We both grew up in VA Beach, VA, just miles apart. My grandmother's home was (and still is) only a few blocks away from his childhood home. We both went to the same community pool in the summer, we had the same dentist (my uncle), he bought his CDs from a music store my cousins owned, and even shopped in my father's army navy surplus home but we never met until college!
It was more like a sisterly/brotherly relationship we created. Could have never imagined dating him! We went to the rec center a lot to work out together. We just had a lot in common. I just couldn't see what was right in front of me. Things changed that summer after he ended a long-term relationship that really hurt him. I was there when he needed to talk. Feelings started to develop and it seemed obvious where we were headed. I had never even had a boyfriend before so I was so scared to start dating with one of my dearest friends. We went on a walk at night around the area of his lake house holding hands (which was weird for me). I was actually rambling on about some of my best girlfriends were in possessive relationships that I think at the time tampered with their personalities. He asked me as we walked towards the house if I ever see myself in a relationship. I said of course. He said do you see one with me and I said yes...BUT. Chris still jokes that I said no and stomped on his heart. I told him I was scared and not ready. A week went by after where we were apart and I couldn't get him off my mind. At the end of the week we crossed paths visiting family in VA Beach. He picked me up around midnight and we headed to the oceanfront. As we hung out on the beach I told him I was ready. We watched the sunrise. We were a couple!
The next night we ate at a restaurant called Duck Inn and had our first date. I'd never had a guy buy me dinner! The Duck Inn was a long time local establishment that ended up being demolished and replaced with condos. After dinner we headed to the same spot where we had been the night before on the beach. There, we shared our first kiss. We consider 65th St. to be our spot. We go there sometimes to hang out. We love hanging out with our friends and hitting the town, chillin' at the lake, movies, and just being close. Our main activities before I was hurt were athletic. He's gotten into road biking so I'm super excited to get a handcycle. We also used to play tennis. I'm hoping to get a tennis chair so I can kick his butt again!
Q & A...
What do each of you do for a living?
Chris is a 7th grade science teacher in rural NC. I was a program coordinator at a center for active seniors. I planned a calendar of events, taught aerobics and line dancing. I also coached some vibrant senior lady cheerleaders who compete in the NC senior games!
How long did you date before getting engaged?
Describe your courtship leading up to the proposal (things you liked to do, places you went, etc.).
We loved going to the lake and wakeboarding, tried some snowboarding, camping, and playing tennis. Loved going out with our friends in downtown Raleigh. And of course going to ECU sporting events and cheering on the East Carolina University pirates!
Can either of you recall a time from when you were dating that made you think, "This is the one"?
I can't think of one moment. Neither of us can. But it starts to feel obvious when after years you still get excited to see each other.
How did he propose?
He told me his parents were going to give us a gift of a fancy dinner for our anniversary. I brought a dress on that particular VA Beach trip to show his mom but I had no shoes! We went to buy them but we had a reservation and he started to hurry me along. I'm like why do we have a reservation anyways! We left just in time and we headed to the restaurant. He wouldn't park at the restaurant and I was wondering why he'd rather walk. We then sit down and I started ranting about a friend whose boyfriend was being a jerk. I brought up old fights between us. I was making it as hard as possible for him! He redirected the conversation and kissed me across the booth. He then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes over and over. He stood up and yelled to the restaurant, "This is Rachelle and she just agreed to be my wife!" Everyone cheered! He started to lead me upstairs and I was confused. As I started walking, I saw our entire family! He had organized everyone perfectly so that they could look over the balcony as he proposed. We could then celebrate our engagement! That's why he wouldn't move the reservation when I was shopping a why he wouldn't park there. Super sneaky!
How long was your engagement?
Supposed to be 1 yr but it will now be 2 yrs
What effect has your accident had on your relationship?
It's been very difficult adapting to my new life and it has affected our relationship. I feel we've proved our love for one another and have become stronger. We try to laugh at ourselves and stay positive. We also make sure to do as many "normal" things as possible with each other. Whatever we need to do to have fun, we do it! One way we connected to each other before my injury was through physical activities/ sports. I want to get back to that but I need some equipment and sunny weather. We are so in love and we just feel like our wedding is even more meaningful.