I originally shared this story on my friend Melissa’s blog (New Girl on Post) several years ago, but never posted it here. It’s strange that such an important milestone in my life was recorded and then told somewhere else, so I’m sharing it with you today in honor of Valentine’s week.
Our story begins a few minutes after the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day, 2005, when this boy I never met before, Kenny, accidentally spilled a drink down my back. He and I ended up talking—for several hours, at least—until the party dwindled down. (By the way, it seems so foreign to me that I could stay up the entire night. Oh how times change!)
Dawn was breaking at that point and both sets of friends were leaving to get (separate) breakfasts. We ended up parting without exchanging numbers. I thought about him after the party, but nobody could pinpoint who he was. In fact the only thing I remember him telling me that night was that he was going to school in Arizona, and that he was in the Air Force (I was studying abroad in England at the time, so clearly our lives wouldn’t mesh very well). This was just as Facebook started (but hadn’t taken off yet), and after that night, my friends and I couldn’t figure out who the mutual friend was at the party. Seeing as I only had a first name for him and the state where he lived, I gave up hope, and figured if it was meant to be, we’d find each other again. (Oh, what a hopeless romantic I was!)
Flash forward exactly 11 months and twenty-six days later when I saw that mystery boy again at a bar in downtown Albuquerque. He was in town for the holidays, catching up with friends, and I was at the bar with my girlfriends for my friend’s bachelorette party. After catching up (he was now living in Florida and I was back from England and living in New Mexico), we realized we were both attending
the same New Year’s Eve party a few days later. We left each other that night and promised we’d “keep an eye out for each other” at the party.
|Taken the third time we met (second NYE) much earlier in the evening than our first picture
There were so many people at the party that we didn’t actually see each other until after midnight, but it was just a few minutes after reconnecting (spoiler alert) that we shared our last, first kiss.
For the next few months, we kept things simple and only talked via Facebook (which was still pretty new) and texting, and gradually upgraded to talking on the phone. In May 2007, I took a leap of faith, and flew to Florida to meet him at Disney World. Two of my best friends were working there, so I figured that if this boy turned out to be crazy, I’d have my friends to fall back on. We hadn’t
seen each other since New Year’s Eve, and let’s be honest: it was a party and we were both a little tipsy, so meeting him again was pretty nerve-wracking. Luckily, we completely hit it off. Not too shabby for a first date, right?
The next four years consisted of thousands of text messages, phone calls multiple times a day, chatting on the Internet, countless trips across the country, a deployment, and the hope of a future together.
Since my job at the time was a little more flexible than his, I typically flew out on long weekends to see him, and he would drive the 3 hours (round trip) to pick me up from the airport. We did that several times a month for two years. People asked me why I still lived with my parents even though I had a good, steady job, and it’s because I spent my money on plane tickets instead of rent.
Five years ago today I landed in Atlanta, ready to enjoy a weekend with my boyfriend—it had been two months since we last saw each other. My flight was supposed to arrive on the 13th at 11:40 pm, but delays caused us to land around 1 am on Valentine’s Day. Kenny was there to pick me up, and we arrived home about 2 hours later, and by 3:30 am we were sound asleep.
On Valentine’s Day morning we woke up with the sun, after sleeping for a few hours. While I was in a sleepy daze, Kenny took the rings off my fingers and started fidgeting with them. This was nothing new; he would often take them off and twiddle them around, so I didn’t think anything of it, especially since he put them back on a few minutes later. I wore a thumb ring and ring he made me out of a quarter (much cooler than it sounds).
As we were lying there, I felt his heart start to race. After a few more seconds of feeling his heart beating faster he whispered, “Will you marry me tomorrow?”
We had a running joke about getting married in 2012. Don’t ask me how or when it started, but twenty twelve became the “magic” year for us. So when he said tomorrow, my initial reaction caused me to giggle and muster out, “No way! That’s too soon!”
Then he said, “Well, will you marry me in 2010?”
I giggled again, felt my heart rate start catching up to his, and this time replied, “No. That’s too far away.”
After I shot him down again, I could feel his heart beating so fast that I thought it was about to beat out of his chest. Then, in a very soft and timid voice he asked, “Well, will you marry me sometime?”
This time I said, “Of course!” Getting married was always part of our plan.
Apparently “of course” wasn’t what he was looking for, because he stopped fidgeting with my hand, put it up to my face, and said, “I’m serious. Will you marry me?” I glanced at my hand, and
instead of seeing the promise ring he made me a couple years earlier, I saw a gorgeous diamond ring.
Instead of giving him a response right away I started crying, laughing, and bobbing my head up in down in such a way that I hoped it resembled a “yes!” Finally, when I could breathe again, I gave him a definite “yes,” and he proceeded to give me the whole scoop about how he asked my mom and dad for my hand in marriage two months earlier when he was home for Christmas!
I’m happy to report that we are six days shy of celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary! I thought I was happy and in love five years ago when he slipped the engagement ring on my finger, but the love, joy, and family we’ve created and share now is absolutely amazing.
Valentine’s Day will always have a special place in my heart.