Maria and Josh
How We Met
Josh and I met at Penn State my sophomore, his junior, year of college through mutual friends. We saw each other often at frat parties and bars, and hung out with the same group of people, but it wasn’t until fall of my senior year that we started making more of an effort to see one another.
Josh had graduated that winter, yet we continued to talk all day, every day, until I finally worked up the nerve to drive down to Virginia to visit him. It was our first one-on-one hangout that didn’t involve drinking at Penn State. I was so nervous that whole day and the drive down–I even debated backing out! When I pulled up to his place, he came out and all of a sudden, the nerves were gone. He gave me a big hug hello, and the rest of the night is history.
We had dinner, went to see a live band at an Irish bar, and stayed up late watching “Flight”, talking, and eating cheap snacks from the nearby CVS. It was kind of crazy how natural everything felt and how seamlessly we meshed; there was no denying that there was chemistry between us.
A few months went on, some more visits took place, and we decided to make things official. Soon after, I graduated, studied in Australia for a few months (thank gosh for Facetime), then came home to start the job hunt.
Coincidentally, Josh was already living in the area I had been planning on moving to/teaching in, and thankfully I was able to find a job down there! Our first year, we lived in separate apartments, but were never living separately. He stayed with me Monday-Friday, and then we would go to his place Friday-Sunday.
After a year of packing and unpacking bags, driving back and forth every single week, we finally got our own place–and a cat (which took much convincing on Josh’s end)! Since then, we’ve moved once more from Virginia back to Pennsylvania and traded in our tiny apartment for a townhouse, and couldn’t be happier.
How He Asked
Josh had been planning this for almost a full year before asking. He sat my parents down in December 2015 to ask their permission, and had the ring since April of 2016. Somewhere in between there, we got a text from a friend (Josh’s Best Man) talking about returning to Penn State for Arts Fest that coming summer.
Being that neither of us have been back for Arts Fest since graduating, we thought it was due time we return and take in the cheap drinks and rare days of sunshine in State College, PA. We agreed to going back, and then it kind of fell off of my radar.
Come June, we were sitting down looking at our calendar to plan for our upcoming move, apartment hunting, and to see what weekends were open. When looking into July, he made sure to remind me about Arts Fest taking place the second weekend.
I asked him if he was sure that was still happening because we hadn’t heard any more from our friend about it since it was first brought up a few months ago. Josh assured me it was still happening, so I marked my calendar–a few days later our friend texted us giving details about that weekend.
Once the weekend was approaching, we got a text from that same friend saying he could no longer make it because he had something come up at work, but he put the hotel room in our name so we could still go.
We were bummed that we couldn’t see him, but still excited for a weekend at Penn State– we had been talking a while ago about how we wanted a weekend up there just us two, so it worked out!
The weekend arrived and we were off to Penn State. I was ecstatic because we were staying in a hotel I’ve always wanted to stay at (and the hotel we’ll be having our wedding reception at). As soon as we walked in, I was swooning over how pretty it was.
I kept talking about how much it sucks for our friend for missing out on this hotel, and proceeded to send him a million pictures to rub it in ;) We had a great night out at some of our favorite bars and enjoyed some of our favorite late-night-eats that night.
In the morning, we woke up and I had a full agenda planned for us. I told Josh that I wanted to go get a workout in at one of the campus gyms to start, followed by lunch downtown, some shopping, touring around the art festival, and a campus walk.
Then we could come back here and change for dinner and the night. We kicked off the day with a workout! After finishing that up, we went back to our room. I was starving and asked Josh if we could just go down and get food, then come back to shower/get ready–he suggested we shower and get ready first (good call, Josh).
While getting ready, Josh was asking me questions like “Does this look alright?” “Do you like that shirt you’re wearing?” and when I went to put on a hat he told me, “Don’t wear the hat…” (props to my mom for texting Josh to ensure that I have on something I like–she knows me too well). Now that I look back at all this, I should’ve picked up that something was going on, but in the moment I was too focused on getting food, and I didn’t give any of these questions a second thought.
We left our hotel for what I thought was going to just be a day of walking around campus. We grabbed lunch and then I was ready to start checking things off my to-do list! First stop: shopping. I wanted to get some new Penn State gear, but as we started walking, Josh didn’t want to stop at any of the stores.
Frustrated, I followed him, continuously trying to get him to stop at one of the stores we were passing. During this time, it began raining. We stopped into a store to see if they had umbrellas. We couldn’t find any but decided to stay in there until the rain passed.
I checked a few times to see if the rain was letting up. At one point, I had my hand out the front door and Josh asked, “Did it stop?”, I replied, “It’s lighter, but still enough to ruin my hair.”. To this, Josh suggested we ask someone in the store if they have umbrellas.
