Adrian and Max

Image 1 of Adrian and Max

How We Met

So this is going to be a long story, that spans over 5 years. Every detail throughout is important in tying everything together in what easily became the best day of our lives. Naturally, I’ll start at the beginning, September 2012, which coincidentally was 5 years and 3 days to the proposal which is serendipitous in of itself. I was in the process of moving to Fells Point after having lived in Philadelphia for 8 years where I had been working as a professional photographer. A few months prior I had begun working towards starting a creative production company in the Baltimore/D.C. Metropolitan area. Considering myself and my business partner had limited funds we were doing everything we could to build a collaborative portfolio to help launch ourselves. Basically what this meant was we had been reaching out to friends and colleagues to photograph.

Image 2 of Adrian and Max

My partner and I were brainstorming ideas for photo shoots I had scrolled through my Facebook friends to see who, if anyone, would be interested in doing a boudoir photo shoot. The first person I came across in my friends was Adrian. She was absolutely stunning and better yet her profile photo was professionally done. This for me was a total home run! While I had no recollection of ever meeting Adrian (she randomly friended me one night earlier in the year because she “thought I was cute and was intrigued”), I saw that we had mutual friends, went to the same high school (albeit at different time) and she had personal photos of her with people that I knew. All this made me confident that she was a real human being and not one of those fake profile bots that come across your friend requests every now and then. Naturally, I sent her a lengthy message which can only be described as highly professional. It outlined everything that I was trying to accomplish, a link to my work and my contact info in case she had interest in working together. This began a string of messages over a 2 weeks span which culminated in a meeting at the Towson Tavern later that month.

Image 3 of Adrian and Max

Our in-person meeting was great! The conversation flowed socially but the agenda was strictly business. I think this totally threw her off because I wasn’t coming on to her and I truly just wanted to make artwork to help build my brand. After an hour or two, we parted ways with the agreement that we’d work together in some capacity and that we’d keep in touch. The next month, we book Adrian for a shoot and at the last minute she cancels. This happens once, maybe two other times. I maintain lines of communication but it just never happens. We fall out of touch over the next few months. No big deal. Fast forward to a Tuesday afternoon in late April 2013. I’m on a portrait assignment for Baltimore Magazine at La Cakerie in Towson, which is next to where Adrian was working at All About Me Salon and Spa. I’m in the parking lot, packing up my gear when I hear my name and see this woman approaching me, incredibly enthusiastic about seeing me. She has jet black hair and I don’t do well with distance vision but as she gets closer I realize that it’s Adrian (she had been a platinum blonde when we first met.) We talk in the parking lot for some time, maybe 15 minutes. I tell her how we’d still like the opportunity to work with her if she’s interested. We exchange numbers again and go our separate ways again vowing to keep in touch.

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Fast forward to 4 days later, a Saturday. My roommate at the time invited myself and a few other friends to represent his Dads racehorse at an owners table to Laurel Park. If you don’t know, an owners table at a race track has some solid perks including free gourmet food and all you can drink, all day long. A wonderful opportunity for a single, guy in his late 20s, or anyone for that matter. So my friends and I imbibe. A lot. All day long at the race track, which was from about 10 am – 5 pm. From there back to our rooftop in Fells to keep the party going before hitting all our favorite spots on Thames Street. It’s now probably 10 pm and I make what turns out to be a pivotal moment in my life. I have to go home because my body simply can’t take any more abuse after 12 hours of drinking. I tell my friends I’m going and start to exit the Waterfront Hotel and Bar. As I have one foot out the door, there Adrian is being carded, making her way inside. We catch each others eye, she entirely sober and me, the exact opposite. She asks what I’m doing, I explain I’m leaving and she easily convinces me not to go. I mean, have you met her? She stunning. She’s funny, sweet, genuine, personable and truly the warmest, most loving person I’ve ever met. She takes me by the hand and leads me to the second-floor bar area that overlooks the live music. We order drinks, Vodka water with lemon for her, and either a Yeungling or Boh for me. We engage in what I believe to be an incredible conversation about everything and anything. I mean I’m telling her about my lacerated tear duct from playing basketball in high school and how my eye secretes tears from time to time. I demonstrate this by applying pressure on my right tear duct as proof. What could be more impressive? Obviously nothing! I kid.

