As many of you know my boyfriend, Nick, won Survivor: David v. Goliath. What an epic season, right? This may be a long one, but I’m going to explain my journey and experience with Survivor, because everyone close to Nick definitely had their own experience. My experience is that of the significant other. I’m probably the one person close to Nick that experienced a little bit more than others. Seriously, this is a long one, but a good one. I promise.
My experience begun in late summer 2017 when casting reached out to Nick based on a previous video he had submitted. Because casting was interested, I’d come home to Nick working on a video that he needed to resubmit. After several years of sending in videos, Nick was excited that they were finally interested, and I was happy for him. In November 2017, Nick flew out to L.A. for a week of casting. Besides being at work, Nick and I did everything together: watching T.V., going out to eat, hanging with friends, taking trips, everything! Having him gone for a week was odd, because it left me with nothing to do! At least Nick was able to text and call me during his week in casting, so his absence wasn’t terribly lonely.
After returning from L.A., Nick was still in touch with casting, and I’d always ask, “what are you doing this time?” He was always filling out paperwork, or getting signatures, or faxing and emailing them something. Nick also started working out around this time. He signed up for CrossFit, so instead of our Netflix nights, he’d be out at his CrossFit sessions.
Then February 22 came. My birthday! It was a typical workday, and I believe we were waiting to celebrate my birthday over the weekend since it landed on a Thursday. I remember it was late, because the sun had already gone down. Nick and I were sitting around when he told me that earlier that day he had gotten a call from CBS, letting him know that he was going to be on Survivor season 37. Woah! I couldn’t believe it. Looking back, I think that was the coolest birthday news I probably could’ve ever received!
At that point, Nick began to gain weight, eating at fast food places everyday. His logic was that he needed to gain more fat in order to lose it first while out on the island. Smart. The weeks leading up to his departure went by quickly. Before I knew it, it was the day before his flight. I let him borrow my suitcase, a bright orange one, where he packed all his jury clothes, in case he ended up on the jury, or clothes for pre-jury, in case he got voted off before the merge. I also remember him packing silly little things, like a pocketknife. When I asked him why, he’d respond, “Because I’m going on an adventure.” Perfect response.
I took the following day off work, because I drove Nick to the Cincinnati Airport. It was about a two-hour drive, and it was a cold, rainy day. The weather slowed down the traffic, and Nick was worried that he was going to miss his flight. I’m the biggest crybaby when it comes to saying goodbye. I definitely had a knot in my throat the entire drive. Obviously, I didn’t want to show Nick that I was sad he was leaving, because it truly was a once in a lifetime experience for him, and I wanted him to be happy. We finally arrived at the airport, and Nick got his suitcase out of the trunk. I gave him a hug, and told him that no matter what happened, to just have fun!
I think I may have shed a tear driving back home, because I knew Nick was going to be gone a long time. The following weeks I continued to work, but when I got home every evening, it was pretty lonely. I’d watch old seasons of Survivor, make dinner, and play with my cat, before the routine started over again the next day. On the weekends, I’d go visit my family. Nick’s phone calls were forwarded to my phone in case there was ever an emergency, so every now and then, I’d get a call from an unknown number. I guess it was pretty cool being one of the few people who knew Nick was playing Survivor. All his friends and family asked me all the time where Nick was. During his sister’s bridal shower, I had to tell his aunt that I told Nick not to come to the shower, because typically only girls go to those events! (Haha) I told everyone else that Nick was gone on sabbatical for his work, and I guess people bought it, because they eventually stopped asking.
While Nick was gone, his sisters forwarded me the emails sent by CBS, letting us know that Nick was fine. They wouldn’t tell us if Nick was still in the game or not, but they would let us know that he was O.K. I also got the opportunity to write and send a loved-ones letter, which was really cool! After a couple weeks, Jim, Nick’s dad, let me know that he was packing his bag, getting ready to go to Fiji for the loved-ones visit. I was glad to find this out, because it meant that Nick was still in the game, and had made it far! Before Jim left, I told him about a dream I had a few nights previous. I fell asleep watching Survivor, and I believe I had just watched someone get voted off in sixth place, so naturally, my dream was that Nick was getting voted off in sixth place. When Jim returned from Fiji, he called me from the airport, and told me about his visit with Nick, and gave me some insight on how he was playing. Jim also told me that he had told Nick about my dream! Although I don’t think my dream would’ve changed the outcome of the game, I do believe that Nick took it to heart.
