Annie and Harrison

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How We Met

We met on Tinder. But the story is much more exciting than it may sound.

“Mom, I want to marry him!” This was the phone conversation I had with my mom moments after I left my first date with Harrison. We had gone for a hike, and then out to dinner at a hole in the wall restaurant. And I fell in love.

Plot twist: Harrison is in the Army and was leaving for a 10 week training in Texas two days after our second date. Coming and goings for military training would quickly play a major part in our way of life. At the time, I was in my 3rd year of ROTC at Utah State University, so the military life style was something that I could understand and turned into a great strength in our long distance dating.

A week later, we had our second date. My family was visiting my grandparents in Brigham City, so he came and picked me up there. In the spirit of the approaching Halloween holiday, we decided to go up to Willard Peak to listen to scary stories. The night quickly got away from us, and after getting bored (or maybe a little scared) of the scary stories, we ended up just talking for hours. Sometime around 4 am, Harrison asked if he could *finally* kiss me. And moments after that first– and wonderful– kiss, my phone began vibrating. At 24 years old, somehow when my dad calls at 4 am I get as panicky as I did when I was 16 and late for curfew. I ignored the call, wanting to get back to that first kiss, but then when he called again I decided I had better answer it. After a little reprimand from my mom (sigh of relief when it wasn’t my dad on the other end) for being out so late without telling them I was okay and hadn’t fallen off a cliff somewhere, we decided we should probably head home. When we pulled into my grandparent’s driveway, I was already on the lookout for signs of my dad waiting up for me. The lights were off, and the coast appeared to be clear. But when Harrison offered to walk me to the front door, I maintained that he better not and I should probably head in alone. (Note: my dad is absolutely a giant teddy bear. But seeing as I was 24 and on a hot date and got a curfew call from my parents, avoiding any further embarrassment was a high prerogative). However, being the gentleman that he is, Harrison insisted on walking me to the door. As we were exchanging some goodnight kisses, I was only half way surprised when I heard a car door open from the driveway behind us and my dear daddy’s voice saying “okay you two…”. Annnd new most embarrassing life moment(s) commenced. After a little talking to about at least checking in when staying under my grandparent’s roof, we had an awkward goodbye (did we even hug goodbye, or is my memory correct and did we handshake?) and I followed my dad inside. As embarrassing as dads can occasionally be, I have been blessed with one who is my best friend, my confidant, and my biggest fan. Upon closing the door, he gave me a stern look, started chuckling to himself, gave me a big hug, and sat on the couch wanting to know all about how the date went and what I thought about Harrison.

Two days later Harrison left for 10 weeks of training in Texas, and our budding relationship continued over the phone. After going on a mere two (wonderful) dates, I wasn’t sure where I stood with him. I just focused on cherishing the unique situation we were in and valued the time to get to know each other better through the only communication and means available to us. About 6 weeks into his training, Harrison was telling me about an upcoming New Years trip he had planned to visit his younger sister in Hawaii. Jokingly, I commented on how nice it would be to have a tropical vacation to get away from such a cold Utah winter. The next thing I know, Harrison was inviting me to come along on this Hawaii adventure. Without hesitation (except to call my dad) I said yes, we bought the tickets, and waited anxiously for him to return home right before Christmas. As the trip came closer, friends were begging for details about this mystery boy I was taking off to Hawaii with. I would often respond “oh… I think we’re just friends.” Not having seen him in 10 weeks and never having that dreaded DTR, I wasn’t really sure where we stood. Right before he came home he mentioned something about getting me a Christmas gift and I called my mom and said, “Mom, we’re doing Christmas presents. I think we’re dating.” *Que everyone face palming*

As the wait for Harrison to return from Texas finally came to an end, I drove down to Ogden with shaking hands to meet him as he pulled up. Getting there a little bit after him, I walked up to the door not really knowing what to expect. To be honest, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. What if it was all just too good to be true? Then the door opened, and before I could even manage a full sentence, he pulled me in and kissed me. And that was that.

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I spent all but three days of my Christmas break with him and his family, and then we left for our trip *3rd date* to Hawaii. We spent our days at the beach, snorkeling, hiking, and backpacking to the Kalalau Valley. On day 2, we were driving to a waterfall, listening to the Beatles, and I looked over at him and thought “I think I’m in love with him. That’s crazy.” Wanting to tell him but thinking I would completely freak him out, I just appreciated the blissful moment and hoped I might be lucky enough that he might just love me too. On our 4th day in Hawaii, after hiking 11 miles along the Napali Coast into the Kalalau Valley, we were walking along the beach at sunset and, despite my best efforts to appreciate this fairytale moment, I was dying to ask him what the plan was. At the end of January, he was to leave for Alabama to begin flight school for the Army. FOR A YEAR AND A HALF. Given our unique and fast paced romance, I wasn’t sure if he wanted to jump right into a committed relationship. I mean, come on. I tentatively brought it up, and waited for his response. Then I heard the words, “I love you.” And as cliche as it may sound, in that moment I realized that all of my hopes, my dreams, and my prayers, were becoming a reality right before my eyes.

