Cooky and Darren

How We Met

I first met Darren in 2008 when we were freshmen in college in a small town out in Texas. We were both in the university choir and we had mutual friends so we were bound to hang out at some point. One Saturday afternoon, a lot of our friends were hanging out at the university “Duck Pond.” It’s pretty much a lake but for some reason it was known as “duck pond.” Darren and I have never spoke and I remember we were all sitting on blankets on the grass when he sat down, his back to mine, and he started playing his guitar. I didn’t move and just let it happen. We eventually started hanging out more and after 4 months, Darren finally asked me to be his girlfriend.

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Now I know you don’t know Darren, but let me tell you how romantic he is. The day he asked me to be his girlfriend, he got my two closest girlfriends to get me to the university assembly hall after our workout session. My friends told me they left some books or classwork at Evans Hall and they wanted me to go with them to find it. I was reluctant at first but I eventually went with them. When we opened the door to Evans Hall, I saw Darren standing on stage with a four string quartet playing a beautiful chorus. I was so confused and I looked at my girlfriends who were giggling at that time. Then it hit me! I ran on stage where our friends who were a part of this four string quartet serenaded us on stage while Darren asked me to be his girlfriend. I couldn’t believe this is how he asked me to be his girlfriend! It was so sweet and romantic, and well, the rest is history.

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Darren and I had been dating for 3 years in 2012 when we graduated college together. It’s crazy to think that was just the beginning of our relationship.

I moved to Austin, Texas to work as a registered nurse and Darren got accepted into dentistry school in Loma Linda, California. We ended up doing long distance for four years! Some people would say we made it seem like a piece of cake, but it took a lot of trust, communication, and FaceTime sessions. I was working night shift the entire time we did long distance and most of our FaceTime calls were at 8 a.m. CST when I got off work and getting ready for sleep and it was 6 a.m. PST and Darren was just waking up for his dental classes and clinicals. We made time for each other and looking back at it now, it took a lot of compromise yet it was effortless. We really loved each other and distance was just an obstacle we would eventually overcome.

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I would visit him in California every few months and we would always explore and have so much fun together. I couldn’t tell you how many times our friends and family would ask us, “when are you getting married?” or “how do you think he will propose?” We would laugh and confidently tell them that we wanted to wait for Darren to be done with school and that we were happy with our relationship. I honestly never really thought about how Darren would propose, but I knew it would be beautiful no matter how he did it.

Despite all of our fun adventures and road tripping around America, in the fourth year of our long distance era, it was becoming more tedious flying back and forth from Los Angeles to Austin. Darren was entering in his last year and a half of dental school and I felt like it was the perfect time to move to the Los Angeles area so we could finally be dating in the same city again, 4 years later. I moved out of the city I loved and where I started my nursing career and made my best friends to move to Loma Linda, CA. I was going to miss living in Austin, TX but I was so excited about not being in a long distance relationship anymore! Darren graduated from the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in May 2017 and I couldn’t have been more proud of him. I thought I was proud of him the day we graduated undergrad together, but nothing compared to when he walked across that stage to get his D.D.S. degree!

Shortly after graduation, Darren and I finalized our decision to move to Colorado Springs, CO to start a new life with each other. We both didn’t have any friends or family here but we love the outdoors and knew this would be the place we wanted to start our new lives together. We moved into our first apartment together which might be farfetched for some people, considering we’ve been dating for over 8 years! I feel like after you’ve been dating someone for 8 years, you don’t really think about when your boyfriend is going to propose anymore. Now that Darren started to work as a dentist, I knew he’d probably propose within the next year or so… but I never thought it would be now.

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How He Asked

My best friend Rachel told me a couple of months ago that their family reunion was going to be in Breckenridge, CO this year and she had invited me and Darren to come since we live here in Colorado. I requested the weekend off and could hardly contain my excitement! About a month prior to the trip, our other best friend Laura said she would be off that weekend and she would fly out to Colorado to come as well. GIRLS SKI TRIP!! (Along with my boyfriend and Rachel’s family reunion that we’re crashing!)

