Three Years and Counting

It's our anniversary!!! Today Nathan and I are celebrating three years of marriage and earlier this week we celebrated ten years of knowing each other! It feels like so long ago and like no time at all somehow and it's strange to think back to the early stages of our relationship or friendship and compare it to where we are now. One of my traditions around this time of year is to badger Nathan into telling me -YET AGAIN- his version of how we met or his version of our first date or other big events we've had (it seems to change every year). This year, however, I thought I'D tell one of those stories for a change. Today I'm going to share with you the story of our engagement.

(If you're not into cutesy, romantic stuff, feel free to skip.)

Engagement photography. Happy Couple. Man and woman.

The year was two thousand and fourteen. The month, December. And I was finishing up my final exams in Tennessee. Nathan had finished his the week before in Florida and I could tell he was planning something because he had been acting strange. I assumed he was going to "surprise" me by flying up to visit me and then help me drive home for the semester break. (We did long distance for awhile in college and only got to see each other every couple/few months or so and Nathan would help me with the very long drive whenever he could.)

One night I was studying and it hit me.

"What if he's going to propose?? Nooo, he wouldn't do that. He probably hasn't even thought about that. ...Right?"

Well, I couldn't get it out of my head after that! I hadn't totally thought about it before (not seriously at least) because we were just trying to get through college and long distance! So to get my racing thoughts to shush so I could get back to studying, I started writing. I ended up with a letter to Nathan that basically summed up my suspicions about the proposal, my thoughts about our relationship and future, and my answer (for if he did indeed propose). I wasn't sure what to do with this letter since I didn't know when he would ask or if he was even coming, but I ended up folding it and slipping it into a pocket on my phone case.

Engagement photography. Happy Couple. Man and woman

Nathan DID surprise me in that he showed up one day before I thought he would. (Which gave me NO time to paint my nails!) He said he needed me to pick something up for him and gave me the address of the airport (big mystery there). I picked him up and we stopped for lunch where he told me he was taking me back to campus and that he needed to steal my car and wanted me to pretend he wasn't there. He would see me again tomorrow morning after my last exam.

Sure enough, my car was returned the following day along with my boyfriend in a tux! He helped me pack up the last of my items for winter break and gave me the soundtrack to a movie we had recently seen which I excitedly thanked him for and then went back to packing. I turned around and saw Nathan holding the CD out to me again.

Nathan: "I got this for you..."

Me: "Yes. Thank you...."

I took the CD again thinking, "Yeah, I noticed you got this for me, you just HANDED it to me. What does he want me to do? It's 2014, I don't have a boombox in my dorm!"And that's when I noticed a little slip of paper sticking out of the case. I opened it to reveal... THE FIRST CLUE OF MY SCAVENGER HUNT PROPOSAL!!!!!!

I love puzzles, riddles, mysteries, etc. so this was perfect for me! I changed into something that would go better next to a tux and we spent the day going to my favorite places in Chattanooga (basically everywhere we had ever gone on his visits to see me) and collecting clues. Nathan had gotten several local businesses involved and they all had clues ready and waiting to give to the guy in the tux (inside ice cream cones, under movie theater seats, that sort of thing). Some of the best stops included my favorite restaurant, an antique shop where I got to keep an awesome little pair of opera glasses, the Walnut Street Bridge, and the aquarium.

We ended the day with dinner and as the meal progressed and there was still no proposal, I started to wonder if I'd have to dig through my dessert to find the ring. Don't worry, the ring was NOT in the dessert! Towards the end of the evening, our waiter brought out a trunk. Yep, an old, leather trunk. Inside was a bunch of junk. Pieces of paper, cheap carnival toys, movie ticket stubs, a rock, all kinds of little things that were either mine that he had or that were tiny, miscellaneous souvenirs from our relationship. "But inside that box, underneath all that crap," (The Proposal, 2009) was a round, wooden box with spaces for photos all around it. Nathan had filled it -in chronological order I might add- with pictures of us/our relationship.

Wedding photography. Bridal photography. Wedding day. Happy Couple. Rainy wedding day

I opened the round box and inside was a party popper. Our first date was actually on my birthday and Nathan had brought a party popper when he picked me up. (I just found out this was, in fact, the same party popper from my birthday.) I'm pretty sure Nathan started proposing at this point with a big speech, but I have no memory of what he said. I do remember that at the end, he asked if I would mind marrying him.

Backstory: When Nathan first asked me out, he was nervous and ended up asking if I would mind going on a date with him to which I replied "no". He was super defeated until he realized what he'd said and what I'd said and that he'd actually gotten the date!

I -SUPER SMOOTHLY without looking away- reached into my phone case, pulled out my letter, and placed it in his hand.

The confused look on his face is one of my fondest memories from that day. All day he'd been giving me notes (clues) and now I had one for him too! I don't remember what that note said, but I do remember I ended it by saying something along the lines of "no, I wouldn't mind marrying you" because I had always thought that one day, if he DID propose, he might phrase it that way.

The ring was inside the party popper by the way! And Nathan did a pretty impressive job with the ring choice too! Did I mention his original plan of a hot air balloon proposal fell apart and he planned and executed all this in ONE DAY?!?!?! Yeah, he thought most of it up on the plane ride to Tennessee and got ALL those businesses and people ALL around the city to help him pull it off!!! Did I mention how much I love Chattanooga?!?!

And that is the story of how Nathan and Mariah got engaged.

It's one of my favorite stories from our relationship and probably one of my favorite days of my life.

The End

Engagement photo. Happy couple. Man and woman hugging.