how they asked: To begin telling the Secret Mission: New York Engagement, I need to share a little bit about myself. I am a senior at the University of North Alabama in Florence, AL majoring in Social Work. Since Kindergarten I have always taken school seriously, intense I know. When I began college it only escalated, I am the student who hates missing class and completes their homework as soon they get home. Proposal weekend began on January 8th when I was completely surprised when my fiancé, Zack, showed up at my apartment. Classes had just begun two days earlier and that weekend I had recruited Zack to help me take down my Christmas tree. After the initial surprise of seeing Zack confusion set in. He then informed me that we were taking a long weekend trip. When asked where we were going he only responded, “It’s a surprise.” Being the diligent and perfectionist student that I am the lack information did not sit well with me. I immediately began protesting that this surprise trip would just have to wait due to my classes. What happened next just proved how much Zack knows me. Before I could continue defending my case he interrupted saying, “I’ve already emailed your professors and you’re excused from class.”
As soon as I heard him say that my words and train of thought left me. Of course I responded back that I needed some hard core proof that my professors would agree to something like this. Just like clockwork Zack pulled out printed emails from my professors agreeing to my absence in my classes. One of my professors even stated that she knew I would be hesitant to going on this trip but she reassured me that I had permission to miss class. After reading those emails I couldn’t argue anymore. However, that did not stop me from asking how he made this happen. I then asked him how my parents agreed to a trip of this magnitude. My parents are conservative and growing up I kept those values. He then informed that we would be staying in two different rooms. Still in shock mode I couldn’t bring myself to start packing for this surprise trip.
A few hours later, the reality of this surprise trip set in and I was finally able to pack. When I asked what to pack the only thing Zack would tell me was bring warm clothes and long johns. In my mind I was like great you’re taking me somewhere colder but I didn’t complain and did what he said. While trying to pry out some information about this trip he let it slip that we were flying. As soon as I heard that word I panicked. I have only flown a few times when I was younger and I hated it and after watching the news and hearing about planes missing my anxiety kicked in. Once he talked me off the ledge I was okay and it wasn’t the last time he had to do it either. Before I went to bed he informed me that I needed to be up and ready to leave at six in the morning and then I quickly informed him that I would not be looking cute.
The next morning we hit the road not knowing where we were going or what we would be doing. The longer we drove I began to realize we were going to Nashville. After coming to this conclusion, I confronted him and he confirmed that we were going to Nashville International Airport. Even then he still would not let me know where we were flying to. As far as I knew we could have been flying to Alaska.
Once we entered Nashville, Zack received a text informing him that our flight was canceled. After sharing that information with me he immediately called the airlines to put us on the next flight out. As soon as he got off the phone he became anxious that we wouldn’t be able to keep the plans that he had made for us. Thankfully the only thing we missed was our dinner reservations. When we finally arrived at the airport he still would not tell me where we were going. Even when we were getting our boarding passes he wouldn’t let me see it. From what I could tell so far was this weekend was going to be something I would always remember. Little did I know it would end with me getting engaged to the love of my life.
After getting settled at our gate we got breakfast at one of the restaurants in the airport. While waiting on our food Zack asked me if I had figured out where we were going and in all honesty I did not. At that moment he graciously allowed me to look at me to look at my boarding pass. It took everything out of me not to dance around the restaurant when I found out that we were going to New York City. A few minutes later Zack received a text from a good friend of ours, Laura, who’s a photographer. Confused as to why she texted him I began to ask questions. In panic mode, he put his head in his hands claiming that he couldn’t think and on the fly made up some story that she needed gift advice for her husband Spike. Surprisingly not in an interrogating mood I didn’t press for more information. The time came to board the flight and this was the second time that Zack had to talk me off the ledge. I don’t do small spaces and my luck our airplane was a sardine can, literally, and it didn’t help that we were at the back of the plane. Take off was the unnerving part and at one point I think I might have cut off the circulation in Zack’s hand, sorry babe, but he was such a trooper. Throughout the course of the flight I was fine no problems, no anxieties, nothing. However, that changed once we were flying over New York City.
Following the instructions from Zack I layered up. I had one a pair of long johns, jeans, thick socks, boots, tank top, long sleeve shirt, and a thick coat. As soon as we were flying over New York City the sun was at its peak and blaring on the plane. Almost immediately I began feeling sick and began trying to take off as many layers as I could while still staying modest. Let’s just say I’m glad I had a tank top on. As soon as we landed, I couldn’t get off the plane fast enough. After we picked up our luggage we made our way to the airport entrance. Walking through JFK was so intriguing seeing people from all over the world and dressed to the nines. Seeing these people made me wonder why they were in New York City were they on a surprise trip like me, maybe for business or pleasure. As soon as we walked out the automated doors my heart stopped and my mind automatically began singing New York, New York by Frank Sinatra.
