Maddie and Brooks
How We Met
We met in 2008, my junior year (Brooks’ senior year) of high school. We both wrote for the school newspaper where we discovered we shared a love for sports, rock music, Ann Arbor and the outdoors. After a few lunch dates and nights out at University of Michigan basketball games, the holiday season was upon us. Brooks’ close friend was hosting a New Years Eve party — his chance to make our relationship “official.” A midnight kiss sealed the deal, and in his own charming way he declared, “I think we’re dating now,” making New Years Day 2009 our “official” anniversary.
How He Asked
I had the day off from work that Friday. Brooks still had to work, but had planned to leave early. All week, Brooks had been fairly intent on getting out to the lake quickly to kick off the holiday weekend, so I packed both of our bags, rushing out to the Irish Hills where my parents have a cottage on Lake Columbia. We would be spending the weekend there as we had every Fourth of July since 2009. My parents greeted me at the cottage when I arrived in the early evening. Brooks was due at the lake within the hour…or so I was told. The weather looked questionable, so I kept busy, unpacking our bags and preparing for a long weekend on the water.
We had some of our best friends and family joining us the next day, including Brooks’ parents and sister, Drew; my brother, Matt, and a variety of mutual close friends. This was the typical scene at the lake during the holiday weekend, so not only was I excited, but I thought nothing of the fact that our closest companions would be sharing with us what would end up being one of the most amazing weekends of our lives. Meanwhile, Brooks has texted me to let me know he got “stuck at work” later than planned, but assured me he’d be at the cottage by 6:00 p.m. By 7:00 p.m., Brooks had still not arrived. Realizing plans were quickly changing, I made dinner with my parents and watched the College World Series with my dad, distracting myself from Brooks’ tardiness that he would later blame on traffc (…traffic. at 7 o’clock. on the back roads).
By now I was starting to wonder what was up. Where could he be? Shortly after 8:00 p.m., Brooks showed up. By this time, the weather didn’t look promising. But something was different about him that night, and I could tell. His green eyes were glowing, but they were keeping a secret. My parents took off for Swiss Swirl, the local ice cream shop, as I eagerly suggested to Brooks that we join them. But to my surprise, he wasn’t interested. Despite the grey skies, Brooks asked if I wanted to go on a boat ride instead. It still wasn’t raining afterall, so we figured, why waste a perfectly good night?
As I gathered our phones and water bottles from around the house, I offered to grab a towel for Brooks, but he (mysteriously) had brought one from home and hurried to grab it from his car. Assuming we were racing the rain, I quickly uncovered the pontoon and brought our bags down, Brooks still rummaging around his car and the kitchen. I noticed I had forgetten the boat key, so I raced back up to the house and rushed Brooks and myself down to the dock. We walked back down toward the lake, briefly saying “hi” to my neighbor who was fixing his dock. But Brooks was hurrying us along, and I could tell he was anxious to get out on the water. Shortly after 8:30 p.m., we departed toward the middle of the lake with me behind the wheel. I turned the radio on, the local pop station playing Colby Caillat’s “Realize” — a song I’m not only familiar with, but one I love.
It fit the mood perfectly — Brooks and I relaxing, the only boat on the lake, with the water as still as I’d seen it in years. Brooks, too, had a stillness about him. He was calm, yet intensely focused. Clouds were consuming the sky, but we could tell the rain was still far enough away that we had time to finish our ride. Our conversation slowed with the pace of the boat as I drove us around the second bend. We stumbled upon two ducks swimming — one male, one female. I put the pontoon in neutral, stopping to watch them bob along. Nothing “significant” had happened yet, but I’ll never forget the stillness of the moments before thee moment. It’s like we both knew our lives were about to change forever. The lake was so serene, the quietest it would be for the remainder of the Fourth of July weekend. That’s when Brooks softly, but confidently, asked me to turn off the music and join him on the seat at the front of the boat — he said he wanted to talk to me about something.
Slightly nervous, I started searching for cues — something that could tip me off as to what was happening. This is when I noticed the purple bath towel he’d brought from home — wrapped like a burrito and secured tightly beside him on the seat. My mind started racing, knowing something was coming, but not knowing exactly what. Then the moment was upon me — this was IT! After eight and a half years together, this was the moment I’d been eagerly awaiting. I started to grasp what might be happening… Alone in the middle of the lake, at the front of the boat, the love of my life got down one knee, absolutely poured his heart out, and asked me to marry him. I bursted into a “YES!” before I could hardly comprehend what just occurred. So typical of myself, I even think I slipped a few “HOLY CRAP THIS IS HAPPENING NOW?!” comments in there (once Brooks had gotten down on one knee, I practically blacked out). After one long kiss, he slid the most stunning, perfect ring on my finger. Then the waterworks started. I’d never been so overwhelmed with pure joy, love and excitement all at once. It was a blur from then on, yet I remember every detail of that moment.
Overjoyed and wiping the tears from our eyes, we continued kissing and smiling and laughing, completely unable to contain ourselves from the excitement. My voice echoed “I’M GETTING MARRIED!!!” as I rhetorically announced my news to the rest of Lake Columbia. We were literally jumping up and down in sheer excitement. After we caught our breaths and got a few more bursts of “OH MY GOD WE’RE ENGAGED!” out of our systems, we went for a victory lap around the lake, celebrating our love and the journey ahead.
We made it about half way around when a light rain started. The imperfect weather turned out to be perfectly romantic. I finally steadied my hands long enough to park the boat as we arrived back at our dock. It was about 9:30 p.m. at that point, and Brooks and I were more than ready for a celebratory toast. Stalling (and stalling), my parents were still out for ice cream when we got back up to the house. We couldn’t wait to tell someone the news, and it was important to both of us that our parents be the first to know. Bursting with excitement, Brooks called his parents and we yelled, “we’re getting married!” Now we couldn’t wait to tell my mom and dad before we widely shared the news with our friends via phone calls and social media. Finally, my parents arrived as we stood nervously awaiting them in the kitchen. “We’re engaged!!” we said again, the words still surprising us each time we said them. We all hugged and kissed and finally shared our celebratory toast of my favorite bourbon. We spent the rest of the night absolutely on cloud nine, reeling from the night’s events. As we announced the news to more family and friends, it finally started to hit us: WE’RE GETTING MARRIED!