Darren has always been a very good snowboarder since we’ve been dating, and I’ve only gone skiing a couple of times. A couple of weeks ago, I told Darren that we should all spend one of the days at the mountain skiing and snowboarding and on another day, Darren could get his fix on the slopes with Rachel’s brothers. He tends to go on the easier slopes with me, and I go so slow! So I wanted him to do as much snowboarding and on the more difficult runs without me. I figured it’d be a great girls day for me as well.

On Saturday, we all spent the day on the ski lifts, going down the mountains, falling in snow ON the mountains; it’s all relative! I was building up my confidence skiing and I was having so much fun with my best friends, her family, and my boyfriend. We ended the day shortly before the sun came down, but I didn’t feel so bad because I knew Darren would spend the entire morning snowboarding the following day, or so I thought!

Sunday morning came and it was a whopping 17 degrees outside, but the sun came out the play. It was a beautiful morning in Breckenridge for a girls day running around a ski town! Rachel’s family cooked us breakfast while me, Rachel, and Laura were talking about our projected plans for the day. Rachel’s brothers and Darren were putting on their snow pants, masks, weather proof jackets, and packing up their car with skis and Darren’s snowboard. The boys left the cabin around 9 a.m. or so and us girls started getting ready for the day!

Our plan was to have lunch and drinks at this restaurant at the top of the mountain and to hike over to an overlook point and take cute photos while we were up there. If you know me, you know I love taking pictures especially with scenic views! I was all for it and super excited for our day! The three of us girls took the gondola up to the mountain and bought ski lift tickets to ride to the top! It was such a beautiful day in Breckenridge and I was so excited for the views!

As we were sitting on the ski lift, Laura and Rachel insisted that we took a selfie on my cell phone. I told them I didn’t want to take my phone out because I was scared I was going to drop it. They said they would hold my stuff so that I wouldn’t drop my phone while we were floating 50 feet above the ground on the ski lift. When I took out my phone, I noticed I started getting so many Instagram notifications and tags from friends all at the same time. When I opened the Instagram app, my notifications all of a sudden became flooded with old photos of Darren and I that our friends were posting of us. I was so confused but I started reading them. All of the captions with these photos were about me and Darren’s relationship and how much all of our friends loved us and were excited for us. I was confused but it finally hit me what might be happening… Everyone was using #finallydarrenlamadrid and I instantly started crying and asked if Laura and Rachel knew was what going on. They giggled and said, “we have no idea what you’re talking about!” I kept scrolling and reading all of these messages that our sweet friends were tagging me in about me and Darren. The next thing I know, we were about to pull up to the chairlift and I had an idea what was to come once I got off the ski lift…

We turned to the right once we got off the ski lift, and we started walking down towards the mountain. That’s when I spotted Darren, standing there on our blanket, and the mountains behind him. I immediately started walking towards him, ugly cry and all. I think I zoned everyone else out after that. When I was an arms distance from him, I reached in for a hug. He immediately said, “It’s no four string quartet, but I wanted to do this in the beautiful mountains of Breckenridge…” That’s when I lost it.

My best friend got down on one knee and asked me to be his forever, I said, “of course.”

Darren asked our friends Cara and Andrew who live in Denver to come up just to record the whole thing! He planned this whole thing and asked Laura and Rachel to help him the entire weekend. If anyone was curious, Darren didn’t end up snowboarding that morning, he had an extra more of clothes with him in the car and he changed once he got to the mountain. I couldn’t have asked for a better man to the spend the rest of my life with. He’s thoughtful and romantic and so sweet in every way. I always thought I might be suspicious whenever the time came when he would ask me to be his wife, but I never saw this coming. I am lucky to be his and even after 8 years, he still surprises me.