As you begin to tell people you’re engaged, particular questions are generally asked. For example, where is the wedding going to be, where are you going to live, and where was the proposal? When you answer the last question with “in a parking lot,” people tend to react.

In response to shaking heads I want to explain myself, but doing so would produce a novel. However, it is a story worth telling. So, here is a summary of how we met and how I proposed.

Initially, she was dating my best friend (Blake) and I was dating someone else as well. Due to these social aspects, we would see each other regularly, but we rarely engaged in conversation.

Another friend I should mention (Kyle) lived with Blake at the time [2006]. This is worth noting because, in March of 2009, Kyle and I became roommates. My dating relationship ended after moving, and Christian was newly single as well.

She would come by the house to visit Kyle, but sometimes I would be there. The three of us became close friends and often spent nights reminiscing the grief that occurred in 2009. However, Kyle began a new job in early 2010 and was forced into a new routine. Despite this, Christian and I continued to spend our normal time together. We were around each other so often that our friends made certain assumptions.

They were constantly interrogating her romantic feelings. She would deny their accuracy but they refused to believe. Eventually, she agreed they were right, and they dared her to admit it in front of me.

In March 2010, she asked for my assistance with a school project, and we went to a local mall to discuss it. After some length of time, I noticed a difference in the conversation.

An hour or two later, we returned to her car and shut the doors like any other time. Suddenly, an awkward tension filled the space between us. She turned toward me and began to acknowledge every sense of friendship we had and how she wanted to pursue a more personal relationship with me.

I sat there motionless. Then shrugging a few times, I told her I was not ready for dating. She said she understood but wanted to remain friends. Hoping to retain our connection, I committed to the sentiment as well.

The following year added more awkwardness to our friendship, as it was common knowledge that we had both decided to spend time with other people. Yet, it remains a quintessential year for us, not only for the complexities it added but for the maturity we gained as well. For some clarification, it was during this time that I moved back in with my parents, and my friendship with Blake and Kyle diminished. Then Christian and I leaned on each other as her grandmother passed away.

It had been a year since our conversation in the parking lot, and I remained constantly thinking of Christian. I had rejected her with thoughts of our past, but she became my dearest friend.

Then my father passed away in March of 2011, and we leaned on each other as before. To help me get through the difficult time at home, Christian invited me on a beach trip with her and Ashley, though I needed to drive myself. Upon my arrival, they decided to go for a walk.

It was a calm night, illuminated by the stars and moon. Our feet led us into the sand and Ashley then left us. Christian and I made our way to a lifeguard stand and sat on its bench overlooking the Atlantic. We began discussing the intensity of our friendship with memories causing my breath to hold. As I compressed myself to glance at Christian, I noticed her eyes twinkling with small tears. Through all of the confusion, my mind allowed I caught her saying, “That’s why you’ll never want to be with me” as I leaped my mouth against hers.

Slowly, I leaned away to admire the moonlight on her face. I asked if she would be my girlfriend, but she questioned my certainty. I confessed all of the consideration and assured her I would not regret the proposal. Her face quirked a smile and said yes. Then we kissed for another moment before Ashley returned.

Because it took us so long to formally date, we had already discovered each others’ strengths and weaknesses and dealt with where our relationship could take us. Within months we were discussing engagement rings and planning the desired purchase.

With the ring in hand, I drove to our beloved parking lot [September of 2011]. When we arrived, the conversation turned to our plot. As it began to rain, she was telling me how she put herself out there and I shot her down. Getting out of my car I ran to open her door. Kneeling in the cold rain I asked her to marry me. With a surprised face, she said yes. I jumped toward her and as we kissed, Taylor Swift began to sing ‘Back To December’. We sat back to realize someone was calling her.

Excited by our engagement we began to tell friends and family the news. Most people wanted to know how I proposed, but it took too long to explain. Because to understand the relevance of a parking lot, you would have to know our history.

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