Steve and I met through a mutual friend in August of 2008 while both stationed in Hawaii; Steve is an active duty Marine, and I was on active duty in the Navy. I had just executed PCS orders (Permanent Change of Station orders) and Steve was about to PCS back to North Carolina; he was leaving the island of O’ahu in November. I have to admit, upon first impressions I didn’t think, “Yep! That’s the guy I’m gonna marry!” Call it a fear of long distance relationships, or something else all together, I’m not sure, but I just was not interested in getting involved with a guy that was leaving the ‘island nation of Hawaii’! When asked, once, when he knew that we were more than a fleeting past time, Steve responded with, “The day I met Cheri. It’s not everyday that you meet a girl that will burp in your presence and then meet you ‘blow for blow’ on the joke front.”
Shortly after Steve reported to his command in North Carolina, we found out he was departing for a year-long deployment to Kuwait. It wasn’t easy but we made it through, what ended up being, an 11-month deployment. Steve returned in November of 2009. One month later, on December 27th, 2009, I was told I’d be deploying to Afghanistan, with a departure set for the end of January. Steve flew out to see me off, and also take my cat, Scarlett, home with him. It’s funny to hear him talk about traveling with a cat. He jokes that he’d never been hit on more. At 6’3”, I can only imagine the hilariousness of the scene, as he toted a 10-pound cat through security – I digress, though! I spent 7 months of 2010 in Afghanistan, and returned to Hawaii over Labor Day weekend.
Planning had begun a month prior to my arrival for Steve to already be in Hawaii upon my return. Steve was one of the few people I wanted to see immediately upon my return; only 2nd to Mom and Dad. When I landed, Steve was waiting at the airport with a big smile on his face and a rose in hand. Most would think, “Oh what a wonderful way to start a proposal!” Right? Wrong! He didn’t propose that day. In fact, he didn’t propose for about another 5 days! Now, the story gets even funnier, though!
Steve, of course, wanted to call his sisters to tell them I had arrived safely in Hawaii. He called, in succession, his younger sister and his older sister. With both phone calls, he had me on speaker phone. With both phone calls, his sisters started with, “Soooo… are you…?” About the time they got, “are you…” out, Steve would quickly jump in and say, “You’re on speakerphone! You’re on speakerphone!”
Of course, me being the genius I am, I immediately thought, “He was going to propose? Oh no! He’s had second thoughts! He hasn’t asked.”
Steve says he wanted to ask the moment he saw me in the airport, but “…it just didn’t seem perfect.” The rest of the week he kept trying for that “perfect moment.” There were several walks down beaches on the island, but either there were homeless men and women sleeping on them, or they were just too crowded – he felt that just wouldn’t do. We had dinners out, and he’d even play games where he’d stop walking and drop to one knee, only to tie his shoe.
What most folks don’t realize about deployment is that it’s overwhelming to come back home (at least for this girl). After several days of catching up with old friends, and walking around in throngs of people, I needed a day to just not do anything. Steve had decided to take a walk down Waikiki beach (he’s never one to sit still after he’s up and moving). When he got back from his romp in the sand and waves, we decided to order pizza in for dinner. It was Thursday, September 9, 2011, that Steve decided it was the “perfect moment” to propose.
It wasn’t glamorous – I’ll admit that much! For us, though, it just happened to fit. Steve came back from the beach, had ordered the pizza, and decided to jump in the shower before the pizza got in. I decided to wait out on the lanai (the Hawaiian term for balcony…), and take in the view of the pool the hotel had to offer. Steve went in to bring his credit card out for the pizza delivery. It was then, that he came out with not only his credit card, but also the prettiest ring, designed by Simon G, I’d ever seen (I could also be biased, but who’d blame me)! He dropped to his knee for the final time that trip, and that time he asked the question everyone had been anticipating – “Will you marry me?”
I’m not sure why I was so worried about what I was wearing at that point in time, but I was! I immediately started crying, because I was in a tank top and silky shorts (these are ugly military running shorts – not attractive at all!), no make up on, and just being a ‘bump-on-a-log”. It took me seconds to realize what was really going on, and I did eventually say, “Yes!” In Steve’s words, “I looked at Cheri, and knew in that moment, we didn’t need a tropical waterfall, or a sunset on the beach. Romance can sometimes be pizza and pajamas. For a girl who had been living in Afghanistan a few short days earlier, and a guy who was looking for something too perfect, there was no more perfect a moment.”
Photography by Hawes Photography out of St. Louis!