I apologize in advance for the length of this post. If you’re here for just photos, scroll to the bottom
A little over three years ago one of my good friends, Charlene Champion, took it upon herself to become my matchmaker. We had just met a few months prior in a college class. At the time I was dating someone else, but when that ended, Char didn’t skip a beat and started suggesting I go on a date with one of her friends. I however, wasn’t so eager to get back in the saddle. She would suggest meeting her friend, and I’d blow it off with, “yea, maybe”. December 2009 rolled around and Char brought it up again, saying she had a friend who she told about me, and he wanted to meet me. I finally cracked and agreed to meet him. If it didn’t work out, at least she’d stop bringing it up.
I was strangely nervous for the “date”. We were meeting at Char’s house to play some games and hang out in a low-pressure situation. She assured me it’d be fun and casual, but as the clock ticked on, I started 2nd guessing myself. Maybe I could tell them I wasn’t feeling well or that something came up. I summoned my courage and decided to go anyway. Char introduced me to Andrew. We were both pretty shy and awkward, but he was cute and quirky and we ended up having a good night.
The next day I dove back to Iowa for my Christmas break. While home, we talked a little on facebook, but I wasn’t sure if he wanted to hang out again. I headed back to Missouri in January and one night while sitting in my dorm, I had 30 seconds of insane courage and decided to ask him if he wanted to see a movie. I was talking to my friends at the time and was trying to convince them, and myself that it wasn’t a date—it was just two people seeing a movie and hanging out. After asking him to a movie, I immediately had a massive “what the heck am I doing, this is so unlike me, he probably doesn’t even like me,” panic. He picked me up and we decided to see the movie, Legion, which is perhaps one of the worst movies of all time. As this terrible cinematic excuse for a movie progressed, I kept getting the urge to hold his hand. But, he didn’t make a move, so I let it go. I didn’t want to be that creepy girl who initiates everything, thus making the situation awkward. We left the theatre afterwards, joking about how awful the movie was and started talking about other scary movies. We decided to go to his place and watch Paranormal Activity.
Andy lived with a couple other military guys in what can only be described as a 1950’s Jeffery Dahmer house. These kinds of houses are abundant in Missouri and in college towns. They’re old homes that have definitely seen their better days. They have many creaks and cracks and unfinished, serial killer basements. We popped in the movie and sat on the couch. I figured he’d hold my hand, yet nothing—he must not be into me, I thought. We were at the scariest part of the movie when suddenly all the power to the house goes out, and he grabs my hand. I immediately start giving him crap, thinking he pulled some lame dude trick to get me to hold his hand. He swore up and down that he didn’t do anything. (And to this day he still denies it). We ventured to the basement to see he’d blown a fuse. We flipped some switches and went back upstairs to finish our movie; Andy holding my hand the whole time. I don’t know what happened that day, but we joke that it literally took an act of God to bring us together.
After a few more dates, we made it “official”. We’ve been through a lot of different things in the last three years—way more than I can write in one blog post. We got a puppy, went on a few trips, survived a 5-car pile-up, had our share of ups and downs, and said not “goodbye,” but “I’ll see ya’ later” as I moved across the country.
I’ve been living in Columbus, Ohio while he’s stuck in Missouri now for 9 months. I moved out here to take a paid internship, which turned into a full-time job. It’s been so incredibly hard being apart, but Andy knows how to make me smile everyday, even if he is doing it from another time zone. We’ve been flying out to see each other every 3-4 months, which brings us to the engagement story.
I flew in to Kansas City last weekend to see Andy. He picked me up from the airport and we grabbed lunch. We headed back to Warrensburg and stopped at Walmart to run some errands. (I always love going to Walmart in Missouri as there is no better place to people watch. You always feel better about yourself when leaving, because you still have all your teeth and aren’t buying corn dogs and gallon-sized jars of Mayo in too-tight pajamas). We got back to his house and he gave me my belated birthday present—a book by my all-time favorite photographer. I started opening it and asked him to come look at it with me. He said ,“no” and I got ready to tell him he was being a butthead, when he grabbed my hands and sat next to me on the bed. My heart skipped a beat, as I instantly knew what was about to happen.
Over the last three years I have drawn him a lot of pictures. Most are comics and inside jokes, but he’s always hung them on his walls. The first photo I drew him was of an internet meme involving a cat. He had a big hole in the wall at his old house, so I drew him a picture to cover it up on one of our first dates. He started talking about the photo, saying how when he got it, he knew I was special as I was the only one he’d ever met that thought it was as funny as he did. He started going through the pictures on his wall, telling him what they all meant to him. He started getting choked up, which made me start crying. He told me he’s never met someone that made him feel so special and loved, and that I always make him a better person. Ahh! I’m getting teary-eyed just typing this!
Anyway, he grabbed the ring and put it on my finger, asking the question, “will you marry me?” Of course I said “yes,” as there’s no one else I’d rather have by my side on all the rest of life’s adventures.
Now here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. Photos!
Like any good photographer, I couldn’t just take a picture of the ring on my finger and be satisfied…
We also got some photos taken by my friend from college, Anneka DeJong. She did a great job. These are two of my favorites:
All Images are © Holly Hildreth 2013 unless otherwise noted | http://www.hhildrethphoto.com