How We Met: It was a Sunday evening in August and I had just got home from a long day of bartending and all I wanted to do was jump into some comfy clothes, grab something refreshing, and relax on my couch. On the drive home I was imagining what tv show I was going to catch up on, because as a bartender, you rarely ever get an evening off, let alone a Sunday evening!
When I pulled up to my apartment my eye caught the sight of my cute neighbor, “Chico” as I called him. He was playing Kan Jam, as this was a regular occurrence in the grassy area of our complex. The August air was nice and warm with a slight breeze so he was wearing a T-shirt with a light zip up sweater and looking cute as ever. See, “Chico” and I had been friends, really rather acquaintances for a while now. We hadn’t really even hung out before, but always said our friendly hellos in passing as we would leave our houses at the same time, or were seen around the neighborhood. He was my neighbor, yep… right next door. As a matter of fact, we shared the same wall of our bedrooms.
Our nick names (Chico and Tortuga) had actually come about after a conversation that we had about being able to use a cup and strings as our way of communication across our bedroom windows and we would obviously need to have nick names while talking on our high tech equipment! I dubbed him Chico because at the time he was fostering a small dog, so “Chico Pero” got shortened to just “Chico”, and I was “Tortuga” because I had two little red eared slider turtles!
I had been single for a while now, but as anyone who just gets out of a really long relationship, my thought was definitely not to jump right back into one. I had actively been trying NOT to get involved with anyone because I really just wanted to focus on myself for a while. But of course, it’s hard to resist a warm smile, and great conversation from your friendly (really cute) neighbor. So I decided to still jump into comfy clothes, grab that refreshing drink, but instead of jumping on the couch, I decided to go back outside and join in on the fun.
Sunday Neighbor Dinners were a tradition in our complex, we all got together, bringing food, drinks, and board games. I had never been to one, because as I mentioned earlier….. having a free Sunday evening was rare. It felt like family as we all sat around in a circle finding couches, bean bags, or pillows to sit down on. We ate, we drank, and we laughed into the late hours of the night.
When the evening came to an end, we all said our goodbyes. Everyone hugged and laughed and made plans for the next Neighbor Dinner. Chico was one of the last people for me to say goodnight to and as he pulled me in for a hug, it felt absolutely… perfect. Now, I don’t know if anyone of you has ever had this feeling that you absolutely just ‘fit’ with someone else. For lack of a better word, it was magical. Time stopped for a second and it felt like everything else just kind of faded away. I knew that this feeling wasn’t something that I wanted to go away anytime soon, and I tried to keep my composure as we walked towards our conjoined home. We turned the knobs to our respective houses, looked at each other, and I giggled like a school girl as I walked inside.
From that day we were inseparable. I have found my Prince Charming, my Love. We have been through so much in the past two and a half years and I am so lucky to have him by my side loving me with every breath. Love is tough at times, but it’s meant for the strongest. You learn so much about one another by going through rough times and coming out the other end as a better couple.
I love you, David. You will always be my ‘Chico’ and I will always be your ‘Tortuga’.
how they asked: At this time in our lives, Dave and I had been dating for about 2 and a half years. Both of us had been incredibly busy with work and just doing the daily routines of living together but still trying to find time to spend with each other. David is a college counselor and has weekends off most of the time, but me being a wedding photographer left me with very little weekends to spend with him. So as the holidays approached, Carnival Cruise Line was offering a great deal on their 3 day cruises down to Ensenada. The dates worked out perfectly for us because the weekend we chose fell right after Dave’s last day at work before Christmas break, and I luckily wasn’t shooting anything.
As the weekend got closer my girlfriends of course I thought it was a little suspicious of us to be taking this random cruise so close to the holidays and of course starting asking the question… “Soooo, do you think he is going to propose??” Every time this was asked I would get all flustered and say “I don’t know” with a little smile on my face. I really had no idea, and I really didn’t want to know. We had been talking about it and even had gone to look at rings a few months earlier, but I didn’t want to come to expect it and then be bummed if it wasn’t the right timing for him. So I tried to brush it off and not think about it as we boarded the boat, but of course it was planted in the back of my mind the entire trip.
We had an incredible time on the cruise, the best part was getting off the boat in Ensenada and taking a bus down to La Bufadora (one of the biggest natural blow holes in the world). My absolute favorite part was holding the baby panther. I wanted to take it with me and set it free afterwards, but it was such an incredible experience holding something that was so wild at heart.
That night was the big fancy dinner on the boat. We dressed up and went to dinner where we ate All You Can Eat lobster and steak. We shared tons of laughs and talked about how amazing the trip had been thus far. We talked about our lives and what we hoped for the upcoming holidays and how excited we were to see our families soon.
