Brittany and Derrick
How We Met by Derrick: Brittany would probably tell you that we met for the first time twice. While that is technically true, I always remember the second time more clearly.
It was sophomore year of college. I walked into my English 300 classroom and sat down, making sure that I avoided all awkward first-day-of-school conversations and encounters with all other students. I succeeded in my efforts until some girl came skipping into the classroom, slamming down into the seat next to me. “Hi! I’m Brittany! We’re gonna be best friends!”
I was hardly convinced. I was content in keeping this girl at arms’ length and not letting her into my life, but she just kept coming around. I saw her in class, I saw her around campus, I saw her at church. Brittany persisted in trying to pry me out of my shy and quiet shell. Each day she showed me kindness and friendship, even when I wasn’t looking for it. I opened up a little bit and began to take part in our friendship. We were complete opposites: I was introverted, she was extroverted; I was reserved, she was rowdy; I was rough and she was gentle. But over time, I began to see just how amazing Brittany was and began to cherish our conversations and time together.
The rest as they say (no matter how cheesy it is), is history. That bouncy girl worked her way into my heart and will be there forevermore.
How We Met by Brittany: Like Derrick predicted I’d say, Derrick and I met twice. The first time was at our Freshman Orientation at NAU: I noticed a cute red-headed guy who seemed disinterested in me and so, of course, I bounced up to him and his parents and introduced myself. I flirted with him, batted my eyelashes, and exchanged numbers (he wasn’t quite as taken with me as I was with him). The summer went by and we forgot about each other.
Fast-forward a year and a few months to the first day of our sophomore year. I walked into my American Literature class and noticed, again, a cute red-headed guy. However this time he had an afro—which was a daring enough of a conversation piece to pique my interest. I decided to sit in front of him in hopes of getting the chance to talk, however I didn’t realize I had met him before.
Later that day, I went into my English 300 class and was pleasantly surprised to see my red-headed afro-guy. Flashing a smile, I bounded into a seat next to him, flipped my hair and said, “Hi! I’m Brittany! We’re gonna be best friends!” Only after exchanging numbers for a second time did we realize we had met before.
I pursued a friendship with Derrick, despite his initial distance, because I had never met a man that had so much integrity and respect. I was instantly attracted to the way he carried himself even when he thought no one was looking.
How He Asked by Brittany: I was so nervous for graduation (Would I trip in front of everyone?) that my usual “proposal radar” was down. Derrick never liked to double-dip romantic moments on big days anyway; for example, he first asked me out three days after my birthday instead of on my birthday. So when I was in Northern Arizona University’s Skydome waiting to walk across the stage to collect my diploma, I grasped his hand and held on tight because of what I was leaving behind, not because of the future.
After the ceremony and flurry of pictures with our moms and dads, Derrick and I sat in his car feeling nostalgic. The past three years we stamped memories together all over Flagstaff: stargazing on his truck, throwing the Frisbee, finding the best burgers. Graduating felt like we would be leaving a special part of ourselves in the small town.
Earlier that week I mentioned to Derrick I wanted to go to our log on our hike to Fat Man’s Loop—a special hike where Derrick and I went as friends, where we told each other we loved each other for the first time, and where we carved our initials into our log—before we moved from Flagstaff. Fat Man’s Loop was ours and it seemed only fitting to return as we closed this chapter of our lives. As we sat in the car, Derrick spontaneously suggested, “Hey, we have three hours until our graduation party; do you want to go on our hike?” The spontaneity should have been my first clue that something was out of the ordinary, but I jumped at the chance, grateful that Derrick was up for it and equally grateful he had convinced me not to wear heels earlier.
When we started walking on our hike, all the memories came back. Over there was the part of the path where we got caught in the rain and I hoped he would kiss me. There was the rock where he washed my feet before he told me he loved me. Up ahead was a tree we would tell our secrets to each time we passed—secrets that I wanted an excuse to tell him and not a tree. I bounced along feeling the giddiness and butterflies I had felt on previous hikes.
We arrived at our log and sat next to each other like we had always done. Derrick began by asking, “Does it feel good to be graduated?” When I answered in the affirmative, he went on, “Yeah, it feels good to be moving on to the next point of life. I’m lucky I have you going on to the next point of life. It’s nice going into the unknown with such a good friend. I’m thankful for college, but I think that thing I’m most thankful for is you. There’s no question in my mind that it’s you.”
Derrick slid off the log and came in front of me, taking off his sunglasses so he could look me in the eye.
“I just really love you, and I’m so thankful for you. And I want to be best friends for the rest of our lives. And I want to love you and enjoy you and hold onto you forever.”
As he got down on one knee, I knew what was happening and I began to quiver as tears came to my eyes.
“Brittany Nicole Adams, will you marry me?”
I barely could get out my “Yes, I’d love to” because of my tears of happiness. He put the ring on my finger and I slid off the log into his arms.
Afterwards, I met our amazing photographer, Drew Brashler, who came up from Phoenix to be a part of Derrick’s secret caper. He had disguised a remote camera with leaves and twigs, which took shots from one angle while he was taking shots at another angle. The entire time I thought he was a bird watcher because of his binoculars when he was really taking pictures.
When we finished taking pictures we all went back to our “graduation/engagement” party to tell the news to our closest friends and family.
Photos by Drew Brashler Photography