I believe that “serendipity” is one of Life’s sonnets to those who are courageous in love. And courage is what I mustered up when joining eHarmony over two years ago. You have to understand that a 25-year-old New York actress has nothing but big dreams of fame and fortune on her mind. Forget a “woman’s right to shoes”, I lived at the “address for Success.” Booking commercials, doing short films, feeling like I needed no one to get through the hard times. Conveniently, love was pushed aside as I toured Germany, Italy and Korea.
It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles in 2006, that things changed. I joined eHarmony to meet new people in this big “city of strangers.” The month I joined eHarmony, was the same month Phillip Bailey canceled his membership. He had been it for a few months, and grew frustrated with his prospects. Convinced that he wouldn’t find anyone, after a series of dates, he received an email notification from eHarmony of a possible match out, of the blue. What he didn’t realize was the the woman on the other end (me) would in less than 6 months be his fiancee, and in a year- his wife. Phillip was the first person I actually met from eHarmony, and I was his last:-)
For the record, neither of us had pictures up on our profiles. Except for first name, age, occupation and race, it was blank slate. He is White and I am Black. It wasn’t until a few weeks into online conversation, that we realized we didn’t know what the other looked like. We shared our views on politics, faith, action superheroes, dating, music, and most importantly: Dessert. You’d be surprised how quickly a conversation about German chocolate mousse and fudge brownie batter ice cream can seal the deal.
My name is Fri Forjindam. I’m originally from Cameroon, West Africa. I grew up watching Bollywood movies, living in different parts of the world and eventually settling in LA as a full time actress. My husband’s name is Phillip Bailey. He’s a professional drummer, and now works for a record Label in Beverly Hills. We are from two very different worlds. I have no doubts that were it not for eHarmony our paths would never have collided…or would it?
Phillip’s first time out of the U.S was to come home with me to Cameroon and ask my father for my hand in marraige. We had a six-hour layover in France, and decided to walk around Paris all through the night and into the morning. Doing three important things: See the eiffel tour, ordering a plate of crepes and escargot, and dancing to a lone warrior playing the acordian next to his Smart car. After our brief stop in Europe, we were off to Cameroon. Phillip met my conservative parents for the first time in hipster pants and pierced ears. That first dinner was the longest and best three-course meal I’ve ever had. What initially was supposed to be an intimate traditional ceremony turned into a huge affair (thanks to my mother). There he was, the only caucasian for miles, declaring his love for me infront of over 150 of my family. They loved his spirit and his courage in wearing a full on suit in the middle of the dry season in a country on the equator. Courage!
We decided to get married in Maui, a neutral destination for both our families. We found an old sugar mill in the mountains from 1857 to tie the knot. Amidst the romance of the outdoor chandeliers and the dance of champagne glasses, ivory candles and stone fountains, I couldn’t help but notice inscriptions in the 151-year old columns. A the top of each column were the initials “FB” – my married initials. I hadn’t noticed these until the end of the evening. Coincidence or Serendipity?
Whatever you’re belief, I’d like to think that people come into our lives for reasons that are bigger than us, if and when we let them. You see, we didn’t know then, but ten months after we met on eHarmony, in March of 2007 was the last time Phillip met my father.
My parents could not attend my wedding in May 2008. At the time, I had no idea why their passports were being withheld at the embassy, preventing them from leaving Cameroon. As the date quickly approached, we decided to go ahead with the wedding with the hopes of a last minute miracle. That miracle happened, but not in the way that you’d think. My parents never made it to my wedding for reasons only revealed to the family members able to attend. The reason was grave: My father was illegally detained in my home country as a political prisoner. At the time, I didn’t know this. My older brother, younger sister, Aunt, Uncles and Cousins all knew and decided not to tell me. They knew it would cripple my spirits, and under instructions from my parents, wanted May 10th, 2008 to be the best day of my life. And it was. You have to understand, that armed with information that was quite crucial and devastating, they stepped in for my parents and took over all the last minute arrangements, bookings, dinners, parties, everything. They laughed with me, they danced with me, and they loved with me. So the miracle was how my family came together in ways that reaffirmed my belief in life and love.
Inevitably, I was informed of the news regarding my father. The day after the wedding, my family sat both Phillip and myself down to break the news to us, explaining the full details of why my parents couldn’t be there.
In the eight months since we’ve been married, Phillip has been nothing but supportive of me in dealing with my father’s case. For someone who prides herself in being uber-independent, I can honestly say that I couldn’t have gone through the past few months without his shoulder to lean on.
My father remains illegally imprisoned till this day. It’s an ongoing battle for his freedom, but in the fight, I’ve learned that a solid rock is all one needs when swayed by monsoon-like obstacles. That laughter adds years to one’s life, but offers perspective to one’s experience. I’m learning that courage, love and hope are easily three of the most underrated weapons of survival. I’m hoping our children one day, read this during their show-and-tell and feel completely embarrassed. Phillip is my rock…and he’s pretty cute too:-)