Rachel and Alex

How We Met

The story of how we met is like one off of a Nicholas Sparks novel. That is filled with ups and downs and rooting for the under dog. There is so much that I don’t have enough time to type in here as far as more stories and details but this is the long gist of it. We met each other when we both started working at the same gym. I had been in a committed relationship for a year with a guy who lived in Asheville. I had been a member of this gym for years but never had the desire to work there until school was out and I wanted to get a summer job. I started working there and the manager warned me about someone named Alex that I would work with. They said he is very quiet (I was outgoing) and had very bad luck with girls. I was rolling my eyes knowing I had a shift with him that day. I don’t do well with quiet people because I am the opposite. Little did I know, Alex was the same guy that would always crack jokes when I tried to use the tanning beds when I was still a member, so he already knew who I was.

He was anxious to work with me but me, not so much. He came in just talking my ear off. This guy was everything but quiet and timid. We spent week after week working together and we turned into good friends. Alex did have bad luck with girls but always wanted to meet the right one and get married. He would try on the wedding rings in lost and found and wonder what it would be like to be married one day. Alex came from a rough past but didn’t talk about it a lot. Our work days were filled with laughter and jokes to pass the time. He became one of my closest friends. My mom and brother would come into work to visit me and they met Alex also. Alex and my brother shared a love for gaming and became close friends. Alex had just moved here and didn’t know many people so I would invite him to events I had with my friends to try to introduce him to someone. I had a lot of guy friends that were friendly and he needed friends being new to the area.

We went to my best friends graduation with a group and at the end of the night she pulled me aside and asked if my current boyfriend and I were ok. I told her yes and I was just trying to help Alex meet friends in the area. More time passed and Alex started hanging out with my brother. My current boyfriend would see them hanging out when he was at my house visiting me. He had a feeling Alex liked me and was moving in, but I didn’t think so. One day Alex went on a walk with my mom and told her he would marry me one day. Mom, knowing I was still in a committed relationship said “Okay honey, sure you will”. Mom lets me know that Alex did have feelings for me after all. Alex occasionally would tell me that he imagines what it would be like if we were together and what a good pair we would make. Each time, I told him no and that I was happy in my relationship and he needed to find someone else. Months went by and Alex still hung around a lot. He would now remind me of the type of relationship we could have and how good he would treat me but again, I told him that’s not what I want.

I told him jokingly if I ever did date him it would probably end up in marriage because we got along so well but I wasn’t ready for that. I still didn’t feel romantically for him so his feelings needed to be transferred to someone else is what I told him. They were wasted on me. My current boyfriend started to get annoyed so I told Alex to back off a little bit or if he wanted to hang with my brother than to make sure I wasn’t around. My grandma who I was very close got put in the hospital. She had met Alex once before and loved him, But I told her we were just friends because that’s all it was. She was in the hospital for a few days and I slept over in her room some of those nights. One night, I went to her room to go to sleep, it had been a rough day. Alex came to the hospital and just wanted to walk around with me to take my mind off of it. We walked around for an hour or so and then he left and I went to sleep. It was a good distraction but we were still just friends. I still didn’t feel romantic feelings for him. The next morning I woke up in my grandma’s room to breakfast that had been brought in for us. No note or anything.

Proposal Ideas Downtown Hickory

I had no idea who had brought it in, it must have been early cause it was 6 when we woke up. I then found out that it was Alex. He had brought us breakfast and took no credit for it. Just left it and left. I thanked him for the food but respectfully let him know that I still don’t have those type of feelings for him and don’t want to string him along somehow. He said he understood. Weeks went by and I decided I wanted to move to Asheville. That’s where my current boyfriend lived and I wanted to try going to a school up there. Alex, my mom, dad, and brother drove me up there. Alex had subtle tears the entire ride. I knew he was upset for me to be leaving. We were each other’s best friend at this point but that’s all we could be and I told him that over and over again. I moved all my stuff into my apartment, exchanged hugs with everyone and they drove back. In the weeks to come, I spent more time with my boyfriend since this was the first time we were dating and living in the same city. We had to do distance for the entirety of our relationship so being closer miles wise was nice.

Alex and my brother would skype me occasionally and then after some time the calls and texts from Alex came fewer and fewer. I tried to focus more on my relationship with my boyfriend and not worry about anything else. After a few weeks of living in Asheville, my boyfriend and I broke up. It was a hard break up and even though Alex was my best friend I didn’t want to involve him or even tell him about it. I didn’t want him to try to swoop in and I didn’t want with me being vulnerable for me to use him as a rebound, he didn’t deserve that. I was single for the first time in about a year, living in a city I had never lived in where the only people I knew was my ex, and my two roommates. I started talking to a guy that I use to see at the gym in Hickory and we started seeing each other. Of course, when Alex caught wind of this he was very upset. I still didn’t see Alex as more than a friend and although I knew how he felt. The guy I was seeing only lasted a few weeks and then we parted ways. After talking to my mom and best friend I decided that instead of just saying I didn’t feel anything for Alex that I should try and see what happens.

