How We Met
It was the first weekend in October, in 2012. I’d lived in Austin for about four months and started making friends at work. One of those friends had a group visiting from our company’s office in Boston. I still remember the first day I met him – he came into the office on Friday and was pretty hard to miss. He was the 6’4″ one wearing suspenders, with a voice just as big as his personality. Throughout the weekend, my friends and I showed them around Austin – dancing and laughing and making tons of memories. We really connected on the dance floor, when we realized we equally liked to bust a move and make a scene. After day 2 we were pretty much inseparable. On Monday, I went in to work, wishing I could spend the last few hours of his visit with him. Fortunately for us, a water main broke near our office, and we were all sent home. Their hotel happened to be around the corner from our office, so I went and spent the last few hours soaking in everything I could. Then, he flew back to Boston.
As soon as he returned home, he asked his boss to be transferred. For months it seemed like it would never happen, so we talked on the phone for hours a day, falling more and more in love, without knowing how to face it. Since we worked for the same company, we’d communicate all day using the IM service, and share music back and forth that made us think of each other. “Clarity” by Zedd seemed like the most perfect fit for our situation, saying “you are the piece of me, I wish I didn’t need. Chasing relentlessly, still fight and I don’t know why. If our love is tragedy why are you my remedy? If our love’s insanity why are you my clarity?” It was painful, really, to feel so strongly for someone I couldn’t be with. Needing to see him again, I flew to Boston with a couple of friends in early December. The romanticism of the northeast in the winter only added to the difficulty, and we fell more and more in love. As I left Boston that day, I cried – not knowing when I’d see him again. He must have felt the same way, since he booked a flight to Austin for New Year’s Eve soon after.
When he arrived, he told me he wanted to take me on a “real date,” since we’d only gone out with friends at this point. We’d planned to go to an Italian dinner since we are both admirers of allll the pasta, but ended up feeling way too exhausted – so he cooked for me instead. Lasagna. It was amazing. That night he told me he loved me for the first time. Only two months after we’d met, and the third time we’d seen each other. We just.felt.it. In March, he finally moved to Austin. We both refused to believe it was because of me. I didn’t want that pressure and he didn’t want to admit he moved cross-country for a girl he’d seen three times in his life. Now, we are no longer afraid to admit that our connection was something we just couldn’t let pass by.
Fast forward a year and a half, and we moved in together. Going on year five, we’ve lived together for three years, gone on countless adventures, created a loving home and adopted the cutest, sweetest little pup there ever was. Needless to say I’ve been anxious for this engagement for a while-but man, was it WORTH THE WAIT!
how they asked
Before you can fully appreciate the genius of his proposal, you have to understand a few things. The first, is that we call Justin “Howie.” My best friend Jessica called him Howie one day (his last name is Howlett), and it just stuck. It reminded me of the Full House episode where Michelle meets her cousin (?) Howie and misses him when he leaves. She frequently says “I want Howie,” which is something I could relate to! The second thing you need to know is that I am like a little kid – in many ways – one of which is asking for bedtime stories. “Howie, will you tell me a story?” I love Disney movies, I’ve always wanted to be a Disney princess (Jasmine, namely) and I want to hear beautiful stories! I ask all.the.time, but Howie always refuses. A few times I’ve gotten something like “once upon a time there was a boy named Howie, and he just wanted to go to sleep,” but that’s about it.
Finally, you need to know that though we’ve lived in our home for two years, and fully decorated it, we’d yet to put anything on the main living room wall, or main wall in the study. I’d wanted to hang shelves since day 1, but we never seemed to get around to it. Now that you know those things, you can fully appreciate my own fairytale-like story in all its glory. It was a Friday – and after dropping my coworker off at home because “his car was at the shop” (something I later learned was a ruse so that he could let Justin know when I was coming home), I parked in the driveway and headed into the house. Before I could open the door, he opened it with a glass of wine in his hand, a smile on his face, and I knew instantly what was about to happen. He grabbed my hand, put down my things and said “you’re always asking me to tell you a story. Let me tell you a story about a little girl named Devin, and a little boy named Justin.” I turned to see the entire living room wall decorated (with shelves eek!) and pictures in beautiful frames, representing both of our lives.
“Devin grew up loving fishing, performing, and being around people she loved.” There were pictures to represent everything he mentioned. He went on to tell me of my experience at Ohio University (go Bobcats), my specifications of my burritos at my favorite restaurant there (Big Mamma’s) and my desire to move to Austin, TX without ever having been there. He then took me to the left side of the wall which housed pictures of Justin, from a child to his time at Holy Cross, telling stories of his infectious personality, competitive nature and excitement for life. Then, in the middle shelving, he told the story of us meeting. There were pictures of that first weekend, recollections of our experiences, and many tears shed by me :) From there, he took me into the study, where he’d not only hung more beautiful photos, in beautiful frames, but also literally graffitied our wall with a logo he’d created and purchased. Something else that I forgot to mention is how much graffiti has been a part of our relationship. Long story, but awesome that he included it in the proposal.
At this point I kind of blacked out, but he was talking about how great we worked together, how much he treasured me and how fortunate we were to have found each other. I remember him telling me I had a big heart twice (the things he claims is his favorite characteristic of mine) and him ending with the most perfect, most beautiful phrase I could have imagined…”there’s just one question to ask in order for us to write the next chapter of our story…” That’s when he got on one knee and asked me the most amazing words I’ve ever heard, “Devin Mikala Marie, will you marry me?”
In full-on sob, I could only shake my head yes, hug him and continue sobbing, and after a couple of minutes he said “so do you want me to put the ring on your finger?”
As if that was not the most amazing thing in and of itself, he also had Frank Sinatra playing in the background (my favorite) and a bottle of wine we’d been saving for a special occasion opened and corked for our enjoyment. The cork, per a tradition we have, labeled with the occasion and the date; “will you marry me? 9-8-17.”
Amazing, right? It’s not over yet… Shortly thereafter, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to greet our parents who’d flown in (mine from OH and his from NJ). Then, Jessica and her husband showed up (from Houston), and I was told we were going to dinner at our favorite place, Fixe. Jess brought me a beautiful white dress and earrings, helped me get ready and then we headed to Fixe. Not thinking a second thought, I followed the hostess to the table, behind two beautiful doors into a private room, where our siblings (from OH and NJ) and our friends from all over the country (OH, northern and southern CA, PA and TX).
I ugly cried through all of the hugs. Our amazing dinner was complete with custom name cards, a flower crown for me, and unexpected toasts from friends and family.
I felt like it was our wedding weekend rather than engagement weekend – it was that special. There was that much love. That much thought. That much planning. There was decor, travel, expense, it was so incredibly warming to have so much love fill that room.
After eating and drinking and dancing the night away, we woke up the next day planning on going to the lake and taking it easy on the boat. We arrived to the doc for yet another surprise, with 20ish more of our friends on board waiting to celebrate with us. My friend Jamie got us a custom cookie cake, tons of food, and Justin had the coolest custom koozies made.
It was something out of a dream – except I could not have dreamed of something so perfect. We were in our element, surrounded by people we love, overwhelmed and humbled by their commitment to be there and celebrate with us on the best day of our lives. Words cannot express how thankful I am to have my sweet Howie, and all of our amazing friends/family who helped him plan, execute, pick out the ring, celebrate us, and cover every single detail that could ever be imaged in any Disney movie ever.
We are the luckiest. And he created the best bedtime story one could ever imagine.