The night they met, Jevon Walton and Cydney Peyton exchanged no words.
The July 2006 party was a hot, sweaty, crowded affair, where the DJ’s music made it impossible to talk — and impossible not to dance. Jevon, visiting from North Carolina, spotted a gorgeous woman dancing with her girlfriends, and he sidled up to their group. They didn’t actually talk, but his smile was enough to communicate, “Hey, I think you’re cute.” It prompted Cydney to ask a mutual friend whether she knew the guy with the pearly whites and the smooth moves.
Jevon hoped a mutual friend would arrange an introduction outside the din of the dance floor. But Cydney had a boyfriend, and although that rocky relationship was about to fall apart, the friend didn’t want to overstep. The night ended with nothing more than eye contact.
It took a few more weeks — and an official breakup of her other relationship — before the friend finally sent Cydney, then 26, an e-mail with a link to Jevon’s MySpace page. “I just kind of went for it,” she says.
When a message from her appeared out of the blue, he was intrigued, and he responded by sending her a few different phone numbers and e-mail addresses. “I gave her every possible way to reach me. She was the pitcher, she threw it over the plate, so I was going to swing,” he says with a laugh.
His MySpace profile had said he harbored “a weakness for women.” She initially took it as the kind of flirtatious comment any 27-year-old guy might make. But Jevon was actually referring to two specific ladies — his young daughters, ages 6 and 1, who had him wrapped around their little fingers. He told her about them, and about the rest of his close-knit family, his interests and goals and everything else, in long phone conversations. That he was a parent didn’t dissuade Cydney. “I knew it would make my life more complicated, but I could deal with complicated,” she says.
After their wordless meeting and voiceless online messages, they noticed a special bond forming during these lengthy talks. “He was so forthcoming, really committed to his family obligations,” Cydney recalls. “For me, that was the best part, feeling that I found someone I really liked as a person who I shared a value system with.”
Every few weeks, one would brave the trek between Washington and North Carolina to visit the other. Each time they were together felt like further acknowledgment that something real, something serious, was developing. Their visits were often spent doing mundane activities — running errands together, watching college sports on TV — but the time together was precious. “We call it the bubble, and we still try to do this, where it’s just us,” Cydney says. “Having that really protected time where it’s really committed and you’re tuned in.”
Jevon was smitten with her driven, outgoing personality and sense of humor. It wasn’t long before he told her this felt like love; by December of that year, as they spent their last Christmas apart, he sent a text message: “I’m going to marry you one day.” He introduced her to his daughters, Alexis and Kellen. Because both Jevon’s parents and his daughters’ mother’s parents are still married, Cydney found she could be a resource for the girls on navigating the waters of non-nuclear families. “I had stepparents, so I’m super conscious of integrating new people into a child’s life and making sure they’re going to stick around,” she says.
In 2007, Jevon landed a job at Georgetown University and moved into Cydney’s tiny one-bedroom apartment in Manassas. It was, they agree, a nightmare. They shared a cramped home, a long car commute each morning, and nearly all of their non-work hours together. It was a shock to the system after months of long-distance dating. But they adjusted, slowly but surely, and found the pressures of constant togetherness mitigated as Jevon made local friends and they moved to a larger space closer to the city. “That second apartment is really when we had a chance to start dating like a normal couple,” Cydney recalls.
They shared a mutual love of college football and connected while exploring the District, enjoying regular drives down to the monuments for long walks and conversation at the FDR Memorial. Cydney was impressed with how seamlessly he blended into her family on visits to California. Jevon remembers how natural it felt when they threw their first dinner party together to celebrate the 2009 presidential inauguration.
As they grew closer, they learned how to communicate with each other. “He’s a thinker, so we do this little dance where he’s always in his head and I’m pulling him out,” she says.
Jevon agrees: “We balance each other out that way.”
Cydney was working marathon hours in March 2012, when Jevon persuaded her to take a break for some ice cream at Dairy Queen. She was too mired in her BlackBerry on the drive back to realize they weren’t returning to their Old Town apartment but instead stopping at the FDR Memorial. The monument was glowing with light in the darkness, and although it was crowded with tourists, they felt at home wandering through their favorite spot in the city. “I think this one is my favorite,” Cydney said as they paused in front of an illuminated waterfall. “Let’s make certain it’s your favorite,” Jevon said from behind her. She turned around to find him down on one knee, presenting her with a ring. “Oh my God! Get up!” she said, laughing and crying, before saying yes.
A year of wedding planning meant making difficult choices as a couple, a single unit. “It became an ‘us’ mentality,” Jevon says, one that only increased their level of intimacy. The experience proved that underneath their relationship’s outer layer of playful banter and shared interests was a solid core of love, trust and support.
On July 20, under the marble dome of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Dupont Circle, a crowd of more than 120 family members and friends gathered for their wedding day. Silver-gray and summer yellow décor reflected their cool sense of purpose and their warm, optimistic outlook. Cydney donned a flowing white gown (and later, carbon-colored Converse sneakers) and Jevon wore a custom gray suit with yellow-trimmed bow tie, while his daughters, now 7 and 12, marched down the aisle as flower girl and junior bridesmaid. Their relationship had started without words, and developed while they were hundreds of miles apart; now, face to face, they exchanged traditional marriage vows for all to hear.
”I am truly humbled that someone that exhibits so much love and kindheartedness chose me to spend the rest of her life with,” Jevon wrote on their wedding Web site. “We have learned each other, grown together, and you have helped me carve out a little piece of this world that is exactly the way I’d want it to be.”