On the Eve of Lockdown, a Jam-Packed First Date

On Jan. 28, 2020, Sharon Deckey Mussalli was scrolling by means of Instagram when she stumbled on a black-and-white photograph of Shaun Robert Jenkins, a senior supervisor of coaching at Tone Home, a stylish gymnasium in New York Metropolis.

The photograph was posted by a mutual good friend on Mr. Jenkins’s birthday, and confirmed him in a tuxedo and bow tie. It “stopped me useless in my tracks,” mentioned Ms. Mussalli, 45, the chief vice chairman of income and operations on the media firm Bustle Digital Group. “He was good-looking to the purpose the place I truly thought that this may not be an actual particular person.”

Despite the fact that they’d by no means met, she didn’t hesitate to ship him a direct message, writing, “I assume it’s solely acceptable that I want you a contented birthday.”

“I had by no means achieved something like that earlier than assembly Shaun,” Ms. Mussalli mentioned, laughing, “and I do know I’ll by no means do something like that once more.”

Ms. Mussalli’s boldness was nicely obtained by Mr. Jenkins. “It simply exuded a lot confidence and actually piqued my curiosity,” he mentioned.

A divorced father of two younger women and initially from Brooklyn, Mr. Jenkins was dwelling in Jersey Metropolis, N.J., on the time. He graduated from Union Faculty in Schenectady, N.Y., and is finding out for an M.B.A. at New York College.

Ms. Mussalli, a local of Pawtucket, R.I., was then dwelling within the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan. She graduated from Tufts College and obtained an M.B.A. from the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how.

They continued to change messages on Instagram, by which they touched upon every part from politics to favourite movies and novels. Mr. Jenkins mentioned he was struck by Ms. Mussalli’s mind; she mentioned she discovered that “dialog got here so naturally” with him.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

The 2 later exchanged numbers and, over the following couple of months, tried to seek out time of their busy schedules to go on a date. By March, town was making ready for a lockdown due to the pandemic. On March 13, earlier than it formally went into impact, “We bought in as a lot as we might,” Mr. Jenkins mentioned.

He organized their first date to incorporate stops at three of his favourite lounges: the New York Version, the Seville and the Rose Bar.

Each whiskey drinkers, they felt very a lot at residence with one another throughout their tour of the city. “Individuals on the bar didn’t even suppose we have been on a primary date,” Ms. Mussalli mentioned. “It was simply wonderful chemistry.”

Regardless of the upcoming lockdown, earlier than the date ended, Mr. Jenkins requested Ms. Mussalli if she would exit with him once more. A couple of days later, on a Saturday morning, they awoke to a totally totally different New York. With companies closed and dozens of latest restrictions in place, their choices for actions have been extraordinarily restricted.

So, on their second date, Mr. Jenkins and Ms. Mussalli went on a stroll alongside the East River. Their subsequent date was a stroll alongside the Hudson River, and that was adopted by many dates at each other’s houses, the place they cooked one another’s favourite meals: meatballs, burgers and black cod.

By the point the worst of the early pandemic was over, they have been in love, and had skilled many highs in addition to a number of lows. 4 of Mr. Jenkins’s relations died from Covid, and Ms. Mussalli’s father died from most cancers.

“However the good occasions outweighed the unhealthy,” Mr. Jenkins mentioned. “It was like being round my mirror, I used to be simply consumed along with her.”

On Sept. 25, 2020, they made a dedication to one another — neither needed to make use of the phrase “engagement” as a result of, as Mr. Jenkins defined, they felt the time period had an implication that “you’re not totally dedicated but.”

The couple, who now reside collectively in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, have been married on Jan. 28, Mr. Jenkins’s birthday, on the Public Resort in New York. Ramez Baddour, a Common Life minister, officiated earlier than 69 vaccinated visitors, who with the couple celebrated what was, from the start, “only a uncooked and trustworthy relationship,” Mr. Jenkins mentioned. On the Eve of Lockdown, a Jam-Packed First Date

Fry Electronics Team

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