LJ and Russell

How We Met

We met in Sept 2007 in New York – we were both doing a year-long internship exchange programme over there and were placed in the same office. I knew straight away that I liked him, but wasn’t getting the same vibe off of him, so sort of put it to the back of my mind and got on with enjoying the year. After a few months we realised we were both really into movies. Russ was really interested in becoming a videographer, and I loved nothing more than watching back to back movies on a weekend. We started going to the cinema together. All our fellow interns thought something was going on and would tease us about it – and even though secretly I enjoyed it, Russ never gave an indication he was interested in me like that. So again, I had chalked us up as ‘just friends’ and left it at that.

Towards the end of the year though, after a few too many drinks at an intern party, we ended up kissing for the first time. We were on the rooftop of our intern apartment block with spectacular views over the Manhattan skyline and I remember thinking this is just like the movies – this is just the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me. Well, romantic with a side order of several mojitos and a guy that I’m sure wasn’t THAT into me! We hooked up a couple of times in the final month of our internship and then the time came to go back to the UK. I was devastated, partly to be cutting short something that had felt really right, but also to be leaving the city I’d fallen in love with – New York. There was a lot of feels and crying. All the way home.

Once back, we lived completely different lives in the UK, I moved to London for work, and he still lived with his parents in Hampshire. We saw each other a handful of times at mutual friend gatherings, but didn’t have a huge amount of contact. It seemed to be one of those great eras that was now over and we’d both moved on.

However in August 2011, I happened to be arranging a night out with a mutual friend on Twitter, and Russ saw the conversation and joined in – saying he lived near to where we were planning on going out and that he might see us there. The mutual friend actually never made it out – but Russ did, and we spent the whole night catching up, and it was like those 4 years in between had melted away. I went back to his at the end of the night, and it just felt like, why the hell haven’t we been doing this the whole time…

Within a year, we’d moved in together and it really feels like he’s not only my partner but my best friend.. maybe because we spent so long being ‘just friends’ before we finally got together!!

how they asked

I was heading towards my 30th birthday last year and life had got really stressful. I was being made redundant and worried about finding a new job, we were in the process of buying a new flat and those things, combined with family issues meant that I wasn’t up to organising a big celebration. Or really in the mood for celebrating at all. So I asked Russ if he could just take care of the day – organise some fun things for us to do, so I that I didn’t have to worry about it being ‘a good day’. Little did I know, by the time I asked him, he was already months into planning something special!

On the morning of my birthday we went for a gorgeous brunch at Duck and Waffle, an amazing restaurant in a sky scraper in London with views over the whole city. After this Russ told me that the next activity was a little walk away which, as it was a beautiful early spring day, I was fine with! It was while we were walking I realised we seemed to be walking back towards where we live, specifically towards our local cinema, Hackney Picturehouse. As I’ve mentioned we both love movies, Russ now actually *is* a videographer, and its always been a huge part of our relationship. So it’s not unusual for us to go see a movie on our birthdays together. In fact, earlier in the week Russ had messaged me saying ‘What’s your favourite movie?’ (knowing full well I don’t have just one!!). At the time I thought that was an odd question to ask – but as we walked closer to the cinema I thought perhaps he had chosen one of my answers for us to watch. But then discounted it as surely that would involve hiring a whole screen, and that is so expensive that that can’t be happening!

Sure enough, Russ lead me through the cinema entrance. At this point I thought I’d pretty much guessed the surprise of going to see my “favourite film” and I was desperate for the bathroom after the walk – so as soon as we were through the doorway I turned to him and said ‘Have I got time to go to the bathroom? Can you hold my bag?’ and ran off before he could even answer properly!

Once I returned to the foyer, he was nowhere to be seen. I thought that was weird, but seeing as he had my bag I had no phone to call and find out where he was so I just sat and waited, thinking maybe he’d gone to the bathroom as well. TEN MINUTES later, he came round the corner from the direction of the screens and my first inkling that something was weird was that he didn’t have my bag or his coat on him any more. I asked him about it and he said it was in the screen. So I said ‘That’s quite risky! What if someone takes it?!’. As he led me into the screen, he replied ‘Well, it turns out, you can actually hire out screens to yourself’ – at which I immediately proceeded to tell him off about how expensive that must of been and that he didn’t need to do that because I would have been perfectly happy to watch a movie with the general public! (*facepalm*)

Anyway, we settle down into our seats, Russ won’t tell me what we’re watching (“Wait and see!”) and the lights go down. As the screen bursts into life, there is a dark gritty and moody shot panning towards a railway bridge. A man has his back to us at the top of the bridge and the camera is slowly moving towards him, ominously. I’m thinking ‘Ooh, this is a trailer I haven’t seen before!’… (*double facepalm*)

The camera pans round to the mans face, which is when I realise – it’s Russ. Russ is on the screen. (WTF?!). Screen Russ says ‘Oh hi! Bet you didn’t expect to see me here. You always complain that I’m not in touch with my “feelings” (and Screen Russ actually makes the bunny ears), but if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it the only way I know how…’

And then the film moves into a series of scenes that all follow the structure of “Laura-Jane, I love you more than <x filmmaker> loves <trait that they are known for>”, with every scene shot in the style of that director. It plays homage all of our favourite directors work – Wes Anderson, Edgar Wright, Paul Greengrass, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorcese – and a few of our non-favourites (*cough* Michael Bay *cough*). It’s funny, it’s sweet and it’s amazing – but at this point I’m still thinking ‘WOW this is such an amazing birthday present! I can’t believe he went to all this trouble for my birthday!’ (such faces, much palms)

The short 5 min film eventually ends, and the lights go up and I am speechless – what was that amazing thing? And then I go to ask Russ that same question and he’s on one knee saying ‘because… Laura-Jane, will you marry me?’

No words.

Image 1 of LJ and Russell

Our Video