Again, I probably should’ve seen this as a tip-off that something was going on, because since when does he care about my hair getting messed up? But, that comment didn’t phase me at all, I just agreed and we went to find an umbrella. Immediately after purchasing one, we stepped outside and the rain was done and the sun was out (go figure).
Once we were back outside, I was determined to start doing some of the things on my list. Josh said we could go look at the art and vendors, so I followed him. While walking, he started leading us away from the arts fest.
I told him multiple times that we were going the wrong way, but he kept insisting we go see what was in this other direction. We were essentially just circling the same block we got lunch on, and I was getting annoyed (definitely threatened to hit him with my new umbrella if he kept leading me the wrong way…).
While walking back down the same road we stopped on to buy my umbrella, we passed a Panera. Josh said he had to stop in to use the bathroom and I thought I figured out why he was being so weird about going back to that road.
I assumed maybe he was still a bit hungover from the night before and was going to get sick. As we walked into Panera, he threw away his almost-full cup of coffee and told me it was upsetting his stomach, “I knew it…” I thought. I followed him to the bathrooms as I figured I might as well go, too.
I waited in line for the ladies’ room while he went into the mens’. He came out pretty quickly, and I was still waiting. Finally, we headed out of Panera. He said he was feeling better and suggested we go walk around campus to look at the art (FINALLY). We began walking and I kept hearing his phone making the little ESPN update sound. At one point, I told him to put it away because it doesn’t matter what the score of whatever game is, little did I know these were text messages from our parents to tell him that they were in place.
While heading towards Old Main, the bell sounded for 3:00. I started telling Josh about how that isn’t actually a bell, it’s a recording. He asked how I knew that and I mentioned that I did a bell tower tour once before. As we were getting closer to Old Main, I saw a long line coming out of it. Josh stopped me right at the end of that line and I noticed a sign that said “Bell Tower Tours”.
He was holding my hands and started talking when I cut him off, “Are we doing a bell tower tour??” I asked hesitantly, feeling bad because if that was the big surprise, I just ruined it by telling him I’ve done it before.
He laughed, “No, we’re not doing a bell tower tour…” he began talking about our relationship and it starting here…he said some other things in the process of getting down on one knee, but I honestly have no idea what he was saying because everything around me began swirling and I temporarily blacked out. I couldn’t comprehend what was going on, and then I heard the words, “Will you marry me?”.
I instantly began basically hyperventilating and crying hysterically. I couldn’t speak words no matter how hard I tried. I gave him a huge smile nodded and he came up to hug me and to try and calm me down.
People from the bell tower tours were coming down and congratulating us, hugging me, shaking his hand–I had no idea who any of them were, but then I started recognizing some faces in the background coming forward.
I saw my mom, his dad, my dad, my stepdad, his mom–insert EXTREME freakout here. As if I weren’t enough of a mess before, seeing our families sent me over the edge.
I was shaking uncontrollably and crying like a freaking baby (ugly, UGLY crying might I add). I was in such shock and experiencing such happiness, I could barely comprehend what was going on. It all felt like a dream, I was on cloud 9, it was PERFECT.
I then saw Josh thanking some girl with a camera around her neck–I had not noticed that she had been there the entire time. It turns out, she is a photographer for the Penn State newspaper and documented it all for us, AND was putting the pictures in the newspaper!
She was kind enough to stick around and take a ton of pictures for us with our families, as well as pictures of Josh actually putting the ring on my finger since we skipped that step due to my crying overload when he asked.
The rest of the day and that night we celebrated with many drinks and a delicious dinner planned by Josh, as well as some quality time with my family’s dog who also made the trip up! It was literally my idea of a perfect day.
Back tracking to some of the details leading up to all of this, it turns out Josh hid the ring on top of a ceiling tile in our hallway–right above a spot where he would always stop me to kiss me (kind of like an imaginary mistletoe).
Though this was a good hiding spot, Josh was still paranoid about having the ring in the apartment, so he gave it to his parents to take back to Pittsburgh when they came to visit over Memorial Day. Because of this, he didn’t have the ring with him on the Saturday before he proposed– he had to meet his dad in the bathroom at Panera at 2:40 to get it, hence why we had to keep walking in circles! He had to make sure he was in the area by that time so he could get the ring.
Also, he had an email thread going with all of the parents for a few months and in this email he sent many diagrams of aerial shots of Penn State’s campus with colored lines outlying the path we would be taking to Old Main and the path the parents should take, as well as where the parents should be hiding.
He had everything planned down to the minute and the secret text messages that parents should send to let him know they were in place (i.e. “at 2:40 text me and say ‘I hope you guys are having a good time!’ to let me know you’re in the bathroom”). Sometimes his attention to detail can drive me a little crazy–like when we’re spring cleaning–but I must say, I’m so grateful for it in this case because it truly made for an amazing surprise.