Brittany and Jim

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How We Met (From HER perspective): Jim and I met at the University of San Diego our junior year of college. We both joined the national co-ed professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi. Jim was studying Finance & Accounting and I was studying Supply Chain Management and the business fraternity was a great way for us to socialize with other like-minded business students. We were friends at first; both very involved in the fraternity and enjoyed each other’s company along with our other fraternity ‘brothers.’

Our friendship continued to flourish our senior year of college. Jim was increasingly more flirtatious with me and at every chance, offered to drive me to parties or hang out with me at school or help me with my finance courses. Before Christmas break of our senior year, he took me to lunch at an adorable little diner on Coronado Island. It was the first time it was just the two of us; the first time we really got to know each other a little bit better, and the first time I thought he could potentially be more than a friend.

I also studied Spanish, and that January I studied abroad for 3 weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We would talk over skype while we were apart about my travels and his break and we were both anxious to spend time together again. Once I returned to the states, the flirtatious texts continued and became more frequent and I began to think that Jim saw me as more than a friend as well. I was really hesitant to admit anything since I had not dated much throughout college and the previous relationship I had been in was four years prior.

Two weekends into the semester was Super Bowl Sunday weekend, and our close friends threw a party at their condo. I will never forget that night. Jim was wearing a dark olive-green shirt because he was rooting for the Greenbay Packers and the color of his shirt made his hazel-green eyes really stand out. To this day, it’s my favorite shirt on him. After the game, we dragged ourselves to our weekly chapter meeting on campus and Jim was kind enough to give me a ride back to my dorm room after our meeting.

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A few hours went by, and I didn’t quite feel like going straight to bed, so I called and asked Jim if he wanted to get together again just to talk. He quickly accepted, and within a few minutes he was back to walk me down to the football field by my dorm. I didn’t find out until later that he had already drove all the way home to his place off campus before setting a personal record time driving back to school to see me once I called.

I always enjoyed Jim’s company and he is a great listener so we just laughed and flirted and talked for hours together. The conversation took a more serious turn when Jim began to express his feelings about me and more specifically, how much he loved my smile. He admitted that he really liked me and raved about how well we got along together. I initially had no immediate response, but I did ask him to walk me back up to my room because I was starting to get cold.

I leaned on his shoulder on the couch as we watched an episode of one of our favorite shows together, The Office. I started to dose off on his shoulder, and I remember Jim getting up off the couch and I heard the door open but I never heard it close. I was awake again on the couch listening for the door to close but before I knew it, Jim had come back inside. I was about to stand up, but before I could, he leaned over and took my face in his hands and kissed me. I felt all the butterflies you would expect to feel when you first kiss that special someone. I immediately knew he was really something special and I couldn’t wait to kiss him again.

Within that first week we went on a date every single day. The most memorable one was on Valentine’s Day that week when he showed up to pick me up with his bumper in the bed of his truck. He had gotten in a fender bender stopping to get me flowers and still showed up five minutes early with flowers in hand. We went to lunch and walked the beach by the seals of La Jolla Cove that day. That whole last semester of Senior Year was the most fun I had of all my years of college. We considered that Superbowl Sunday night, February 6, 2011, our official anniversary. Four and half years later, we are engaged to be married and I can’t wait to pick a new anniversary date with the man of my dreams.

how they asked (From HIS perspective): The love of my life Brittany Berg and I started seriously talking about marriage about six months ago, but she was still in graduate school and was not going to finish until October 2015. We decided not to take the next step and get engaged until she graduated. I have known I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her for a long time now, and I never have been great at following the rules.

I couldn’t help but start thinking about the perfect way to surprise her with a proposal. I settled on the idea to ask her on our annual get-away vacation to a family friend’s ranch in Eastern Idaho. It would be our third annual trip to the ranch and each previous vacation had been the highlight of the year. What’s more, this trip fell in early September over Labor Day so she would be sufficiently caught off guard by the timing. I was confident I could find a romantic setting to pop the question in the scenic natural beauty of the Yellowstone region.

Brittany has always been a family girl and routinely mentioned how much her parents would love to join us in Idaho someday. With Idaho in mind for my future proposal, and brimming with confidence that she would say “Yes” after four and a half years together, I decided to invite her parents to join us on vacation for the weekend as a surprise. When I asked her father for permission in July, I offered to fly him and his wife up for the celebration over Labor Day weekend. They quickly accepted and we had reached the point of no return. I was thrilled.

I then had to hurry up and wait for the big trip to arrive in September. We had plans to be on vacation for a full week with Labor Day weekend and the big day falling in the middle. We had a fabulous first three days of the trip driving to Yellowstone, fishing, riding bikes at the ranch, and spending quality time with each other under the stars. When Saturday morning arrived (the day her parents flew in) I was more than ready. I decided Plan A was going to be a long canoe ride down the Teton River together. We would be picked up at the end of a four hour float and driven back to the house where her parents would be waiting with mine to congratulate us.

The surprise had survived this long, we were about to cast off, and she had no idea what was coming. I was finally starting to feel relieved. After months of planning, all I had to do was ask the woman of my dreams to marry me, and get us happily from point A to point B – the easy part. The first speed bump to the plan came earlier that morning when the clouds rolled in and it started to rain. Brittany is a trooper and was still thrilled to go on the four hour float despite the rain coming down and having to put on four more layers to stay warm. Earlier that week she had mentioned that a canoe ride together was what she was looking forward to most this trip.

