We met in the middle of the ocean...on a cruise ship named the "Enchantment of the Seas" in July 2003. We were both on vacation with our families and for those who have never been on a cruise, you are assigned a dinner table that you eat at each night of the cruise. Jared and I sat at tables right next to each other the entire week. We both admit that we noticed each other day 1 but neither one of us had the courage to talk to one another...until the very last night of the cruise. My mom said to me "Leah, just ask him to go to the show with you later, the worst he can do is say no and then you'll probably never see him again so it won't matter." Well, I didn't get full courage in that I didn't ask him myself to the show...but asked our waiter to ask him for me. (kinda lame, I know) But it worked! He agreed to meet up with me at the show. He and his brother met me and my friend at the theater show they put on every night of the cruise. After the show we walked around the ship talking and sharing about ourselves and through conversation discovered that he lived in Kentucky at the time and I lived in Indiana at the time. He had the best sense of humor and seemed so easy to talk to. We found out that we really had a lot in common. At the end of the night I boldly asked that we exchange numbers. And we said goodnight. I don't think either of us thought we would see each other again. But that following week was his birthday and I thought "what a perfect excuse to call him!" After attempting to dial his number at least 20 times I finally stirred up the courage to call him...and let it ring. He sounded shocked that I had called but was in the middle of celebrating his birthday with family and promised to call me back later that night. I thought to myself "He was just saying that and probably won't ever call me back." Well, to my surprise, he did. We ended up talking for three hours on the phone that night and it became routine for the next 3 months. He drove to see me and we had our first official date at the Indianapolis Zoo. He brought with him a stuffed white tiger (my favourite animal at the time) After the zoo we had dinner, then walked the canal downtown and just talked and laughed together. We had a really great time but he had to drive back to Kentucky so with a hug, he left. No kiss. He would visit again and this time after he left, I remember crying my eyes out to my mom. She asked what was wrong and what had happened and my response was "I don't know" I thought he was the sweetest guy, and funny, and we had a lot in common but it just didn't feel like it was right timing. I was just starting college, gotten out of a really bad loooong relationship and didn't know what I wanted from life and didn't think it was fair to bring someone into my life when it felt like such a mess. So I was honest with him and told him I thought we should just be friends. He was so understanding (of course...because he's amazing)But I knew he cared for me more than just a friend and I didn't want to seem like I was leading him on. So I stopped communication with him for quite some time.
I didn't date anyone for about 2 years. I really just needed that time to sort my life out, figure out what I wanted and needed. We reconnected and picked up where we left off....as FRIENDS. We went to concerts together, talked almost weekly to each other but never resurfaced our romantic relationship. Then, on 11/11/06 I went to Illinois where he was going to college and attended a concert with him, again, as friends. After the show he took me to a few places to take pictures (he knows I love photography)and then to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner. On our way to dinner he made a subtle comment about me being beautiful and I replied that I didn't want to ruin the friendship we have. He then replied "If I'm not the guy that you're supposed to end up with, well then that sucks for me, but ultimately I just want to see you happy". And thought "this man is willing to be JUST my friend for life...and is totally sincere when he says that!" So we go to dinner and I remember stopping in mid sentence looking across the table at him and he was looking at me with this look that I can now only describe as the look of love because I had never had anyone look at me the way he looked at me that night. I can still see his eyes so vividly in my mind and I said to myself right then "I am in love with this man". I took the time during the car ride home to think about my revelation and said out loud to myself over and over "I'm going to marry that man" So as soon as I got home I told him that I would be crazy if I said I didn't want to be with him. He embraced the idea of "us" with open arms and we were inseparable ever since.
We took turns driving to see each other every weekend. For 3 months we dated and one night while at my apartment he was talking about his plans after he graduated and I asked if I could come with him to which he replied "I'd be devastated if you didn't" That's when I knew that we both felt the same for each other...we were in love. On Groundhog's Day, 2007 he proposed. He had rose petal trails throughout my apartment leading to pictures and note cards with memories we had shared together on them. There were 11 total and the last card he held next to his chest with a bouquet of roses in the other hand that said "The most important of them all" He got down on one knee and said "We've shared a lot of wonderful memories together and I wanted to share forever making more with you...will you marry me?" Through tears I said "A thousand times yes!" He told me he had reservations at a restaurant downtown that rotates so you can see the entire city at sunset. When we get to the restaurant, to my surprise, he had invited my mom and dad to celebrate with us. He had asked them in advance for their blessing which really meant a lot to me. It was a perfect end to a perfect proposal.
We were married on 11/11/07...a year exactly from the day I realized he was the one. It was and is to this day the best day of my life! He is my best friend, my soul mate, my everything. He sees me the way I wish I could see myself. I couldn't have dreamed together a more wonderful, loving, intelligent, handsome man. He has made me the luckiest and I'm so proud to be his wife.