With both of us studying Biomedical Engineering at NC State we had a lot of classes together. It all started right before fall break sophomore year when Stacey turned around and tried to talk to the shy boy sitting behind her. While that conversation didn't last long many more were to follow in the countless hours spent on projects and homework. Eventually the shy boy worked up the courage to ask her out. A first date to the science museum proved to be a big hit. Seven and a half years later, graduate school, and a move across the country and here we are.
Engagement photography provided by Amaris Photography.
Proposal photography provided by Ryan Alcantara.
Thursday, May 26th started as any other work day. The only exception being my growing excitement to see some of our best friends who were coming to visit that night and the 4-day weekend ahead. I finished my work up around 2 pm and instead of just sitting around I decided to pack up and leave since Chris was off work that day. After an uneventful bus ride home, I arrive to an empty apartment and no Chris. On the counter is a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a giant envelope with my name on it...and a sticky note saying DO NOT OPEN UNTIL 4.
I am the world's most impatient person, so sitting around for an hour waiting to open the note was killer. Finally 4 rolls around and I rip open the letter as quick as I can. Inside is a letter from Chris saying he has put together a scavenger hunt that would lead me to dinner to celebrate my first year in Seattle and get dressed up for date night. This is the point where most girls would immediately suspect something. However, this would be the 3rd scavenger hunt Chris has done for me in the 7 years we've been dating and so I just thought this was his way of surprising me with something cute.
I frantically text Chris to make sure I have time to shower and get ready and then start. After getting dressed and done up, I read the first clue with a smile on my face. I knew exactly where to start. The clue leads me to Westward, an amazing oyster and small plate restaurant, where Chris and I had our first date in Seattle to celebrate our 5 year anniversary (almost 3 years ago!). I was instructed to get a drink and some oysters and relax. Anxious to keep moving, I had to force my excited self to just sit and enjoy the light snack. After I finish, I awkwardly walk up to the hostess to ask for something that was left for Stacey earlier. With a grin, she pulls out another huge envelope.
I rush to the car to read the next clue, which tells me to head to the building that's the whole reason we are in Washington. I quickly head to Brooks Running and bounce happily into the Trailhead store. Seeing someone I knew, I asked for my next clue. Expecting to just be handed another envelope, I was shocked to also be handed a new pair of running shoes; the same pair I had been eyeing for a while, but couldn't bring myself to buy. Ecstatic, I text Chris with a flurry of emojis saying thank you and squealing.
Back in the car I open the next clue, this one sending me to Cafe Mox, a board game bar in Ballard that Chris and I have come to love. Walking up to the counter, I ask for my next clue. Along with the clue, I'm handed a new board game, Eldrich Horror, that Chris and I have been looking at buying. Two-player games are hard to find and this one is cooperative. I'm sensing a theme of there being a gift at each place and can't wait to see where the next clue takes me.
The clue tells me to head to our very own Maclaren's because we are the Lily and Marshall of our group. I laugh at the How I Met Your Mother reference and head to Kiss Cafe. Kiss, as we call it, is a small beer bar across from our apartment. In the year that we've been in Ballard, we've become regulars there and love the laid-back atmosphere. The clue tells me to grab a drink and hang out for a little bit before heading on. I get a drink and the next clue. Confused, I read the clue several more times before texting Chris that I have NO idea where it's sending me. I venture a couple guesses before he finally tells me maybe I should google the bold words.
It sends me to Fremont Peak Park, somewhere I've never heard of or have any idea where it is. When I arrive, I get out of the car and start walking around the small park the size of a house lot. I start feeling really foolish after looking around and seeing nothing. The park has a beautiful view overlooking Ballard and so I decide to stop looking for a minute and just take in the scenery. After a minute, I hear footsteps behind me and turn to see Chris walking towards me, dressed up and smiling. I close the gap between us and give him a quick hug and kiss. My immediate thought is "How cute he surprised me here instead of at dinner!" (looking back....how stupid lol). I thought that was the whole surprise and turn back around to look over our neighborhood while babbling to Chris about the incredible view. I realize that he hasn't stepped up behind me and so I turn back to see where he is. My jaw drops to find Chris kneeling on the ground, a gorgeous ring held out and him saying "Will you marry me?" I obviously and enthusiastically said yes.
