Alyssa and Zachariah
How We Met
Zach and I technically met in middle school but became close friends starting in the ninth grade since our friend groups were essentially the same (he was a football player and I was a Pom girl…. Yep, one of those stories). It was the sophomore year (2013) – having both Algebra II and Chemistry class together – when we recognized that being “just friends” wasn’t good enough. That February, as a captain of my school’s JV Pom team, I had the opportunity to go to Disney World along with the Varsity team for their national competition. It just so happened that Zach’s older sister was on Varsity, so he and his family were in Disney with us. WHAT? We ended up spending a ton of time together re-riding rollercoasters and watching fireworks – and the whole time I was freaking out. I really liked this boy! I remember coming back to my resort that night and my friends asking, “Is he going to ask you out?!” I was absolutely giddy. A few weeks later, back home in Oklahoma, we went to see a movie together – finally, a real date after so much flirting in class! After the movie, he asked me to be his girlfriend and I was shaking with excitement for the rest of the night.
Fast forward over five years… We had graduated high school together and made the terrifying decision to attend different universities. In fact, rival universities. We knew we didn’t want to follow each other to school for the sake of our relationship – because all too often that can lead to resentment and regret – so we prayed about where to attend and chose accordingly. Since we were about to face four daunting years of long-distance, we decided to journal to each other. If I have one piece of advice for long-distance couples, it’s this! We would journal about our schedules, prayers, praises, and memories, and then give it to each other when we were able to meet up, which was about 1-2 times every two weeks. The journal added emotional intimacy to our relationship when we couldn’t spend quality face-time together, and has been one of our biggest blessings. Going to different schools meant that we could establish a sense of individuality, make new friends, and invest in ourselves and others in a way we would have been unable to do fully had we gone to the same school. I wouldn’t change a single thing about our story.
How He Asked
Buuuuut, junior year of college came around and we starting talking about getting married and plans after college. I knew I wanted to marry Zach since… well, about a month into our relationship actually. (He had slow danced with me in a parking lot to The Scientist by Coldplay since we were two young to attend prom, and on that night on I declared I would dance with him to that song on our wedding day.)
We had looked at rings in the Fall of 2017, and by the time Spring of 2018 found us, I was so antsy. In my sorority, we have a ceremony for girls who get engaged called a candle-lighting. This ceremony took place after chapter, and we were coming up on our last chapter of the semester, and he still. Hadn’t. Proposed. He knew I wanted to have a candle-lighting, so I was nervous and bugged my best friends about it 24/7. Well, the Saturday before the last chapter, I was under the impression that I needed to go home (back to Tulsa) for Zach’s parents’ birthday party. Note: I have my own small lettering business, and they had asked me to make invitations for this thing. In my head, there was a birthday party happening! His mom had texted me asking if I could meet her at the high school before the birthday party to letter some signs to use as props for someone’s senior pictures that day. Also note: it was freezing and pouring down rain. How I was convinced someone would be taking senior pictures outside is beyond me… But I did as I was told, and met her at the high school stadium, chalk pens in hand.
She took me downstairs to the locker room, saying we needed to grab a piece of equipment first. When we reached the door to the football field, I noticed Zach – a tiny version of himself – waaayyyy out on the 50-yard line. He was standing under a tent, with the jumbotron behind him. Suddenly I realized what was happening, but still, I asked, “What’s going on…?” His mom gave me a smile beaming with success, handed me an umbrella, and said: “Why don’t you go find out?”
I walked towards him (cue the video), and the 50 yards felt more like 500 to be honest. About halfway there, my name appeared on the jumbotron in huge letters, and then “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran began to play. Immediately tears filled my eyes and I hugged Zach and bawled into his side, watching a video of pictures from the past 5 years together. When it ended, he turned me around, grabbed our journal, sitting sweetly next to Goofy and Pluto stuffed animals to remind me of our beginning, and read me the most precious letter he had written. His words ended with, “We’ve made a lot of memories on this field, from Friday night lights to hanging out in the press box, to various school events, and today we make one more…” He then got down on one knee, presented me the most beautiful ring, and asked me to marry him!
After I said yes and cried more, I turned around and, in shock, my family, his family, and even my favorite teacher was standing behind us, cheering for and supporting us. I burst into more tears, and once I reached them, found out that there was no birthday party… like, ever. The party was actually for me! April 21st, 2018 will forever be one of my favorite days, and the next day, I got the wonderful candle-lighting ceremony I had wished for and felt more celebrated than ever. He did too good!