How This All Started (Chapter One)

Had you told me five years ago that I would one day be married to Zack Arias, have made a gorgeous human being with him (AKA Hawke) and be the happiest I've ever been in my life I most likely would've have smiled at you, excused myself for a minute, and called the cops. Beepboopboop...ring, ring...

"What is your emergency?"

"I need you to come rescue me from the crazy person I'm with right now. I fear for my life."

Zack and I, to some people, weren't supposed to happen. Zack and I, to some folks, are an aberration. Whatever you do, don't fall in love with someone you go to church with, especially when you're married to other people.

But now I'm getting ahead of myself.

Where to start? Because start I shall. I'm going to write out this whole crazy story, bit by bit.

This may shock you. It may not. Either way, I'm going to lay it all out there.


Zack and I met, interestingly enough, online. The internetz. The church that I was a part of (Trinity Vineyard, my home, my family) had just planted a church of our own in Atlanta and all of us on the leadership team were buzzing with the possibilities and the thrill of starting an amazing place for community and worship. We had a church forum on our website where everything from "Is Time Travel Possible?" to "I have a couch for sale..." was discussed.

It was here that Zack showed up.

I knew him only as "usedfilm".

He only knew me as "mcoffee".

My friends and I would wonder aloud sometimes, "I wonder who this usedfilm guy is? The stuff he says is really interesting!"

Zack had started coming to Trinity a few months prior to joining the forum and had immediately felt at home. He was still trying to recover from his wife leaving him and his (at the time) three year old son, Caleb, when they lived in Texas. When I met him he was working at Kinko's and his wife, G______ had recently come back and they were living in a crappy apartment somewhere in Roswell.

We eventually met in person one night at church. I don't remember much about that meeting but that he wore a beret backwards and had that beard he's so known for and that he was pleasant. Over the course of a few months, in various conversations, he learned that my husband, K___ and I, had been separated for a few months but that we were back together and trying to work things out. Zack filled us in on what had happened to him and how he was trying to work on his marriage, too. He asked if I would consider trying to reach out to his wife,

"She'll think you're cool and I think she'd listen to you."

I told him I'd try. I did try. I hand picked G_____ to be a part of a small group I was leading at my house. It proved to be futile though, as she wasn't the easiest person to communicate with. She did not love him, she hated him and the only reason she was with him was because she couldn't handle the guilt of leaving again. Those were her basic thoughts. One couldn't really sway her from them.

(I must stop this to mention that I am currently in a coffee shop and directly in front of me is a man having a rather animated conversation with what appears to be an invisible person all whilst he covers himself in hand sanitizer. "I do love a good sponge," he is saying, "and listen to that jazz!" Now he is rearranging the parts of a sandwich he has just procured from a pocket somewhere. "I should be allowed to...mumble mumble...but it ain't gonna happen. UH OH!" he claps his hands loudly, "I have no idea! I'm going to open a non-profit with free services...mumble mumble...")

I must say I find it interesting that right when I began to write about a difficult person to communicate with, a person who obviously has issues communicating has chosen to sit here. Huh.

I'm worried that I am not making sense. I'm not trying to write anything great here. Just trying to...get it out, you know?

Plow on, Meg. Plow on.

Life continued. I tried to not drown in the despair that was my marriage. There were times where I felt as though I had a few moments of floating but mostly it was a constant struggle to stay above water.

I was in the foyer of the little church that Trinity rented on 14th Street, right after church one night, when Zack walked up and said,

"I think God has told me to quit Kinko's and go back to photography."

"Really? Wow. Well, you absolutely should. If you don't you'll always wonder, what if? You know? You're too good not to."

I watched as he began to shoot more and more and even hired him myself to shoot my press kit photos. That was February of 2004. I was going to make a real go at my music again. In December of 2004 my marriage to K___, already so flimsy, crumbled again. K____ moved out and we separated again. I remember meeting with Zack and my friend, Kara Pecknold, at EATS on Ponce around that time. Zack was trying to encourage me to stick it out. He was sermonizing about how we had to stick it out in our marriages no matter how beat up we became. We had to keep pushing up the hill.

"Yes, but how long can you take a hill? How long before it kills you?"

He didn't have an answer. He was in pain, too, in his marriage, and trying to convince himself of the very things he was preaching.

"You know what, Meg? I'm better friends with you than I am with K___. I'm going to reach out to him and try to help."

He did try and help. He did befriend K____. He did a better job of befriending K___ than I had G______, that's for sure. This would come to haunt him later.

I was in a lot of emotional pain, my heart was broken, but I pulled myself up by my bootstraps again and gave it another go. I decided that I wasn't allowed to be a musician and a wife, and  so I focused on working full-time teaching music, and being Phoenix's mommy, and resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to play music for myself ever again.

The new year of 2005 I made the following declaration:

"My music is dead."

