Joe and Chelsea

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How We Met

Chels and I met at Belmont University in Nashville, TN during my freshman year. She was a year older than me and everybody knew her so I figured she had to be cool and I should probably get to know her, too. Luckily, I got my chance when my best friend started dating her “little” in her sorority. From there it was business as usual. Ya know, sneaking into her on-campus apartment to kill bugs and order Dominos pizza, or playing Plants vs. Zombies, or staying up late and talking about God… typical college courtship. It was actually in one of these conversations that I asked Chels if she “ever prayed for her future spouse?” to which she replied with a resounding “yes”. She asked if I had ever done the same and I assured her that I had on several occasions. We continued this trend of being really good friends for the remainder of my freshman year and into the summer. Eventually, I went home to North Carolina while she stayed behind in Tennessee. We stayed in touch but it was nothing really special at that point, because we were still “Just Friends”…

When I came back to school in the fall, myself and three of my fraternity brothers moved off campus into a house not more than a block away. Though my parents often referred to it as “The Animal House” we affectionately called it “The Cottage” because of its quaint charm. I’m no architectural nerd, nor am I saying that the house’s charm had anything to do with Chels and I dating and eventually getting engaged, but all of a sudden she was over at our house all the time. The one night in particular that stands out to me was the evening of our “Yoked Bros and Yoga [Ladies]” party (we used a much less-than-flattering term for ladies which at the time seemed appropriate). As the party was dying down – around 3 in the morning – Chels and I found ourselves alone in the kitchen sitting at the bar carrying on one of our typical deep convos. Somehow we began discussing whether or not we should start dating. She told me that she didn’t want to date me because she didn’t want to lose one of her best friends. Bravado got the best of me and I assured her that everything would be fine. She was still hesitant, but I told her that I had a proposition for her. I told her that if she kissed me one time, she would want to do it again, and again. If for some reason she didn’t want to kiss me again, then I would never ask her to date me again and we would remain just friends. Well, I guess it’s safe to say that we kissed more than once that night (and we’ve been kissing ever since).

From there, as cliche as it sounds, the rest is pretty much history. We became an “item” and we started hanging out even more than we were. Yet just as we were getting to the good part, Summer reared it’s ugly head and I went home again while she stayed behind. Now, I used quotes around the word “item” because we weren’t officially an item. We had yet to have the dreaded discussion that moves young couples out of the ambiguous “more-than-friends” stage into the “Hey (name), this is my girlfriend Chelsea” stage. We still stayed in touch, though and grew even closer despite being so far apart. It was during this summer that I had a conversation with my dad in which he asked me if I was “in love” with Chels. I’d never been in love at that point so I really wasn’t sure. He told me that the only way I would ever know is if I decided to make an effort to put her first in my life. If I was happy making her happy, then that’s how you know. Being the competitive person that I am (Chels can attest to this aspect of my life), I saw his statement as a challenge and made it my life’s work. And it did work. I was happy when she was happy, and I was sad when she was sad. I now knew that I loved her, but we had to discuss what was the next step in our relationship, as Chels was about to graduate and was determining whether or not she would move back to California.

We decided that we could both kinda see our lives playing out together and that we kinda like that feeling so we would stay together. Shortly after that I made up my mind that she was “the one”, and the planning commenced.

How He Asked

The morning of, we went to brunch. Chels hates surprises so naturally she was looking for any opportunity she could to foil the plan! She had a feeling that something was going to happen and at this point I could barely keep my heart in my chest, so she basically figured out that it was going to happen. She did not yet know how it was going to happen though, which I held on to for dear life (after all, the competitor in me would not let her win). After brunch, we drove to Belmont University and as I pulled up to the top floor of the parking deck, she could see a blacked-out Escalade and its driver waiting for her. Eddie, who was such a nice guy, welcomed her and helped her get in the back where she found two of her closest friends waiting. I handed one of them an envelope full of all the necessities ($$$) and they were headed on their way. From there, the girls went and got their hair and makeup done, nails painted (the most essential steps guys), and headed to Nordstrom to pick out the perfect ensemble.

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She and the girls were then dropped off back at Belmont, where Eddie literally rolled out the red carpet for her. She was handed a scrapbook that I had crafted entitled “Our Adventure Book”, inspired by the Pixar classic “UP” (Chels is a huge Pixar head, or whatever they’re called). She opened the book, read the first page and then proceeded on a journey that would take her to several “landmarks” on Belmont’s campus. At each stop she was greeted by people who were influential in our relationship including my fraternity brothers, her best friends, my family, her family (who flew in from San Diego), and finally me. The people at each station read her their corresponding page from the book that detailed how those who were reading had impacted us.

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She finally made it to me and together we walked to the steps of the Belmont Mansion where I read her my page. In a sappy attempt at humor that was riddled with cheesy Disney puns, I rambled about how great our life has been and how great it will be. Just when she thought she was in the clear, I told her that there was one more Disney pun, but I needed her help. I handed her the book, she turned to the final page, and she read – keeping with the “UP” theme – “Thanks for the adventures! Now let’s go have some new ones”. I got down on a knee and with one hand (the other was holding an umbrella) I reached into my jacket pocket. I opened the ring box and said those words that she had been waiting to here for quite some time, “Will you marry me?”.

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She didn’t say “yes”… she just gasped, reached down, and hugged me. She put on the ring and we started celebrating. We took some pictures and then we heading to the restaurant where I had rented a room for the entire party to eat. She eventually realized that she had never said “Yes”, and quickly rectified that at the dinner table. And that’s all he wrote.

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