Abigail and Matthew

How We Met

People say it’s the little moments that truly define who we are. I’d like to think it’s the sum of those little moments though. At least it’s the sum of those little moments that help us take account of what has truly happened. Seeing as you are reading this I’m sure that you can surmise that the sum of those little moments has brought Abigail and I to where we are now, but if you’ll indulge me for a moment I’d like to reminisce over a few of those little moments. I’ve always been somewhat of an impulsive person, most decisions can be made within a split second. What follows is simply a string of excuses for inaction or rationalization of actions taken, either way, your first impulse is usually the right choice. So I suppose it’s no surprise I chose Tinder as my optimal platform for dating. And from a simple impulsive twitch of the thumb in the generally right direction, a cascading flood of little moments was set in motion.

These are the first of those little moments. Now for those who have ventured into the sea of people which is Tinder, you’ll know that while there may be other fish in the sea, the number of those fish who you match with is quite a small percentage, and those you actually meet is smaller still. For some reason though I chose to skip the week long ritual of coy messages with flirting and the occasional forgotten response intermixed into the conversation. After a few brief texts though with my corky sense of humor sprinkled in, I simply asked Abigail if she wanted to meet that weekend. And just like that, we took another small step towards each other, unaware of the impact of each little moment. I’d like to tell you I was my usual suave self on our first date, yet that would be a lie. Between Abigail having to come pick me up, seeing as I didn’t have a car on campus yet, and me somehow slipping into the conversation that I wanted to strangle geese, the date had ample opportunity to flop.

For some reason though she was charmed by my blunt yet sometimes witty sense of humor; so we decided to extend the date, and she invited me to come out with her friends that evening. We passed the night with the perfect first date mix of flirtation and deep conversation. All I really remember is how the night seemed to pass so quickly. In lieu of not wanting the night to end, we arranged to meet back up again the next day. That’s why looking back it all seems like a string of little moments that led us to where we are today. I don’t think either of us at the time had any thoughts of grandeur in terms of our relationship. We simply enjoyed one another’s company, and as for me I simply wanted to spend every free moment I had with her. But those little moments stranded together over time led us to where we are today. Looking back over the sum of those little moments, it is clear to see they all added up to something much greater than that initial split second impulse. They added up to Abigail.

How He Asked

The day started out like no other Sunday visiting Matthew’s parents in Pensacola, FL. Sleeping in, dressing up, and going to church. Except something was different, Matthew kept getting up and leaving the service. Something was off. However, I chose to just ignore Matthew’s odd behavior, seeing as odd behavior for him tends to be more often than not his normal behavior. After the service, I met Jessica and Alex, two friends of ours to get manicures. We had made plans that Friday, or so I thought they were made that Friday. Time went by quickly between small talk and talking about their wedding planning. I mostly listened seeing as I had little to add at the time regarding that subject. Once we left the salon I believed we were going to meet back up with Matthew for lunch. However, that was not the case. When we arrived at lunch Jessica gave me a letter and told me Matthew never planned on meeting us and that we have a long day ahead of us, and that Matthew arranged a scavenger hunt for me.

Abigail and Matthew's Engagement in Fort Pickens

After receiving the letter, I immediately ripped it open to see what it said. It said, “My Favorite Poem,” and under that was a series of blanks with numbers under each blank. Matthew has an obscure way about him, but this was a little more flare than I was used to. I immediately knew what his favorite poem was, “If” by Rudyard Kipling. After a gentle clue from Jessica that it was a book cipher I quickly got to work deciphering the message he left for me. I was so excited to figure out the answer I completely ignored the food that was sitting in front of me. Food cold, but the cipher complete, the line stated, “First place I said I love you.” And without hesitation, I knew exactly where we needed to go to find my next clue. Unfortunately, Jessica and Alex made me wait a little while longer in order to stay on schedule. That’s Matthew for you though when he makes a plan everything is scheduled! At least it gave me time to eat though.

Proposal Ideas Fort Pickens

Our next clue had us heading to downtown Pensacola. Every New Year’s Pensacola rings in the New Year by dropping a giant lit up pelican. During the New Year of 2016, Matthew and I stood in the rain and watched as the pelican dropped. And eager me, of course, couldn’t keep my feelings in anymore, maybe it was the liquor that gave me the extra courage, but I looked him right in the eyes and whispered, “I love you.” Not quite sure he was even able to hear me until I heard him say it right back with such joy and excitement. For the scavenger hunt, I went right to that spot. It took me a little longer than I am proud of but I found my next clue taped to a light pole on the corner where we both first said I love you. My next clue was simply a photo of a dollar bill as if he couldn’t get any more cryptic. Luckily for me though this wasn’t just any dollar bill and I knew exactly where I had to go next.