The day finally came where I went to pick Nick up from the airport. It was an exciting day! I arrived, parked, and waited in the arrival area. Then I saw a scrawny Nick walking toward me with his bright orange suitcase. He had a full beard, and had lost a significant amount of weight.
The first words from Nick were:
“What do you think about my beard?” I said, “What about it?” He said, “I just had final tribal council like two days ago. I won a million dollars!” My
response was, “Nick, that does not surprise me.”
We both laughed, and headed to the car. We stopped at Chick-fil-A for an early lunch, and he told me everything about his experience, and what happened during the game. I was in complete awe.
Shortly after Nick’s arrival, his family and friends got to see him, and he also had to make up stories, explaining his weight loss, because he couldn’t tell anyone that he was on Survivor. The weeks after Nick got back, he really wanted to talk about the game, and it was understandable. I listened, and sometimes pretended like I knew what was he was saying, because he told me so much that there were times when I got lost.
We watched the finale of Ghost Island together, and at the end, they showed a promo for the following season. Nick was on the promo! He finally was able to tell his friends and family that he was playing Survivor while he was gone a few months back. Of course, everyone wanted to know how he’d done, but he couldn’t tell anyone, so it was fun watching people guess how far he made it in the game. The coolest part though was that Nick was finally able to plan his viewing parties. He picked the movie theater for the premiere, and once it was finalized with the owners, the experience became even more surreal.
The viewing parties were pretty special. He had a few Survivor fans show up at some, and we got to meet a lot of really cool people, and people in the community as well. Besides the premiere at the movie theater, I think my favorite viewing party was the one where Davie drove up to surprise Nick. I spent that entire afternoon cleaning the house spotless, because Davie was staying with us. Nick’s reaction when he saw Davie was priceless. I believe that was the moment I realized that the bond Nick and Davie formed was special. The Halloween viewing party was also fun. Nick and I dressed up as Bob and Linda from Bob’s Burgers.
Watching Nick on TV was surreal, expressing his thoughts on the game, his alliances, and his experience. I enjoyed watching him talk about his home, and knowing that he missed his family. I already knew what was going to happen every week, but it was really cool seeing his family and friends get excited when Nick made it another week on the show.
The weeks leading to our trip to L.A. for the finale, I started to do a little bit of shopping for the trip. I was super excited, because I had never been to L.A. before, and I knew this was going to be a trip of a lifetime. Because Nick’s cast was close, when I finally got to meet them, I felt like I already knew them. It was the weirdest thing! The first person I met from Nick’s cast was Gabby. We spent so much time together in L.A. that we truly became friends. I think the next time I see her, we’ll just pick up right where we left off! I also spent a lot of time with Bi. She’s the nicest person, so real, and tough. We stayed five days at Mike’s house. He’s a really cool guy. He showed us the L.A. lifestyle, and we all got to meet a lot of cool people from Hollywood because of him. The days leading up to the finale were just amazing. Everyone from the cast was just amazing.
The day of the finale, Nick was gone all day to be with his cast. I hung out with Nick’s family that day. When we arrived to CBS Studio, it all started to hit me. I was about to watch Nick win Survivor! I thought in my head that I would become emotional, but I didn’t want to cry to television, so I tried to hide my emotion throughout the entire show. Being at CBS studio was phenomenal as well. The atmosphere that the fans and family members of the cast bring is fantastic. The fans cheer during the show, and it makes everything so electric. As Nick won the final immunity challenge, taking him to the final three, I believe Nick’s family, at that point, knew that he had it. As Jeff read the live votes, and announced that Nick won Survivor, it brought everything I knew for the last few months to a close. Time stood still in that one moment. It’s a moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Nick’s sisters were emotional, and happy for their brother. Nick’s dad cried. I had never seen tears in his eyes before. I took a mental picture of that moment in time, and it’s still so vivid in my memory. However, this wasn’t the end. It was only the beginning.
Since Nick won Survivor, we’ve returned home to Kentucky. He’s received so many messages from so many people that we’ve both been overwhelmed with all the love and support. When we go out to different places, Nick gets recognized at times, and every time he’s stopped, he’s showed so much love. The experience as a significant other is a rollercoaster ride, but it’s by far the best one at the theme park. I’m so thankful that Nick has shared his experience with me, and that I’ve had the opportunity to travel, and experience the love from so many fans, family, and friends. Everyone that approaches Nick has also approached me as well, and been super nice, wanting to get to know me too. I’ve been sent so many messages congratulating the both of us. It’s been overwhelmingly good.
Before this gets even longer, and I lose some of you, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to read my journey. And thank you, Nick, for sharing this wonderful experience with me!