I should have known something was up. Well, I think I kind of did. Erick had been MIA a lot lately–going home early, skipping our lunch dates. He had asked me on a date planned for June 1, since that was our 1 year and 9 months. Erick has always taken me on creative and romantic dates our entire relationship, so it didn’t raise too many red flags when he gave his classic line of “running errands” when I asked him where he was.
But here’s THIS text conversation that proves I did wonder. :)
L: Erick is being very mysterious about this date he’s taking me on Saturday night.
K: Oh mystery! Lol well I have no idea. My dreams of knowing all the secrets of the world are dying.
L: Lol I’m sure it’ll be nothing big but the way he’s been saying he has all these errands to run and stuff and leaving me a lot makes me think he’s doing something big! It’s one year and 9 months, but that’s really not that huge. I should NOT be thinking this … I don’t think he would propose yet… It just occurred to me that he’s been wanting to talk about wedding stuff more and I let my mind go there lol… no.
Kayla was very good at covering up what she knew and so my mind started wandering to other ideas of what he could be planning–maybe a photoshoot for us. He mentioned he wanted to go out earlier in the afternoon, and even had opinions on what dress I should wear! Yup, it had to be a photoshoot. We have a lot of photographers for friends, yet we’d never had “couple” pictures together. I’d wanted some, but there’d never been any chance. This was going to be our chance!
Friday night Erick said he wasn’t feeling well, so he went home to sleep early. Some friends of ours were in town that weekend, and I had hoped to see them Friday night, and was pretty disappointed when none of them showed up. The next morning, I met up with Erick at church and told him how sad I was that everyone bailed on visiting me. At least they could have told me where they were so I could come see them, I said. I know I was having a little pity party. It was then Erick let something slip. “You have no idea how much people actually care about you. Don’t get too disappointed over something like that.”
I had no idea what he meant, but I kept quiet after that. Little did I know that the reason no one came over to see me was because they had all gone to his place to help him with last minute planning. I feel so bad that I was complaining now! I had also joked with Erick about how well rested he must be since he went to bed so early. He’d actually only gotten 4 hours of sleep! I was so off in my assumptions! But they were all things he had made me believe to throw me off the scent. :)
We spent a nice, relaxing afternoon with friends at my house. I’d cooked lunch and several of the visiting friends actually did come over this time. People began to trickle out later in the afternoon, so by the time it was close enough to our date for me to get ready, only Keith & Ashley were left. They said they wanted to clean up my kitchen for me since I’d cooked for everyone, and since I was curling my hair in the bathroom, I couldn’t stop them, haha.
Erick came to pick me up dressed in a black shirt and pants. He’d picked out a red and black dress for me to wear–I’m not sure we’ve ever looked that coordinated for a date! But he seemed pretty stressed. First of all, he’d lost his wallet, and had been frantically looking for it since he left my place earlier that afternoon. Second, the weather was turning stormy. Apparently, he’d borrowed some cash from Dan for our date, but he couldn’t do much about the weather. I knew this would probably spoil our photoshoot. What would we do?
So with Keith and Ashley sending us off like parents with their kids going to prom, we set off towards downtown Chattanooga. (The thought never even occurred to me that they would still be at my apartment when we left!) I could tell by Erick’s conversation that his mind was definitely elsewhere. He was distracted, checking his phone, looking up worriedly at the sky. I laughed at him and tried to set his mind as ease, teasing him and asking where we were going.
We arrived at Coolidge Park JUST as the skies opened up and it started to rain. Erick sat in the car for a moment and texted someone about something. Very mysteriously. Even more random, my mom called to tell me about a bear walking around in their back yard. Haha! So out of place! (But it was just another reason I believed nothing big was going on.)
“Well, let’s walk around a bit and see if it clears up,” he finally said, and we got out of the car with just my tiny purse umbrella to cover us. I was wearing sandals and my feet were getting wet from the splashing rain, so after just a few minutes, he wanted to go back to the car.
I knew then that we were onto Plan B. I was a little disappointed–I’d wanted a photoshoot! But nothing could be done about the weather, and Erick’s backup plan was even better. We spent the next hour or so driving through a part of Chattanooga I’d never been to before. I don’t even know how we got there or where it really was… North Shore? Hixson? Wherever it was, we “stumbled” across some really fabulous neighborhoods. Erick and I did some “house dreaming,” talking about the ones we liked, and imagining what we could one day live in together. In hindsight, it was the perfect start to a date that ended in us beginning our future together. Erick had been extremely busy towards the end of the school year, I’d moved apartments, and we hadn’t had much time alone together, so it was doubly nice that we were able to just have those moments to talk and dream.
