Jalen’s first attempt to meet Alexandra did not end well. It took some effort, but when she finally agreed to join him for a day of basketball and soccer, and he knew it was make or break time.
Bride: Alexandra Politis, 28, sports dietician – Coastal Carolina University, native of Charlotte, North Carolina
Groom: Jalen Littlejohn, 28, teacher/ basketball coach- Lincolnton High School, native of Lincolnton, North Carolina
Current Residence: Huntersville, North Carolina
Wedding Date: July 2023
Venue/Location: Key West, Florida
How They Met
(Jalen) I met Alexandra in March 2020, right before the pandemic shutdowns began. We met at Lost and Found in a popular bar and lounge in Charlotte’s Southend. She was with a group of friends, and so was I, when we made eye contact. It was like having tunnel vision. I wanted to let her know I was interested in her, so I called her to my table. She did not give me the answer that I was looking for.
There were alcoholic beverages around, and I guess I let them defeat me. I did a finger wag, come here gesture. That is not who I am. Maybe it was my Alter Ego, but it did not go well at all. I wanted to show my mutual attraction to her and get her phone number. Instead, she shut me down.
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One of my friends is actively involved in social media. Usually, he is more interested in getting followers than in getting phone numbers. When I went to the restroom, he got Alexandra’s social media to account information. The next day, I could not get her off my mind. I did not know her name, but I knew what she looked like. So, I did something that may be frowned upon. I knew he had gotten her social media account, so I searched his followers to find her.
It took a while, but eventually, I located her. As time passed, she followed me back, and we started getting to know each other through our social media content. I learned that she is not just a girl that goes out on the weekend; she was busy doing woman-like stuff. She does things throughout the week related to her occupation and being a student. She found out I do things that a young man should do within my community.
One day I put up my Snapchat platform, and she said she would follow me there. People who follow each other on Snapchat tend to be close friends because Snapchat gets more into daily life. That is where we got to know each other even more. Finally, I got the opportunity to approach her like a man and asked her on a date.
(Alexandra) When he tried to wave me over, I thought he was just another guy trying to holla. I just waved him off and said, “No, I’m good.” I was not going over to his table. A few minutes later, his friend and I exchanged social media account information. When Jalen started popping up on my social media feed, I recognized him as the guy from the bar. I was like, “Oh my goodness, he actually found me and is trying to make an appearance.” As he continued to pop up, I thought it might be a sign that I needed to get to know more about him.
Their First Date
(Jalen) I wanted to share a date with Alexandra away from the bar setting, where we could get to know one another. My first suggestion for a date was more like what you would share with someone you have been dating for a couple of months. I had planned a group outing to go jet skiing. I had already paid for the jet skis when my friends backed out. So, I asked Lex if she wanted to go jet skiing with me. The weather was hot and seemed like a fantastic way to spend the day.
I did not think about how she did not know me and that it might seem weird of me to want to take her out to the middle of the lake. With all that is going on these days, including random murders, I can understand how that may have come across. She suggested that we do something that was first-date-ish.
I asked, “Well, you play sports, right?” When she said she played basketball and soccer growing up, I was like, “Me too, to an extent.” I had played basketball in college but had never played soccer a day in my life. I knew I was willing to do anything to get to know her. We agreed to go to the park and play soccer.
We went to a park in the South Park area. She was surprised that I could play a little. There was a basketball court at the top of the hill, and she wanted to take a break and watch the guys who were playing. When they asked me to play, I knew it was my time to shine. She did not know that I had played collegiate basketball, but she quickly found out when I made an amazing play. She was in shock. I knew that this pickup game would either make me or break me, so I played well.
After the game, I asked her if she wanted to get something to eat. She had told me that she was into nutrition and wanted to pursue a career as a dietitian. I was not sure if that meant she was vegetarian, vegan, or what. She explained it was about choosing meals that were healthy and suggested having a smoothie.
