I proposed to my high school sweetheart—here’s how we make it work
When I tell people that Macey and I met on the first day of high school, I usually get one of two reactions—they think that it’s adorable (and maybe compare us to fictional high school sweethearts like Cory and Topanga) or they brush me off as naive and inexperienced.
We have now been dating for almost 10 years (in January 2019) and have known each other for longer. In the last few years, my friends began asking, “Do you two want to get married? Are you thinking about proposing? Why haven’t you gotten married yet?”
The simple answer is that I was waiting for the right time.
I wanted to be practical and logical, but in many ways, the perfect moment doesn’t actually exist. I didn’t wait until the right time to ask Macey out when we were teenagers—she wasn’t out yet and wasn’t even sure of her sexuality, we were fighting with several of our friends, and we both had a lot of emotional maturing to do. With a combination of luck, empathy, and hard work, our relationship flourished. Last Christmas, when Macey and I were helping her grandmother out of her rehab center and into the car, Macey turned and said it made her realize how lucky she is to have me as part of her family.
By New Year’s Eve, I’d already decided: I was going to ask her to marry me in the next year.
Over the summer, I decided to pull together a plan. I’d already spent months planning a surprise party to celebrate her birthday and finishing her graduate degree, but as soon as it was over, proposal planning took over. I booked us a long weekend stay at The Provincetown Hotel at Gabriel’s in Provincetown, Massachusetts, because Macey has always wanted to stay in a cozy inn. On Friday, August 31, my dad gave us a ride to the pier (he already knew what I was planning) and Macey and I took the morning ferry to Provincetown. We spent the morning eating avocado toast and açaí bowls like true Millennials, and in the afternoon we met up with our photographer, Melissa, for what I told Macey was a spontaneous photo shoot.
We took photos with Melissa all over Provincetown, from the Provincetown Public Library to Tim’s Used Books to stopping traffic on Commercial Street. Our final stop was Race Point Beach, where I gave Macey a present I’d been working on, a book of short stories based on characters I created in high school.
When I originally asked Macey to be my girlfriend sophomore year, she said that she’d tell me on Friday and she ended up writing her answer—yes—to me in a letter. I had a return letter that I gave her on the bus home from school. I borrowed from this concept and wrote an over one-thousand-word-long letter that took me almost ten minutes to read, and then told Macey to open to the first page in her book, which is where (in a mock dedication) I asked her to marry me. Then I pulled out the Hogwarts acceptance letter ring box and opened it.
For weeks leading up to the proposal (and, admittedly, a few days afterward), I worried that I could’ve done better, that I should have waited for the perfect moment: Maybe to become a published author, to ask Macey in an uncorrected proof of my novel. Should I have waited until we had more money in savings, had accomplished more of our dreams?
That’s when I realized: Our relationship has already survived so much.
What makes us strong is that we weather the storms together. We are in this thing called life together; we’re not just around when it’s particularly convenient or easy. Being in a relationship as queer teenagers who weren’t exactly out to everyone wasn’t simple, but it was worth it, and since then we’ve survived a lot more. I was there the day Macey got her acceptance letter for her graduate program, and we’d spend hours at the bookstore cafe talking about her frustrations with her thesis until the day when we finally split a small bottle of peach sake to celebrate that she was done. She was there for me when my dad was dealing with health problems, always ready to watch reruns of Gilmore Girls with me or cheer me up with a warm blanket fort.
Getting married isn’t necessarily a linear step in our lives, and that’s okay.
For many LGBTQ+ couples in the United States, the idea of getting legally married wasn’t always an option (and for many LGBTQ+ people with disabilities, it still isn’t). We tend to think of these as steps in a process, that we’ll find a relationship, become committed, live together, get engaged, get married, buy a house, and, if we want to, raise kids. But marriage isn’t a step in a process or a definitive end goal. It’s an ongoing, daily choice that Macey and I will make the same way we already do for one another. Sometimes we spend our nights holding space for each other during sad moments, and sometimes we spend them reading fantasy novels in bed together with our cats Blue and Gansey curled up at our feet. We’re creating our own story together, one page at a time.
RELATED: 7 REASONS I WANT TO MARRY A READER
Photographer: Melissa van Ruiten Photography
Hair: West End Salon & Spa
Attire: Sew Maggie Jean, Emma Jayne Designs, Torrid, Kate Spade
Jewelry: Brilliant Earth, James Allen Rings, The Giving Keys, Tatiana Katzoff Jewelry
Ring Box: Craftella devil
Flowers: Wildflower of Provincetown