"That's stupid," Zack said, upon hearing my declaration. "You're too talented and you have music the world needs to hear."

"Whatever. It's dead."

"Whatever, you're wrong. Give me some of your EP's. I want to pass them around to some people I know."

"Ugh. Okay. But it's stupid!"

He and I would talk every now and again. He was a buddy, a guy I saw at church, and I admired how hard he was working at his photography. His name was spreading around Atlanta at this point. Everyone knew Zack as the music photographer and he was a regular fixture at Octane, the coffee shop down the street from my neighbourhood. He was hopeful for his marriage as G______ was expecting another baby In July, a fact that shocked him to no end as G_______ made it very clear she wanted nothing to do with him.

"It was a Halloween Party," he said, "She had a bottle of wine."

"Oh.! Congratulations anyway!"

"I know! It's crazy!"

It was August of 2005 that Zack called me up.

"Hey. I think I want to be your manager."

"My manager? Why? I don't play anymore, Zack, you know this."

"Well, I think you should. You see...," and here he paused for a beat, "...I kinda already booked you a show."


"Yeah, it's at the 10 High on September 12th. 11pm."

"That's two days before my birthday!"

"Then consider it a birthday present."

"You're a dork."

I couldn't believe how happy I was.

"Okay. I'll do it."

And I did. And it was great. A good number of people showed up that night. That show led to my being asked to perform at Eddie's Attic with Edwin McCain for a Holiday Special being filmed by Turner South. That led to Edwin loving my music and asking me to go on tour with him.

Zack was ecstatic.

"See! I told you!"

He called himself my quarterback because shortly after that he passed me off to Edwin's manager who took me on her roster of artists. Just Edwin and myself. I was amazed. Here I thought music was dead and Zack just proved me wrong.

The beginning of 2006 was a blur.

Zack was busy shooting, and I was busy touring and writing music for a new album. Every once in awhile we'd check in with each other.

Sometimes he would stop by my house when the christmas lights were on to chat and have a beer. It was known in the neighbourhood that when the "fairy lights" as I called them were on on my front porch that you could just drop by. Anytime.

I miss those days.

It was the beginning of June of 2006 that my marriage officially died. Or I finally drowned in that despair I mentioned. The nail in the coffin, the last breath as it were, came in the form of a City of Atlanta sheriff who knocked on my front door and presented me with papers stating that my house was being foreclosed on. Again. For the 3rd time. The mortgage hadn't been paid in 6 months. I had been promised that this would never happen again; that I was going to be taken care of; that I didn't need to work anymore; that it was going to be fine.

It wasn't fine. I went to my family and told them what had happened, the same old same old. The same scenery.

They understood.

I asked K___ for a divorce and waited for the lightening to strike me dead. It didn't.


One night, right while all of this was going on, I got a phone call from Zack.

"Hey, I'm in your neighbourhood, I just dropped an intern off at her brother's house and saw that the christmas lights are on. Can I drop by?"

"Of course you can! I'm in my pj's but I have beer -- c'mon by."

Zack had just finished shooting a wedding and we sat on my front porch with Newcastles on a lovely June evening and he asked me what I had been up to. It had been a while since we had chatted.

I was swinging on my porch swing, looking at my toes when I said,

"I've asked K____ for a divorce."

There was silence and I braced myself for the inevitable sermon that I knew was coming. Zack never held back what he thought. We had both been raised that divorce is not an option. That you hang in there until you die or it kills you.

The silence continued and I looked up surprised.

"Go on," he said, "tell me why. What happened?"

So for the next 20 minutes I poured out everything that had happened, or in some ways, didn't happen.

He was surprised. He and K____ and a few other men were in a small group together.

"I had no idea this was happening. K___ gave no indication of this. Man. He's about as sharp as a bowling ball, hmmm?"

"So...give it to me," I said. "I know you have stuff to say."

"Actually, no I really don't. You see, I was going to share with you that I'm asking G______ for a divorce. I can't do it anymore. I can't live like this anymore."

And then he shared where he was.

There we were, two broken people, sitting on my front porch, feeling like our lives were about to fall apart.

We had another beer or two and then, at some point around 2 am I said,

"What are you thinking about?"

Zack would later tell me that right then he had been sitting there, looking at me swinging under the christmas lights, thinking:

Here is this amazing woman, such a good friend. She's beautiful and smart and talented and funny and strong. I've watched her go through hell in her marriage. We've both been crawling through the trenches, fighting side by side in our marriages, trying to help each other out. She's encouraged me, I've encouraged her. She's been here all along....

When I asked him what he was thinking, he started to laugh,

"I need another beer first."

"Okay." I got him another beer and when I came back and sat down he said,

"Meghan, we're buddies right? I can be straight with you?"

"Of course."

"Okay, well, what I was thinking when you asked me what I was thinking was.... I really want to make out with Meghan Coffee."

{ be continued....} Click here for the next part...