Emily and Chris
How We Met
Chris is my college sweetheart—I met him when I was a junior and he was a senior in college, just three short months before he was supposed to commission into the Air Force and move away for good. One February night, I made plans to go to a campus bar with one of my girlfriends. We had walked about halfway there before it started pouring down rain. Rather than call a ride, we decided to walk the rest of the way with our heads inside our purses. Eventually we rolled into the bar looking like drowned rats— my clothes were drenched and my hair was starting to expand from the humidity (a phenomenon Chris has since likened to growing a “lion’s mane”). But, we didn’t want to let the rain ruin our night. I’m so glad I ended up staying, soggy clothes and all, because right after I ordered a drink I turned around and made eye contact with Chris. He was beautiful and had blue eyes that gave me butterflies. And somehow he noticed me too; he talked to me the rest of the night, danced and sang with me to Wagon Wheel, and even walked me home after I told him I wanted to leave so I could eat the pizza leftovers in my fridge. But at that point in my life, I didn’t think I wanted a relationship.
So, when he asked me out on a date after that, I actually said no! But then he asked me again…and again…and again. There was something about him that really charmed me, as much as I was trying not to be charmed. A few weeks later, he took me on our first date to a little Italian restaurant. He ordered a bottle of merlot, but pronounced it “mer-LOT,” and I’ve been hooked ever since. You always hear people say, “long distance relationships never work out,” but for us it’s been nothing but the opposite. Sure, our relationship is unconventional— he’s in the military, where home is wherever the Air Force sends him; I’m in law school, chasing a career that’ll keep me in one place. I’ll never say long distance is easy, especially with such different careers, but we love each other more than the miles between us and that has always been enough. The downside to long distance, of course, was that we missed out on things “normal” couples got to do. We missed a lot of birthdays and holidays together. If we were lucky and our schedules worked out, we would plan our version of a date night—we’d FaceTime each other, then each make dinner, and afterwards we’d watch the same movie. Cheesy, I know, but a girl’s gotta do…
How He Asked
There was one time in particular that missing out on the “normal” relationship really got to me. I had been planning a trip to fly out and see Chris graduate from training. His squadron had planned for graduation to be a huge event and a lot of fun. Chris was even going to receive an award at this fancy ceremony with a nice dinner. The attire was extremely formal, so of course I went all out and got a beautiful dress to wear. And, I heard through the grape vine that the guys in the squadron were giving their girlfriends “co-pilot” shirts for the after party, which I thought was the cutest thing ever (when you miss out on getting to know the other girlfriends because you’re in a long distance relationship, stuff like this is a big deal). I was so excited when the day to leave finally arrived. But as I was about to board my flight, the screen at the departure gate flashed red with an alert that my flight was just cancelled due to bad weather. After that, every flight leaving the Midwest on nearly every airline was either cancelled or completely booked up.
I realized that I was going to miss out on yet another experience that I would never get back, and I cried the entire drive home. Chris and I were both really upset, and I just kept saying, “I was really looking forward to the shirt.” Even though it might sound dumb, Chris knew what I was really saying: I was really looking forward to being just like all the other girlfriends for a night. A few months later, Chris decided to fly home to visit for a weekend. The day was perfect: it was warm and his family held a picnic to watch fireworks later that night. Out of the blue, Chris said we should get someone to take a picture for us. He led me to a shady spot where a friend started to take our picture, but then he turned to me and said that he had something to give me. My heart skipped a beat; he pulled out a gift bag and handed it to me. I opened it suspiciously, and realized that inside was one of those co-pilot shirts. I instantly loved it, and I thought it was the sweetest gesture ever. As I took it out to hold it up to me, I heard him say, “You know what would look really good with that?”
And in that moment I knew what was about to happen. From his back pocket he pulled out a little black box, dropped down to one knee, and asked me to marry him. Unlike when he asked me on our first date all those years ago, this time I said yes —I said it a couple of times!