A Story of Two Tailz; the story according to her:

Once upon a time, there was a little girl, called Irina. Irina grew up in a small, tiny, little town, called Knezha, in a land far, far away, called Bulgaria. Although coming from a very tiny town in a very tiny country (think Midwest, with cornfields and nothing else as far as eyes can see), Irina’s parents made sure she grew up with plenty of awesome gifts, private lessons (Irina played the piano for 5 years, and no, she cannot play a note to save her life today), and great schools. Young Irina was always first in her classes, and it was no surprise when with the help of her amazing mom, Eli, she got in Arizona State University for her undergraduate degree.

Irina studied, travelled, and lived across the US (Arizona, Ohio, Florida, and New York), South America, and Europe, but she really felt at home at the University of Tampa. And it was at the University of Tampa that Irina met her prince charming- Josh.

Only that the night they met, he looked tired and frustrated, and she mostly felt bad for him.

Irina was a Teaching Assistant and giving office hours and Josh was at the time in the Saturday Executive MBA program, while working full time at Colliers International. He was hoping to get some help with a homework project he was trying to complete but was too tired to process any of the tutoring he was getting. “I’ll buy you dinner if you help me finish this project” Josh said, with his typical “ready to make a deal” tone. But Irina had her own plan for the incredibly handsome man sitting in front of her: “How about I cook us dinner AND help you with your homework.”  

And from then on they did their homework together, studied together, had dinners together, partied together, travelled together, moved to New York together, and decided to live life and face both the good time and the bad, together, as a TEAM. They help and support each other, enable each other, empower and challenge one another. They couldn’t be any more different but that’s what makes them perfect for each other.

And as they say, the rest was history… and they lived happily ever after, and as they joke, it’s been “a story of two tailz”!

When Big Met His Lil; Their story according to him:

When Big (Josh) first laid his eyes on Lil (Irina), he was very tired after a long day of 6AM gym, 10 hours of work, then heading to UT Campus to study for his MBA.  He was painfully working away in one of the study rooms when he saw Lil sitting with some fellow students.  He was asking for help on a statistics problem and she was kind enough to attempt to solve the mental disaster.  It was pretty much helpless at this point, but he played along as if the assistance was working. 

Later he realized she was the Dean's assistant and he could access her via approaching the Dean’s Office or the infamous text message.  He had multiple motives, but originally kept the script on seeing if she would be his tutor.  He tried, oh, he tried. At her desk near the Dean's Desk in person, in the hallway, and via text he kept getting shot down.   He suggested he would pay her for tutoring- denied.  On another occasion, he offered to take her to dinner for tutoring (wink, wink), and then denied.  Finally, she agreed to help him with the statistics work and then she turned it around and insisted she would cook dinner after the lesson.  Bingo, he thought – can’t believe this finally worked. 

Before he knew it, she was accepting all sorts of invites, dinners, night out on the town- to The Kennedy (and Greg/Lilly’s – where his only “move” was to cuddle on the couch; beach front Greek festival parties (where she learned she had to be adaptive); dinners (at the Element Kitchen and on the town); and nights on the Element Balcony listening to music and looking at the Tampa Skyline.

It quickly became a habit for them to text when he left work and for him to scoop her up in Hyde Park on the way from Westshore back to Downtown Tampa.  Before they knew it time had flown from Spring to Summer of 2010 and on July 4th in the Florida Keys they broke down and acknowledged loving each other.

Zap the clock ahead to late 2011.  Both Big and Lil had graduated and Big had a plan to move North.  Not sure what she would say, Big threw out there, “well, I bet PWC would transfer you, and if you wanted, I would love to have you join on the NYC Adventure.”  Her response, was well, why would you want to go from warm FL, nice people, solid career(s) low cost of living and what seemed to be a pretty good thing going.  Big’s only response was that it was what his gut told him to do, so needless to say he was surprised when she said she wanted to join. 

They endured some transitional battles (NYC first 30 days summary: “made that mistake, won’t make that mistake again”), personal and couple growth, and in the end, grew to love the fast pace way of life and extraordinary expectations for everything one does. Big was not a previously a huge fan of marriage before meeting Lil, but after the two of them grew more and more in love during the face of adversity he knew he could not go without her being by his side forever.  On a surprise trip to St. Augustine (Lil loves historic buildings and Big thinks it is the most romantic place in FL) Big asked the Lil if she would be his Lil forever. She said “Yes”, and the rest is history.