It was August 2008 and I was away in Russia, when I received a phone call from my best friend, Rachel. “I met a guy. He’s French, and he’s crazy”, she informed me, sending me a link to his Facebook page. Skimming through the profile of a cute Frenchie named Jeremy Schinazi, we giggled at his jewfro and blue plastic sunglasses he was so fond of at the time. Little did we know that this goofy French boy would soon go on to play a pivotal role in her life, becoming her best friend, closest confidant, and later on, her husband and the father of their beautiful baby girl, Leni Natalie. Seven years later, I am honored to call him one of my dearest friends, as well as his own special title of Husband-in-Law. They both live in Paris, where Jeremy runs marketing agency Twin Panda Group and Rachel raises Leni, documenting said métier via a mommy blog La Yummy Mummy. The other day, we sat down to discuss their fateful meeting in NYC’s Meatpacking District, the formative first years of their relationship, new parenthood, and my hopeless love life. Read on!
Marina: Lets start from the beginning. How did you guys meet?
Rachel: We met in New York. One of my best friends called me and asked me if I wanted to go out with some French guys who were visiting from Miami.
Jeremy: July 10, 2008.
Rachel: Yes, if you want more precision, it was July 10, 2008. I was hesitant but I finally decided to go. I arrived to Pastis, and there was this group of French guys. My friend was dating one of them, and the other ones seemed to be single, except for one, who was with some blonde chick. After dinner, we moved it to a lounge that was down the block in the Meatpacking District.
Rachel: Yes darling, Bijoux. So the guy who was with the blonde chick approached me and gave me some lame line, like “You’re so pretty”. I was like “Ok, that’s nice”. I wasn’t really that interested, but he kept on talking. Then he gave up for five minutes, then he came back, then he gave up for half an hour. Then I heard him saying to his friends as kind of a joke “What do I have to do to get her attention? Get naked or something?” I thought it was a funny comment, so I turned around and said “You would never do that”. He said “If I do, will you talk to me?” I said ”Yeah, sure”. He said “If I get kicked out, will you come with me?” I said “Yeah, sure”, not really thinking he’s going to do anything. But he did… He trimmed down to his tighty whities, and when he was about to take his tighty whities off..
Jeremy: I don’t wear no tighty whities. I had Armani boxers.
Rachel: Darling, those were not boxers. Boxers are loose, darling. You were wearing briefs. Anyway, I said “Please keep them on” and I started talking to him..
Marina: While he was still in his underwear? In a club?
Rachel: Yes, exactly. And then security came to kick him out. His friends blocked the security guards and I said “Please get dressed, I will talk to you.” I found that he was funny, which is not very common with New York boys, especially in that scene. Most of the time they are pretty nasty and pretentious and full of themselves, walking around like peacocks, throwing around their money and thinking that that’s more than enough to get you interested. But he was actually funny and he made me laugh, so I thought, ok , I will talk to him. We started dancing, he was a good dancer..
Jeremy: And then you put your tongue in my mouth.
Rachel: No, then you kissed me. And it was a very good kiss. And then we went out the next day.
Marina: Wait, backtrack. Wasn’t there another girl involved?
Rachel: Yes, he ditched her apparently. You see, he was a douchebag then.
Jeremy: I told her I had met my future wife.
Rachel: Apparently he did say that to her. They weren’t serious, but in any case that wasn’t very nice of him.
Marina: Jeremy, tell me about when you first saw Rachel.
Jeremy: Oh, I wrote a poem about this.
Marina: No you didn’t. (Is anybody ever going to write a poem about meeting me?!)
Jeremy: Please acknowledge that I didn’t speak much English at the time.
In that French café
She opened the door
My eyes stopped on her
She glided between the tables
My vision blurred
A knot in my throat
Shouts become whispers.
I could only hear my own breathing
Melting with the click of her heels on the floor
I dare looking into her eyes
Marina: Wow, that says it all. You saw Rachel and thought..
Jeremy: This is my wife.
Marina: How did you know?
Jeremy: It was a gut feeling. When you know, you know. There was no explanation, no rational. I found her extremely pretty, there was the charm, there was the energy.. It was everything, you know. I basically found love in one second.
Marina: And you never doubted it?
Jeremy: Not for one second. After, I was on a mission to just get her to the same level, which was really hard. On our second date, I came to dinner with a pair of handcuffs, so I handcuffed her to me. Then, about a week into it, we went to see a movie at the Angelica, the Wackness, and then we walked for hours in the city, just walking and holding hands. After walking for 9 hours, we arrived to the apartment I was staying at in Midtown, and she wanted to have sex with me, and I didn’t want to. I wanted it to be special, I wanted to wait. I thought maybe to her, this is just a sex story, and I really wasn’t happy about that.
Rachel: I just wanted to get it over with.
Jeremy: I wanted her to make me wait six months, whatever it takes. I wanted it to be like – this relationship is going to be very special. But to her, I wasn’t special at the time, I had to become special. August 29 was her birthday, and for her birthday, I wanted to take her to Paris and introduce her to my parents – this was a month and a half after we met.
Jeremy: Yeah, normal. So, on the morning of her birthday, I woke her up at 7am, and I had her bag packed, and I took her to Marrakesh, to Palais Rhoul, where we later got married. Then, when we came back, she came to visit me in Miami, and I said to her “Why don’t you move to Miami?”. She said “Are you serious about this?” and I said “Yes, of course.”
Marina: Damn. Rachel, when did you know that this was real?
