Michelle and Cory

How We Met

Cory and I met during the Summer of 2015 at a local bar in Daytona Beach, Florida. I had just graduated from college and Cory was a flight instructor. Skipping that awkward small talk, I’ll just skip to the good parts.

Ever since that first meeting, Cory and I have been pretty much inseparable. We began talking and texting every day, always looking forward to the next moment we saw each other. Something about it was just so easy and felt right. It wasn’t long before Cory got super eager to finally take me out on a real date.

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Cory told me that he wanted to take me somewhere that he thought would make for a nice picnic. After thinking how cheesy this could possibly be, Cory set out to pick me up on a Saturday afternoon, but first, he had to meet my parents. He was cordial, sweet, and very gentleman-like. Not only did he win me over that day, but my parents (and of course my dog) fell in love with him too. After a short introduction, Cory walked me out to his truck, opened my side door, and we were off. On the way out, Cory stopped by my favorite fast food restaurant, Chick-fil-a. I had been apparently blabbering on about how much I loved the place during those two weeks of texting. He grabbed a to-go bag, and off we went to Ponce Inlet – a quiet 2 or 3 mile stretch of beach which provides a great view of a lighthouse.

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Cory and I sat there for what seemed like forever, eating, talking, and talking some more. It was so romantic just watching the waves roll up while talking to this guy who seemed to be different than all the rest; Cory and I just clicked. I couldn’t leave early if I wanted to…partially because he drove, but mainly because we were loving every second of it.

From there on out, I went to law school in Gainesville while Cory stayed and worked in Daytona. Despite the distance, we were inseparable. Almost every single weekend, Cory made the 2-hour drive all the way to see me just for a couple days.

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After a few years of long distance, I graduated from law school and Cory had moved on to a bigger and better flying career. We decided to get a little more serious and move in together. It wasn’t long before we figured out that we were each other’s favorite roommate, travel partner, and best friend.

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The past three years have been amazing. We have traveled thousands of miles, sailed the seas, and everything in between. We navigated the troubled waters of being rival college football fans, found a mutual love for Pixar movies, and became professional movers.

From the moment we met, I knew that Cory and I were meant to be together forever.

How They Asked

Living with Michelle had been some of the most meaningful years of my life. In fact, almost everything we did had some sort of thought or underlying meaning towards it. I knew that once the time was right to ask her to marry me, it had to reflect on all the years we’d had together.

I had always been the type of guy to save things whenever we’d go out and have fun, be it a receipt from a drive-in movie theater, an airplane ticket, or just random notes we’d leave each other before we left for the morning. Borderline hoarding, it was a way to relive the memories.

Recalling our love for meaningfulness, I began coming up with a proposal plan. What if I were to recreate our first date and ask her on her favorite holiday, Valentine’s Day? What seemed like a good plan, also seemed too simple. I had to throw in a personal touch as well…which proved to be a little more leg work.

I remembered that one of the first gifts I had ever given Michelle was a burlap-wrapped scrapbook that we had worked on together over the years. It even included a few of those saved mementos. Ok, so what if I filled this thing up with pages, threw in some good pictures, and loaded it up with handwritten notes to lead her into me popping the big question? Seemed like a plan.

So, in order to make this book, I had to steal it off one of the shelves and FLY IT WITH ME on several of my trips. Yes, this gigantic book sat in my flight bag, next to tomorrows undies and some aeronautical charts. I’d already packed heavy for winter, so I had to make some uncomfortable sacrifices and leave some warm clothes behind…Oh well. But there I was, every hotel layover for two weeks, unpacking this scrapbook, pulling out my miniscule TSA-approved scissors, and gluing that bad boy into oblivion.

Finally, on the last day of my trip, the day before Valentine’s Day, I made it back to Jacksonville, not to mention had a captain tell an entire plane of my plans so that we could leave early and ensure I was home in time. Thanks, folks on Flight 3353…

Valentine’s Day came, and I knew what I had to do. I waited till lunch, grabbed Michelle from work, and started driving down to St. Augustine to set up the picnic. I hid the scrapbook and ring carefully in my jacket pocket and a picnic blanket, all while pretending to let the gripes and griefs of interstate traffic get to me. She had to be surprised, and I’d do anything to keep it that way.

We again grabbed some food at a local Chick-fil-a, drove down to the side of Fort Castillo de San Marcos, and set up shop. I carefully set the scrapbook underneath the blanket as I unfolded it. So, after eating, we exchanged Valentine’s cards, took in the great view, then I pulled out the scrapbook, saying “how about we relive some memories?”

Surprised, Michelle started reading the book from the beginning, working her way to the pages I had added. After noticing what I’d done, she’d been touched to see I’d put so many new memories in the book, all while dumping my heart out in the notes.

She finished up, and I told her that I know we’ve been really looking forward to getting engaged, and I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out so far, but today would have been a really great day. Still, if I could do it today, (I stood her up), it’d sound a little like this! Then right there, she freaked out and took two giant steps backward as I lifted up the ring. She doesn’t even remember, but she mumbled a yes as she started to cry (close enough), making me the happiest man on the face of the earth, maybe even flying too.

Special Thanks

Becca Perkins
 | Photographer