How We Met
I met Tate at a swing dancing event at Lipscomb University my freshman year (his sophomore year). He was my friend’s date and knew my date, so we were there as a group. When we sat down to take a break we got into a really good talk about our families. Next thing I knew our dates were asking us if we could go dance or if they could join the conversation – it had been at least 20 minutes but felt like five!
A few days later I was at Singarama* practice when the day finally came to start the couples dance. I had heard that this was the best part of Singarama, but had not been warned that everyone came with a partner already in mind. So while everyone was swarming to their favorite dancer, I was turning circles in place rapidly looking for an unclaimed male. My eyes quickly met Tate’s. We did a quick point to each other and I darted over to him and said “Hi, so this is really embarrassing, but I can’t remember your name…”
Within the week people were already giggling at our rhyming names and calling us “Abby Tate”. We quickly became close friends, transitioned to best friends and starting dating about a year later.
*Singarama is a 30-minute theatrical competition. Three teams primarily composed of Greek Life social clubs write and perform a show with eight musical and dance numbers.
how they asked
I knew Tate had asked my parents for their blessing at Christmas and that he planned to pop the question before April. But after his dad passed away in February I wasn’t quite sure if his timeline had been changed. So in late March when he had a series of three weekend dates planned I started to get excited. The first date was to dinner and a movie, and I knew he wouldn’t do it then. The second was a picnic at the park, which I had planned, so it couldn’t be then. And the third was to see the Nashville Symphony, where we’d be dressed up and I’d actually have makeup on. So when we left for the picnic I didn’t think twice.
I was super excited. I love being outside and the early spring weather was perfect. I actually skipped half of an art class to make sure we could leave in time to catch some sunlight, so when Tate took forever leaving his apartment I got slightly annoyed. In the car I was cheery again, but when Tate started driving to a park across town I started to get frustrated. Percy Warner Park is a lovely place, but every time we go there we get super lost just trying to find a parking lot. We pulled up, but were at the horse stables. Drove around a bit more and found Tate’s favorite spot, but it was under construction. I insisted that it would be fine but Tate was NOT having it.
He didn’t even stop the car and kept driving til we found the dog park. I thought it was a great spot because there were picnic tables and puppies, but Tate still wasn’t satisfied. He is very much so a perfectionist, so I started pointing out all the reasons why this was a great spot for a picnic and was increasingly frustrated as he tried to read a park map on his phone. We were losing daylight, but he insisted we try one more place. We found it moments later and it was beautiful. It was set back in the park so there was no street noise, there was a gazebo and enormous blooming trees all around us.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner that we had prepared together the day before. We had even made our own potato salad (I now have so much respect for every woman who has ever made it from scratch for a church gathering). When I took the last bite of a brownie Tate nervously said “I have something for you,” and reached into the picnic basket. His hand emerged with a white paper box and I started to cry. He told me to open it, but much to my dismay there was a folded note inside, not a diamond ring. It read “You didn’t think it would be this easy, did you?”
I was immediately furious as I realized that it was April 1. About a hundred thoughts of embarrassment and anger flew through my head before in the split second it took me to finish reading – “There is a path you must follow.” I looked back up at Tate. He was grinning from ear to ear and had a tear in his eye. At this point I was full-on ugly crying (he just sent me on an emotional roller coaster, how could I note be?). We packed up the picnic then walked into the woods. A moment later we came across a string (I still have no idea how he spotted it) and Tate handed it to me. I followed it up a huge hill, around trees, over logs and through fallen leaves.
The path ended at an amazing tree.
At its roots there was a purple hand-made book propped up on a bed of twigs. A poem on the front prompted me to open and read it. Tate stood with his hand on my back as I sobbed over a collection of all the poems he had written me throughout our relationship, each one now accompanied by pencil drawings. At one point I heard something in front of us, so I looked up and saw my roommate, Kalai taking pictures of us. As I came to the last pages I heard something else, and saw Tate’s best friend, Corey walk up and put a ring box in his hand. Knowing our favorite people were there with us made me cry even harder, but somehow I was able to read the final page:
“Now the time as finally come where truly starts ‘the flow’ring of one.’
“A big decision, yes, that’s true, but a wondrous journey starts with ‘I do.'”
As my eyes pulled away from the page I watched my best friend humble himself to one knee, take my hand, give me the most magnificent ring on the planet and asked, “Miss Abby Kate, will you marry me?”