Rachel: Well, he was different from anybody I had ever met before. I am a little bit more jaded than him, he is much more romantic. For me, you could fall in love with somebody, and it doesn’t mean that this is “the one”. You fall in love, you fall out of love, that’s just how it is. In order to really think “This is the man I am going to marry”, he kind of has to be more than just a love interest. He became more than just a love interest for me when I saw to what extent he was willing to put himself out of the way, for me. He was willing to move mountains – almost like, not a friend, but family, the way family loves you. Truly loves you. Its endurable love. Like, “If shit goes down, I still love you” kind of love.
Jeremy: Like, “If you get fat, I still love you” kind of love.
Rachel: I had never really found anything like this – real like this – so I actually felt comfortable enough with him, and I trusted him.
Marina: Jeremy, how long did you wait before you proposed? And how did you propose?
Jeremy: I proposed two years later, on July 3rd, 2010. I was under a lot of pressure, she was always complaining that the relationship was going nowhere..
Rachel: I was done wasting my time. Because I know these stories where people wait eight years and it leads to absolutely nothing.
Jeremy: I knew I wanted to be with her and I didn’t want to lose her, but I had just finished my studies, I had two bucks to my name at the time. I wanted the proposal to be as romantic as the relationship, but it couldn’t be, with that kind of pressure and with my means at the time. So I went to a store on Mulberry street and I got a plastic ring for like $2, and used the rest of the money I had to take her to dinner. We arrived to the restaurant and it was terrible, everything was wrong, so we jumped into a taxi and went to a Japanese restaurant in the Meatpacking District, where it all began. We had no reservation, we had to wait two hours for the table, I get drunk on Sake, I couldn’t eat because I was so nervous. So I just took out the ring, placed it on the table, and I said “Everybody tries to make this moment special, but what is special about us is us. So I’m just going to make it simple. Will you marry me?” She looked at the ring and said “Are you serious?” three times in a row.
Marina: Was she questioning the ring or the proposal?
Marina: Did you wear the plastic ring?
Jeremy: She did for awhile, then she got an infection.
Marina: You were only dating for two years. How did you know you were ready?
Jeremy: Well, in those two years we actually went through some really hard times together, which only brought us closer together.
Rachel: Yes, we knew we were capable of being together, because we had a lot of troubles and we worked through them together. We know that, if we had figured this out, we can figure out anything that comes our way. I think a lot of people its “high-high-high” and then they get married, without ever having experienced any low, and that could be a problem.
Jeremy: Yeah, we went through everything holding hands.
Marina: Did anything change after you got married?
Jeremy: Yes, you have nothing to talk about. For a year, you talk only about the wedding. And the next day you come home and you don’t know what to say. Oh, also maintaining the sex life becomes a problem..
Marina: Isn’t that just because of baby?
Rachel: Yes, that’s because of the baby. That was never our problem. It is hard to have a child.. You have absolutely no idea what you are getting yourself into. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier, but it’s super hard. For a few months it kills a few aspects of your marriage. I had a few months when I was very unsure of myself, my hormones were stabilizing themselves, and I was very scared with the baby. Jeremy took care of everything. In that respect we were very convergent together. Eventually, we went into our roles. Me as I want working, as the caretaker of the baby and the home, and him as the provider.
Marina: Jeremy, what is fatherhood like?
Jeremy: Its pure happiness. Its new feelings, new corners of your heart opening. Also, its pride, both pride in the kid and pride in yourself, in all the things you thought you would never do, like change a diaper.
Rachel: Yeah a poop diaper. He swore he would never do that.
Jeremy: Yeah, I never thought I could put myself so far back in my list of priorities. I changed everything about myself. You wake up and you go to bed thinking about your child’s happiness today, and your child’s happiness in 30 years. My life has a different meaning. I don’t want anything for myself – everything I do now is a plan for my daughter to be happy for the rest of her life.
Rachel: Not a lot people think that way, but he happens to be the one that does.
(Looks very happy with her choice.)
Marina: Do you ever miss being selfish?
Rachel: No. Being selfish brings you momentary pleasure. But if you do something for her the pleasure doesn’t stop.
Jeremy: And as a father, I want her to be proud of what I accomplish, Not only the things that I give her, but to give her a good image of parenting, a good home..
Rachel: Which is selfish, in a way.
Marina: Any tips for a successful marriage?
Jeremy: Pick your battles – we definitely don’t fight about the same things now as we did when we first met. Also, whenever you do something selfish for yourself, do something for the other person, figure out a way how the person can have the same amount of pleasure.
Rachel: Like, say you’re going on a guy trip, you get her a spa package or something.
Jeremy: Yeah, whenever I order dessert, I have to get her a pair of Louboutins.
Marina: What do you guys feel when you watch me date?
Rachel: That’s just sad.
Jeremy: I’m sure its fun, but its also depressing.
Rachel: What’s sad to me is the strangeness of the whole situation. There’s no glamor anymore, no courting…
Jeremy: Its like product testing.
Rachel: Exactly! It becomes so manufactured, so fake..
Marina: Maybe that’s just me!
Jeremy: I think every relationship that makes history, starts with a story. And with Tinder, or arranged by somebody..
Rachel: Maybe since we never went through Tinder, so we don’t understand. What makes me sad is the picks. Men have a sea of women to pick from, and you are in the higher end in this class of fish that men are choosing from.. What makes me sad is that the people you find are such LOSERS. I don’t even know what happens to others..
Marina: This is a depressing way to end this interview.
Jeremy: Well yeah, but when we think about you dating situation, Rachel and I cry. We hug, we cry.
Marina: Do you pray? Maybe you should pray.
Rachel: We do pray. We pray that one day you meet a normal type of person. Somebody we can get along with!