From Tony: As cliche as it sounds, it was from the very first moment I met Eric, that I knew something was different.

We met on a Thursday evening, September 17th in San Francisco, where I had resided for 6 years, when Eric was visiting from Houston on a spur of the moment weekend getaway.  Eric was staying with a mutual friend while in town who happened to bring him along to the gym for our regularly scheduled workout.  Now I tend to be incredibly talkative regardless of the environment and/or situation however when Eric and I were introduced, he smiled, said hello and for some reason, I could barely speak.  I stumbled over each and every word I attempted to say and only managed to get out the word, ‘Hello’ and about 20 minutes later asked ‘What would you like to see when you’re in town?’  I even think I asked him that same question 3 or maybe 4 times because for some reason, it’s all I could remember to say.  He looked at me a little funny when I continued to ask the question however would just smile and respond without hesitation each time expanding more upon his itinerary for the weekend.  This went on for about an 1 1/2 hours or so.

When I left the gym, his smile was the only thing I could think about.  I literally sat in my car for quite some time just thinking about how foolish I must have sounded and trying to understand why English all of the sudden seemed like a foreign language to me.  I was kicking myself for not talking more and asking him more questions.

That Sunday, we would get an opportunity to meet again when a group of mutual friends met up for an afternoon get together.  Knowing Eric was leaving for Houston the following day, I knew I only had one chance to try and get to know him and also try and figure out what it was about him that caused me to be unable to get a full sentence out without stumbling over my words.  It took an hour or so for me to get up enough courage to actually talk to him, but once I finally did, it was instant chemistry.  His personality was magnetic and he has a smile that literally lights up the entire room.  I was never one to get “butterflies” in my stomach, especially when directly related to another person, however with each glance, smile and/or laugh, these “butterflies” were not only present,  they grew more and more intense.  I have always been a believer in the “Trust Your Gut” theory and that had never been truer at that very moment.  My gut was telling me that something was so very different, something so very special about Eric and I just wanted to know more about him.

While Eric did leave for Houston the following day, we remained in contact each and every day, multiple times per day.  We spent hours on the phone just getting to know each other and I just could not get enough.  We learned so much about each other in such a short period of time and it seemed effortless.  Conversations flowed so easily that it was if we knew each other for years.

While we may have had 1650 physical miles between us, Eric in Houston and me in SF, we became fast friends and ultimately a very loving and supportive couple/team.  We traveled back and forth every other weekend, continuing to get closer and closer with each passing day. Sure the distance was tough at times but there was never any doubt that it was worth it.  Neither of us had ever been happier.

Fast forward to the weekend of April 22, 2016, the weekend where I would receive the surprise of a lifetime.

Eric and I were scheduled to travel to Disney World on April 21st along with his dance team, where they would be competing in the 2016 Dance Worlds competition.  The weekend was sure to be an incredibly fun and amazing time between the excitement of the dance competition itself and the fact that we were in Disney.  (We are both big kids at heart and Disney just brings it out in the both of us.)

Having kicked off our first day at Animal Kingdom, we were now scheduled to attend a Coaches Gala with the team of Dance teachers at Epcot on the evening of Friday, the 22nd.   We dressed up and attended this formal event, once again having a great time, full of laughs.  As the time approached 8:45pm, Eric was quick to point out that the Epcot Illuminations Fireworks show would be starting in 15 minutes so we needed to get outside before it started to ensure we would get a good viewing spot.  (Now, next to Eric, fireworks are one of my absolute favorite things in life.  I have loved them since I was a small child and Eric knew this.  I thought it was so incredibly sweet that he not only remembered, but was ensuring we were all outside in time to watch the show.)

With the Gala coming to an end, I started to remove my tie and head out the door for the fireworks show.  Eric was insistent I keep my tie on for ‘photos’ at the fireworks.  I literally thought nothing of it since Eric loves to takes photos and capture memories of everything we do.

As the fireworks started, I was literally staring up into the sky, totally unaware of either my surroundings or the people around me.  I felt Eric touch my arm and start talking but I was quick to shake my arm a bit and ask him to wait until the fireworks were over for us to chat.  (I was so intently focused on the show that I didn’t even turn rather I just asked if it could wait until the show was over.)  I then felt him grab my hand and start talking again, only this time I looked to the left, where I found Eric down on one knee.  Just like the very first time we had met, I was once again speechless and unable to form a sentence rather only a few sounds and tears that streamed down my face.  I finally managed to utter, “What are you doing?” and, “Are you sure?” but I am not even sure the words were comprehendable.  With the beautiful fireworks as our backdrop, the incredible music from the show streaming through the park speakers and all the teachers from his Dance Team (who were in on the secret from the start,) I made the best decision of my life and said, “Yes” the man of my dreams.

This night was truly magical and one that I will never forget.  I am so incredibly grateful to have met such a kind, warm and loving man who has truly become my very best friend.  To borrow a quote that I feel speaks to the very essence of my feelings toward Eric, “I truly feel that he is the reward for everything I have done right in my life!”

colorful engagement shoot

Vendors: 

Photographer: Grant Foto
Proposal venue: Disney World, Epcot – IllumiNations
Jeweler: Cartier

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