Kara and Aaron
How We Met
I was NEVER one of those people who believed others when they said, “You just know when you know” until I met Aaron. He was working as a part-time youth engagement director while in grad school at Towson University in Maryland. I was working in Atlanta, GA doing similar work. Our parent organization was having its bi-annual youth workers conference in Chicago over president’s day weekend in 2017. Neither of us was expecting to attend until weeks prior to the event, and we’re so grateful that ‘all the stars aligned’ (ugh, so cheesy)!
We met at the conference, hung out a few times, and that was it. Nothing happened other than the beginning of a beautiful friendship that spanned the next 6 months. During that time, Aaron got a job that moved him to Detroit, MI while I got a new job that moved me to Baltimore, MD. That’s right – I moved to his city the exact same week he moved away. The timing was not ideal, to say the least.
Despite the distance, starting new jobs (both within the aforementioned parent organization), and navigating new seasons we knew that what we felt for each other was special. Our long-distance relationship started on August 18, 2017, and for two years we made the 8-hour trip as often as we could to see one another. We shared weekends exploring Detroit’s smaller neighborhoods, going to Nationals games in D.C., and hiking as often as we could. For bigger trips, we explored the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, revisited the city (and hotel) where we first met and went to Hilton Head with my family; a town that we both spent many weeks in as we were growing up. After two years of long-distance, we knew that things needed to change in order for our relationship to grow. Aaron took the leap of faith and found a new job outside of D.C., where we now live together.
Summer Camp jobs are great until your (then) boyfriend doesn’t want to hug you.
How They Asked
As an Assistant Camp Director, I spend a lot of weekends on the road. With that in mind, I had an idea when the proposal might be happening. Aaron and I had been planning a weekend together to explore our new home city of D.C. and surrounding areas to hike. He cooly suggested that I ask my boss for the weekend of October 12th off. She, of course, said, “yes”, as she’d been in cahoots with Aaron for months as he designed the ring and planned the proposal.
On the morning of the 12th, while Aaron slept (not a morning person), I got up and got my nails done just in case I was right. We set off to Catoctin Mountain Park around 2pm. After an hour’s hike up, we arrived at the top of the mountain’s gorgeous peak. As none of our friends were available to hike with us, Aaron was nervous to find someone at the top to take our picture. Well, there was about 30 people he could ask, including 3 men who were lounging on the rock where we wanted to take a photo. They would not move. Eventually, we decided to climb up there with them and see if they’d get the idea that we wanted to take a photo.
Cleverly, Aaron typed a note into his phone so that the fellow hiker who agreed to take our photo knew what was about to happen. We joined the 3 loungers on the rock, and they still didn’t leave. Aaron was clearly getting frustrated and nervous. After hesitating for a minute, I looked up at him and said, “I know what you’re about to do.” Aaron smiled, looked down on me, and replied, “Do…do you want to do it elsewhere?”
After laughing, I said, “no” and he finally got down on one knee and asked me to marry him with the ring of my dreams, including a stone that belonged to my Great Grandmother! Knowing what was happening, and trying not to fall off the mountain, did not take away from the beauty and magic of this moment. Everyone on the mountain clapped, including our 3 rock-mates, and finally got to say YES to my best friend.
The proposal itself was amazing, and it doesn’t compare to the real surprise that happened later that night. After getting slightly lost on the hike back to our car, delaying our excited phone calls to our families that were patiently waiting to hear from us by an hour, we set off to get ready for dinner. Aaron told me he’d made reservations as a restaurant that his parents recommended and that I had to be ready by 8. When we walked in, I was blown away to find both of our families and my four closest friends waiting to surprise me. I’d just talked to all of them an hour prior and had no idea that they were all together, literally in the same hotel room hiding from one another to not give anything away. We spent the weekend all together and could not imagine a better way to celebrate the next chapter of our lives.