I texted Alex and told him that I wanted to try and go on a date and see what happens. Maybe I would get a romantic feeling for him, maybe not, but it was at least worth me giving him a shot. We went to a local restaurant and had a nice dinner. But it didn’t feel like a date. It still just felt like us eating as friends like we did before. He kissed me at the end of the night and I still felt nothing. I told him that I had no sparks or feelings towards him and they were still just a friendly relationship and nothing more. Alex then started going on dates. I remember one was short and had fake boobs and I kept giving him a hard time about that. He also took her to my favorite restaurant (Hickory Tap Room) knowing it would spite me. I ignored it and hoped he found a nice girl because he was such a great guy and did deserve happiness. It just wasn’t me who could give it to him. Of course, when Alex caught wind of this he was very upset. I still didn’t see Alex as more than a friend and although I knew how he felt. The guy I was seeing only lasted a few weeks and then we parted ways. After talking to my mom and best friend I decided that instead of just saying I didn’t feel anything for Alex that I should try and see what happens.

I texted Alex and told him that I wanted to try and go on a date and see what happens. Maybe I would get a romantic feeling for him, maybe not, but it was at least worth me giving him a shot. We went to a local restaurant and had a nice dinner. But it didn’t feel like a date. It still just felt like us eating as friends like we did before. He kissed me at the end of the night and I still felt nothing. I told him that I had no sparks or feelings towards him and they were still just a friendly relationship and nothing more. Alex then started going on dates. I remember one was short and had fake boobs and I kept giving him a hard time about that. He also took her to my favorite restaurant (Hickory Tap Room) knowing it would spite me. I ignored it and hoped he found a nice girl because he was such a great guy and did deserve happiness. It just wasn’t me who could give it to him. Alex was mad that I became single, knew how he felt, and still didn’t give him a fair chance besides that one date. I prayed and told God if he was my person than he needed to change my heart towards him but even after that I still I didn’t know what else to do and was tired of worrying about it so I kept to myself.

I tried to stay in Asheville as much as possible but with my grandma doing worse I was down the mountain almost every weekend. One weekend I came home and mom had planned a dinner to Chilis with my family and I, and my mom said my brother had invited Alex to dinner also. I knew he was angry at me for everything that had happened but I couldn’t give him what he so badly wanted so I stayed away as much as I could. That night would be a night I would remember forever. We went to dinner, I caught up with my mom and brother while Alex gave me glares and remained silent. I would joke about him hating and being mad at me and he would just smirk. That night we went to my moms and carved pumpkins, that loosened him up a little bit but I knew he was still angry. Mom went upstairs, and Shea went to sleep. Then it was only Alex and I downstairs. We were watching a movie on tv and it was an awkward silence. I then joked (not sure why) about that being a cuddle movie and we needed to change it. He told me that he was going to hold me and for me not to pitch a fit about it. Up to this point, Alex was always timid with me, always asking me before he did something like I had to give him the go ahead or something. I wanted a more assertive personality I think that is something that turned me off to him since the beginning. But he was showing signs of being more assertive because instead of asking, he told me how it was going to be. We laid there, him holding me, and it was kind of nice.

It didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable like before. We then walked outside to look at the stars that had come out and it was cold downstairs so we thought it would be warmer outside. We walked outside. We both sat on the diving board by the pool and stayed in silence. I was worried Alex would try to bring up how he felt about me again but he didn’t. He then looked at me, took my face in his hands and kissed me. Sparks were flying. All of a sudden. I don’t know what it was about this time, same guy, same lips but this time the kiss had sparks. We then went inside and started kissing more, before things got too intense I told him I was going to bed and he needed to go home. We parted ways and then decided to meet for lunch after he sent me a text that said “Tap room 12:00, be there”. That assertiveness was coming out again and I loved it. The worst thing that could happen would be having a great kiss and him go back to being timid. We met for lunch and the he and I agreed that we didn’t want to see anyone else and since we finally had mutual feelings to see where this would go. Of course my family was like FINALLY when we told them. Apparently I was just the last person to the party. Alex and I then began our relationship and got engaged after 6 months.

How He Asked

He pulled my dad aside when he picked me up, while I was getting ready and had the talk. He took me to my favorite restaurant, Carrabbas. He texted mom at dinner apparently telling her he was about to propose. Mom was in her pajamas and jumped in her car to meet us downtown. And then took me to downtown Hickory. My favorite place in the world, and also where the Hickory Tap room was where we started dating. There are lots of restaurants in the main square. My parents got engaged at the same area but under the clock tower. I had always wanted to get engaged here. We walked around downtown for a while and then stopped under the sails on the stage.

He got down on one knee and told me I was his best friend and made him the happiest man in the world, and although he loved me first he was glad I loved him back and he wanted to spend forever with me. I, of course, said yes and then heard a squeal.

Mom was in a black jump suit crouched beside a car taking pictures. She ran out to hug us and congratulate us.

Special Thanks

Rita Hefner | 
Photographer