After arriving a few hours behind schedule we made our way into the heart of New York City. On the ride to the hotel no one could have prepared me for what I thought was going to be the end of my life. I am one who gets motion sickness in stop and go traffic as well as jerky driving and lucky me that is the driving in New York City. Still recuperating from my overheated plane ride the taxi ride made it 1000x worse. Throughout the drive I kept staring at Zack with the look of I am going to throw up and die if you don’t stop this car. After a good 10 minutes of air conditioning I had to persuade our taxi driver to roll down the window, thankfully he accommodated. Once we arrived at the hotel I had the strong urge to kiss the ground but knew that wouldn’t be the best decision. I strongly believe that the power of a nice hot shower is undermined but after I cleaned myself up I felt like a new woman.
After we got ready we were off to hit the town still clueless as to what we would be doing. While eating I told Zack that we should see a Broadway play while we were in New York but I quickly dropped the subject when I remembered we would be seeing Wicked in Atlanta the following month. After dinner we made our way down to Times Square. Seeing all the lights and billboards in person put all the pictures I had seen of Times Square to shame. As we kept walking I began noticing Wicked billboards and being completely naïve I began wishing that we were going to see Wicked in New York instead of Atlanta. The closer we got to the billboards I realized we were going to see Wicked in New York. I was completely blown away, I could not believe I was about to see my favorite play at the Gershwin Theatre! I was so shocked that Zack had been able to pull this off. Remembering the tickets I had received for Christmas I still could not believe it was happening. Zack then began explaining that he photo shopped the letters to make me believe that we were seeing the play in Atlanta. All I have to say is the boy did a pretty good job and pulling off this surprise. To those who have not seen Wicked, I strongly suggest that you do. You will not walk away disappointed! The play was everything I thought it would be and my first day in New York could not have ended on a higher note.
January 10th arrived and I honestly did not know how Zack could top last night with the play. Still clueless, I didn’t know that I would be getting engaged a few hours later. The day started off with breakfast in Times Square and a subway ride to the National Museum of the American Indian. I absolutely love museums. I am the individual who reads every little info box and visits every exhibit. In the beginning of this trip Zack had us on a very tight schedule. As soon as we arrived at the museum I immediately asked how long we had and to my disappointment he responded with only an hour and a half. Immediately hearing the time constraint I panicked. How could I possibly visit every exhibit and read every info box in an hour and a half? Needless to say I had to speed walk, limit the info boxes, and prioritize the exhibits. The museum was absolutely beautiful and full such history dating all the way back to the dinosaurs. It is definitely a place that I will be visiting again after I’m married. Once we left the museum we made our way to the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.
I was so excited when I realized that countless movies and television shows had been filmed in this restaurant. After eating an exquisite meal we continued our stroll through Central Park and being the movie junkie that I am could recall numerous movies filmed in front of the Bethesda Fountain. Our walk continued to the Bow Bridge, the place where my life and future changed. As we stood on the bridge moments before the proposal I asked a bystander to take our photo. After the picture was taken I began walking off the bridge completely clueless as to what was about to happen. Before I could make it any further Zack stopped me and began to ask me why I thought he brought me here. Confused, I responded that it was a trip to get away before I became stressed with school again. He agreed and continued by explaining that he wanted to take this trip to tell and show me how much he loved and cared about me.
Before I could utter another word the love of my life got down on one knee to ask me to be his wife. Sadly I must confess as soon as I saw him on one knee I zoned out and was completely fixated on the ring.
I do remember that I kept saying “yes” repeatedly and took my glove off in a nanosecond. Later that evening I was relieved when I found out that Zack was at a loss of words when he proposed that he himself couldn’t remember what he said during that moment.
After saying “yes” and kissing my incredible fiancé multiple times it was time to have our picture taken.
Once I began asking if someone would take our picture, Laura whom I mentioned earlier stepped out of the bushes asking if she could take our picture.
So many thoughts were running through my head at the moment that the only sentence I could form was “Oh my gosh, what are you doing here?!?!” Once pictures were taken, I was finally able to get answers for my questions. I found out the day before when Laura was texting Zack was to double check plans for the proposal pictures.
Still in shock of everything that had transpired all I could do was smile and laugh. Spike, Laura’s husband, jokingly expressed that he used my posts on Instagram as a map of where they could and could not go in New York.
Photos by Jett Walker Photography