The sun was close to setting, so Erick and I headed back to Chattanooga–actually, back to the park. We got out and Erick wanted to go up to the bridge to watch the sunset. It was then he revealed that we would be going to Tony’s! That was the restaurant he took me to on our first date–the date he asked me to be his girlfriend. I love it there, but I thought it was kind of funny because we’d eaten there only a few weeks before on a whim. The rain was only sprinkling, so it wasn’t too bad walking along the bridge.
We got to Tony’s and I was relieved to see it wasn’t too crowded. I ducked into the ladies’ room while Erick got us a table, but when I came out, he told me we’d have to wait for a while. That was fine, I said, and it even further convinced me that this wasn’t some big, planned affair. We had fun talking as we waited, playing games with each other and stamping a love letter he’d given me with a special stamp Tony has in their waiting area. I’ll treasure that forever now. :) We even bumped into the bachelorette party for the bride who was getting married that weekend, and participated in a game she was playing!
Finally, it was our turn to be seated, and suddenly I knew why we had waited to so long–we were going to the same table we sat in on our first date! We had talked the last time we were here about how we wished we could sit in that table again, and somehow Erick had planned for us to be there this time. I thought it was so cute and romantic.
And then, I started noticing other similarities to that first date. Namely, how nervous Erick seemed to be. He was texting a lot on his phone (normally he doesn’t do that at all on dates!) and was hardly touching his food. I teased him about how this was just like our first date. And then suddenly, the waiter came to the table with a single red rose. I was so surprised! Again, this was just like our first date, except it was a Gerbera daisy that time, but how had Erick gotten the rose to the waiter? I’d been with him the whole time, hadn’t I?
Then Erick reminded me that I’d gone to the restroom when we’d first arrived. Ohh, that made sense. But where did he have the rose that whole time we were walking on the bridge? He told me that he’d had it tucked into his pants under his shirt. Haha… I’m sure you’re wondering, how did I fall for that one? But I had noticed his shirt was partially not tucked in and had commented on it while we were waiting, so it actually did make sense! Haha. Anyway. I felt very special!
It was about that time that thunder boomed outside the window next to us. Erick seemed enough more nervous now, and in a few minutes, he made the announcement that we needed to be someplace else, so we’d better go. It wasn’t very much time for dinner at all! I’d made good headway on my meal, but Erick had barely eaten two bites.
I was really curious by now, but soon I was about to realize why we had to be someplace else. As we walked along the nearly empty bridge, I slowly started to see the forms of people walking towards us or just standing in the rain. What was going on?
I suddenly realized that this, too, was like our first date. Slowly, everyone we passed turned and came towards us, each one giving me a long-stemmed red rose. Even though this had happened to me once before, I was still dumbfounded and speechless. I couldn’t believe all these people were standing in the rain, for me! I was shaking as I took each rose, getting a “thank you” out as best as I could.
“Where did all these people come from?” I kept asking Erick. “I don’t recognize any of them.” I think he said something about them being his co-workers, but even though I found that hard to believe, I just went with it. I couldn’t fathom how he had gotten everyone to stand out in the cold rain like this, and I wondered how long they’d been waiting. The entire length of the bridge, people kept stopping us. I turned around at one point and realized all the people who had been stopping us were now following at a distance! Haha.
The funniest moment (well, actually there was another one, but we won’t mention that) was when I spotted some people I actually DID know at the end of the bridge.
“Is that Jeremy? And Jeremy?” I was pretty sure it was them, but my eyes are terrible at night. Erick tried to convince me it wasn’t them until I saw them start running in the opposite direction.
“Ohh, they’re videoing, aren’t they?” I guessed. And then (in my mind), it all started to come together. I’d been bugging AJ about finishing our first date video that he’d filmed as part of a web series, but he said he didn’t have enough footage to make a whole episode. Erick must be re-creating our date to finish out that episode! And his brother Jeremy and Erick’s friend must be helping him out. It was hilarious, and I loved it. And everything “made sense” finally.
The last girl who stopped me actually said more than just, “This is for you,” like everyone else. She said, “You’re so beautiful,” she said to me with the hugest smile on her face. And to Erick, she said, “And you’re a very lucky guy.”
I should have known! I don’t know why I didn’t know. Maybe I was just in denial, or maybe I was too scared to let my mind go there, or maybe I had already convinced myself about the video thing, but it didn’t even register that she knew something else was going on. We finally made it back to our car, and I turned and thanked all the people who were trailing behind us.
And then, it was over.
“I hope you liked the date,” Erick said as we started driving back to C-dale. I assured him that I loved it. “I wanted to do something special for you since we hadn’t had much time together lately,” he said. “I wanted to re-create our first date in a way.”
He definitely had. It had been perfect, rain and all. And I was excited about seeing the video the guys had been making! I wondered how much footage they’d actually gotten.
At that point, I got a few text messages that my roommate was having a bad evening. =/ I felt bad coming back from such a wonderful date, but Erick said we should go to my place to cheer her up, and I thought that was a good idea.
