Becoming ‘Twice the Bryce’

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Photo by Lindsey Masters

Nearly two weeks ago, I proposed to my girlfriend Jessi. Such a monumental occasion as a proposal usually takes much planning and backroom conversations over the months leading up to that special moment. Arranging mine took place in all of five days.
I originally planned to propose to my now fiancé, Jessi, on Nov. 5 at her school, the University of Montevallo, under the guise of a fall photoshoot. However, those plans were foiled when her former roommate and best friend told me that Jessi had somehow deduced what my plans were, leaving me in quite the lurch.
I panicked, and called up several locations around the area to check their availability, but alas, all had been booked nearly a year ago. With Jessi returning home that weekend for a rare visit, my window of opportunity was closing more and more with each rejection. Knowing of only one person who could bail me out, I called my amazing friend and photographer Lindsey to see if she could help. Talking through our options, we determined that Dowdell’s Knob in Pine Mountain, Ga., would afford us the best view and site for the proposal.
On the Wednesday before her visit, I called Jessi and told her that I had found this great place I wanted to take her on Saturday, to soak in the fall’s arrival. After talking Jessi into it, I met Lindsey on location that evening at the Knob and chose a trail near the overlook as the place where I would propose.
Jessi and I hung out on Friday night, and containing my nervousness and excitement was quite the chore, but I left that night setting her up with the feeling that tomorrow’s trip was no different from our other previous excursions, but just an opportunity to witness the beautiful view of the Pine Mountain Valley and get a photo or two together for Facebook.
That night, sleep was hard to come by. I woke up at 6 a.m.  on Saturday morning and tried on all my pairs of pants, trying to find one with a pocket big enough to camouflage the ring box. Having no luck, my dad and I concocted the sneaky idea of stuffing the ring box into my sock. The corners of the cardboard box dug into my heel, but I reminded myself of the phrase that ‘love conquers all’, including the pain I was going through.
The whole drive up with Jessi, I consciously tried to divert our conversations from anything having to do with relationships, adding what must have been a zillion ‘ums’ and ‘likes.’
When we arrived, a throng of people were there at the overlook, prompting Jessi and me to check out the main trail, which was a part of my plan.As we walked to the trail, I kept looking at her, realizing how special this moment was.
My connections with Jessi run deep: she was once my childhood neighbor and best childhood friend, which was nearly 17 years ago now. Baking cakes with her EZ-Bake oven, and running races on hay bales in the field behind her house are just a handful of the precious memories that I have with her. She was the only girl I knew who was immune to the cooties.
After losing touch for nearly 10 years, we reconnected through Facebook. The cute but nerdy girl I once knew had grown into a beautiful, mature young lady. Three weeks later, on Jan. 5, 2015, we weredating.
I knew early on in the relationship that she was the one, and after purchasing her ring in June this year, played the waiting game, planning to pick the perfect moment to propose.
Before I knew it, we had come up to the exact spot Lindsey and I had picked a few days before. Nervously, I asked Jessi to close her eyes so I could fix my shoe, the only excuse I could come up with. Giving me a questioning look, I told her that I didn’t want her to catch a glimpse of my exposed foot.
Begrudgingly, she put her hands over face, giving me a chance to kneel and pull out the box.After I told her to let her hands down, her face went from confused to shocked, and I have her expression forever ingrained in my memory. What felt like an eternity later (more like a few seconds), she gave me an emphatic yes and warm embrace.
The next hour was spent posing for an engagement photo session done by Lindsey. Finally, we had the chance to sit and gaze out at the view from the overlook, and I told her about all the planning that had taken place to make this happen.
My happiness was only increased by seeing Jessi’s smile and constant admiration of the ring, making the past five days of stress and hassle absolutely worth it.
We are still working out the wedding details, but we have a date set in June 2017 and venue reserved. I’m relieved that my part is now over in this process, so I can kick back and relax.
I’m still shocked almost two years later that I have been blessed with the privilege of dating this amazing lady. She is not only my fiancé, but my best friend, and I can’t wait to tackle whatever life has for me with her by my side.

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