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Kids, this is a story of boy meets girl. It's also a story of boy-not-giving-up-and-playing-it-cool-when-girl-is-trying-hard-to-guard-her-heart. And honestly I wouldn't have been able to play it cool at any point prior to this point in my life. God has pretty impeccable timing.

How We Met

"We found love in a Hopeless Place"

October 7, 2011. Besides being the 100th birthday of the late and legendary Jo Jones, it was also the night I met Kori. It happened at Rockey's Dueling Piano Bar. Piano man Tim was introducing Kori to Zac, and Zac, having an amazing girlfriend already, did what the best of wingmen do. He immediately brought me over to meet Kori. Numbers were exchanged.

The following Monday Kori and I met for a drink at Tall Paul's. We talked and talked. I was honestly surprised by how many things we shared common views on.

False Start

"Rule #6: Keep it Cool."

Being the romantic type I am, I arranged for her next cupcake to be free at a little coffee shop we both frequented. This turned out to be too much too soon. My hope and penchant for grand gestures had possibly cost me the opportunity altogether. Kori communicated a desire to be just friends and also the importance of her CPA studies (she was preparing to take a big CPA exam).

Here's where almost every version of Past Drew would have screwed it up. Diving into the friendzone headfirst or giving a longwinded, vindictive speech about having a ton of friends already and being tired of that. (Note: Neither of those tactics work, incidentally). But I played it as cool as I was capable of playing it. I definitely thought my shot was over with Kori, but I had maintained my dignity, at least.

How We Met (Take 2)

"Even Rocky had a montage"

Fast forward a month or so, and Kori posted online that she had failed her CPA exam. I'm a pretty nice guy, and I was bummed that she hadn't passed, so I wrote a little note on her facebook wall. Didn't think much of it. I had no idea that wall post was the impetus for what would become us.

Nice Guys Finish Last... and Best.

The next period was crucial. She was in major study mode, as the deadline for her CPA exam was fast approaching and she needed to take it again. Her need for focus and her need for study help and accountability helped create a unique environment for us as I started coming over pretty often to help her study. I was just being nice (it's what nice guys do), and I wasn't really expecting much to happen beyond good conversation and helping a beautiful girl pass her exam.

Little did I know, that time was melting her heart, crockpot-style. In her own words,

"Drew started coming over to help me study for my final CPA exam. We spent a lot of time together talking and getting to know each other as friends. Over time, my feelings started to change and I knew that I wanted to be with him, to be his girlfriend."

Boyfriend & Girlfriend

"Don'tcha wanna be, moooore than friends?"

There was one conversation a couple nights before she took her exam, where she said a couple of things that gave me a clue that I did in fact, have a shot, and possibly a good one. Not content with ambiguity, I knew I had to swing for the fences.

"When I got home from taking my exam, Drew was waiting for me at my house with a card and candy. We spent the rest of the day together. This is when we had our first kiss."

HUZZAH! That was an amazing day. From that very conversation, the tone was set that we weren't just casually dating. The number of hours we had talked up to that point barely even allowed for something casual, not that we even wanted that anyway.

"We went on a "date" that Friday to see Haywire. The next day we spent the whole day together."

Our first "real date" was that Friday, and by that Sunday night (January 22nd), we were officially Bff and Gff.

Getting Serious

"That escalated quickly."

Gobs and gobs of awesomeness ensued. Dates, Gator Games, The Sopranos, traveling, concerts, service projects, Niagara Falls, musicals, and lots of laughs.

And along with those the serious things: Meeting parents, families, friends, digging into our lives, becoming vulnerable with each other, sharing our fears, and psychoses.

And each conflict that arose, and each tough admission that happened, was never met by either of us with, "Is this worth it? Do I really want this?" but instead was always embraced with, "How can we work through this together?" We both were excited at the prospect of learning to love each other better as we spend our lives together. Real growth in the midst of relational bliss. Schwing!

So that brings us to September 30, 2012. I'll let her tell this part and just add my commentary.

The Decent Proposal

"Engage!" -Picard

"Drew picked me up around 700pm on September 30, 2012 for date night. We both had the night off from our churches so he wanted to take me out to dinner. We went to Limerock." Fun fact: Limerock is catering our wedding. Yep.

"We saw Billy Donavan there, current head coach of the Florida Gator Basketball team." Florida Basketball. Fantastic.

"After dinner we walked over to the fountain and sat down on one of the benches. While we were sitting there talking, a family walked in front of us and their dog ran through the fountain. As we were talking, Drew said there was nobody else he would rather spend the rest of his life with." The weather was surprisingly perfect, so my suggestion to walk in the park wasn't as suspicious as I feared it to be.

"He asked what I wanted to do, so I said we could go home and finish watching Star Wars." A couple points. 1. My then-girlfriend is awesome because she suggested Star Wars. 2. I needed a little distraction to give me time to kneel down and pull the ring out. So that's why I suggested we leave.

"I stood up to leave and he got down on one knee and said "marry me". I said 'ok'." I'm a talker (if you haven't noticed) and I didn't want to ramble on when she knew what was up because I was kneeling down with a ring. "Marry me" seemed like the most succinct version of what I wanted to say. Also, her "ok" was not as casual as it may sound. She definitely made lots of awesome and out of context, possibly disturbing, noises, which included crying. The OK came somewhere in the middle of all that. It was perfect. "He stood up and we hugged and he prayed for us. I saw someone taking pictures so I turned to see who it was but I couldn't tell." David Shepherd and Kate Basye, whom I have to thank for helping pull the whole proposal off.

"Then we danced to "Dancing in the Minefields" by Andrew Peterson. Then we walked over to Patticakes where David and Jan Patterson were waiting for us." That's our song. Watch this and cry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gs3fg_WsEg

Also David and Jan were both instrumental in both our relationship and pulling off the proposal. Can't thank them enough.

"We got to Patticakes to see David and Jan but there were more people waiting for us in the other room! Drew's parents and several of our close friends were waiting to congratulate us. Kate Basye (now Shepherd) got us ribbons and balloons and champagne and a delicious cake! Jan had also provided cupcakes and we even got a few gifts!"

What a great moment that was. I wish I could go back and figure out a way to get her mom up there too, but I couldn't do it then in the right time frame without arousing suspicion. Either way, it was a fantastic night.

So here we are, getting married. Ready to own married life in the face. Let's do this!

Update: We did in fact get married, about 500 or so days ago, and it's been nothing short of fantastic!