Rachel and Duncan
How We Met
Duncan and I met on accident. I’ll explain… we did not intend on meeting each other and we were both hesitant once we started talking. I was living in West Hartford, CT and commuting into NYC every so often for work. Duncan was finishing his degree at Yale University and living in New Haven, CT. One early morning, I was on the train in New Haven to get to Grand Central, and I did what many bored, single, 20-somethings do, started swiping away on a dating app to kill time. Little did I know, that a very handsome and very sleepy Yale football player woke and couldn’t fall back asleep – so he started swiping away too.
But so what? That’s how those apps work right? Except for I set my “mile radius” to very low (i.e. 5-10 miles) because I only wanted to talk to people that would actually be close to me. Duncan in New Haven (42 miles from West Hartford) was well outside that radius. Duncan later tells me he saw my reported distance grow further and further and he grew confused and worried ha.
So Duncan and I started talking. It was simple and effective. Light facts about each other mixed in with a few compliments. We wanted to actually meet each other though! This seemed unlikely because he lived 45 minutes away and without a car. He researched Uber prices, possible trains, and after back and forth, it seemed like I needed to go to him or it wouldn’t happen.
Oh my gosh. I’m about to drive what feels like an hour to go meet a guy. I tell my sister and have her track my location for safety. I get to New Haven and Duncan confided in me that he thought he was being catfished. We both thought the other person was too good to be true. Lord knows we put each other through a few ringers to test each other but somehow we always ended up on the other side and stronger than before. I drove to him one more time later that year. I couldn’t see a relationship sustaining like that though so I put up the white flag. Duncan was attentive to that and convinced one of his friends to loan him his car so he could come to me for a change. That was the effort I wanted to see. Then Duncan got a car himself! He says it wasn’t for me… but the timing would suggest otherwise. Once we let go of the fear that it was too good to be happening, we finally got into our groove of who we are as a pair. I thank God Duncan and I were bored on our phones that morning.
How They Asked
Every year my family gathers in Wisconsin for the 4th of July. This year was a little different because my older sister, Steph, was about 9 months pregnant and living in Minnesota. She could not travel anymore so the Rappe’s rallied and came to her. Duncan and I were plotting our move to Chicago a few months prior to this trip. We both accepted jobs in the Windy City but his required he attended a month-long training which overlapped with our 4th of July trip. It wasn’t until the last minute, we were able to confirm Duncan’s attendance.
Now, I am currently a business analyst… I analyze things for a living. It would be silly of me to say that I wasn’t trying to look for clues or hints of any potential engagement plotting. I wasn’t going out of my way but I was curious where Duncan’s and my conversations of the future put us in the timeline. So of course, I brought a few cute outfits to Minnesota just in case.
Duncan landed around lunch time and we were able to relax a little bit before heading to my sister’s house for a cookout. I wasn’t even in my potential engagement outfit! Duncan was against wearing shorts over there and I didn’t think too much into it because he looked handsome but it was also like 90 degrees out. My whole immediate family plus spouses and kids were able to be under one roof and enjoying each other’s company – it was amazing. I have four nieces and one nephew on his way so once dinner and playtime passed, it was time to wrap up the party. We got back to our rental home a few blocks away from Steph’s place and Duncan asked if I wanted to go for a stroll while it’s still nice out. I thought it was a great idea and asked if I needed anything or to change out of my jumpsuit or wedged sandals. He said no, so off we went.
So we walked. And we walked. AND we walked. Duncan was acting a little different. He was on his phone a lot which isn’t like him. He was criticizing my slower pace of walking (because I was not in walking shoes) and guiding me towards landmarks when I knew and expressed we were going the wrong way. I was getting tired. I was stretching my legs on the sidewalk and kept asking to just look up directions or something! 2.5 miles later… we arrive at a rose garden. I reluctantly agreed to look at it while all I wanted was to stop walking. As soon as we entered I said: “oh, I actually think the Connecticut rose garden is better”. I immediately thought “crap crap crap. What if this is his plan to propose here and I just ruined it!”. I forgot to mention that during the walk I saw a large mass in Duncan’s back pocket. I wasn’t positive what it was, but I told myself just in case it was a ring, that I can’t be too snippy about this long walk that now has me sweating. Luckily Duncan agreed that it wasn’t as good as Connecticut’s garden and I was relieved I didn’t misspeak.
We keep walking. Duncan tells me we are so close to the house and I just know that’s not the case but whatever. This time, I see a garden that I want to look at and I asked Duncan if we can. It was a Zen / Peace Garden and it looked Japanese inspired and reminded me of my grandma’s backyard. We were walking through the greenery and pointing out dogs when all the sudden I look down from where we are standing and I notice lit candles around this water feature. I think to myself that the park does a really nice job haha. I did a quick scan of my surroundings and realize no one is around us anymore and don’t see anyone in the park now. Wait… is that a guy with a hoodie on in the tree? Is that a camera? Wait…
I look at Duncan and he takes my hands. He drops to one knee.
You can fill in how the rest of the story went and that I said yes since I’m writing this piece. Also, the man in the tree was my brother-in-law and we were able to get a ride home with him! We were NOT close to home ha. We got back to the house and were welcomed with balloons, champagne, and my whole family. I am so grateful for the thoughtfulness of Duncan and how he incorporated the most important people in my life for this moment. But I do think I will wear tennis shoes for our next walk… just in case.