“Well, look who’s back from China,” said her new colleague as he introduced her sports segment on the air.
ESPN’s Lindsay Czarniak and MSNBC’s Craig Melvin wed
“Oh, hello, Craig Melvin,” she responded. “I’ve never met you before. Good to meet you!”
Czarniak, a Centreville native who’d become a darling of the local sports world after legendary anchor George Michael brought her to NBC4 in 2005, thought Melvin seemed like a cool guy with good energy.
Melvin thought she was beautiful. “I need to get to know her,” he decided.
Though their desks weren’t close, Melvin, who had spent six years working at his hometown station in Columbia, S.C., found reasons to bump into her. After a month, Czarniak mentioned a charity gala she was hosting and suggested he come along with others from NBC.
There, they walked through the silent auction together. Wow, this guy is genuinely fun, Czarniak recalls thinking. “It was easy to be with him there.”
He gave her a ride to the after-party and then back to her apartment near Dupont Circle. She demurred when he asked whether he could walk her to her door. “I’m from South Carolina,” he explains. “That’s what you do.” She relented. In the kitchen of her apartment, he kissed her.
Czarniak woke the next morning filled with angst. She’d never had an office romance before. As she left for work, she noticed the tuxedo jacket he left behind. “So I’m on the sidelines at Redskins park, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God. What . . . did I just do?’ ” she remembers.
Melvin was equal parts excited and anxious, and left her a message checking in that afternoon.
For the next six months they saw each other casually, meeting for drinks or hanging out at home. “It was always fun,” Melvin says. But they never defined the relationship.
“I think for a long time the work factor was more of an issue for me than it should have been because A., I didn’t realize what the possibility [of the relationship] was, and B., I had not been in that position before,” Czarniak says. “I didn’t want to screw anything up.”
In April 2009, Melvin called Czarniak and told her he wanted to take things to the next level. “I made up my mind,” he recalls. “And I said: ‘Listen, I want this to work. I don’t see why it shouldn’t work.’ ”
“He was basically was like, ‘Either you’re in or you’re out,’ ” she remembers. “And I was like, ‘Then I’m out — ’cause I can’t be in.’ ”
“At that point, I had dated some women. I didn’t get smitten too often. But I had gotten into this young lady, and she wasn’t into me,” Melvin says. “And that was burning me up.”
They kept their distance, but soon Melvin began calling Czarniak again. They would talk about their families, their careers, even other people they were dating.
“It was sort of like we started over, just being really good friends, and there was nothing else with it, because we both knew where we stood,” says Czarniak, now 33.
But none of the other women Melvin dated made him feel the way Czarniak did. “They’re not her,” he thought. “So I’m gonna go after her.”