the personality? What about the chemistry? The skeptic in me was questioning what could go wrong and I kept waiting for it to happen and even trying to dissect it. Irene wouldn’t allow it, though. I never voiced this to her, but she wouldn’t allow it because with every conversation, every look into her eyes, and every action she made, she kept drawing me in, closer and closer. I was falling…fast. Like many others who have been hurt too many times in the past, I was also aware that I needed to keep my guard up. After all, I could still be way off on who I think she is, OR, more likely, she may not be feeling anywhere close to the same way.

After an hour or so having some great conversations at Black Bottle we moved down the street to Amber and things kept progressing. The chemistry was apparent, not only to us, but to everyone there. I didn’t want this night to end. Ever. So, I took a chance and suggested something I had always longed for. A romantic moment at Alki Beach. Yeah, it’s after midnight, but who cares. Let’s go to Alki! We arrived at Alki and sat on a bench and talked while waves crashed and we watched ferries passed by in front of us. It was incredible, I had chills. This is what I had always wanted, a connection like this. It was happening!

This fairy tale evening finally concluded, but since that night we have been nearly inseparable. I love her sense of humor, her beauty, the way she cares for me and listens to me. Talking to her about any issue is almost always a learning process. Driving with her in the car is a fun-filled event based on 80’s song trivia or just watching her laugh at something I say. I’ve never seen more love expressed for me and never wanted to see more of it. I love her so much and cannot thank Igers Seattle for giving me the chance to meet her and for changing my life. Forever.

Since the event and the night of our first date we have shared so many memorable moments together. In early November, KING5 featured Irene’s photo of us on a newscast featuring what you are thankful for. Weekend trips to Ocean Shores, Mt. Rainier, Crystal Mountain, and Las Vegas are just some of the highlights we’ve been lucky enough to share together. While Irene was away for work, I created a video of her to help pass the time until she returned and to always be reminded of the love we have for each other:

I just adore seeing how much life and love is in her when we are together. It’s so evident in this video (i.e. at 1:35, 2:12, 3:00, 4:18, 4:34, 5:48). She expresses perfectly what I feel and fail to fully show. How did this happen? How could we hold so much love and emotion for each other so quickly? “When you know, you know.” And it all started with one amazing photo walk. Unreal!

I often think back to the day we first met at that Be Mobile photo walk. What if Irene had not gone to it? (She just arrived back from an Alaskan cruise and went straight there from the ship.) What if Allison didn’t want to go, what if I had passed on this event? Where would I be now?

The thought of it instantly depresses me. Even though I experienced the first 38 years and 9 months of my life without her, I never want to think of experiencing one more day away from her. The love I found in her is something I can never fully express through words in this article. The years I have remaining is where I will try. Always. I am so lucky and thankful.

Thank you Igers Seattle, thank you so much. The community you have created has made such a huge impact on my life, it is truly amazing and I am eternally grateful.

Happy Valentines Day, Irene. I love you. – Scott,  Instagram // Twitter


—–

Her story

Instagram has been a life-changer for me. For me, it’s more than just sharing photos. It’s also about discovering my community and the world I live in. It’s about building and developing relationships.

Boy, did it give me the biggest and most significant relationship of my life.

Nearly three years ago, I moved across the country from Miami to the furthest point away within contiguous United States to Seattle. With no friends or family in town – and only a handful of colleagues and acquaintances – I set out to begin this next chapter of my life in the Pacific Northwest. I realized that Instagram was a great way to discover the Emerald City. I was in awe of the scenery and landscape and sought after more photos on Instagram. A search of #Seattle and #PacificNorthwest quickly lead to #Igers_Seattle, and I began to see the same names pop up over and over again.

One of the first people I started to follow was @SeahawkSanders. I always thought his landscape images were stunning. The compositions, the colors, the comments – they all caught my eye. I liked nearly every one of his photos, and he became one of the few IGers whom I knew I wanted to meet one day.

After a year and a half of mutual likes and comments, that day finally came on Sept. 7, 2013 during a photowalk organized by Igers Seattle, King5 and We Are Juxt. I recognized Scott right away and introduced myself to him (in my defense, I don’t remember interrupting his conversation with Bridgette!). I was making friends with many local IGers that summer and thought it was super cool to have finally met him and hopefully become friends.

Well, needless to say, Scott quickly dashed away any hopes of a friendship between us. In the following week, my days and evenings were preoccupied with friendly banter and exchanges (and I emphasize on the “friendly”; there was no flirting, at least not on my part!). I kept it cool the entire time. After all, I thought we were just friends. We agreed to meet up one week after the photowalk. I didn’t know if it was a date or just two friends getting together. In fact, I remember talking to a friend about it that afternoon about it:

Friend: So what are you doing tonight?
Me: I think I have a date tonight.
Friend: You think you have a date? What do you mean?
Me: I don’t know if it’s a date. He wanted to meet up but said some friends were also coming.
Friend: Let me know how it goes!

Scott doesn’t know this but going into it, I treated it like a date. I did a few wardrobe changes, asked a friend for his opinion on what I should wear, took my time getting ready (instead of my usual hurriedness). Now … a girl doesn’t do all this if she didn’t want to impress. He picked me up and the rest, as they say, is history. It was the BEST. DATE. EVER.

We went from zero to 60 in like three seconds. We knew right away that there was something amazing between us. But I denied it, downplayed it. I didn’t think it was real. However, I inevitably gave in to the powerful feelings that were overcoming me at full force. I remember looking into his eyes one day and I knew that this was it. This was the real thing. I love him. I’m in love with Scott … with SeahawkSanders!

What is unfolding between us now is a fairy tale come true. Scott is my Prince Charming who has awakened me from a 36-year slumber and breathed new life to me. One by one, he is making my dreams come true and making my fears disappear. He gives me faith, he comforts me, he inspires me to be a better person.

“He makes my heart sing.”

This photo caught the attention of King5 when posted it with the #k5thankful hashtag. In turn, the station featured us in their social media segment! Here is a clip:

On a cool and crisp October night, I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island to meet Scott for dinner. While admiring the gorgeous skyline, it hit me for the first time: Seattle is my home now. Miami will always be my home, but that night, I was able to say without a doubt that Seattle is my home, too.  It’s amazing what love can do to you.

Instagram, especially Igers Seattle, has made a huge impact on me on so many levels: meeting new friends, helping me call Seattle my home now, and, most importantly, bringing Scott in to my life. Thank you, Igers_Seattle, and to KING 5 for introducing me to the love of my life. I count my blessings and lucky stars every day.

February 14 marks five months since our first “date.” It has been five months of new adventures, laughter, happiness and more love than anyone can ever ask for. Scott is my rock, my foundation. It has only been five months but it feels like I’ve loved him for years. And I cannot wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us … and to spend the rest of my days making him happy.

I love you, Scott Sanders. – Irene Lui  Instagram // Twitter

—–

A heartfelt thank you, Scott and Irene, for telling your story! – b.