Emma & Ryan

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Emma Peterson


Ryan Oates

June 28, 2024

Dayton, OH
271 days271 d17 hours17 h59 minutes59 min37 seconds37 s

How We Met

This is a story that we hardly ever tell independently. It usually involves some level of switching back and forth between our two perspectives. Emma: It all started when my friend Kayla and I were ushering for a musical at Wright State University. During intermission, we were chatting and I mentioned to her that it had been a while since I had been on a first date. She thought about it for a little bit, and then said, "You know, there's this guy in my English class that I think you might get along well with." Ryan: Meanwhile, there I was, innocently walking into English class. It was a typical Tuesday, and I was ready for a discussion on the Great Gatsby, when a classmate tapped me on the shoulder and said "I know someone who wants to meet you." This came as a surprise, but I decided to trust Kayla's judgement. I invited the two of them to a volunteer event I was planning, making blankets for children at Dayton Children's Hospital. Emma arrived right on time. Kayla, however, was conveniently late. Emma: Her car ran out of the gas on the interstate, and she was stranded. But Ryan graciously offered to go pick her up. While waiting for Kayla, we ended up spending about four hours talking, cutting blankets, and listening to Jack Johnson and Iron and Wine. We talked about anything and everything, and at the end, I said, "You have my number if you ever want to hang out again." Ryan: A few days later, we met for lunch at Tim Hortons on campus, and talked again about anything and everything. After 3 hours, we realized it was time for one of us to go to class. We came to see that we always lose track of time when we're together Emma: In the 5+ years since that day, we still find that to be true :)

Our New England

Over the course of our relationship, we have gone through many periods of long-distance. From both Emma and Ryan’s various study abroad stints, to Emma spending 9 months in Taiwan, to being separated for 5 months during the pandemic, to our first year in Massachusetts when Ryan lived in Springfield and Emma lived in Lowell. We loved finding creative solutions to withstand the long-distance, including starting a 2-person book club, keeping a physical and a virtual journal that we would write in and pass back and forth, and having FaceTime dinner dates where we cooked the same dinner and drank the same wine. When the long-distance period of our relationship ended and we moved in together in Lowell, Massachusetts, we started a new chapter in exploring Our New England. Since we moved in together, our weekends and summers have become times in which we climb into Emma’s trusty Honda Fit and jet off to all different corners of Our New England. Some of our absolute favorite trips have been: Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston on the 4th of July Hiking in Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire during peak fall foliage Going Downeast to all of Maine’s most stunning places, such as Acadia National Park, Pine Point Beach, the West Quoddy Head Lighhouse, and Pat’s Pizza in Orono Visiting Vermont’s sugar shacks and eating all the maple syrup confections during maple syrup season Drinking Del’s Lemonade and marveling at the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island Eating Mystic Pizza and watching the drawbridge in Mystic, Connecticut And many more with more adventures to come! With each trip we take around Our New England, we grow a deeper appreciation for how beautiful, historic, and diverse our new home is, and also grow more together as adventure and life partners. While exploring Our New England is one of our favorite pastimes together, we get equal joy out of returning to our cozy apartment where we can sip tea and read together on the couch.

The Proposal

In the hectic middle of the semester, we both knew that we wanted to get engaged, and that the best way to make it happen was to put a date on paper. We conspired over cups of tea, and settled on a general plan. Emma would choose the date and the location; Ryan would handle the rest. The date would be October 1st. The location, a historic building on the University of Massachusetts Lowell campus: Allen House. Emma chose the building because of its beautiful view of the Merrimack River and its proximity to colossal honey locust trees that turn a brilliant yellow in the fall. In planning the details, Ryan sought out a day-of-the-proposal sidekick willing to do whatever it takes to make the day a success. Lighting candles, setting up adirondack chairs, and playing the role of surprise photographer were just a few of the assorted roles this polymath would need to fulfill. Thankfully, in surveying the connections the couple had in the Boston area, Emma’s heroic childhood friend, Tansy, was up for the job. The morning of October 1st arrived in typical New England Fall fashion: slightly wet, misty, and cool, with a gorgeous smattering of orange, red, and yellow trees. After grabbing three deliciously crispy and warm vegetarian tofu banh mi from Saigon Sandwich House, we arrived at Allen House, buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Surprisingly, the UMass Lowell softball team happened to be playing a game right next to Allen House and the air was filled with the crack of the bat and intermittent cheers. Emma gasped in surprise when she saw that the balcony of Allen House overlooking the river had been transformed into the perfect cozy picnic spot equipped with fall-scented candles, bouquets of flowers, decorative pie pumpkins, and a soft red blanket. This was really happening! After reading an autumn poem by Mary Oliver, Ryan got down on one knee on the soft red blanket, took Emma’s hands, said some incredibly sweet things, and asked Emma to marry him. Emma said yes, of course, yes! At the same time, our trusty friend Tansy had popped up out of nowhere and taken a series of lovely photos capturing the moment. With the sound of the softball game continuing in the background, we (and Tansy) happily munched on our banh mi and sipped our steaming apple cider, reflecting and dreaming about our future life together.

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