Rachel and Christopher
How We Met
“Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well you forget your head, and you follow your heart. Because the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, because if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived. And who knows, lightening may strike.”
-Meet Joe Black
For anyone who knows me well, you’re quite aware of my cynicism towards love and marriage. Perhaps it’s because I married young—right out of college and divorced a year later while in Iraq. A year after, I fell for a pilot while in Afghanistan and was engaged soon after. A year passed and I found myself driving 29 hours across the country to New York. My older sister once told me that I flee from men. I.e. I got married, joined the Army, and deployed. I got engaged and found myself on the other side of the country. I seriously gave up on men and the whole idea of love. My only love was writing. I’ve wanted a PhD in creative writing since the 5th grade. No man seemed to rival that passion, until now.
Chris and I have been good friends since this past St. Patty’s day. He’d just got out of a relationship and I was still in one when we met. We only aspired for friendship. But something changed in October. When I came back from Jamaica after being crowned Ms. Earth, he picked me up from the airport, took me on our first date, and we’ve been inseparable ever since.
I’ve spent this past year planning for my move to Wales to work on my PhD. Nothing could stop me. But during Thanksgiving, we went through the most traumatic experience either of us had ever encountered in life. I was lucky to have him by my side, holding my hand. He was my rock. He still is. Not only was I dealing with a personal crisis, my dream of moving to Wales was quickly fading. Yes, I acquired scholarships and loans to pay for tuition, but couldn’t afford living costs (on top of my atrocious debt from leaving the Army and being unemployed for almost a year). But I was determined. If I had to live in a cardboard box, I was going to get my PhD.
When he asked me to stay, I was torn. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like my heart was being ripped in half. Follow my love of writing or follow the man who not only is my best friend, but my true love. After agonizing over which path would cause the least amount of pain, I cried myself to sleep one night and had a dream that I stayed. I woke up refreshed and knew that I didn’t have to choose. I could have it all.
I’ve decided to defer my studies and stay in NY until I can afford to follow my dreams on my own without government financial aid. I guess you could say I’m taking the scenic path. But more importantly, I’ve finally found someone to share my life with. And this time, instead of fleeing away—I’m fleeing towards him.
How He Asked
In November, I originally started making a video as a way of not only saying goodbye but to ask him in a roundabout way not to forget about me after I moved to Wales for 3 years to work on my PhD. I was going to leave. Get my education. And then come back and fight for him. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I’d find a man who rivaled my love of writing. I just couldn’t leave.
When I decided to stay, all I could think about was making him mine. We had chocolate martinis with his mom the afternoon I made my decision. And when he excused himself to go to the restroom, I asked her permission. She was ecstatic. Noting that it was a bit odd that I was asking her permission for her son’s hand, she asked if that’s how we propose in Texas. (I’m originally from Texas, and only moved up to New York a year ago). I told her no. It wasn’t a Texas thing. It was just me.
We decided to have a “housewarming” party to celebrate me changing my mind and staying in New York. Well, to him it was a housewarming party. All of his friends and family knew that this was the night I would propose. I diverted his attention, telling him I’d love to get engaged in April on his motorcycle. So when January 2nd rolled around, he had no clue.
Well over forty people gathered around our living room as his sister put in my DVD and told him to sit in the lone chair by the TV. Upstairs, I changed into a pink chiffon gown, fastening his ring to a garter I sewed the night before. As the lights dimmed and the video started playing, I descended down the stairs and sat on the lower steps. His mom and my friend held my hands. I soon realized that my video must have been effective—most of the room was in tears. But I knew I nailed it when I saw him tear up too.
As the video ended, the lights were turned up and I approached him, kneeling on one knee. As I proposed, I pulled up my dress just above the garter, and removed his ring. Amazed, he said yes!