The proposal came together pretty quickly. I realized a few weeks before friends were coming out to visit for Memorial Day that I had finally saved up enough for a ring and if I hurried I could piece something together so we could celebrate with some of our closest friends. I had known for a while that I wanted to send her on a scavenger hunt as the proposal. I've done this in the past a few times for her birthday and she's always loved it. The hardest part of the planning was figuring out what the stops would be. With us both being fairly new to Seattle there were not nearly as many places that held emotional significance for us as back in Raleigh. I was able to come up with several ideas though, and realized that I could have her get something at each place to make it a little more special.
As it got closer to Memorial Day I made up all the clues and started to put my plan in motion. I took off Thursday from work and told Stacey it was so I could get our one bedroom apartment ready to house four additional people. I did do some of the things I told her I was going to be doing that day, like run to the grocery store, but most of my day was spent running around and dropping clues off at each stop. After I had the scavenger hunt set up and ready to go I walked down the street to get a hair cut. As I was sitting waiting at the barbershop I got a text from Stacey.
I had a moment of sheer panic when I opened the text and saw that Stacey was done with work early and was coming home. SHIT! I cancelled my haircut and sprinted the three quarters of a mile home. I grabbed all of my stuff and hurried out of the apartment as quick as I could. I couldn't let her see my nice clothes and the ring box sitting out. I had to take everything to my work and get my friend and coworker Ryan, who was going to be helping out with pictures, to drop me off at a different barbershop by work while he grabbed his camera.
So that Stacey wouldn't get suspicious I told her I had a few more errands to run to get ready for the weekend and might not be home when she arrived. Once she arrived home and saw the first clue propped up against flowers I told her it was to celebrate her first year in Seattle before friends arrived. Her first year had actually been a few weeks earlier, but we weren't able to do anything because I had a kickball game. She could see it was a scavenger hunt, so I also told her it would lead her to a restaurant where we would have dinner to celebrate, then head to the airport to pick up friends.
However, this meant she could not open the first clue until 4 pm so that she would arrive at the correct time. When my haircut was done and I was all cleaned and dressed up Ryan and I went to go grab a slice of pizza and a beer to calm the nerves. The whole time Stacey was texting me so I knew where she was. When our pizza and beer were gone we made our way up the hill to Fremont Peak Park where Stacey would be unknowingly meeting me. We parked the car around the corner and waited. I should have brought some aviators and a box of doughnuts because we felt like cops on a stake out sitting in Ryan's Subaru for what felt like forever. When I got the text from Stacey that she was on her way to the park we got out of the car and went and hid on a staircase up the hill next to the park. I was down lower than Ryan who was the look out. Being able to pace up and down the stairs was much better then being confined to the car.
Stacey arrived a little bit after and Ryan waited until she had entered the park before giving the go sign. We quickly made our way into the park and followed Stacey to the back of the park overlooking Ballard. Stacey saw me walking up and smiled and greeted me. We said hi and talked for a brief moment. I honestly don't remember what about because I was frantically trying to figure out what to say before dropping to one knee. At this point I thought she knew what was going on, but that's when all of a sudden she turned around and began to talk about the view. In that moment I realized she did not know what was about to happen and all I had to do was silently drop to one knee. When she turned back around I just simply asked if she would marry me, and luckily for me she said yes.
After graduating from NC State, Chris went on to get his Master's in Mechanical Engineering at UNC-Charlotte. He was then able to get his dream job doing sports research at Brooks Running where he uses 3D motion capture to analyze the biomechanics of running shoes (think ESPN Sports Science). Unfortunately, this moved him across the country to Seattle. After a year of long distance, Stacey finally moved out to Washington, where we currently live in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Stacey found a fantastic job working for the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) developing vaccines and diagnostics for infectious diseases across the world. We are loving all the Pacific Northwest has to offer, whether its hiking mountain trails with incredible views in the summer, to skiing in the winter, to the local craft brewery scene that is abundant in our neighborhood.