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 Barnett Wright email@example.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
DANITA AND CALVIN LITTLEJOHN
Married: July 12, 2008
Met: In April 2007, in Homewood at their shared office space. Calvin worked for AT&T and Danita worked for a marketing company and their respective jobs were in the same office suite.
“I met Danita the first day I moved here from Lafayette, Louisiana [which was] my first day on the job. I actually moved here with my homeboy, we were both taking jobs with AT&T and I remember walking into the office that day and Danita was giving a presentation … The offices were glass and I could see her through the windows, and I was like ‘yo, shorty next door she is fine… I gotta know who that is’. She had this real long pretty hair and I just had to know who she was,” Calvin said. “The next day, my homeboy set it up for me. He and I were roommates, and he invited her over to the house, and when I walked in the apartment she was already there sitting on the sofa.”
“They tricked me,” Danita laughed. “His friend said there was going to be a bunch of people from the office there, and that’s why I came, but when I got there it was just [Calvin’s roommate and his girlfriend] and Calvin.”
At first, “we were all sitting there just talking, and then [Calvin’s friend and girlfriend] got up to leave, and [Calvin and I] sat there and kept talking. I thought he was cute, but the first thing I noticed about Calvin was his smile; he has an amazing smile and that’s what grabbed me, but I was thinking, ‘why is he smiling so much?’ because he smiled the whole time.”
“We exchanged contact information that night, but we were both actually dating other people when we met. Even though I was highly attracted to her and I thought she was the finest person I had ever seen in my life, we were really just chill for a minute. I was only 23 when we met, and she was 27, and I thought ‘aint no way this fine woman who was almost 30 is going to give me the time of day.’ I thought she wasn’t feeling me at all because of my age,” Calvin said.
First date: May 2007, at Danita’s apartment in Hoover. “We were just kicking it watching movies and I found out that she really liked Rocky Road ice cream, so I brought some with me. And even though I absolutely hate Rocky Road ice cream I was sitting there eating it up … I used [the ice cream] as a means to solidify my position,” Calvin laughed.”
“My main thing with Calvin was that I liked the way he treated me. He was always really sweet and interested in what I had to say and whatever I had going on, and he gave me anything that I wanted. Whatever I asked for he went and got, and I was like ‘Oh my god, this young dude might know a lil something’,” Danita laughed.
The turn: June 2007. “I broke it off with the girl I was dating and after I did it I went straight to Danita’s apartment and while literally standing in the threshold of her doorway I told her ‘yo, call that dude in ATL and tell him it’s a wrap’ and she did it. I was just talking but she actually did it right then and there while I was standing on the threshold. I walked away thinking I was the man for real,” Calvin laughed.
“I liked that he took control of the situation and assumed the sale. He communicated what he wanted and I was like ‘ok, let’s do this.’ One thing I do like about him is that he’s not shy, I never had to wonder about what he wanted or what he expected, he voiced it,” Danita said.
The proposal: February 2008, at Calvin’s apartment in Hoover. “We had actually just found out we were pregnant with our first baby, and I was still sharing an apartment with my roommate, but I had the bedroom set up, I had one of those huge cards on the bed that said, ‘will you marry me?’ and at first she thought I was joking but I was dead serious. I was broke at the time so didn’t have a ring, but she said ‘yeah, let’s do it’. A couple of months later, in May, I redid the proposal with a ring at Michael’s restaurant in Hoover, and I was nervous about that one,” Calvin said. “We went out to celebrate her birthday and as we were eating, I pulled out the ring. I was so nervous my hand was shaking, and Danita thought I was having a seizure because I had epilepsy, and she was like ‘are you ok?’ but once she saw the ring she knew it was just my nerves.”
“The first time he proposed I didn’t think he was serious, but I told him, ‘of course, I will,’ and the second time at the restaurant, his hands were shaking so bad I did think he was having a seizure, and I asked him ‘why are you so nervous?’ I already said, ‘yes, did you think I would change my mind?’ Danita laughed. “And of course, the other people at the restaurant saw and were [clapping].”
“I felt like I had to do it right, and that’s why I redid the proposal,” Calvin said.
The wedding: In Birmingham, at Rebirth Christian Fellowship Church, officiated by its pastor, Pastor Doug Taylor. Their colors were peach and ivory.
Most memorable for the bride were several small moments. “Everything happened so fast, and everybody was nervous but me. My dad was dragging me down the aisle because he was walking so fast, he was nervous like he was the one getting married,” Danita laughed. “I kept trying to tell him to slow down but he didn’t hear me, and he got me down the aisle so fast Calvin was still in the beginning of the song when I got to the altar. But seeing Calvin there singing and waiting for me was really surreal. I had this person who had come into my life and made me feel special, beautiful, and important every day, I was just like wow, ‘I’m going to have this for the rest of my life.’ Also, nothing at the wedding went right. The food was cold, the wedding cake was burned, and they just put the icing on top, but neither of us cared. We heard people complaining but we were like ‘Whatever.’
Most memorable for the groom was serenading his bride. “I actually got to sing as she walked down the aisle. I sang ‘The Wedding Song’, by Johnny Gill, and I was beside myself. I really couldn’t believe that I was standing there singing at my wedding. I had sung at weddings before, but this was my wedding and my bride, and it was overwhelming. I cried, but I made it through the song,” Calvin laughed.
The honeymoon took some time. “We got married in July 2008, and Caleb was born that September and we just kept having babies so we didn’t get to take our honeymoon until seven years later,” Calvin laughed. “But we went to Negril, Jamaica, and had the time of our lives — kid-free. That was the first time we had gone anywhere without our kids and by that time we had four.”
Words of wisdom: “Marriage works if you work it. And what that means for me is, everybody falls in love with the wedding date, but there’s a marriage that has to happen after that. What I learned was that the same tenacity and energy I had to get her, I got to put in the same work to keep her. So marriage works if you work it,” Calvin said.
“First and foremost, you have to have a relationship with God and call on Him all the time. Allow for each other’s faults and changes when they happen because no one stays the same; people change over the years. Communication is key, you have to communicate not only when something is bothering you but also when you’re happy and excited that your spouse has done something right, show you appreciation.
Happily ever after: Danita relocated to Birmingham following Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and Calvin moved to Birmingham in 2007 for a job with AT&T. The Littlejohns attend Regeneration Church in Shelby County, where they serve as praise and worship leaders, and have sons, Caleb, 14, Camden, 13, Carson, 11, and daughter, Cailyn, 10.
Danita, 43, is a New Orleans, Louisiana native, and McDonough 35 High School grad [New Orleans, LA]. She attended Louisiana Tech University where she studied architecture and is an entrepreneur who runs a home-based business Kingdom Kakes Kitchen where she produces baked goods and health and wellness products. Danita is also a licensed life insurance agent, and will soon publish a book called, A Broken Hearts Redemption.
Calvin, 39, is a Buffalo, New York native, and Bennett High School [Buffalo, New York] grad. He attended North Caroline Agricultural and Technical State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in human resources, owns a career readiness and professional development company called CareerLIFE, in Birmingham, and is currently in pursuit of his Juris Doctorate at Miles Law School.