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So we cast off smiling in the rain fully aware that the strong current meant there was no turning back. We continued our leisurely wet float for a few more hours before noticing that we were miles from the ranch and the ranch dog, Bo, was still following us with no intention of turning back home. We were moving at a pretty good clip and Bo was running flat out to keep up swimming back and forth across the river when the shore line was too dense.

This was cute at the beginning and fun to have company, but after 3, 4, 5 miles went by we started to get a bit nervous for his safety. Then Bo swam out to the middle of the river and started pawing at the boat. We reluctantly decided to let the 30 pounds of wet dog into our thin two person canoe. So I lean over and grab his thick pit-bull shoulders and haul him in. Our third passenger is equal parts excited and nervous and runs back and forth across the boat, between our legs, and finally settled in with all four paws up on the bow as if he was leading us into battle. Although cute, this was a significant hurdle to my already precarious plan of proposing in a moving canoe.

About a half an hour of this went by and many photos were taken before, like Dug in “Up”, he must have saw a squirrel and decided to hurl himself out of the boat with the subtlety of a circus canon. In no time he was back on the shore running flat out alongside us to keep up. I was happy to have to boat back to ourselves. After we settled in to rowing again, I started in on the sweet talk to get the focus back on the prime objective. No sooner than I started to get on one knee did our delightful friend Bo come back to paw on the boat panting and wheezing once again.

Here we go again… so I lean over to grab his thick torso and haul him up again. This time, however, Brittany leaded over to watch the commotion. So to recap, I am leaning to the left to grab a 30 pound dog on the left side of the boat and Brittany is leaning to the left to watch. That was a few too many “lefts” and, as gravity would have it, we capsized the boat!

Thankfully we were only in two and a half feet of freezing water, but unfortunately it came with and extra foot and a half of mud at the bottom. I have a particular medical condition and accompanying equipment that do not mix well with water so I was out of the water like a rocket ship. Not unexpectedly, Bo sprung to the shore and ran on his way laughing, but sweet Brittany was quite literally stuck in the mud. I waded back out in the water to “help” – more like drag – her out. By the time we were all on the shore shivering and checking our electronic devices the boat had unceremoniously floated to the bottom of the river.

I had not yet completed the prime objective, her parents were on the way to the ranch, and our ride home was the gentlemen driving her parents from the airport so he wasn’t going to be around to get us for another two hours. With all that in mind, in an adrenaline rush akin to a child lifting a car off their trapped parent, I yanked that 12 foot canoe off the bottom of the river and up to shore.

When I returned to shore I found my hopefully future wife madder than a wet hen and soaked to the bone with muddy water. This was not going well. I knew our fate was to return to that boat and make it to the bridge so I kept a smile on my face and began the painstaking process of making her happy again. We stripped off layers, wrung out backpacks and disassembled phones and cameras. Oh, and I checked my pocket a few hundred times for the ring, which was still there each time I checked.

A few hundred yards downstream there was a bridge, not our target bridge, but a bridge with a boat ramp nonetheless. Brittany was laser focused on that bridge as her way out of this cold hell and insisted we call Justin, the ranch hand, to come pick us up NOW! “Uh, honey, that’s not going to happen. He is running errands (read picking up your parents) and won’t be around until the next bridge in a few hours.” I don’t blame her for not wanting to get back into that boat but God bless her she did and we were on our way with blue lips, no dry cloths, and an idiot dog still running alongside us.

Finally my luck started to turn around and the sun came out to warm us up and a hint of a smile came back to Brittany’s face. Another few miles went by, we saw a moose in the river, Bo left us alone, and it was finally time to try again. So I get down on one knee once again in the canoe with Brittany’s back to me rowing and I ask her to turn around. Note: once you fall out of a canoe you become understandably hesitant to turn around in one while it is still moving.

She refused to turn around. After a few more tries I simply asked her for a kiss, she reluctantly turned around, and I finally was able to ask her to marry me. She was shocked, flushed, filled with happy tears, and said “Yes of course!” The trials of the last three hours were forgotten, and the rest of the ride was flawless as she stared at the ring on her hand with a smile plastered on her face.

I had designed the ring using two of my grandmother’s engagement ring’s diamonds and a center stone chosen for Brittany’s unique style. She loved it and I fell even more in love with her for putting up with me that day. We rowed safely into port where we were met by Justin with a heated truck and towels. P.S. Justin told us his dog Bo had run along the side of a canoe for up to eight hours before, he wasn’t tired just wanted attention…

He drove us home to the ranch where the party continued. Brittany walked in the front door and was hit with one more thrill seeing both her parents waiting for her. She let out a wail of happiness like I had never heard and everything went happily ever after from that moment on. My mom had set up a surprise lunch party where we told our story and warmed up by the fire.

Her parents and my family were able to meet in earnest for the first time and everyone got along splendidly. The texting and calling of friends and family commenced and we all enjoyed the remaining days of our memorable vacation together. I wouldn’t have had it unfold any other way.