My name is Danielle Stanziale. I’m from Queens, New York.
It was the end of summer, eight years ago, and I was sitting outside The Duplex on Christopher and Seventh Avenue. My roommate at the time was dating another girl and had said, “Oh, they’re coming over to have some drinks with us, and she was bringing a friend.” And she was adorable, and we continued on to barhop throughout the West Village, going to Stonewall, a couple other parties, boys, girls, whatever.
I started to notice Johanne and – which was my friend’s friend – and we started dancing at Stonewall upstairs, and I was having a great time. She was a little, maybe too much drinks, wanted me to take her home, and I was like, No, I don’t think it was right. She didn’t like that answer and proceeded to just leave and make out with somebody else right in front of me.
My friends and I decided to just leave. She decided to follow us and try to continue to hang out with us, and I was just, like, not having it. I moved on, I went to whatever, went home. That was it.
For the next day or two, she was trying to search for me on Facebook, from what I know. Found me on Facebook through friends and apologized in a long, long message in Messenger. So I was like, Okay, I’ll be your friend. She persisted to follow me at parties that I would actually throw because I worked at the Stonewall and I would do Thursday nights, so every Thursday she would show up. She was about 17 years younger than me, so that was a huge red flag.
She didn’t quit and over drinks after a couple weeks, I was like, Okay, why not? So it was casual. I would only allow it to be casual and I wouldn’t even call it dating. We were just really hooking up.
This went on for months and months and there was some kind of crazy connection between us that I couldn’t explain. So then after a year, I couldn’t help but have feelings for her and started to realize she was a really good person. No matter what the age was, I was like, You know what? I’m going to give it a shot.
So we started really dating and I was calling her my girlfriend, and then I get a phone call and she’s like, “My visa’s running out.” She’s from France.
And I said, “What does that mean?”
She says, “Well, I have a work visa here, and it only lasts a couple of years.” So we threw her a giant going away party and we vowed to do long distance. I tried going to Paris a couple months here, a couple months there, it just… and it was just too much. So I said, Well, this is not going to work. And over video chat, I broke up with her and she was devastated.
I tried to date girls my age and I did, and some lasted a couple months, but it was… it wasn’t her. June came running along and I’m a New York City promoter for women’s parties and I’m doing pride parties. And Thursday night I had heard that she was coming to visit.
I was doing an event on Thursday night at Stonewall, and she walked in the door and time just froze. The first thing I did was just kiss her. We weren’t even together and I didn’t care. She stayed for two weeks and I tried to spend as much time as I can with her while she was here, and it was amazing. And then she left again.
She walked in the door and time just froze. The first thing I did was just kiss her.
Towards the end of the summer, I’m at dinner with some friends, some very close friends, and they’re like, “What’s going on with you? You’ve been moping around for months.”
And I was just like, “I can’t get her out of my head.”
One of my friends just looked at me and said, “Danielle, do you realize you have the power to be with her? Go to Paris and marry her, bring her back here. Tell her you love her, and that’s it.”
And I was like, I think I got to sleep on this, you know, but it was the answer. So I bought a ring and I booked a flight. And she did actually just thought that I was taking her on vacation. I called her up and I was like, “Listen, I have some time off. Let’s go to Italy.”
I get to Paris and she springs on a surprise dinner that I’m meeting her whole entire family. There I am sitting at the dinner with this engagement diamond ring in my pocket. She went to go out and smoke a cigarette with her brother, and so I was sitting right directly across from her mom and her sister, and her father was right to my left.
And I said, “Listen.” I said, “I’m not just here on vacation. I’m here because I’m going to propose in Italy tomorrow.” The mother immediately cried. I wasn’t sure if she was crying of sadness, but it was happy tears. And sister’s happy, and everybody’s like, oh, cheering. And the father just swigging the whiskey. And I’m like, Oh my God, I don’t know what he’s going to do.
He seriously said, “I know how much my daughter loves you and there’s nothing that I could do or say, but you’re the one apparently, so please take care of her.”
The next morning we got up and we took a two-hour flight to Italy, and I was a mess and nervous as hell. She was exhausted, so she decided to take a nap and I went out and I ordered champagne and I set up the whole balcony with flowers.
So I wake her up and I was like, “Oh, get ready, go to the shower.”
And she’s like, “Okay.”
And I said, “Come outside.” So I just told her that day in Stonewall when time had stopped was the day that I couldn’t let her go any longer, and I got on that one knee and gave her the ring, and it took her a minute because she was in such shock to actually say yes. And of course she said yes. It was really wonderful. It was one of the best days of my life.
So she packed up her Paris apartment and moved into my small Hell’s Kitchen apartment. It’s the little things that you get to know every day, what toothbrush they use or how they brush their teeth or whatever. The daily routine. I didn’t know anything. How she liked her coffee? Not a clue. So it was hard in the beginning.
Two months later, we went to City Hall, we got married right away, and then a couple months later we had the huge party with all our friends and family. And that was six and a half years ago when she got off that plane. And we are so happily married. My wife, Johanne, is the most best woman in my life. It’s hard to say it in words, how to tell someone to be open into a relationship. It’s almost a feeling. It’s letting your guard down for a second is how you really meet somebody and how you really connect. It’s almost like letting it happen. If it’s supposed to happen, it’s going to happen. You’re going to meet that person. You don’t know when you’re going to meet that person, but you will.