Something New: An Intro To Us
Joh (yes, that’s Joe with an “H”) and I met when we were in our second year of law school at the University of Maryland. He was kind of a bro, and I was one of the only people in law school with a lot of tattoos. Not that we were TOTAL opposites, but I don’t think in the beginning most people would have guessed we would end up where we are today.
We met initially through our mutual friend, Michele (who is now one of my bridesmaids – but you’ll hear more about her later!) For whatever the reason, she really thought we would hit it off. Michele and Joh would always find me around school, with some silly excuse to get coffee or ask a question about criminal procedure.
Joh tried to get me to go out with him for a while before I finally gave in – he always tried to play it cool, but he was painfully obvious in his attempts. He would find excuses to end up in my neighborhood and then ask if I was free for a drink (“Where’s a good place to buy shoes in Hampden?” “Where is the best burger in the city” “Funny story, I accidentally ended up on the Avenue, you should probably just come out”).
When I finally did get that drink with him, we ended up talking for hours. I had never met anyone with whom conversation felt so genuine and easy, but also profoundly interesting. We’ve been dating for three years and I am still surprised every day by his compassion, tenderness and genuine capacity to love. Turns out Michele knew exactly what she was doing.
Joh and I finally hit a point in our relationship where, for me at least, every big event also came with an inevitable eagerness/let-down that he had not proposed. I felt terrible every time for feeling disappointed, knowing deep down that he would do it eventually. But I am a very impatient person. And after, several holidays, a surprise birthday party, and a trip to Mexico, he still managed to propose in way that completely swept me off my feet . . .
I have loved the Harry Potter books since I was 11. When I found out that I was being sent to Orlando for a week of training as part of my job, I immediately started planning for an evening where I could let my inner child run free in Harry Potter World.
I booked the trip back in August, and told Joh that if he could get the time off (in December) he should come down towards the end of the week and join me.
Flash-forward to November, and he had not made any move to put in a request for time off. Admittedly, his lackadaisical handling of the situation annoyed me. But, I am a strong independent woman, so I figured I could just go be a wizard by myself.
Flash-forward again, to Thursday December 14th, the last day of my training. I was facing the reality of spending two more days in Florida alone and considering just changing my flight to come home early when I got a call from Joh, asking which room I was in. And there he was, at the hotel as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
The next day we woke up bright and early and headed to the park, ready to run around like giddy children.
Looking back, all of the signs were there, but I was too excited to notice. I think the genuine excitement of him actually being there coupled with my exhaustion from the past week must have thrown me off. He seemed to be guarding his sweater pocket with his life; he wouldn’t let me help take his things in or out of the lockers; he was overly protective of his left side…
After a full day of adventuring, I was ready to call it quits and head back to our hotel.
At that moment he grabbed me by the hand and said, “Wait, I decided I want to buy a wand after all.”
I skeptically agreed to head back inside, wondering why he waited so long to decide to make this purchase.
When suddenly he stopped.
I had walked a few steps ahead of him, so I turned around - and in that moment, I knew what was about to happen, but until I saw, I wouldn’t let myself believe.
And there he is, down on one knee in front of Olivander’s wand shop.
Holding a little blue box.
“So you don’t want a wand?” I ask, as my eyes start to fill with happy tears.
“No – I want you to be my wife.” And the rest is just the beginning of our story.
Meredith Alcala | Photographs by J&K Photography