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‘We have a mini call center in our living room . . . across from each other’

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BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY
Special to the Birmingham Times


“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

TAMEKA AND JAMES FIELDS 

Live: Pelham

Married: Dec. 29, 2017

Met: Spring 2013 at the T-Mobile call center in Hoover. A year later, Tameka became James’s supervisor and overheard him singing in their team cubicle area.

“She remembered my voice from all those years ago (2010),” laughed James,  referring to his song at Starz Karaoke’ [bar in Homewood], “and that’s when I knew she wanted me . . . that’s when the interest started… but we couldn’t take it anywhere because she was my supervisor and she was married.”

Tameka admitted that she did remember his voice four years later, but insisted that there was no flirting at that point.

“I had just come back off of maternity leave and he was a very charismatic person, but I was [married] I wasn’t looking at him like that, but we did really seem to gel,” Tameka said.

However, one night at a work function, Tameka saw realizing that James was interested in her.

“I was coming to the end of my marriage and we (she and ex-husband) were separated, and I realized I was open to being pursued by James,” said Tameka.

First date: July 2014, at Ruby Tuesday’s in the Galleria Mall.

“We met down there for lunch, he was no longer on my team, and I wasn’t his supervisor anymore. I can be very business minded, so to me it wasn’t like a real date, to me I was meeting a coworker for lunch,” Tameka said. “I was not accustomed to the dating world at this time because I had been married for nine years, so I had a lot of questions, I wanted to know why he was pursuing me…”

James could tell that she was still in business mode.

“It did feel like an interview . . . but we had a connection,” James said. “I’m a very silly and playful person and she found my jokes funny… We talked about some of the things that happened in her marriage and I was thinking I could be the person to cheer her up.

The turn: September 2014. Both had one-year-olds and the toddlers became instant friends. “By this point I was completely done with my marriage, I had gotten my own place and it was just me and my son, Zachary,” Tameka said. “What really let me know [James] was the one was his connection with Zachary, they took to each other beautifully and the way he was with my son made me want to meet his children,” Tameka said.

The two met for lunch at Applebees at Brookwood Village in Homewood with Zachary and James’s daughter, Jaida. “When our food came Tameka cut Jaida’s food up first, when people typically tend to their biological child first,” James recalled. “Tameka was so natural with my daughter… I felt like Tameka would really see my children as her own and not stepchildren and that was extremely important to me.”

James’s oldest son Jayren [10 then] wasn’t able to be at the first lunch meet, but the kindred bond was the same for him as well, said James.

The proposal: By August 2017, the couple had been living together for a while  at their home in Pelham and thought marriage was the next step forward. They made a joint decision to get married after a phone call with his mom.

“For both of us, we didn’t want to not be together, we loved our blended family and didn’t want to “shack” [cohabitate unmarried] any longer,” said Tameka.

“I felt the same way,” said James. “What sealed it for me was a talk with my mom. She called me and told me she felt led to tell us that we needed to [set the right] example for our kids, and that was confirmation. I knew it was time to get myself in order.”

The wedding: A private ceremony at New Rising Star Baptist Church in Fultondale, officiated by Tameka’s uncle, Rev. Lawrence Hill. Only their children attended.  They both wore cream.

“I had on a cream sweater, and a cream floral skirt, and James had on a creme sweater and brown slacks,” said Tameka.

Most memorable for the bride was how excited her son Zack was about their wedding. “He went and told his Nana and Teetee (his paternal grandmother and and aunt) that mommy and daddy got married and were going to have a baby because we got married. It was so sweet, his excitement was confirmation for me that this was the right thing. It was special,” said Tameka.

Most memorable for the groom was “actually standing there with Tameka and getting married,” James said. “Looking at her and being in that particular moment… that was my first time getting married, and it was intimate and it wasn’t a show. It was just us, and our wedding wasn’t about everybody else.”

The couple honeymooned in Nashville, Tenn. They went to visit Tameka’s sister and brother in law. “They had just built a house and we stayed with them, and they made it very special for us,” said Tameka.

Words of wisdom: “We’ve definitely had a lot of challenges in our relationship, but God has helped us overcome them,” Tameka said. “We are at a place where we love the Lord and we completely love each other, our children and our extended family. We had to learn to put God in His rightful place to learn to put each other in our rightful place. He and I truly respect each other and desire to make sure one another are happy, and I feel like that makes a beautiful life for our children because they get to see that love and feel that and live a blessed life because of it,” Tameka said.

James said it’s important to keep disagreements in perspective of what’s best for the family.

“My biggest thing was making sure [arguments don’t go too far]. Is it worth proving you’re right about something? Sometimes being right doesn’t bring the best outcome for a situation. A couple has to decide ‘if a situation really deserves a fight,’” James said. “We used to argue about any little thing, and we learned that small things don’t matter.”

Happily ever after: The Fields’ have three children: Jayren, 14, Jaida, 6, Zachary 6.

Tameka, 39, is a Bessemer native and Jess Lanier High School grad. She attended Miles College where she studied business management, and works for Blue Cross Blue Shield in Hoover.

James, 42, is a Woodlawn native and Huffman High School grad. He attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB] where he earned a bachelor of science degree in biology science and works for T-Mobile in the tech support department.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, James and Tameka have both been working from home. “We have a mini call center in our living room and sit across from each other,” Tameka said.

James said “every morning we start our day with praise and worship, we crank the gospel music up, come together, hold hands and pray, it’s really good. It’s ok to have a ‘work wife’ now,” he laughed.