Mekita and Kent

How We Met

Kent and I met at a party in college. Although technically, the party had been long over when we actually met. By the time Kent showed up, people were calling it a night and heading home. I had fallen asleep on the couch because, well, I’d raged a little too hard. He spotted me and asked our mutual friends, “Who’s that girl?” Then he came over and started to tease me a bit, saying things like, “Oh you’re tired? Did you party too much?” Apparently, I wasn’t having it because I then proceeded to respond, “Shut up!” And I punched him in the face. YES, REALLY.

That obviously turned him off, and he left me alone until our mutual friends asked him if he could give me a ride back to campus. As it turned out, he was a resident assistant in the same dorm I lived in. At first, he was reluctant because, you know, I’d almost knocked his teeth out. But being the great guy he is, he relented and gave me the ride home. For the record, I don’t remember any of this — although it has been corroborated by people who were there that night. The one flash of a memory I have is leaning against him *heavily* as we made our way through our dorm’s parking lot. I was a bit of a wreck. Needless to say, I made quite the first impression, but he was a total gentleman about it.

We became close friends over the next few years, but our relationship was always strictly platonic. When I found myself single during my senior year and in need of a date for my sorority formal, I asked him if he’d go with me. He was living in Arizona at the time for graduate school, meanwhile I was still in Nebraska. But he happened to be in town during the weekend of my formal for a wedding. It was actually serendipitous looking back at it. That night, he revealed that he’d had feelings for me for a while, and that he saw this as his last opportunity to come clean.

Unfortunately by the time he got around to telling me, I’d had *quite* a bit to drink and, at first, I didn’t believe him! I really thought he was joking. It ended up taking us several months to get on the same page about our relationship. We did long-distance until I graduated, and then I moved to Arizona. We shacked up right away, which was definitely risky, but it ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made. My life completely changed the moment I realized that I wanted to be with him and that I simply couldn’t imagine a future without him in it.

How He Asked

The Build-Up: Our proposal story starts the day before the actual proposal itself. I’d heard a song that I want played at our wedding, which ended up being the catalyst for how the next 24 hours ultimately unfolded. It was around the holidays, and we attended a local event here in Washington, D.C. called NogFest. Different bars and restaurants create their own versions of an eggnog cocktail. At some point in the evening, I remembered the song from earlier that day. This pretty much opened up a Pandora’s Box of feelings. I had no idea how emotional I was over the fact that we weren’t engaged yet until then. I’d always prided myself in not being the kind of woman who’s watching the clock and thinking, “You better put a ring on it!” But at this point, we’d been dating for nearly six years, and it all just kind of hit me at once. I was ready to take that next step, and I was frustrated that it hadn’t happened yet.

So the rest of our night was basically spent in this engagement rabbit hole, and I went to bed in a really terrible mood. Like a total brat, I canceled our plans for the next morning (going to Barry’s Bootcamp followed by brunch, two of my favorite things ever) and moped around in bed until, like, noon. Kent, being the patient and understanding angel that he is, offered to make brunch at home while I continued to wallow in self-pity.

At first, he offered to make brunch and then suggested that we go for a walk since it was unseasonably nice for a mid-December day. But I immediately shot down the walking idea. I was a little suspicious that he was trying to plan some sort of grand gesture to apologize after arguing all night. I wasn’t into it. So he made brunch, which I’ll be honest, put me in a slightly better mood. He brought up going for a walk again, which I still wasn’t too keen on. But he was adamant (and he had made brunch), so I agreed to it.

The Big Moment: We walked toward the Anacostia River here in southeast D.C., which is about two blocks from our apartment. It was an overcast but warm winter day. I wasn’t saying much because I was still being pouty and difficult. When we approached the Pedestrian Bridge at Yards Park, Kent started to slow down. Then when we got to the middle of the bridge, he completely stopped. He started saying that he had something to tell me, something that he needed to get off his chest. Our backs were kind of toward each other, and when I turned around, he was starting to get down on one knee. And that’s when everything gets really fuzzy.

Where to Propose in Yards Park in Washington, D.C.

The landscape around me began to blur, and it felt like it was just him and I existing alone in the world for that moment. I was honestly in such a state of shock and also in a little bit of denial. I had literally just convinced myself that it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Now here he was down on one knee. When he removed the velvet ring box from his coat pocket, that’s when it hit me: Oh my god, this is really happening!

And then, I blacked out.

OK, not exactly. But I was so overcome with emotion that I couldn’t even process what he was saying. I remember something about how keeping this secret was the hardest thing he’s ever had to do, that he wanted to get it all right, that he wanted me to be his wife. Then he asked, “Will you marry me?” I, of course, said yes and practically leaped into his arms. Then he put the ring on my finger, and I just couldn’t believe how gorgeous it was. (I mean, I totally still look at it and find myself rendered breathless by its beauty. He truly knocked it out of the park.) I hugged him, and that’s when the world around me started to come back into focus. I looked over his shoulder and saw our two photographer/videographer friends, Tasha and Christopher, popping up from behind a few bushes.

The Realization: I totally lost it, because in that instant it all clicked: Kent had this whole production planning, and I had given him such a hard time about it only a few hours before. I immediately began sobbing. It was emotional whiplash — I’d gone from being so insufferably bummed out to being completely overjoyed. Needless to say, it was a lot to process.

We walked back to our apartment and popped a bottle of prosecco to mark the occasion. The bottle was actually gifted to us on our (dating) anniversary last March, but I’d been keeping it around “for a special moment.” I had no idea we’d be opening it to celebrate our engagement! It was the perfect full circle.

We spent the rest of the afternoon taking pictures around Capitol Hill, and it was just so, so special. Kent later revealed that he planned on proposing sooner, but had to push it back because he didn’t end up liking the first ring he had purchased. Apparently, he’d flown back and forth from Miami — in a single day! — to pick up the new ring because he was so worried that I’d otherwise come across it. Sneaky! And although he explored other spots to propose, he chose to do it in our neighborhood because he knows how much I love living in the Navy Yard. (I may be biased, but it’s kind of the best neighborhood in D.C.) We capped off the day with dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, Purple Patch, which serves Filipino food that reminds me of my mom’s home cooking.

Looking back, The Big Moment certainly didn’t happen the way I’d envisioned (which I wrote about more extensively for The Washington Post. The link, if you’re interested in reading about that). But it was nonetheless an unforgettable and significant experience that I will treasure forever. The whole proposal reminded me of why I’m so lucky to be marrying this man, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more than that.

Our Video

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Special Thanks

Tasha James
Photographer
Christopher Cain
Videographer