Friday, June 22, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

From This Day: Though they keep it fun, college sweethearts find meaning family, hard work

DURHAM, N.C.

Groomsmen snapped pretend photos and struck poses as they entered the Cotton Room more like the starting lineup of an NBA team than a wedding party.

Aaron Fryer, 27, of Town 'N Country, wanted to make his final steps as a single man as fun as all his others had been up to July 7.

"My friends and I, we're not all there," Aaron said. "My wife is very open-minded. She just connected with them."

Aaron met his bride, 29-year-old LaToya Eason, in Durham six years earlier following a homecoming game at their school, Duke University.

"There were four guys riding by in a car and he leaned out the window and said 'Hey,' " giggled LaToya, who is originally from Woodbridge, Va. "He must have thought we were freshmen."

In fact, she was a graduate student in physical therapy and unimpressed with Aaron's opening line.

"I think I exchanged numbers with his friend," said LaToya, who is now a physical therapist at Optimum Performance Physical Therapy in Tampa.

At home, Aaron discovered they were already Facebook friends, so he sent her a message. The message turned to a meeting the next day where the couple talked straight through the night and Aaron ended up having to go to football practice at 5 a.m. on no sleep.

"We talked about everything," Aaron said. "Family, likes, dislikes, school, I mean everything."

The romance only picked up speed from there. In no time LaToya was wearing Aaron's football team-issued sweat pants, cutting his hair and changing her Facebook status to "In a relationship.".

"I wrote him a note that said 'Do you want to be my boyfriend? Check yes or no,' " LaToya said. "We always joked that we weren't official until we were Facebook official."

In 2009, LaToya's doctoral program entered the internship phase, which required her to take two 5-month internships and a 1-month internship to graduate. She flitted among North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. Aaron returned to Tampa and joined the coaching staff for Berkeley Prep's football team.

"My old coach from Jesuit was the head coach, and he offered me the job," Aaron said. During the day, he worked as a senior coordinator with Capital One HVS Tampa.

To ease the separation the couple turned to gadgetry, constantly video chatting and talking on the phone.

"Technology made it easier. We would Skype every day," LaToya said. "There were a lot of flights back and forth. When we were broker, it was harder."

They both moved back in with their parents to save toward their marriage — even though Aaron hadn't yet proposed.

"When I asked her parents, they play fainted and said 'About time,' " Aaron said.

His mind had been set long before he had a jeweler custom make the ring. When he saw how quickly and closely LaToya had bonded with his now 8-year-old son, Kristopher, it was clear he had met his future wife.

"She embraced him. And he loves her more than he loves me, I think," Aaron said. "If we're both together, he'll run to her."

So he proposed to her in Miami on Oct. 23, 2011. After a walk on the beach, Aaron pulled a ring box out of his shoe and said, "Marry me."

"What?" LaToya responded.

Unsure of what that meant, Aaron prodded, "Well?"

"Of course," she finally managed. A single tear fell. Then she punched him for good measure.

It was just the kind of fun LaToya and Aaron strive for in their every moment together.

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