Lily and Joel
How We Met
Joel and I met when we were freshmen at the University of New Hampshire (Go ‘Cats!). We had lunch with a mutual friend, who told me after the meal that Joel thought I was attractive. However, he didn’t know that I knew he thought this and, of course, I then saw him all over campus after that. I’d think to myself, “There’s the guy who thinks I’m hot but who never says hi!” We hung out a few more times with mutual friends, but he had a girlfriend at the time, so I never considered him romantically.
Flash forward to the mid-sophomore year, when we were both writing for the school paper, “The New Hampshire,” and hoping to be hired as staff reporters…We got closer through our shared status as reporter hopefuls and were then hired on the same day. I remember that we actually high-fived; we were pretty cool.
The first time we hung out and felt any sort of chemistry, however, was in April 2012, when I tagged along with Joel and his friends to a Relay for Life lantern event. None of my roomies were available, and I had run into him earlier in the day when he revealed that he would be going that evening. Good thing I messaged him; we spent the whole evening chatting about absolutely everything, walking around campus, and then watching (again, with a roomful of his buddies) the Amanda Seyfried version of “Red Riding Hood.” I remember thinking that night that I could see Joel as much more than a friend. He was charming, sensitive, funny, sweet, and very genuine. (He still is!)
I gave Joel my number, without him even asking, but he didn’t play any immature games. He asked me to hang out the next day, to attend a friend’s poetry reading. Later in the week, we had our first official date and saw the Zac Efron classic, “The Lucky One,” in Portsmouth, during which I spilled most of our popcorn in the aisle. We spent what little time we had together before the semester ended introducing one another to TV shows (I showed him “Lost,” while he shared “The Walking Dead”), cuddling, and going to late-night at the dining hall.
A few days before summer break, Joel asked me to be his girlfriend while we were waiting in the first-floor lounge of our dorm for our laundry to be done. Very romantic! That first summer, we visited each other every weekend. I remember counting the “sleeps” before I’d get to see him again!
The rest, as they say, is history. We dated for six years before he proposed, and I’ve grown more as a person and as a partner in these last six years than I ever thought possible. In fact, WE have grown. We both graduated from UNH, worked as reporters (then servers when we realized we wanted a change), got our Master’s, and landed our dream jobs in education. Joel and I lived apart for much of that time, he in Dover, NH, me in Rhode Island, Maine, and even Ireland for a semester. We always found time for one another (he even visited me in Dublin!), and made our relationship a priority, while still staying true to our individual goals and needs.
Joel is my best friend and, cliche though it may sound, he often knows me better than I know myself. He never fails to make me laugh, to push me to be my best, or to comfort me when I’m anxious. We have the same values, many of the same interests, and have gone on some pretty spectacular adventures. I think marriage might be the most amazing yet! As a writer, I am rarely at a loss for words, but I can’t possibly put into words how much I love this guy, or how very lucky I feel to have found someone who respects and values me as he does.
How He Asked
Joel always laughed at my idea of the perfect proposal (a puppy bringing the ring over on a beach, near sunset), and of my yen for movie-esque moments, but he certainly delivered! We had already been on two trips during July 2018, to Leland, Michigan, and Nashville. I was kind of shocked that he hadn’t proposed during either of those trips, but I knew that it would happen eventually, so I didn’t think too much of it when he said he’d made dinner reservations for Saturday, July 28. He said he wanted to celebrate a great summer, as he started back at work the following Wednesday. We were at a cottage in Westport, MA, right on the water, where my family has vacationed each summer since my mom was pregnant with me. It’s one of my absolute favorite places on the entire planet! My whole family was there, and they said they were going out to dinner, too. I was almost ready to go when Joel said that he had “mixed up” the reservation and that we actually had some time to kill. He suggested that we take a walk on the beach, and I said goodbye to my family, as they were supposed to be leaving shortly.
The whole day leading up until this point had been very foggy and a storm looked imminent, but about an hour before, the weather transformed. It was windy, but the sun came out and the fog burned off. The water was shimmering, and there was only one other couple on the beach (the guy was wearing a “Vote for Pedro” shirt and they were moving very slowly, much to Joel’s very vocal chagrin). Joel had also commented a lot about the weather that day, which I had thought was weird. In retrospect, I realize he was afraid it would ruin his plans! We walked down to a little inlet called Quicksand Pond and then decided to head back. I commented the whole time that we had to hurry and that we were going to be late for dinner. In between these comments, we discussed the summer thus far, and how we were feeling about life in general. I asked him if he was happy, and he said that he was, but that he “knew one thing that would make [me] even happier.” Then he got down on one knee, pulled out a ring box from the rain jacket that he had brought “just in case” and, with tears in his eyes (though he’ll deny it!), he asked me to marry him. Apparently, I said, “Wait, what?” at first, but then, of course, said “YES!” Cue lots of hugging, kissing and crying (on my part). The ring was the SAME one that I had sent him a picture of the day AFTER he had already ordered it! One of the best parts of the proposal was that he also had a dish towel on which there was a picture of a lab; it said, “All you need is love and a Labrador.” This might seem odd, but my mom had seen it, thought of my ideal proposal, and gotten it for Joel to give to me. We aren’t allowed to have dogs where we currently live, but the dish towel was a) my dog on the beach, and the completion of the said ideal proposal and b)a promise that we would get a dog someday.
As if that weren’t all already PERFECT, we walked back up to the house to find both of our families there! His parents and sister had driven down from their home in Westford, MA, and his cousins (including his best man!) had flown in from Chicago to celebrate with us! After more crying on my part and hugs all around, we all grabbed drinks and stood around in a circle as Joel and I called all of our grandparents and extended family, on speakerphone, of course, to share the news. We spent the evening drinking and eating pizza, happy crying, toasting, taking pictures on the back deck with the perfect ocean backdrop, ogling my ring, and talking about the future. It now certainly ranks in the top five days of my life thus far, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have such an amazing partner and two (soon to be one!) amazing families. It just felt seamless, and right, to have everyone there altogether. I’m one lucky girl!