I met Krystal for the first time at my friend Marc Berrouet’s apartment where she annoyingly spoke about her phone for 30 minutes. We officially met in Glades Park Towers at Florida Atlantic University through a group of mutual friends that we affectionately coined “The Duckies.”
The first time Renel and I met was in the Fall of 2007 at a mutual friend’s apartment in Boca Raton, FL. I didn’t really know who he was and barely noticed him. I was there visiting a friend, to show off my new phone (I was a huge phone fanatic back then). The first time I actually noticed Renel, however, was at a club opening a couple weeks or so later. There were only 12 people in the entire club and most of them were sitting down. But not Renel. Renel was up and dancing in the middle of the club like it was a packed night! He had so much fun by himself and I really got to see his personality.
Staying with the theme of love for this month’s blog post, I wanted to highlight Black Love. I believe strongly in it. I know people who are in beautiful relationships and are the epitome of love. Sometimes, I can see that the people belong together. Which is why I chose this couple: Krystal Muckle and Renel Augustin. I’ll first share with you how I met them and then explain how I got them to interview for this piece.
I met Krystal, first. We both started working at Illinois State University in 2014 in the same department and we lived five floors from each other. We somehow were Facebook friends before we met and I sent her a message on there informing her that I was going to interview for the job and told her when I got the job. We are in the same sorority so it was easy for us to click because we bonded off the strength of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. She instantly became my homie. We had wine nights while watching Shonda Rhimes Thursdays. We went out together and kicked it. It felt like I’ve known her my entire life. She helped slide me a little confidence because it seemed like she was so sure of herself. I admired that about her. Anywho, Krystal told me all about this guy who she loved, named Renel, but he lived back in her home state of Florida. They weren’t together at the time, but she would always tell me that Renel was the man she was going to marry and she loved him. She knew in her soul that they were meant to be together, forever. It was the way she talked about him. It was effortless and there was no question about it.
Renel finally came to visit and I instantly saw and felt the connection. Renel is hilarious and I found it humorous when he would purposely say something to irritate Krystal and she would say, “Shut up, dawg”. It was a genuine friendship. Renel took the time to get to know me and was open to sharing stories about himself. I often joke with him because most Black people from Florida have some sort of Carribean roots. When I was in Florida visiting Krystal, Renel and I were having a conversation about where I was from and the following conversation happened:
Renel: So, Tristen, where are you from?
Me: Peoria, Illinois.
Renel: No, but like, where is your family from?
Me: Well, my dad was born and raised in Macon County, Georgia and my mom was born and raised in Peoria.
Renel: Oh…sooo. You’re just…Black?
Me: Uhhh…Yeah? I guess so
Lol. He was shocked that my family was just U.S. born and raised. It was a hilarious conversation.
Fast forward to now- 4 years later. Krystal and I have since moved away from each other but we still keep in contact and travel together. Back in October 2017, Renel added me to a groupme called: The Proposal. I instantly started crying. Not only was I over excited that he and Krystal were going to get married, I was excited that he thought to include me in the plans for the engagement. It was so hard to keep that kind of secret from Krystal. She was one of the people I told everything to and every time I would talk to her via text or FaceTime I had to not spill the beans.
Renel proposed on Krystal’s birthday, December 24, 2017 at the surprise birthday party he planned for her. (See video below- no I didn’t ask permission from Renel to use the video but I took it anyway).
When Krystal and I were in Europe a few weeks ago, she was on the phone with Renel and I asked them if I could interview them for this blog. They agreed and I gave them two rules. Rule #1: Do not share your answers with each other. I wanted their answers to be their own and to be raw feelings. I wanted them to read their responses on this blog. Rule #2: I asked them to answer question #6 together. It was important for them to answer only that question together because they needed to know what their love means as they are two wholes about to become one. You can tell their personalities even in their written responses. Renel is very outgoing and has much to stay, while Krystal (though is outgoing when it comes to kickin it lol) is more straightforward and precise in her way of thinking. Without further ado, I present to you their interview.
Name- Renel Augustin
Age- 29… Dirty 30 on April 12th
Place of Birth- Boston, Massachusetts – Haitian Descent
Profession- Social Studies Teacher at Nova High School
Education level- Bachelor of Arts in History from Florida Atlantic University
Year of Graduation- 2015
Fun Fact: I am a music junkie, I have about 2,500 songs in my music libraries
Name- Krystal Muckle
Place of Birth- Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Jamaican Descent
Profession- Coordinator for Residence Life & Education in the Department of Housing and Residence Life at the University of Central Florida (UCF)
Education level- Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice (2012) Master’s in Higher Education Leadership (2014) Florida Atlantic University
Currently pursuing an Event Management Certificate at UCF
When did you know that you wanted to marry Krystal/Renel?
Renel: I always had a feeling that we could go the distance, however there was a lot of issues out of our control that made the possibility very bleak to say the least. But I knew for sure I wanted to marry Krystal about a year ago. At the end of every year I assess my year, my goals accomplished, goals not yet met and goals to be accomplished. It’s a very emotional and spiritual process for me and I do not share this with anyone as I believe that there are some things that should be between you and God. Last year I realized that Krystal has literally been a part of every single facet of my life and has also been my biggest cheerleader, even when it it is not necessarily the best for her. So last year I involved her in my process. We sat down and we spoke about our year in review, along with what we each wanted to do individually and as a team. She did not even know that was what she was a part of, but she will now when she reads this. It was indeed invigorating as she challenged me to do more and added levels to each goal I had and provided outside perspective to the goals I did not exactly accomplish. It was after that I asked myself “Where else will I find this level of appreciation and support?” I had no answers and I knew then that I had to absolutely get the old dusty knee.
