I remember very vividly the day Brian and I actually met. We were both seniors in a small college town and had seen each other around but had never had any verbal exchange – our interaction was limited to slight head nods that secretly meant "Hey, I’ve seen you before and I think you’re kind of cute, but I’ll keep that to myself because I can think of no covert reason to talk to you at the moment!! Of course after I had seen him I would rush home and tell my roommates about his and my "encounter," and then by the end of the night I would forget about it and devote my thoughts to something more productive.
But the day we finally spoke to each other was not a day I could easily tuck away and save for some other time. That day, that moment simply consumed me. I was at the grocery store buying some sort of super-cheap-college-food-with-zero-nutritional-value when I saw Brian. He was wearing navy blue soccer shorts and a perfectly fitting white t-shirt. He was walking straight for me. I tried to act naturally – I pretended to be engrossed in nutritional facts or something equally insane. I guess someone had dropped a bag of pretzels on the floor that I hadn’t noticed because Brian picked them up and handed them to me saying, "Hey, I think you dropped these!! Well obviously I wasn’t going to tell him they weren’t mine, so I accepted them and said, "Thanks." That was all it took – we started chatting about some ridiculous event that had occurred on campus earlier that day – something involving a box of laundry detergent and our famous fountain – and then we were sipping on chai lattes at the Daily Grind.
All of sudden it was five years later.
Now, let me tell you a little something about the first five years out of college – everyone you know gets married. I can’t even begin to remember how many weddings we have attended in the past five years. My friends from college, his friends from college, his co-workers and mine – everyone was tying that eternal proverbial knot. And we were that token "Wedding Couple." Those friends of ours who hadn’t yet married would bring different dates to each of the weddings, but Brian and I, we were a staple. We had been dating for longer than most of the brides and grooms had even known each other. And so, of course, everyone found it appropriate to ask, "Well, when are you two getting married?" I would shrug, and I would act like it didn’t matter because I didn’t need a ring to prove our love. Brian never seemed bothered by the whole thing and I never wanted to seem bothered by the weightlessness of my left ring finger, so I never said anything and just assumed the day would come – eventually.
And finally it did.
I am a high school English teacher and find my job both fulfilling and utterly frustrating. I often call Brian on my way home from work to vent about some student or another or some new "plan" from the administration to make the school "a better place for sculpting the minds of tomorrow." On a particularly aggravating day when I also had the pleasure of lunch duty, Brian magically made everything better. I was sitting at the teacher table trying to grade papers but also trying to look as if I were actively surveying the cafeteria (in case an administrator happened in the lunch room), when a group of smartly dressed students from the high school chorus walked in, each carrying a single red long-stemmed rose. The group of fifteen students walked up to my table and began singing a beautiful a-cappella version of "Unchained Melody." As the students finished the song, Brian walked up wearing a three-piece suit and carrying another dozen long-stemmed roses. He got down on one knee, pulled out a shimmering diamond ring and said, "Amanda, will you marry me?" With tears streaming down my cheeks, I barely uttered a "yes" before he wrapped me up in his arms. The students and faculty all began cheering and whistling. And the best part – Brian had arranged for a substitute for me for the rest of the day – he had the car packed for a weekend trip to the mountains to celebrate our engagement. Amazing, isn’t he?
The students now call me Mrs. Mead instead of Ms. Hepp
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