Our Hallmark Story: We Eloped
Everyone knew before we admitted it to ourselves, which is the baseline for any solid Hallmark movie. Most assume we were high school sweethearts, because “of course you were.” But, no, we weren’t. We were, however, partners-in-crime, “yes” friends. The few times my then-strict parents let me out of their crosshairs, I was either packing down the gravel on a back road, or tip-toeing too close to a Thursday-night bonfire with this guy not too far out of my eyesight.
Fall of ‘08 I shot him down, hard. Not now, I said.
Winter of ‘11 during our Christmas break ritual of driving county line to county line, he shot me down. And, man, did it sting. Not now, he said.
We had a lot of life to live. Through Nevada, Minnesota, Montana, and Nebraska he went. North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee with ample time in Wisconsin, Arizona and Massachusetts, for me.
When I moved home - unknowingly weeks after he did the same - I told him I was launching a business and going to travel the world. He said, of course you are. My biggest cheerleader, he is.
And while I was learning the ropes as a business owner (Friday nights reading IRS.gov, meetings with accountants, et al.) and traveling the world (I miss you already, France) I knew I could count on him in that solid friend capacity. “Hey, you lived in a camper in Montana, right? Thoughts on if I buy an airstream and travel west …. “ (I’m still going to do that…. just you wait.)
And, then, out of nowhere last spring, he asked when I’d be home from a west coast run with a production team. And I caught the first - and only - redeye of my life. I knew, you know? I knew I was willing to finally take a chance and show up to a pasture bonfire (I’m serious. @ me, Hallmark writers) for the human who is always down for an adventure - rural or urban.
As I walked to the fire on that balmy spring night, I heard, “Brooke Clay, it’s about time you showed up.”
“I don’t think he meant literally.”
While I can fill a notebook full of all the “things” he does that I love like spitting Post’s new lyrics days after they drop, waiting patiently until I catch my breath while talking way-too-fast during an exciting story, or the fist bumps he hands out when I land a new client, the non-surprised shrug he made when I smashed the first clay pigeon I ever tried to knock down, or the one million versions of gluten-free pizza crust he’s tried to make... What I love most is he’s exactly the same friend who sat by me on the bus to church camp.
The guy who shrugged, turned around, and walked to his truck when I college girl declared he’d be taking me and my friend to a seedy establishment (shout out to Erika Curry).
And the guy who walked into the Shoe Bank freshman year after we had the biggest fight to-date in our friendship to apologize in person.
After 7.2M casual proposals, this past winter he got down on one knee, while I was in a grubby old sweatshirt, ball cap, and yoga pants, and presented me with the most delicious ring pop.
And ate the ring pop.