Krystal: I always knew that Renel was the man I was going to marry because he has all of the qualities that I would want in my life partner. He’s kind, ambitious, works extremely hard, selfless, has an infectious personality and great sense of humor, a family man, loyal, and loves kids. But it was confirmed for me when I realized that I loved and cared about him unconditionally. I feel his hurt and pain like a physical reaction. I feel his spirit like a fire inside of me. We are literally a unit.
What’s been challenging about being in a relationship? What does Krystal/Renel do that makes you frustrated? When you get frustrated, how do you handle the frustration?
Renel: Being in a relationship like ours, which is long-distance, the distance is a frustration within itself. There is also the frustration of those times where we are just not clicking because most likely we are not by each other physically to really be able to handle it face to face. With Krystal, the top frustration is perspective. There are circumstances where a situation may occur and when she sees it from here perspective she is absolutely 100% correct to feel the way that she does. However, what happens with perspective is that it is not always seen from the opposite side. Krystal is such a beautiful soul but when she is set on an opinion, it is very hard to sway her from that. When I get frustrated I do my best to not let it show. Anyone who knows me well will let you know I am a low-key hothead, which I have learned does absolutely nothing for finding a solution to any issue. So I do the very best I can to be cool, calm and collected as we talk, then I let my frustration out by playing video games or listening to music after the fact. I am not perfect by any means so I do tend to slip up, but I always expect to hear a “Why are you raising your voice Renel?”
Krystal:The biggest challenge we have in our relationship is falling into old habits. This is our second time pursuing a relationship with one another and there are times where we struggle with some of the same things that ended our first relationship. What makes this time different than last time, however, is that we communicate our concerns and continue to work on our issues. When one or both of us become complacent, we push each other to continue to put in the work needed to make our relationship successful.
How does Krysta/Renel make you feel?
Renel: Krystal without a shadow of a doubt makes me feel secure, protected and accounted for. She always finds it weird me saying that because of our size difference. However, what she does not realize is just how much she makes life enjoyable for me.I do not worry about much and I live my life with purpose because she is my teammate, best friend and love of my life.I know for fact that no matter what, as long as I put my best foot forward and I keep my eyes on the prize of progression, I have someone just as purpose-driven as me to push me through the finish line and I am the same for her. She has my back and I have hers, and honestly that “security blanket” feeling is a second to none feeling. Most importantly, my fiance makes me feel HAPPY. Just thinking of her puts a smile on my face and makes the day that much better.
Krystal: Renel brings out my vulnerable side. The side that people never or rarely see. I can be carefree, childish, sensitive, cry, express my dreams, and fears. He makes me feel that I am capable of anything. When I am having anxiety or doubting my abilities, Renel speaks life into me. Whether I weigh 120 lbs, 190 lbs, long hair, or bald spots, Renel looks at me and treats me like I am the only woman that matters.
What advice do you have for other Black couples? In your opinion, what can make a relationship last?
Renel: What I can give as advice is to never stop fighting. For yourself, and for your relationship. Being in a relationship is a struggle, however, people put such a negative connotation on the word “struggle” that they don’t realize that everyday is practically a struggle. By definition, people usually associated struggle as a “Violent effort to get free of restraint or constriction.” But the other definition is to “Strive to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty or resistance..” Life in general is a difficulty and a resistance, especially when you are black. So when everything hits the fan, it is important that you fight hard to keep your relationship perpetual and progressing, but it is just as integral to have a partner who will fight just as hard as you.
Krystal: Communication, communication, communication! Everyone communicates and expresses themselves differently. You have to respectfully communicate with your partner in a way in which they will receive the information clearly. Never stop trying. People make mistakes, people fall back into bad habits. Nobody is perfect. Don’t give up. Give your partner grace and recognize them when they do improve. Don’t hold grudges. You can’t move forward when you are holding onto the past. Have fun! Renel is literally my best friend. Whether we are out on the town or in the house for hours, we always have fun together.
What advice do you have for single Black people who may feel as if love won’t happen for them?
Renel: Never quit, never doubt yourself and always know your worth. Also believe that God has your best situation in mind. You must have that faith that no matter what heartbreaks you may go through that this is just a precursor to the blessing that is coming to you, but you CAN’T QUIT! Another thing to put into perspective that just because it is in YOUR plan, does not mean that it is in THE plan. Keep your head up, your vibes positive and your glass half full. Love is everywhere but it is not a thing that you just get up and find, it is a seed. And with every seed, it must be cared for, given water along with nutrients, but there is one thing that all seeds NEED in order for the water and nutrients to be used effectively to grow into something beautiful. That thing is SUNLIGHT, which in life is your mindset and attitude.
Krystal: There is someone out there for everyone; you just need to be in a place where you can receive/give positive and appropriate love and continuously work for said love.
What does love mean? (Answered Together)
Renel and Krystal: Love is a craft. And with all crafts, it takes practice to perfect them. Practice love every day. Every single day! There are couples out there who do not practice love every day. Instead, they fall into the motions. Things become boring, stagnant, and complacent. Problems begin to arise and small issues become major setbacks. It is imperative to find new ways to love and enjoy one another. Always be willing to fight for your craft.
To Krystal and Renel, I love you both and I am so excited for you and your future. Just let me know when to book my flight to the wedding 🙂