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So let’s add this up. A gorgeous, friendly woman + stellar conversation + an inebriated me = this girl is so into me I should make my move. I lean in to kiss her, she pulls away and asks if I just tried to kiss her. “Uh yeah.” I dejectedly respond. To which she tells me that I need to take her on a date before I try to do something like that. Well played. At that point, her friends are leaving so we said goodbye. I go home as I had originally intended. Rejected but happy as I had a great day. The next day, I’m talking to my roommate Ben. Getting his opinion on the situation because as we all know women are complex creatures who can say one thing and mean something else. Fuck it, I’m going to go for it. I’m going to call and ask her on that date that she told me I needed to take her on. So now I’m on the rooftop deck of our house, overlooking the Baltimore skyline, rehearsing to myself as to what to say. I call, no answer, I leave a voicemail, requesting a date. A few days go by and she returns my call. She “left her phone at a friends house for 3 days.” Which really meant she was seeking input from her friends, etc. But she agrees to the date. We are on!

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From the point, Adrian and my relationship was an intense, loving, one. We didn’t want to spend a single minute away from each other because she was considering a move to NYC so this could end up being just a fling. Only time would tell. Later that summer my grandfather had had a health scare and I hadn’t seen him in quite some time so I knew I had to go see him ASAP, I asked her if she wanted to go with me on a road trip to Chicago and she agreed. Chicago is a deceitful city. It’s clean, the people are friendly and the summers are incredible. It’s basically a cleaner, better New York (and I loathe NYC, Adrian loves it.) We are deeply in love and she’s enjoying the city. Our first day there we are walking around, a stranger compliments us. We are smitten. I turn to her and ask what she think about the idea of moving to Chicago with no apartment, no job, just a car of possessions and each other. She is game. We now have 13 days to break the news in Baltimore to friends (I’m still sorry, Ben!) and family, pack, move and do a list of things that we had wanted to do as dates, etc. This is where the sunflowers fields at Clear Meadow Farm come into play.

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how they asked

Mind you, I’ve known I’ve wanted to marry Adrian for years now. I told her years ago that I knew how I’d propose to her. Also, I’ve had this reminder on my iPhone that would pop up every so often that said “Adrian Photo Shoot” I’d always show her when it did, half joking but half annoyed that we never did do that photo shoot from years ago. Her response is that we would one day and to be patient. Okay. So now we are living in Sarasota, it’s 2017. We’ve made great friends who had moved there the year prior from South Africa. They told us that Baltimore is where they first went for a work convention and that they stayed in the hood and only went to the convention center and the inner harbor, which are total tourists traps and not an authentic representation of the city. Adrian and I tell them that if they go back we’d love to go too and show them a good time. They agree.

Now it’s time to plan. The sunflower fields at Clear Meadow Farm are in bloom for 2 weeks out of the year typically in mid-September. This is the venue that I always envisioned for the proposal and remember because we never did the photo shoot together, I told Adrian that on this trip back that I didn’t care what we did, as long as she and I could go to the sunflowers field for the photo shoot and create a nice piece of art featuring her for us to hang on the wall at our house. She agrees. As the months go by, I keep mentioning the photo shoot and how important it is to me to do this. To keep the idea in her head and have her think about the outfits, her hair, etc. So now that brings us to the day of the proposal, September 16, 2017. Mind you I’ve been counting the days for months now in anticipation. I was anxious and jittery and Adrian remarked at how my behavior was different that day. I blamed it on a combination of a double shot of espresso, a lack of food in my system and the “nerves I would get before a photo shoot.” Her response was that she’s my girlfriend and I shouldn’t be nervous. Very true I thought but this photo shoot was something different, something special. So much time, effort and planning had gone into making sure the next 8 hours were absolutely perfect.

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We leave our AirBnb and head to Towson to get her hair done. Blasting all the classics of Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, windows down, flying up 83 back home in Baltimore… it was perfect. I drop Adrian off and tell her I’m headed to Towson Hot Bagel to get us some food. During this time I reach out to the photographer that I had hired. She and I confirm details for how to photograph the actual proposal. I shared my location via Find My Friends and we coordinated a timeline for how things should go down. Naturally, being a meticulous planner, this shouldn’t surprise anyone but regardless our schedule gets thrown off. I’m nervous that things are going to unravel at the last second. Mind you as we are about to leave the hair salon, an old friend of Adrian lets a secret slip about one of her girlfriends being in town for a baby shower. So I’m there thinking who is this person and what else do they know? Yeah she’s in town for a baby shower but there’s a surprise engagement party tonight and she will be there too. Does this person know this? I have no idea, but I need to get Adrian out of here to reduce the risk of things going wrong in the 11th hour.

