How We Met
Trent and I met at our church youth group in the 7th grade. He used to drive me CRAZY and for a while, I couldn’t stand him! Then things started to shift and I realized I really like him. We went to different high schools but were really close friends through youth group events and mutual friend circles. We flirted ALL the time and admitted a couple of times that “what if dated?” And it always ended up coming down to we didn’t want to hurt our friendship. I had always liked him more than a friend, and even remember telling a friend in 10th grade “I’m going to marry Trent one day.” I never actually believed it would happen!
Flash forward to our senior year of high school, I was going to college in Maine and he was joining the US Marine Corps. “Well, it’ll never happen now,” I thought. We stayed in touch throughout the years, video chatted sometimes, and he would even give me advice on a problem I was having with a boy at college (like is he even real??). In my sophomore year of college, I got an internship to study sea turtle nesting in Hawaii, which is where he was stationed! We had made plans to spend a few days together on Oahu after my internship was over on the Big Island at the end of the summer of 2016. My plane tickets were all set, I was flying from the Big Island to Oahu to spend 4 days with this guy I hadn’t seen in about 3 years, but knew in the back of my head, had loved since the 7th grade. Well, my fairytale plan was interrupted when he was scheduled for a field assignment for the exact 4 days that I was supposed to be there!
In 2018, I was coming out of a pretty big breakup with another guy, and I was riding with my parents out to eat for dinner. We were talking about how things were going with me, and how I was feeling about the breakup. I clearly remember saying to my parents “I’m not giving up on guys forever, I know who I want to be with it just isn’t the right time.” And my dad, who wasn’t particularly fond of the skater-boy-trouble-maker that was high school-Trent, already knew who I was talking about. “I’m going to marry Trent Haertel one day guys.” And, my dad said he already knew that! Now Trent and I had had an argument about a year before and hadn’t really spoken for a while (what the argument was about, I have no idea). How did I know I was going to marry him someday? I don’t know, but I thought about my wedding day, and how close I came to marrying the wrong person, and I felt disappointed. I felt disappointed when I pictured myself at my wedding ceremony and there was any other guy there besides Trent. I had dreamed of marrying him for years! It was a daydream I played over and over in my head since the 7th grade.
A few months later I was living in Georgia. I was thinking of Trent and just sent a quick text to see how he had been, knowing he had been deployed recently to the South Pacific. Crazily enough he responded! And we got to catch up through texting, and the next day he called me out of the blue.
I don’t know what it was about that call, but I just knew with every fiber of my being, that this was it… We continued to talk and FaceTime every day, though with the time difference between Georgia and Hawaii it was pretty tough sometimes. I found out I got a position in Peru working in the Amazon, and I just couldn’t pass it up. But that meant literally no cell service and extremely limited internet connection. How could we possibly make this work?
Well, we did! We knew there was no one else we would ever rather be with than each other. I was on my way back to Cusco at the end of the summer to fly back to NY, when Trent said he was flying to NY tomorrow because his grandmother was very ill. Of course, I was so sorry to hear about his grandmother, but that meant I got to see him in TWO days instead of when I was expecting to November!
How They Asked
The months that followed were crazy. I went out in November to see him for ONE weekend in Hawaii- it was magical. His contract was up with the USMC in January 2019. He decided not to reenlist and come home to NY. He got a job in Northern Virginia, and I was going to move down there with him in April when his position began (I know, I told you it was crazy.) In the meantime, we were enjoying the time together with our families in NY. I had suspected he was going to propose, and knew he was working on designing a ring. Eventually, he gave him and told me about the ring, that it was his great-grandma Rita’s ring, and that he was having the stones taken out of it to make a new ring for me. So he needed pictures and ideas! Of course, I had many already picked out, so I readily gave them to him.
Now I knew this was actually happening! I said, “Babe I don’t care how you do it, I don’t need some huge proposal, but I have been dreaming of this moment my whole life, please just make sure there is someone there taking pictures because I want to remember it forever!” We had planned a weekend trip to Boston for Valentine’s Day and I thought, this is DEFINITELY going to be it since we were going to be meeting our PHOTOGRAPHER friend from high school who lived there. Well, the weekend passed and… no proposal (was still such a fun trip though!) Then a week or two later we had planned to go on a hike, and I thought “okay this is really it!”….. and then I got the flu. Then ANOTHER week later I thought “Ugh I have my expectations too high, the ring probably isn’t even finished yet.” The next weekend, Trent got a nasty stomach bug. We were set to love into our apartment in Northern Virginia in two weeks, with so much stress and craziness going on in our lives, I thought for sure he would wait until after the move.
It was St. Patrick’s Day, and we were just hanging out at his house in front of the fire snuggling before we had to meet some of his family at an Irish pub for the day’s festivities. He said he had to get up to use the bathroom. He went upstairs, which is weird because there is a perfectly good bathroom right off the living room. I didn’t think anything of this weird behavior… then he came back and snuggled back in with me. He started talking in my ear about how much he loved me and how happy of a life we were going to have. Then I could feel him reaching into his pocket, and he pulls out a little black box. I IMMEDIATELY started crying!
It was the perfect, most intimate proposal and way more amazing than I ever could have imagined. After I, of course, said yes, he went on explaining that he had planned for our friend Steven (the photographer in Boston) to come and capture his proposal the week I got the flu. But because of that, he postponed it- to the weekend he got the stomach bug! He decided he couldn’t keep waiting for the “perfect moment” and just had to do it. A few months later, that group of friends was all in the same state for one of their weddings, and Trent and I met up with Steven when we all got into town. He took these beautiful engagement pictures of us that I will cherish forever! They perfectly reflect Trent and I’s a long, long, long love story!
I joke with him now that it took him so long to realize I was the one for him when I knew all along. We flirted for YEARS and he never figured it out? It’s crazy how an 11-year friendship would turn into a fairytale. I’m so beyond proud to marry the man of my dreams.