Sarah and Ryan

imageHow We Met: I first met Ryan in 2009 at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. We shared a major, Marine Science, with a focus in biology and chemistry. We had a few classes together, where Ryan usually fell asleep and I never looked up from my notes.  During Ryan’s Senior year [My junior year], we sat next to each other in Organic Chemistry class. We were partners in lab–Ryan always took the analysis & conclusion section, and I kept with the intro & procedures. He helped me pass the class that I should have waited another year to take. We became friends, but only really saw eachother in the lab. Ryan was busy with football and enjoying his senior year, and I was busy with glee club trips and overloading her schedule.

Later that year, Ryan and I chaperoned a freshman ski trip up to Vermont together. We had a great time on the slopes and christened the day with a Rolling Rock at the lodge. On the bus trip back, Ryan spent the whole time making fun of me. I gave him my number just before we got off of the bus.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Ryan after that. I told my best friend and roommate that I thought I had a crush. But of course the timing was terrible–Ryan was graduating and heading off to San Diego in the summer, and I would be stuck in New London for another year. As fate would have it, I went to San Diego that summer for an interim assignment between semesters. We went on some real dates, had an amazing summer in Pacific Beach, and before I left to go back to school, we decided to try to make it work across the miles. We flew back and forth to see each other 8 times over the next year. I lucked out with orders to a ship in San Diego, and moved out West after graduating and commissioning. Our dual careers as Coast Guard Officers have brought our relationship many unique challenges–3 month at-sea deployments with only email communication, frequent unexpected trips across country, missed birthdays and holidays… Nonetheless, the spark always prevails! One of our close friends describes us as the yin and the yang. Ryan helps me to be stronger and more direct, and I help Ryan be more compassionate and open minded.

pictures: when I received my assignment to San Diego in 2012, my senior year castle dance with Ryan in 2012, the first time I took Ryan home to VT in 2012, St. Patrick’s day on the beach in 2013

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How He Asked: In another fortunate twist of fate, Ryan and Sarah both received orders to new assignments in San Francisco this past summer. They took an epic weeklong trip up the scenic coast of highway 1, stopping in Orange County, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Big Sur, Carmel, and Monterey. Ryan had planned to propose at the right moment sometime along the trip, and was determined to catch Sarah when she least expected it. He kept the ring hidden inside a cooler in his car for 6 days! On the last day of the trip, they booked a seaside cottage on Asilomar Beach. They went to Trader Joe’s to get some snacks and wine, put on some music, and settled in to watch the sunset on the beach. Unfortunately mother nature did not agree with their intentions, because the sky was covered in a deep, thick San Francisco style fog and they could not see a thing! But they laughed and drank and enjoyed each other’s company. “You know what?” Sarah said. “This is really romantic. Just us with our tunes watching a foggy sunset that we can’t see. Simple and beautiful.” Ryan nearly leapt out of his chair and said “I will be right back! I forgot dessert in the car!” A few minutes later he came back with a look on his face that she had never seen before–a mix of excitement and fear and anticipation. “What’s for dessert?” she said. He was clutching onto something in his hoodie. He had tears in his eyes but he started to speak. He told her that he loved her and that he wanted to spend the rest of their life together. He said he had been waiting the entire trip for this moment, just the two of them, starting the next chapter of life together. He got down on one knee and Sarah started to cry. He pulled a blue box wrapped in white ribbon out of his pocket and presented it to her. “Will you marry me?” he asked. “OF COURSE” Sarah exclaimed and nearly tackled him in the most excited hug you can imagine. They kissed and cried and laughed and jubilated for a few minutes before she realized she still had the blue box in her hand.

They snapped a photo on the porch just before she opened it to find the most simple, elegant, solitaire stone sparkling perfectly in a velvet case. He slipped it on her finger, pulled out some surprise champagne, and the celebrations began. That final night of the most incredible road trip seems frozen in time. The next day they made it to San Francisco for an exciting new beginning.

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