With her hair done and me growing even more anxious and now agitated that we are late and this random person spilled a secret to Adrian we head to Clear Meadow Farm. Adrian remarks that she wants to make another stop, I try and convince her otherwise considering we are behind schedule. But she counters by saying that the sunflowers aren’t going anywhere and we have plenty of time before her friends “birthday party” that night. I concede and we stop. I text the photographer and give her an update. No problem; she’s in traffic and running late. Perfect! Back on schedule, minutes away from the farm. Good. To. Go. Now mind you, neither of us have been to Clear Meadow Farms before so I didn’t know what to expect when I planned this whole thing. All I knew was that there is a 2-week time frame when the flowers bloom and that there would be a bunch of people there taking photos and enjoying the scenery. I definitely underestimated how many people would be there. So after parking; we decide that we need to find an area away from everyone so that I can photograph Adrian, without people getting in the frame, acting as bystanders, etc. So we make our way to a secluded part of the farm and slowly begin to take pictures, all the while I’m coordinating with the photographer as to when she should make her move to come to our area. 30 minutes pass, it’s hot and my nerves are building. I ask the photographer, Rachel, to head this way. A few minutes pass and I see her and we acknowledge each other. Here we go…

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Luckily for me, the night before Adrian had said it would be nice if we could find someone to take our photograph at the farm. Perfect, falling right in line with what I planned. I tell her that that won’t be an issue as there will be a ton of people there taking photos. So I call out to Rachel and ask her if she would be so kind as to take our photo. She agrees of course, so I call out to Adrian and ask her to come out of the field to the edge of the sunflowers so that we could have our photo taken. As she’s walking out, Adrian is chatting with Rachel asking her questions about if she’s a professional and that it was really nice of her to take our photo. Still so totally oblivious. So Rachel offers to take our photo with her professional camera and then she would email them to us as a courtesy. So we pose, arms wrapped behind one another’s back and I am shaking. Unbeknownst to me, Adrian is worried about my well-being but doesn’t say anything while we are being photographed. So at this point, I say the buzz-phrase that I had established with Rachel to let her know that it’s about to go down, “Hey, would you mind getting one more?”

“Adrian Christine Harrison…” I had the biggest smile on my face. I had an idea of what I wanted to say and I had rehearsed in my head but it all went black. I know I hit on my key points but it was as though our whole relationship was flashing in front of me, that I was making the best decision my asking this amazing woman to be my wife. Adrian was shocked. Stunned. She had no idea, but here I was, asking her to join me forever.

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After Adrian said yes, and after we dried our eyes from the tears of joy, I explained to her that Rachel was a friend of a friend and that I had hired her to capture the proposal and take some portraits thereafter (but only if Adrian was up for it) and that she had brought a bottle of champagne and glasses at my request for us to celebrate amongst the sunflowers, away from everyone. So we were now the subjects, everything had gone smoothly and we are over the moon together but after about an hour, we have to wrap it up and go get ready for her friends Sarah’s birthday party.

We thank Rachel and head back to the city, stopping at Pappas for a double crab cake platter to go and a celebratory cocktail. We call our parents along the drive to spread the good news and arrive back in Canton to get ready for the night out. We eat, get ready, catch an Uber and at my request, I ask Adrian if she minds if we grab a quick drink at the Waterfront Hotel in Fells Point for the sake of nostalgia. To go back to where the courtship truly all began. She agrees and leads me inside the bar by the hand, just as she had done 4 years prior. We go upstairs together; I steer her to the right and there in front of us are Adrian’s family, her best friends from high school and a few of my friends there to celebrate us. Again, she was stunned. But in the end, despite the bumps along the way, it was perfect!

So there you go, that’s the story of Adrian and me up to today, a month after the engagement. I’m lucky to have found such a spectacular woman who has supported my day in and day out, who endured a polar vortex, two cross-country moves, a career change, a home purchase, a dog adoption… this list goes on and on. She is selfless. She is radiant. She is smart. She is artistic. She is talented. She is driven. She is simply the Best.

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Special Thanks

Rachal Parker
 | Photographer
James Allen
 | Ring