Engagement Proposal Ideas in Fort Pickens

This particular dollar bill had both our names on it with a heart and arrow and was currently stapled to the ceiling of McGuire’s Irish Pub along with about one million other dollar bills. We had put it up there that same trip down to Pensacola over a year ago. So off we went to scour the ceiling of McGuire’s during lunch hour on a weekend to find one dollar bill in a million. I was able to figure out where we had sat fairly easily, but the hard part was searching the ceiling for our dollar. Not to mention the fact that we had to interrupt the group of people that were sitting at that particular table. With the help of now five individuals I was able to quickly find our dollar and in addition to what we had written on it a year before, it now said on the back, “That’s a big butt.”

Where to Propose in Fort Pickens

If there are any Finding Nemo fans reading this they should instantly understand the context for one of Matthew’s and my favorite inside jokes. One night out in Pensacola, Matthew and I took a stroll down to the Pensacola bay marina and after a few drinks who wouldn’t quote Finding Nemo upon seeing a large boat docked at the end of the pier. For some reason, Mathew thought it was the funniest thing and from that day every boat we saw one of us had to say that line and then proceed to dare the other to touch it. For this clue Jessica, Alex and I went to the place where I first spotted the “big butt.” After searching for a while I found the clue taped under a seat bench. This particular clue required me to answer questions about Matthew and myself. The questions ranged from favorite color to life goals. Clearly, this was a test to see if I really did know the man I hoped to be at the end of this scavenger hunt, as well as to see if he knew me. The answers formed a crossword puzzle, which spelled out the next clue, Graffiti Bridge.

Wedding Proposal Ideas in Fort Pickens

Graffiti Bridge is somewhat of a local landmark and historic site. It’s a train bridge that the road goes under on the way to the beach. As the name would imply it is always covered in graffiti. But what makes it unique is the fact that every night there is something new on the bridge, and in many cases, an entirely new mural covers the bridge. Every night you can find dozens of people writing their message for the coming day to see. As we arrived, I eagerly scanned the bridge for my message, but all I saw was the bridge cluttered with hundreds of different drawings and messages, and with no idea what exactly I was looking for the task of finding my intended message was somewhat difficult. But then in orange (Matthew’s favorite color), I saw my name and under that was an image of a lighthouse. Tucked away in the bushes was another clue with my name on it. Before I even opened the letter, I knew exactly where to go by the drawing alone! The clue read, “Go to the one place in Pensacola we haven’t been together, and find a friendly face.” And at that exact moment, I knew the end was in sight, I just had to go across town and climb to the top of the Pensacola Lighthouse, and I would find my Matthew. This would be the location of the most important moment we would share together for the rest of our lives.

Abigail's Proposal in Fort Pickens

We drove and drove and drove. The ride was only about thirty minutes, but it felt like three hours. I was as excited as a kid in line to Disney World, yet starting to get a little tired, hot, and ready to just be with my Matthew! Finally, we reached the lighthouse and I began to climb the very hot, very tall, and very winding lighthouse steps! But when I got to the top, no Matthew. Nothing. I was positive that my scavenger hunt was over, and I was going to meet Matthew at the top, but all I saw were tourists enjoying the view of Pensacola Bay as it opened into the Gulf. I was so confused. I looked and I looked and then saw a boat out in the bay below with people waving on it, as it turned out they were waving at me. They looked vaguely familiar, but then again, all people at such a distance waving at you do I suppose. As it turns out it was Jessica’s and Alex’s fiancés. This was when Jessica finally gave me her last clue. The clue simply said, “It used to be my spot…” After many past lessons on the history and geography of Pensacola, courtesy of Matthew, they actually came in handy. I eventually put two and two together. We were going to have to take the boat to Matthew’s favorite spot in Pensacola. So, down the lighthouse, we went and on onward across the bay to our next stop.

The boat took us all to Fort Pickens, a beach we regularly go to when in town. Jessica, Alex and the guys dropped me off at the dock on Fort Pickens and left me to travel the rest of the way by myself, alone and stranded without a ride on a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico. I was comforted by the fact that I was either near the finish of what would soon become the most ecstatic scavenger hunt of my life or at the end of a very sudden and cruel practical joke. Matthew’s favorite spot was probably a half mile walk from where I was dropped off. Not bad, however, it was so hot and humid that it caused me to be sweating like crazy! And my feet were blistered from being in my nice shoes all day. The walk was rough, but finally, I saw him. I saw my Matthew.

I quickly ran to him and gave him a huge sweaty hug. Just smiling like an idiot. Then Matthew asked me so nonchalant, “How was your day?” We chatted as we walked along the beach about every clue and how it went as we walked to his favorite spot. Beginning to worry if this was how the evening was going to end, after all that work, but then he hands me one final clue. And this is what it said, “…, but now it’s our spot!” As I looked up from the letter there he was, on one knee and he asked me the only question I wanted to hear all day, “Will you marry me?”

Special Thanks

Ira Verbois
Photographer
Jessica Campbell | 
Chauffeur
Alex Chatham | 
Friend