We went to Smoothie King. It was near closing time, and I thought we would pick up our smoothies, and I would drive her home. When we returned to the car, she suggested we drink them there. We ended up spending three hours sitting in the car talking. During that time, I got to know Alexandra better than I had ever known another woman. I knew that day Alexandra was going to be my wife.
(Alexandra) When he mentioned jet skis, the first thing that came to mind was, “I don’t even know this person. Why would I go with him on a jet ski in the middle of the lake? What if something happens?” The first thing was being safe and alert. I asked a few of my friends what they thought and if I should go. I did not like that idea and decided it may be something we could do down the road, but as a first date, I wasn’t really with it. That is when I suggested doing something else.
We decided to play basketball and soccer, which was different for me. I had never had a guy want to do an activity date. We usually went to eat and things like that. Jay and I had so much fun just getting to know each other. When he had the opportunity to play basketball, I was sitting at the top of the hill admiring him, playing, and taking pictures. He is really good at basketball, and it was neat to watch.
We got to Smoothie King just before closing, so I suggested drinking them in the car. That would give us a chance to talk. We ended up staying there for three hours. We asked each other questions about where we come from, our values, and our relationship with God. Those three hours were probably the best three hours of my life. I knew that it was going to be the start of something good.
This is “The One”
(Jalen) I liked how she said things, how she reacted to things I said, the ongoing questions, and her willingness to get to know me. The things I did within my twenty-four-hour day did not scare her away as they did with other young ladies in our age bracket. Many ladies have been scared away when they found out what I did daily because I live life like a 40-year-old man. With Alexandra, it brought her closer to me. I knew she would be my wife one day; we needed time to let it grow.
That was confirmed for me on her birthday. She invited me to join a group of her friends for a day of boating on the lake to celebrate. I did not know her friends, but because of my love for Lex, I wanted her friends to love me too.
We were on a pontoon boat that was pulling a tube. The person riding the tube was invariably thrown off into the lake and had to swim back to the boat. There were a lot of boats on the lake that day, and when I was thrown off the tube, a speedboat was passing by and did not see me. The wake of the speedboat pushed me underwater and toward the propeller of the pontoon boat. The propeller struck my upper leg as I struggled to regain my bearings.
As I managed to get into the boat, I was gushing blood. We headed back to the dock with everybody concerned about the amount of blood I was losing, especially Lex. She repeatedly said, “Babe, are you alright? Babe, you need to put pressure on it. We need to get you to safety.” She was really worried about me.
She told her friends to drop us off, and they should go on and enjoy the rest of their day. She was going to take me to an urgent care center. She completed my paperwork and waited for me to be treated. Then we went back to the lake to let everyone know that I was okay before heading home.
Alexandra continued to show concern about me during the drive home, telling me that I needed to eat something and that we did not need to do anything else that night. I just needed to rest. I lost my mom at four years old and was raised largely by my grandmother. I had never had any woman except them care for me the way Lex did that day. I knew that this girl would be the one I would marry.
(Alexandra) I realized that Jalen was the one for me when he took me to his hometown, showed me around, and introduced me to his family. He was excited about introducing me to his family. He said, “They need to see who I am with and that I am with the right person.” I asked him if he had ever done this with another girl, and he said, “No, I don’t do this.” It made me feel special and good about our relationship.
I got a chance to see where he grew up, the schools he attended, and the people who raised him. I learned where he got all his mannerisms and how he became a gentleman. It pulled everything together.
I officially knew he was the man for me when I was going away for school. I was going to be moving to Oklahoma, which is a 17-hour drive. I told Jay that I had been accepted into this program and would be away for eight months. I knew being in a long-distance relationship was hard. I told Jay that I would totally understand if he did not want to be in a relationship anymore. A long-distance relationship is not for the weak. It takes communication, honesty, and two people committed to making it work. I was like, “Tell me now if you want to end this or if you are willing to give it a shot.” He said, “No, you are the person for me. I will do anything I have to do to be with you.”
So, I went off to school, and we made it work. We made trips to see one another. He surprised me. I surprised him in Charlotte. When he said he wanted to make it work was when I knew that he was the one.