We arrived at my apartment, and then… I walked in the door. At that moment, I think my heart must have completely stopped. Everything was so surreal from then on.
The lights were dim, and all I could see were flickering candles and rose petals, covering everything… the kitchen floor, the counters, my living room. I know I started shaking, asking Erick what was going on. He said I started crying right away. I couldn’t believe it was really happening.
He had to lead me through the kitchen–there was actually a path made by the candles. I don’t know why, but I think I kept asking him what was going on. :) He led me all the way through the kitchen to the living room (my coffee table and rug were gone!) and that’s when I saw that balloons and streamers were covering the ceiling. It was beautiful in the candlelight, but I barely had a chance to look at all of it, because Erick was taking me out onto the balcony.
I immediately saw the table, covered in a tablecloth and rose petals. Sitting in the middle was a black box. I was crying for real now. The next few moments are a blur now… Erick was trying to turn some music on, but it cut out (maybe because of the rain). I knew it was The Greatest Story Ever Told, and that was enough. It was a song he had played for me on guitar many times before, during some of the most special moments of our dating history. “Thank you for this moment,” the song began… It was the most important moment of my life, and I should have been thanking him for making it so beautiful. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I never dreamed it would be anything like this. Before I knew it, he was getting down on one knee.
“Are you serious right now? Are you serious right now?” I kept asking him. I have never felt a feeling in my heart like that before. Scared, nervous, happy, excited.
He took my hands in his. I remember what his face looked like, but I can’t really remember the words he said. (Upsetting, I know, but apparently a lot of brides have this problem!) It was like a dream. I know he was saying something about how he’s waited a long time for this moment, and how he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. And then, “Will you marry me?”
I tried to speak, but apparently, I was literally speechless, and my “Yes,” was so quiet he barely heard me and had to ask me to repeat it again later. Haha. I was crying tears of happy joy–I didn’t think I would tear up that much, but everything was a wonderful blur through my tears. He stood up and hugged me tightly–he told me later I was asking him, “Did you ask my parents?” Haha. I guess I knew that would have been important to them, and since I was so surprised by his proposal, I wondered if they’d known. He assured me he had.
Somehow, magically, twinkle lights appeared on the deck (were they on in the beginning? I don’t know!), and then Erick was pointing out over the balcony into the parking lot.
There standing beneath us in the rain were all our friends, holding a GIANT “Will you Marry Me?” sign, made with thousands of Christmas lights from Southern. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was massive! And it was even in a good font (don’t laugh, that’s very important to me, and Erick knew it! haha). The joke of the evening was that the electric connection wasn’t quite right and the sign initially read “U marry me?” and it looked more like a command. I said, “I guess I have to!” and then yelled THE ANSWER IS YES! out to our friends (and then was promptly hushed by Erick since apparently the neighbors below us have kids that we were keeping awake with our giant sign, haha). Oh well. I was too excited and happy to care. I was still crying, still hugging Erick in disbelief. I couldn’t believe that this was finally happening to me.
Anyone who knows Erick and my story knows that it was a long journey to find each other, filled with a lot of wrong turns and waiting. By the time Erick came into my life, I had built of walls of fear and insecurity, and it took a long time for me to trust him. Erick was so patient and understanding with me, having been through heartbreak himself. He spent months working to win my heart in every way possible, treating me like a princess, breaking down my walls, helping me overcome my fears, and building up my trust in him. When we finally crossed those hurdles together, we discovered a deep love for each other that we had never felt before. He became my best friend. I had never wanted to just hang out with anyone so much in my entire life. More than that, I fell in love with him as I discovered that he was the man of my dreams. I’m sure every girl wonders if they’ll just “know” the right answer when a guy asks her that question, but when that moment came for me, there was no hesitation, no question in my mind. This is a forever kind of love, a love that was created and blessed by God.
Everyone was coming upstairs, and Erick found my phone for me so I could call my mom. I’m sure I was giddy and blubbering on the phone, but they knew what had happened and were so excited for me. At some point, Erick gave me the box that had been sitting on the table. It was a gorgeous platinum wrist watch by Movado. I had told him I didn’t want a ring, or really anything else for that matter, but he said I needed SOME kind of gift, and this couldn’t have been any more perfect. It was engraved with our initials and the verse 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. The love chapter.
People were filling my apartment now, congratulating us. I was so torn between telling my mom how it happened and greeting and thanking all of them. I knew I looked terrible–my hair was a wreck from the rain and I am an ugly crier (gotta practice for the wedding, smh). But I still felt like the most special girl in the world that night. My phone was going off with texts like crazy, and when we finally posted our obligatory Facebook status, that kept me excited, too. I don’t think i slept until 4 a.m. I was just on top of the world. I was finally going to be together forever with the one I love. No better feeling than that.