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How He Asked

In the 8 months that we had been dating long distance, I had not had a breakdown one time. In fact, I hadn’t even cried about the difficulties of being separated. At the many airport goodbyes, not a tear had been shed. It seemed to all be building up for a beautiful spring day at the beginning of April. During this week, I had midterms for every class, a packet due for entrance into the program I was applying for, and some hard times for my family. That Thursday I came home discouraged from a STATs test performance, and all I wanted in the world was to hug Harrison. When I realized that I didn’t get to see him, let along hug him, for at least another month, I began to cry. And I didn’t stop… for several hours. Because of his training schedule, I knew I wouldn’t be able to really talk to him until that night when he would be able to call. So I curled up in bed, sent a few texts to hurry him along, and waited by my phone for his call. The call that was usually so prompt and reliable did not come. Aside from a few short text messages, I didn’t get much of a response from him at all. Making this situation much more tragic than it ever needed to be, I was giving into the insecurities that tend to bubble up with so much time and distance apart. When Harrison finally did call, muuuuch later than we usually talk, given his rigorous schedule, I was bothered with him when he slightly laughed at my weepy inquiries about the future of our relationship. “Annie, I love you. Much more than you know.”

*Little did I know, he had been on the phone with my dad for several hours asking permission to marry me.

The next morning, puffy eyed and sleep deprived, I trudged up to campus for my last midterm exam. Fortunately the teacher let us off easy, and I returned home in a much better mood. As I walked home I came up with a plan to surprise my mom for her birthday that day, and drive home to Montana for the weekend. It seemed the perfect escape from the difficult week I had just finished. Not being able to see Harrison, going home seemed like the greatest comfort I could find. I had to creatively get out of some work and school commitments, but within 30 minutes I was packed and headed out the door. I sent Harrison a quick text outlining my plans, and off I went. I had barely made it to the city limits when I got a call from my dad asking me what my weekend plans were. Not wanting to ruin the surprise of coming home, I gave him some general responses and smiled to myself thinking of how excited he would be to see me home by the end of that same day. However, my dreams were dashed to pieces when he told me of his plans to leave for Utah that night for a birthday getaway he planned for my mom. This was apparently the final straw for me, because I pulled over on the side of the road and broke down in tears once again. And, once again, being entirely too dramatic about the situation, I begged my dad to change his plans so that I could come home. In an entirely uncharacteristic way, my dad pretty much said “Sorry sweetie, no can do.” And with that, I drove back to my apartment and took a long nap in the hammock in the back yard. I told Harrison of my foiled plans, and tried to face the weekend as happily as I could.

*Later found out that Harrison had called my dad and told him about my last minute road trip decisions and enlisted his help to keep me in the state.

That night I went to a BBQ with some friends, and the next morning I went mountain biking for several hours. This is only pertinent to the story, because I didn’t shower after either activity.

Later that afternoon (Saturday, April 9th) I got a call from Harrison’s sister, saying that she had had a hard day and needed some sister time. She asked if I could come down (about an hour away) and hang out with her for the weekend. I explained that I would need to shower asap, but she told me to just come down and I could shower when I got there.

*Later found out that she didn’t want me to be late for the sunset proposal.

Before I could even knock, my soon-to-be-sister-in-law opened the door and asked if we could go for a walk and talk about the hard time she was having. (Big. Fat. Liar. But it’s okay, I forgave her.) She ran back inside to grab her go-pro to catch some shots of the sunset. And, it turns out, to video the whole proposal.

After walking stopping to talk to some friends, we made our way to a nearby park and began walking around it, taking pictures of the mountains and the sunset, we made our way to the south end of the park and I saw a little gazebo, with a man sitting alone in it. As we got closer, the dog started running over there and I was worried he was bothering the guy sitting in there. As we got closer, he turned his head to the side and I suddenly realized who it was. I stopped in my in my tracks and turned to his sister who already had the camera rolling. I’m pretty sure that was about the time I stopped breathing without conscious effort. I made my way over to where he was now standing with arms open, and then smiled and hugged and kissed and laughed for what felt like forever. Later that night Jaclyn made fun of us, saying, “oh my gosh. You took forever to actually propose because you wouldn’t stop kissing!” And I’m not even ashamed.

Holding me close, Harrison told me that he had something very important to ask me. And in a proposal more perfect than I had ever hoped for, the man that I love got down on one knee and said,

“Annie, you have been the answer to all of my prayers. I love you. Will you marry me?”

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