(Alexandra) I had a feeling that a proposal would be happening soon. Jay had been throwing around some hints. Leading up to my birthday, he kept asking what I wanted to do and what I was thinking of wearing. It was unusual that he had not planned anything specific.
On my birthday, we went out to eat and grab some drinks. Jay was just being fidgety and kept looking at his phone. I knew he was not acting normally and guessed something was up. He told me that he needed to go to the bathroom and got up and left. That is when my best friend and cousin walked in, came over, and sat next to me. I was completely shocked and asked, “What are y’all doing here?” I knew that it was the day I would be proposed to.
My best friend handed me a letter that Jay had written to me. It said, “This is a day that I have been waiting for. I have known since day one that you are the one for me. I have disappeared for the day, but I will meet you again later.”
He had hired a videographer to document the day. Initially, I was in tears but smiling for the next twenty-four hours. I asked my cousin and friend what the plans were, but they would not tell me. They just said I would have to wait and see.
When we left the restaurant, they told me we had to go home and get ready. I told them I did not have anything to wear. Jay had thought of everything because when we got home, there were four dresses for me on the bed. The one I chose was exactly what I would have pictured myself wearing for an engagement.
Jay had a driver come to pick us up. On the drive over, the girls blindfolded me. When we got to our destination, they told me to wait in the car, and Jay would come to get me. Knowing that he was coming made me feel at peace.
Jay told me that we were going to walk for a little bit and he would let me know when to take the blindfold off. My heart was beating fast, not knowing what to expect. After a short walk, he told me that he would walk away. I should stay there and not taken off my blindfold until he told me to. I could hear him in the distance yell, “You can take it off.” I took a deep breath and told myself that I would take it all in, no matter what happened.
When I took the blindfold off, we were at Romare Bearden Park, and all our friends were there. There were rose petals on the ground that ended with a heart shape where Jay was standing. Our male friends, lining the walkway, held roses that they gave me as I walked along. When I reached Jay, he got on his knee and asked me to marry him. It was sheer happiness and the best birthday surprise ever. We all went to Lost and Found to celebrate.
(Jalen) I guess I have a romantic mindset. I got the idea for the letter from my dad. After my mother passed away, he eventually began dating again. I always admired the way he treated the women he dated. He gave them flowers and always found a way to communicate his affection.
I was at his house one day during my freshman year of college. My dad was not at home. I knew that he kept pictures and other memories of my mother and him in his safe, so I looked in the safe for them. I found some letters that they had written to one another. After reading a few, I promised myself to follow his example. When it was time to propose to Lex, I wanted to spill my heart to her in a way that would be memorable.
(Jalen) We have made the decision to elope. We plan to get married in late July on a beach in Key West, Florida. That decision largely came about because our relationship has always been about us. We enjoy spending time together, just the two of us. When we are out together, anyone who sees us knows that we are in love. We wanted our wedding to be an intimate affair between us, followed by a dinner on the beach. This will also save us the expense and stress of planning a wedding. Traveling to our destination will add a short honeymoon to our experience.
Cultural differences were also involved in that decision. I am African American, and Alexandra is Greek. The support of our families is very strong. This is especially true of our grandparents and my father, so racism is not the issue. However, diverse cultures sometimes have different expectations and ways of doing things. We chose not to get involved with any sticky situations.
We look forward to having a celebration with everyone following the wedding. We plan to have a videographer record the ceremony so that everyone can see it during our reception.
Advice to Others
(Alexandra) You must communicate, be honest with and trust each other. This has made our relationship work. Ensure you understand each other’s schedules and the best times to talk. Everything else, like loyalty and the other values that you are looking for in a partner, will fall into place.
(Jalen) Be able to separate your wants from your needs. Every man wants that lustful girl who will turn heads in the building. Go for the woman that you need in your life. There is somebody for everybody in this world. You just have to be able to find your person. Do not be afraid to be yourself, and do not be afraid to fall in love.
Photographer: RJ Photography – Today’s Photographs Are Tomorrow’s Treasures (rudyjefferson.com)