When I was nineteen years old, I promised myself I would never date someone in the military. Ever. For multiple reasons. I couldn’t do long distance again, not after my last relationship. I was selfish. I had dreams. I had plans. I appreciated that the military served and protected us, but I knew I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be a navy girlfriend or a military wife or whatever the title was.
I like to think that God laughed when I made that promise. Good-naturedly, of course. Challenge accepted, Diana. Because what I didn’t know at nineteen years old, what I couldn’t have guessed, is that ten years later, an army officer would kneel on the rocky shores of Lake Ontario and propose to me.
And I would say yes.
The story of our engagement is multi-layered and woven over five years; it’s a single moment built upon thousands of moments merged together. It’s a story of love and forgiveness, of trial and error, of laughter and silliness, but most of all, our story is about two people who chose each other, time and time again, no matter what.
The very first choice was when his profile popped up on Coffee Meets Bagel, my dating app. In the middle of cooking dinner, as I headed to my bedroom to put on fluffy socks, I remembered to check the dating app for my daily “bagel,” and I stopped dead in the hallway.
A sandy-haired, brown-eyed, dimpled guy grinned from an airplane cockpit, his arm resting casually on the seat beside him as if to say, you should be sitting here. It wasn’t cocky or arrogant, but warm, inviting.
It’s shallow, but he was incredibly good-looking.
Forgetting about dinner, I scrolled through the rest of the photos and read Derek’s profile.
I am shy when you first meet me, but love to socialize when I become comfortable.
I appreciate when my date shows subtle affection and enjoys the company of my friends as well as alone time.
I like that. Totally fine with that.
I hesitated for a moment when I read Derek had served in the army and was now at West Point.
But what did I have to lose? Nothing. Odds were low. None of my other conversations had amounted to anything, so what was the chance that this one would?
Despite the fact that he was a cadet at West Point, the United States Military Academy, and despite the promise my younger self had made, I clicked “connect” without a flicker of fear.
You never know, right?
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