I won’t lie, all this talk about our futures had that little thought creeping up to the forefront of my head and before I knew it I blurted out “So, the girls kept asking me if I thought you were going to propose on the trip”! I giggled nervously and then fell quiet waiting for his response. He gave me a warm smile and told me that I shouldn’t worry, that it was going to happen sometime in the future but that I didn’t have to worry about it happening during the holidays since there was so much going on. I was thankful for the sense of commitment in his voice, that it was going to happen, but also for the reassurance that I could just enjoy the holidays with our families and not have to worry about whether it would happen or not. The rest of the trip was pure bliss, I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation with him to reboot as a couple before we went into the holidays.
When we got back home from the trip it was like life hit us with full force. Sara had her baby the day after we got home so I was with her at the hospital that entire day, the next day Dave and I packed our bags to join my family in Julian for Christmas in a house that they rented for my entire family. We were going to spend a few days with them and then drive to Dave’s family to spend Christmas day with them. It was a whirlwind of excitement, and the thought of any kind of proposal was totally out of my mind.
As we drove up to Julian I was so excited because this would be the first time my entire family would be together for the holidays in what felt like a million years. We had people flying in from all over the states, and even some from Australia. We had more then 50 of us in this 10 room, 2 story cabin in the mountains and as we walked into the house it felt like a scene out of Home Alone where everyone was rushing around to get to the plane on time! Kids were zooming passed us, my cousins were playing pool in the game room, and my mom and aunties were in the kitchen cooking up some seriously good food! Once we got all of our things settled in we each went our separate ways, saying hi to everyone. We would check in with each other a few times, and I kept asking Dave if he needed anything because I could just tell he was a little on edge. I just assumed it was because we walked into a house of chaos and it was taking him a while to settle in. He assured me that he was fine and continued saying hi to people he saw.
About an hour and a half of us being at the house I was standing out on the balcony at the back of the house with my cousins catching up, when Dave came outside and grabbed my hand and told me that he wanted to show me something. He sounded really excited so I squeezed his hand as he brought me down the stairs. We passed the kitchen towards the back door and he whispered to me as we stepped outside that he was just feeling a little claustrophobic and wanted to take a walk before the sun went down. As we walked down the path in the back of the house his hands started to get a little shaky and that’s when the butterflies started an avalanche in my stomach and I thought….. ‘Is this it?? Is this really happening?’ I quickly tried to quiet my nerves knowing that we just had the conversation the week before that it wouldn’t happen now. The other thing that was throwing me off was that I had expressed that I really wanted Sara or Rachel there to photograph it when it happened. Since Sara had just had her baby I knew she wouldn’t have been able to be there, and Rachel was shooting a wedding that day so there was no way she would be there!
Little did I know Dave had this whole thing planned all along. While I was in the house being distracted by my family members he was outside greeting his family who had drove all the way up to Julian to join in the festivities. When I thought he was saying hello to everyone, he was really telling them about his plan to ask for my hand in marriage and to come out on the back balcony to watch the whole thing go down. He also had texted Rachel about it and she was able to make the drive up after her wedding and was patiently waiting in the bushes to capture all the precious moments.
Dave’s sweet mom had let him borrow one of her stunning rings to use for the proposal. Dave and I had talked about designing a ring ourselves before, so this one would be used while we were in the process of getting mine!
Dave had once asked me what I would do if one day he made it seem like he was proposing but instead of opening a box to an engagement ring, it would be a pair of earrings. I quickly told him that I would probably want to ‘kill him’ and that it wouldn’t be a very nice trick to play on me. So of course he had to play up that fact, being his jokester self, bought a pair of earrings to give me before he really went down on one knee.
While on the walk Dave had turned me around and held me tight. He started saying how beautiful I was and how happy he was that we were together. All this talk of course had me thinking…… ‘Is this IT?’
Then Dave asked, ‘Can I give you something?’. I nervously said ‘Of course!’. He then pulled out the earrings and asked me to put them on to wear for Christmas. I was trying to hide my disappointment as I put them on that…this really wasn’t ‘it’……
THEN THIS HAPPENED!!!!!!!!
I quickly saw Rachel running down the side of the hill to get a closer shot of Dave on his knee asking me the most important question he would ever ask me. I was absolutely in shock that ‘this was really IT!!!!!
I could hear our families cheering from the top deck!! Music was playing, our dogs were barking and everything in our world was absolutely….positively….perfect.
After sharing hugs and kisses and wiping my lipstick off of Dave’s lips we went up the hill to be greeted by our elated family.
I could have lived in that moment for the rest of my life. I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing man to spend the rest of my life with. He cares for me with every fiber of his being and all we want is to make one another truly happy. This isn’t the start of our journey, as we had been on it for quite some time…but it was just another step in the direction living the most amazing life together forever!!