After the first (and most draining) semester of Physical Therapy school, it was a huge sigh of relief to go home, see my wonderful parents for a few days, and then hop on a plane to North Carolina to spend some time with my boyfriend who so selflessly supported me through the summer. My parents drove me to the airport in Milwaukee and sent me on my way. Looking back to wave again, they were hugged together close waving goodbye in that emotional “There goes our baby girl” way to which I thought to myself “Huh, that’s sweet but I’ll see them in a few weeks!” – it all makes sense now of course. After some messy plane-jumping of both me and my luggage because of nearby storms, I finally made it to Charlotte! The upcoming weekend marked our 4-year anniversary of dating, so we were very excited to finally be together.
Nick told me he had made surprise plans for me during the next day since he had to work. I had been telling Nick that I would love to treat myself to getting my nails done sometime when I was down there simply because I hadn’t painted them all summer in fear of looking unprofessional through practical exams. See that bright pink in all our proposal pictures? That was Nick being incredibly sweet to treat me and that also was Nick being super sly about my nails being done for when there was a big, shiny ring on my finger! Again, my oblivious self just had a melting heart from my boyfriend’s empathetic listening abilities.
For our 4-year anniversary, Nick had our day already planned out as a surprise – he knows I like his surprises, nothing out of the ordinary. We had been talking about going tubing down a river in the mountains, so I was pretty certain that’s where we were headed even with Nick’s denial. In the two-hour car ride, the running joke became that we were headed to a Denny’s in Asheville – I’m a cheap date, okay? As we got closer, we were winding through the mountains and entering Pisgah National Forest, a gorgeous sight in itself. We pulled up to the Looking Glass Waterfall and it was the most jaw-droppingly beautiful, romantic sight. Nick grabbed my hand and the butterflies were through the roof as he led us toward the staircase down the waterfall. It takes a patient man to let his girlfriend stop to take a bunch of pictures with a ring in his pocket and a hidden hired photographer (Joe Mackey – so talented!) capturing all the pictures I could want!
As we got to the bottom of the waterfall, Nick suggested we find a flat place to sit. Once we sat down, he said he had brought “The List” – a bucket list/checklist we started before we were “official” as boyfriend and girlfriend of all the things we wanted to do with each other, like going to a country concert for example. Every once in awhile we would take out The List and make tallies on things we had done and add new things to the list together. What a sweet thing to do on our anniversary! After a few minutes of reminiscing, Nick handed me The List and said I could go through the rest.
As soon as I reached the bottom, Nick had added “Engagement” to our list, and by the time I looked up, Nick was already getting up with an “I love you so much….” – cue speech that still brings me to tears. I remember saying “Of course I will!” and hearing the entire crowd at the waterfall clapping. It was the most perfect, romantic, dream-worthy whirlwind of a day.