How We Met: Older brothers are a blessing in disguise. At least that was the case for me and Mikey. Our brothers, Dickie and Chris, were part of the first class to attend a local high school in 2005 and they became the best of friends almost instantly. Subsequently, Mikey and I always knew of each other but we didn’t “officially” meet until a year later in my parent’s basement. Dickie and Chris left Mikey alone in my brother’s room while they went out to run an errand. As I walked by, I saw him sitting on the bed and degradingly asked “What are you doing here?” He replied with “They left me.” And that’s how the story of us began.
Fast forward a year, Mikey was a sophomore and I was a freshman when we had our first “real” conversation, over Facebook messaging, and eventually texting, of course. But we could never let my protective older brother know we were talking to each other so, naturally, we did what any 14 and 15 year olds would do, created aliases for one another. We almost never missed a day of talking to each other and even though there was obviously a connection, we never dated.
My sophomore year, I decided to transfer high schools. The conversations slowly became scarce, but even through the rest of our high school years, graduations, college and other relationships, we managed to keep in touch. There were the random “How’s life?” texts, college bar run-ins and attempted first dates that always fell through. I always knew there was something there, but I just never felt like the timing was right. Finally, after seven years of avoiding the obvious, I decided we should go for it.
My last semester of college, I texted Mikey to see if he would want to give it a shot. He agreed to meet me at the local dog park, which was where I went with my dog, Gus, every Sunday I could make it home. Mikey showed up 30 minutes late, in the clothes he wore the night before to a college football game and with a god-awful mustache (he claims he was getting a head-start on No Shave November, in October). But all those things aside, we hit it off just like I always thought we would and things only got better from there.
While I was going to school a couple hours away, he was working as a firefighter back home. I made the two hour drive whenever I could to see him. A month after our first date, I invited Mikey to my last sorority formal. We tackled the drive to Pittsburg together in his truck without a working radio. There was not a single silent moment during that two hour drive. We discussed future aspirations, marriage and family goals, career ambitions and just about every other important life topic. It was more than obvious this was the man I was always meant to be with. Once we got there, we had the time of our lives dancing the night away, hitting up the bars and enjoying each other’s company. The next day, Mikey asked me to be his girlfriend and after a month of long-distance dating, weekly visits and nightly phone calls, we were happier than ever.
how they asked: I always thought I would ruin my own engagement because, honestly, I hate surprises and I am also pretty good at figuring out when those close to me are up to something. Mikey and I had talked openly about getting married since the moment we started dating. It was something we both wanted and was just a matter of time before it happened.
He did a pretty good job at convincing me that I had it all figured out. He kept dropping hints about what he wanted to do for our one year anniversary and how we have “x” amount of time before were engaged. When I called him out on it, he acted upset, like I had actually figured it out! (This was the week he was planning on proposing).
A week earlier, Mikey told me that we were going to go out with his family to celebrate his parents’ anniversary. I thought nothing of it. When that Saturday came around, it was just like any other ordinary day. We met my sister for breakfast, hung out by the pool for a while then went our separate ways to get ready for the evening.
Mikey and I are both Catholic and we love to go to mass together when we can. Since Mikey is a firefighter, we sometimes have to go to mass on Saturday evenings rather than Sunday morning and this happened to be one of those Saturdays. We met at his house and headed to 5 o’clock mass at the parish I grew up in. Afterwards, he told me we had some time to spare before dinner since reservations weren’t until 7:30 and that his brother, Chris, and sister-in-law, Christine, were at the dog park, which was only a couple minutes away. He said Christine wanted to check out how busy the park was this time of day before bringing her small dog there, and I found that to be very reasonable! He suggested we meet them there and I guess I thought nothing of it because we went there frequently.
Once we got there, I told him about how it reminded me of our first date; he just kind of smiled and nodded. Looking back, he was quieter than usual, but I guess I didn’t notice because I wasn’t expecting anything out of just another trip to the park. After a couple minutes, we saw Chris and Christine standing by a bench under a tree. When we went up to greet them Mikey asked if I wanted to sit down, and that’s when I saw an old repurposed window (that I had painted) sitting on the bench with the words “Will You Marry Me?” written on it. The next thing I know, Mikey is down on one knee and I am in disbelief! All I remember is him asking “Will you?” and then seeing a small white box holding my dream engagement ring.
I was so ecstatic and taken back! I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. I gave him the biggest hug while shaking with joy. Once the shock wore off, I gave him my hand and he slipped the ring on my finger as we sealed it with a kiss.
It was everything I had dreamed of and more.
Mikey surprised me one last time when he informed me that both of our families should be arriving in a few minutes and that everyone had known about it all week! After taking some pictures and carving our initials in the bench, we headed back to the entrance of the park to share the excitement with our loved ones.
I never imagined my life would be changed forever in a dog park by a boy I met eight years earlier. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. August 1st, 2015 was absolutely perfect.