how we met
Remarkably enough, Avalon and I officially met for the first time at a brewery. It was interesting for two reasons. First, because her dad is a Brew Master and second, because I didn’t like the taste of any beer at the time. We were both there for a mutual friend’s birthday and sat on the same end of the table across from each other. Though our first conversation together might have been an exchange of two or three sentences the entire night, I knew I wanted her as a forever person in my life.
We both started attending St. Ambrose University our Freshman year and even had a class together that same year, although it would be another two years before we found ourselves having that first brief conversation. During our Sophomore year, Avalon joined Residence Life as a Resident Advisor on campus and the following year I did as well. It was during this time that we began to see more of each other. Soon enough, our friend groups began to overlap more and more however, it wasn’t until our senior year that we became close. One of my best friends started spending more time with Avalon and one of her friends so naturally, I did as well. The four of us grew more and more unsure of what we wanted to do as graduation crept closer and closer. We all knew we wanted to stay in the area but I also had an offer to consider from Midwestern University to begin a Physical Therapy program. Without the three of them ready to move into a house together, I probably would have accepted the opportunity. Luckily for me, I decided to stay and consequently, truly got to know my future bride.
Avalon and I began to spend an increasing amount of time together over the course of the next few months. Whether we found ourselves in restaurants, at the movies, or in various coffee shops, she insisted they were not “dates”. Eventually they became dates as we found out how many interests we shared, how well we worked together, and how much we “liked” each other. We officially started dating on September 23rd of 2016. I bought her engagement ring a month and a half later.
how they asked
As I woke I remembered seeing two things. The darkness of the early morning and the repeated words from the night before. Best Friend. Wonderful. Amazing. Falling. Marry. I fell asleep with the fear that the half rehearsed/half impromptu speech would be spoken aloud and heard in my sleep. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and at the same moment wanted to speak from the heart with every emotion I had felt for the past three hundred and seventy-two days. I didn’t have time to question whether I spoiled the surprise for the day, so instead I woke her with the characteristic three kisses and told her it was time to wake and that I was going to go shower.
The morning was a blur. I distinctly remember carefully placing the small box in our shared bag and lacing up our hiking boots. A step outside and our breath was as visible as the mild morning fog. My mind was racing as our feet moved at a moderate pace towards the Pike Place Starbucks. We both ordered a Pike Place roast coffee, black. Our pace quickened as we raced to rent our first car together, an imagining of forest and pinecone besieged trails at the forefront of our minds. I missed a step and spilt my drink onto my hand at the corner of Pine and 5th.
Frustration set in as we both had problems reserving a vehicle in either of our names. An hour later and behind schedule we were on our way. The car in my name, the wheel in her hands, we took a chance minuscule against the act of being together. Thick and lofty pine trees littered the side of the highway as we raced towards Lake Serene. We knew nothing of our destination other than the facts that the trails were recommended by our temporary landlord and that it appeared beautiful online. Even those images could not prepare us for what was to come.
Struggles plagued our last half hour before arrival. A minor setback of being authorized to hike the land as well as some other details I will not mention. Once our boots left the gravel of the parking lot and embraced the dirt of the trails, all was forgotten. We walked slowly, appreciating the green of the forest, the sound of the babbling water, and the resolve of the ambitious trail runner. It was not soon before long we were confronted with a weighty decision. Left for Lake Serene or right for Bridal Veil Falls.
Ultimately, we decided to lengthen the trip with visiting the falls before the lake. The hike tested our tremulous legs as we took step after step towards the sound of the falling water, a tease of the Seattle rainfall we had not yet experienced. We reached the top in awe of the suspended water and the weathered rocks that laid beneath. Speechless as the trees parted and allowed our eyes an outward view of the landscape of the foothill. To think we were only one seventh of the way to our decisive elevation. Together we braved the current and stood upon the largest rock of the mountain we could find. Some dialogue passed and I kindly offered a drink of water. She turned around to find me level with her waist. My left knee growing cold and damp as our eyes locked and her hands met her face.
The words of phrases from the night before and the morning of flashed before me. In this moment, I never understood why anyone would doubt themselves. I understood the decision I was about to make was one of the most important that a person can make, but I also understood that it was one of the easiest. From the moment, we were in love I could not wait to get the words off my mind and spoken on my breath. “Avalon, you have become my best friend, and are the most wonderful woman and amazing person that I have ever met. Ever since I have gotten to know you, I have been falling for you again and again. Will you marry me?”
My words and feelings true, as concise as they were. She answered with an impatient “yes”, as if she were waiting ever since the plane had landed two days earlier. The rushing water made me reluctant to pull the ring from the safety of its firm fitting but somehow, she convinced me. With a new ring on her finger and smile on her face, we responded to the boy’s shouting from the trees. As they took our picture they shared how they had been watching silently, as if not to spoil the moment. We were both glad we could document the moment in photo.
We trudged down the slope much quicker than we had climbed up. Before we knew it, we saw the familiar sign pointing to Lake Serene. With time on our side and a giddiness we could not escape, we set on our way. My eyes were torn between hers and the trail, hers between mine and the spectacle on her left hand. The rest of the hike was truly a journey, the first test in our newfound engagement. We had no promise to climb to the top of the mountain other than our testament to each other. We were determined to finish what we had started.
Although the sights were among the most breathtaking I’d seen in my life, exhaustion began to set in. Luckily, our legs were weaker than our spirit. We continued to trek our way to the top of the mountain between water breaks and breathers. At what I considered to be our breaking point, a passerby heading in the opposite direction said we couldn’t be more than ten minutes from the lake. Thirty minutes later we saw Lake Serene for the first time. The crisp blue water and deep green of the forest trees looked as if they could not exist in a world without edit. With our hands together we stood in awe of the natural beauty that laid before us. Slowly we made our way closer to the water, as if we were trying not to smear the painting of a piece of art. We sat on a tree log, resting and taking in the moment before moving onto a boulder with a center view of the lake. Although we did not stay long, it is an experience I will never forget. Complete bliss surrounded us in a moment in time where I had never felt happier or more loved. We decided to descend the mountain and begin the rest of our lives together.
As badly as we wanted to share our news with our families and closest friends, we decided to keep it our secret for the night. We went home. We showered. We drove to Safeco. The Mariners won. We fell asleep. It was perfect.