The goddess of love smiled upon Connie, 38, and Fabiana, 41, one fateful evening in 2008. At that time, they were just old acquaintances from the early ‘90s, reuniting, with no idea what was to come. Years after attending high school together in Canarsie, they found themselves meeting again in the now-closed Park Slope lesbian bar, Cattyshack. They felt an instant attraction that night, and they look back on this auspicious reunion as their very first date.
Back in high school, Connie and Fabiana had mutual friends, yet they never really spoke to each other. But Connie admits to being an admirer from afar, “I did love to watch Fabiana play handball on the courts daily…” (In a “stalker-ish” way, she jokes.) Fast-forward to the digital age, when the two reconnected as pals via MySpace. “I became friends with her twin sister first and then Fabiana.” Over the next six months, Connie accepted several invitations to meet—but every time, she backed out. Why? “I don’t know why…I have to believe that it just wasn’t our time yet, and that’s why it played out in such a way. What was to happen next was very much unexpected. We both had no intentions at first, but it quickly changed and took us both by complete surprise,” says Connie.
“YOU HAD ME AT STRAIGHT CHICK”
Remember Cattyshack? For those of you who don’t, it had two levels: the main walk-in dance floor and bar area and the second-level dance area with an outdoor roof-like deck. There, Fabiana—who was celebrating her birthday—introduced Connie as her “straight” friend to all her buddies. “I wore a pretty tall pair of heels that night, so when making our way downstairs to the main dance area, she offered her hand to me so I wouldn't fall down the steep stairway,” Connie fondly recalls. “Since that day, she has never let go.”
Not long after holding hands while walking down that flight of steps, they recognized that they were falling in love. Still, it seems that they took their time. “I waited a little bit to introduce her to my children, Alex and Giovanni, because I didn’t want to rush things, but they clicked instantly when they did meet,” Connie says. The couple even took their time to say those three magic words. “The first time I said ‘I love you’ was very unconventional,” she confides. “We were speaking on the phone, and during the conversation I told Fabiana, ‘I blank you.’ She said, ‘You blank me? And I said, ‘Yes. You can fill in the blank.’ Being the non-affectionate person I was, it was difficult for me to say those words. She laughed at me and just said, ‘OK, I blank you, too.’ She asked me why, and I responded, ‘You had me at straight chick.’”
That’s a fantastic line, but what was it really that Connie saw—and still sees–in her new love? “Fabiana has a light that is within her that shines ever so brightly in a childlike way. She is such a caring and giving person that people seem always to be drawn to her. She is always hopeful and optimistic and worries little about what usually stresses adults our age. She balances me out,” Connie says.
THE FUTON ON THE FLOOR
Like most couples, Connie and Fabiana have experienced their share of challenges and tough times. Given that they got together in 2008—when the whole world was in the midst of a crippling economic crisis—money was, at one point, a problem. They lived with a close relative, a situation which afforded them shelter, but little privacy to talk and make plans for their future. But that was a temporary difficulty that they managed to overcome. In 2010 Fabiana got a better job and began completing her college education. Things started looking up. Through it all, they never lost faith in each other—or in their love. As Connie tells it: “We have gone from sleeping on a futon on a relative’s kitchen floor with low-income jobs and little money to spare to sustaining our own home, purchasing a brand new vehicle, paying for our own wedding, graduating with college degrees and being able to sustain a level of happiness for our children. Some people could not have done this much in a lifetime, but our persistence and love overcame every obstacle thus far.”
TYING THE KNOT
Last September, after six years together, the couple tied the knot at Vetro by Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach. As you might imagine, they say it was quite simply the greatest day of their lives. They took their vows in a lovely rooftop ceremony at sunset, with their two sons serving as ring bearers. Connie remembers, “[S]eeing Fabiana in tears with a huge smile on her face as I walked down to Jasmine Thompson’s version of ‘A Thousand Years’…the whole world around us consisting of 100 persons had disappeared. I just did not want that moment to end. I hung on to every word that was spoken by our officiant while just staring into [Fabiana’s] beautiful eyes and smiling. She said that I was stunning, but she was the one who took my breath away.” Their reception was beautifully lit with romantic lighting and tables decorated with flower arrangements accented with hanging crystals. They danced together, and they danced with their handsome boys. Having the love of family and friends around them added immensely to the joyous atmosphere. “We had the closest of friends and family there to support our love and union,” says Connie, “and there’s no doubt in my mind that all who attended were able to see what we have found in each other.”
The couple makes their home in Staten Island, and although they say “it isn’t all butterflies and rainbows” they have a rock-solid relationship and commitment. “We are passionate people by nature, so when we have our bad times as others do, it’s just as passionate as our love. That would explain why through the years there has been no hurdle not overcome,” Connie says.
What’s in store for this couple and their beautiful family? How do they envision the future? “Our kids adore us [and] we love each other so much, that I can honestly say: THIS is what I want,” Connie says. “No change…just THIS.”