Carolyn and Mark
How We Met
Mark and I nearly missed each other, many many times. We both attended the University of Florida and had a few mutual friends. Our first meeting was while line dancing, just a typical “hello, my name is” and “goodbye”. Randomly we would see each other around campus or at football games, say hello, and continue on. Mark was the guy who was known for being sweet, chivalrous, and adventurous, a real catch. He has an open mouth smile that is difficult to miss and very contagious. I was the busy bee– juggling multiple clubs and activities along with nursing school. My senior year, my friend Mary Grace convinced me to go on a road trip with a fraternity, something we had never done before. We travelled to Alabama, and after the game I found myself alone without any of our group. I called all of my friends, who didn’t answer. I thought I would wait so I sat down. I was approached by a man who was making me very uncomfortable. I stood up to try to leave and next thing I know, there is an arm around my waist, and a boy kissing my cheek. It was Mark, pretending to be my boyfriend, asking the man politely to leave. We hung out the rest of the evening, he helped me find my friends (after they found a cell phone charger). We said goodbye and I figured that was it. A few weeks later, after seeing Mark briefly around campus again, I get a text from him asking if he can walk me home from class. Weeks went by of him skipping class (unbeknownst to me) so that he could walk me home from my class. Finally, he asked me to go on our first date.
How He Asked
Prior to proposing, I told Mark I didn’t want to know anything about the proposal prior, I wanted to be completely surprised. Throughout our dating season, Mark has kept every date a secret, telling me simply what to wear and surprising me with a marathon of activities and food. As a Trauma Nurse I work most holidays, so the week before Christmas, Mark asked if I could do a Christmas date. We live in Florida, so it was a very cold 75 degrees this December Saturday. He told me the week before we were going out to a nice dinner to celebrate since we couldn’t be together over Christmas. Naturally, I loved the excuse to buy a new dress. We started the day off with a big breakfast and a walk with our yellow lab puppy, Cedar. Afterwards, we drove north, stopping at a water sports shop to rent some paddle boards.
We paddle boarded 5 miles down the Santa Fe River, where Mark brought a picnic lunch and we ate floating in the middle of the river. Afterwards, Mark dropped me off at my to get ready for dinner and picked me up a few minutes later. We drove to Haile Plantation, a small town where we had our first date. Mark said he needed a pre-dinner snack, so we stopped and got a cupcake at our favorite local bakery. Outside of the bakery is a fountain where Mark first held my hand on our first date. I started to eat the cupcake, but Mark put my hand (and fork) down. He asked me to stand up, and as I stood up he got down on one knee.
Though I do not remember all of the kind words, largely because I was so shocked, I remember him asking for me to spend forever with him and me screaming “YES” amidst some of my happiest of tears. Mark stood up and we hugged and kissed. Behind us, we began to hear clapping, as apparently there was a wedding happening in a building and all of the reception guests had come outside during our proposal and were now cheering.
As we started to laugh, I heard more screaming. From behind the same building came running all of my best friends, from Georgia, Nashville, and South Florida, along with Marks best friends for North Carolina, Louisiana, and New York.
Together we hugged and cried, and decided to head back to Mark’s house to better celebrate. When we arrived, I walked into a surprise party with both Mark and my families, and our puppy Cedar!.