Rachel and Brian
How We Met
Brian and I met in West Texas in 2011. After two years of sending out applications and resumes, I left my sunny home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and headed out west to flat, dusty, Lubbock, Texas to finally start my career as a television news reporter. My first weekend to town, my new co-workers invited me to join them out for drinks. My mom, who there to help me move into my new apartment and new life, convinced me to go out and make new friends. Little did I know I would meet the man I would one day call my husband.
I got to the bar before everyone else and I remember this tall guy climbing his way out of the back seat of a truck. He soon introduced himself to me and I learned he worked at another TV station, as a sports reporter. That night, I got to meet my new co-workers who quickly became my friends. Because Lubbock is a city where aspiring journalists start their careers, all of the reporters hang out together. So while we might have competed for news stories, we were still friendly with each other. Brian and I had the same days off and would often spend those days watching television shows and sports, going to the movies, walking around Lubbock’s only mall, and eating a lot of chips and queso. We were close and many of our friends assumed there was more going on. There wasn’t. We just really enjoyed each other’s company.
Seven months later, and as friends watched each other date other people, our friendship turned into flirting. I even made the first move, and we began to date, but secretly. We decided we didn’t want our other friends becoming involved in the “baby steps” of taking our friendship to a relationship. But when your friends are reporters, the secret didn’t last long. Fast forward months later, that included a puppy, the first “I love you” (me first, again), 10 months later, it was time for us to take the next steps in our careers. Brian left first, moving to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to cover the LSU Tigers and the New Orleans Saints. I’ll never forget how crushed I felt as I watched my best friend drive away from Lubbock. He had just told me he loved me a few weeks earlier. Since I was unable to get a job in Baton Rouge, I moved closer to home and was a news reporter in Fort Myers, Florida. Two years of long distance was tough and downright awful at times, but it strengthened our bond and our commitment to each other. We relied heavily on his mom’s frequent flier miles and a lot of time spent on Skype. Still, we saw the time apart as a means to an end and we had hope we’d be together again, with out next job.
After those two years, we never expected to go back to Lubbock. But off we went together, for professional promotions and to be together. We worked at the same station: Brian as the Sports Director and I was the Morning Anchor. We were living in the same house, but our schedules were the obviously the complete opposite. Still, it was better than being 800 miles apart and we knew our lives were better together than they ever were apart.
We were in West Texas for nearly two years, when job opportunities once again came calling. We had started to talk about marriage and children, and what our futures together would look like. I was preparing to leave local news and work for Texas Tech University, when Brian was offered a Sports Director job in Baton Rouge. How about that timing? But Brian was able to get his new station to offer me a job as well. Still, I was torn. I was excited to take a step outside of local news, but I was a wreck over the possibility of being long distance again. I found myself crying for a week straight (I mean, he was going to take the dog again with him too). We analyzed and over-analyzed what to do, what was best, and what to do next. It was my Dad’s words of wisdom that finally stopped my tears, “Follow your heart.” It was so simple, and left me feeling at peace. And so I did, right after a quick detour to a jewelry store for a lesson on the Four C’s and a chance to try on rings, I followed my heart and together we moved to Baton Rouge.
how they asked
We arrived to Baton Rouge in June 2016. The first six months were the busiest months of my professional career, as I covered the biggest stories of my career: the police-involved shooting that killed Alton Sterling, a shooting that killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers, followed by a hundred-year flood that devastated much of southern Louisiana. Plus, visits from then-President Barack Obama, then-candidate Donald Trump, and a newly elected President Trump. The news just didn’t stop. All while Brian covered LSU Football, including the firing of Les Miles and the death of a beloved live mascot, Mike VI, known as Mike the Tiger. Finally, Thanksgiving made an appearance. Brian went to Texas to cover a football game and I decided to go home, for some much need family TLC.
When I came back to Baton Rouge, I had some treasured diamonds in my wallet that once belonged to my grandmother. When I got home, I told Brian where they were hidden. A month later, football season was finally over, and the diamonds hadn’t been touched. But Brian was due for a vacation. We decided to go to my hometown in Florida. I didn’t know then, but I was planning my own proposal, even when I discovered the diamonds were gone two days before our trip. “Are you being sneaky? Where are my grandma’s diamonds?” Sure, you probably wouldn’t have believed his fibs, but I did. He said he took the diamonds to be cleaned and appraised and that we would pick out a ring in the New Year. I believed it all. How could he have had time to buy a ring during football season, his busiest time of the year? Well little did I know he had a ring.
And it was hidden under our bed. We flew out to Florida at 5 AM on Wednesday, December 14th. I had planned for us to spend the day at my favorite place, The Breakers Resort, on Palm Beach. There was nothing different about the day. When we finally pulled up to the hotel, I thought it was strange that he was looking for a change of clothing in his suitcase. “Hurry up,” I told him, excited to get to lunch and the pool. I later learned, he wasn’t looking for a different shirt, he was looking for the ring box. At lunch, he was quiet, often looking at his phone, telling me work and the boss were calling. Not something that would raise any red flags, the news doesn’t stop after all. After lunch, we moved to a bar, to hang out, but his work-related stress was getting more intense. At one point, he even left me “to call the boss.” When he got back, I did something out of the ordinary but festive for being on vacation, and asked if he wanted to take a shot of tequila.
We clinked glasses, swallowed the tequila, and instead of getting changed to go to the pool, decided to walk around the beautiful property. We ended up inside the Mediterranean Courtyard, my decision because I knew he would love the fountains there. That’s when he kept repeating to himself, “This looks good.” And I jokingly asked if he wanted to get married here one day, right in this courtyard. That’s when he kissed me, told me he loved me, and got down on one knee. I immediately burst into tears, even covered my face with my hands, I was completely shocked. I told myself, “Uncover your eyes, remember every moment, every detail. This is the best day of your life.” On one knee, he told me how he never could have guessed our different journeys would bring us together, he talked about our five years together and he told me he couldn’t imagine spending the rest of his life with anyone else.
Then he asked me to marry him. Without hesitating, and still crying (I believe it resembled the Oprah “ugly cry”) I said yes! And we kissed while he was still on one knee. Standing, he hugged me tight, more kissing, and yes, still crying. He put the ring on my finger and showed me my Grandmother’s diamonds. The proposal wasn’t my only surprise that day. Hiding behind a glass door was a photographer he hired, with the help of my parents. They were sworn to secrecy after Brian called them weeks earlier, to once again ask permission to marry me and to tell them he had a ring.
(He previously asked for permission when they visited us in Lubbock a few months earlier.) So of course, who had he called earlier that afternoon? Not the boss, but my dad, who was been hiding in the hotel. We spent that vacation celebrating with family and friends, even surprising my grandparents with the news of our engagement in person. I’ll never forget the sounds of my younger sister laughing and crying, as I told her over the phone. There were a lot of happy tears shed. I’m shocked he was able to surprise me. It’s hard to hide things from someone who’s job is to get answers and find out information. And I still get choked up that I get to marry my best friend. December 14, 2016, I said “Yes.” March 4, 2018, we’ll say “I do.”