How We Met – by Josh: The first time I met Rachael was around September of 2011, when she walked into MY coffee shop. Well, it wasn’t mine, but I was kind of king of the coffee shop at that point, having worked there for about two and a half years. Rachael, on the other hand, wasn’t supposed to have worked there at all. Originally, they hired a tall, hipster guy who seemed unreliable. And lo and behold—he showed up one day, worked one shift, and never came back. Thank God for that guy, because if he had been just a little bit more reliable, I never would have met Rachael.
The first time I remember truly connecting was while we were working together and I made a really stupid joke. I don’t totally remember the context, but we were talking about art. Someone said the word “artwork,” and I said “Artwork? More like fartwork!” And Rachael laughed at that. I remember thinking, Wow, this girl has a great personality and a wonderful sense of humor if I can make a joke that dumb and get a playful but earnest laugh out of it.
She was playfully snarky back then. Always a bit sarcastic for my rock and roll vibe, but I persisted in at least trying to be friends, because she was just so witty and hilarious. I needed to be a part of her life. We started getting closer at work and hanging out more. She was dating someone, and so was I, but both of our relationships were kind of coming to an end. We began talking more and more and discussing the ins and outs of friendships and relationships, but with Rachael so hung up on her situation and me moving to California in the spring, there were really no hidden intentions other than being close friends.
One night (and this is the night she says she fell in love with me), Rachael was having a particularly tough time. She called me in tears. I knew that, in this situation, it would be best to ease her pain with laughter as opposed to a serious talk. I whipped out the clown joke—a tirelessly stupid run-on joke which consists of 20 minutes of ad-libbing and ends in a terribly dull and obvious punchline that generally makes the audience want to punch you in the arm and demand their time back. But this particular telling of the joke turned tears into laughter and bad energy into love. After getting off the phone, Rachael’s mom said to her, “Who is this Josh person? He sure can make you smile.” And I’ve continued to make her smile for three and a half years.
how they asked – by Rachael: It was no surprise that Josh proposed. We’d been talking about it for about a year and a half already, wanting to do it on an anxious whim before I left to study abroad in Australia for five and a half months. And then wanting to do it as soon as we were reunited, because we learned the hard way that we never
wanted to be without the other again.
I actually foiled a previous proposal scheme of Josh’s. While in Australia, he excitedly told me he’d decided when and how he was going to propose. (At that point, we had a hot air balloon ride planned for right after I came home.) When he said that, I warned him he’d better not propose to me in the balloon. A short silence followed from his end of the line, and then, “Darn.” Josh is unbelievably creative and original, and I refused to let him get away with anything less for the most exciting moment of our lives to date. He took this feedback and ran with it.I mentioned it was no surprise that Josh proposed. How he proposed, on the other hand—well, that’s a different story, especially considering that Josh is terrible at keeping secrets.
It took some time to settle back into life with each other after our time apart. But as the weird reacclimation phrase faded, so too did the need to rush into an engagement. We agreed that it should happen when the time was right.
That time, apparently, was March 20, 2014, though for most of the day, I didn’t know it. It was a beautiful first day of spring, but for whatever reason, the shining sun and warm breeze were lost on me. Josh and I had planned to go to a monthly after-hours event at the Franklin Institute when he got off work that night, so I was counting on that to turn my day around. I didn’t know much about it, because the event site hadn’t been updated since February, but Josh seemed to have it all figured out.
After spending too long trying to get my hair perfect for our date night, I left my apartment a little later than
expected. Josh, who’s usually quite patient with my time-consuming preparations, was really putting pressure on me to hurry up and meet him.
When I got off the subway and saw him, I immediately noticed a weird vibe. I figured I’d ruined our night by annoying Josh with my lateness and apologized profusely. He told me it was fine, but that we really had to get going. He didn’t seem fine. His hands were all sweaty and he wasn’t his usual talkative self. I grilled him. “Josh, if you don’t tell me what’s wrong, we’re not going to have any fun tonight!” He promised he’d tell me later. To lighten the mood, I joked, “You’re not going to propose to me at the Franklin Institute, are you?” He brushed off my ridiculous accusation, and I thought nothing more of it. Like I said, I had a history of trying to bust his proposal plans.
We got off the bus not long before the event was supposed to start, so Josh hurried us in the right direction. He kept mumbling about going in the Business Entrance, which was odd, but I figured anything was fair game after hours. A man gave us a very strange look, as we were clearly not business people. We were, however, late. “Science After Hours,” I explained. He gave me an even stranger look, but let us in the door anyway.
Once inside, a woman at the front desk pointed us to the planetarium down the hall. Josh dragged me to a door clearly labeled NOT AN ENTRANCE, and as he tried to open it, I didn’t hesitate to let him know that it was “NOT AN ENTRANCE!” He didn’t listen.
The first thing I noticed were all the empty seats. I panicked, thinking that there really was no event that
night. As we stepped further into the planetarium, I saw a video camera pointed right at me and the familiar, squinty left eye of Josh’s best friend, Pete. Josh turned around to look at me with teary eyes, and an equally familiar melody began to fill the room. It all clicked, and I lost it. Didn’t I tell you he could do better than a hot air balloon?
The rest is a fuzzy, waterlogged memory. Fortunately, Pete did an amazing job of capturing the entire thing and making us the stars of quite the Hollywood love story.
Watch it all unfold from Josh’s perspective here:
Photography and Videography by Pete DiLorenzo
Music by Elegance String Quartet
Proposal location: Franklin Institute