I can’t believe yesterday marked a year from when my high school sweetheart proposed to me on the football field of Marana High School and I responded “Yes!”
Around the time of the proposal, I was living in New York and pursuing a marketing career in the fashion industry, and Alex was working in Transmission Contracts in the engineering department of a Tucson company. At this point in our relationship we had been dating for nine years and four months. We had talked about the idea of getting married as early as when we hit our three year anniversary, however, we wanted to wait for the right moment.
That moment happened on Friday, May 20, 2016.
On Wednesday, May 17, 2016, I flew across the country from NYC to Tucson to celebrate the graduations of my youngest sister, Lilli, and my dear friend, Hannah. At the same time I was also planning a bridal shower for my older sister who was getting married the following month. It would be a busy weekend but Alex coordinated everything in advance, from asking for my parents’ permission to making sure the timing of his proposal matched with the sunset hour.
The past few days were filled with joy, and it would only get better. A life-changing moment was about to take place on the evening of Friday, May 20, 2016. While getting ready for our dinner date, I knew something was up immediately. Why? Alex was in a suit. Prior to that day he did not own a suit and him randomly deciding to wear a suit to Fleming’s in 90 degree weather didn’t quite make sense. We had dined in Fleming’s several times and at most he wore a button-up shirt and dress pants. Either way, he looked absolutely dashing in the charcoal grey suit and I wasn’t going to complain… I mean what woman doesn’t appreciate seeing the love of her life in a suit with cufflinks?!
Throughout the time we spent getting ready for dinner, he repeatedly kept emphasizing how important it was we arrived to his parents’ house by 7:00pm because they were having a get-together. The get-together part wasn’t odd since his father is the pastor of their own church and frequently held events at his home. The specific time of 7:00pm is when I confirmed he would either propose to me at dinner or at his parents’ house. I also thought the chance of a proposal at Fleming’s was possible because we first dined with the restaurant our senior year of high school.
We indulged in a delicious filet mignon dinner with our go-to dirty martinis, extra dirty and with blue cheese-stuffed olives. He asked for the check and to my surprise, no proposal at dinner. I figured he would surely propose to me at his parents’ house.
We started driving out towards his family’s house, and we talked about anything and everything. While distracted with talking, I later realized we weren’t anywhere near his parents’ house. Instead we were driving down the road to where our love story started, Marana High School. My heart started to accelerate with excitement but I casually asked what we were doing at our old high school in the middle of the desert. He said we just needed to stop over there really quick before heading to his parents’ house.
Despite the high school students being out on summer break, the gates were still unlocked to the parking lot and the football field. I later learned Alex had found who to contact to unlock the gates for us. As we came to a slow stop to the curb nearby the football fields gates, I knew 100% I was about to get engaged!
My heart began to accelerate even more and filled with excitement. In three seconds I texted some of my friends how I was about to get engaged!
Shelby quickly responded, “Well get off your phone!!”
At the same moment, Alex said we were going to go for a walk really quick. I smiled widely and allowed him to take my hand as he lead me through our high school gates. As we began to walk onto the track, Alex started to tell me why he brought me here.
He told me this is where it all began for us, on this track. We did varsity track together our sophomore year of high school. Through the long meets and invitationals, we had a lot of time to talk and know each other while we waited for our race events. By the time we were juniors, we decided to date.
The setting sun created a beautiful scene as we once again stood on our high school track. Alex began revealing how much he missed me. How living apart from each other was one of the hardest things for him. How everything in his world was better when we lived in the same state because it meant he could see my smile and hold me every day. How the five months we lived apart made him realize he couldn’t imagine his life without me in it.
At this point we had slowly walked onto the middle of the football field. Aside from the cicadas chirping in the painted sky, time had frozen for us. While I don’t consider myself emotional, I found tears brimming my eyes as I stared at my loving Alex.
With nervous smile, Alex bent down on one knee. I smiled widely and covered my mouth with a gasp. Even though I had been anticipating this moment all day, I was still left breathless and emotionally surprised. He reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a black, velvet box. In it, held the beautiful ring from Tiffany & Co in their trademark setting, the Tiffany Setting.
He looked up to me with the sweetest smile. I loved all of the effort he put into making this moment perfect.
“Natalie Jean Sanchez, will you marry me?” he said with a tone of hopefulness and nervousness.
I said “Yes!” immediately in my head but apparently did not vocalize that. When I wondered why he hadn’t placed the ring on my hand, I reached down to the box and quickly placed the ring on my left hand. He said I hadn’t responded but assumed that meant “yes” when I placed the ring on my hand. I told him how I got so excited I must’ve only said “yes” in my head but the answer was and is “yes” to sharing a life together with him. We laughed softly as we embraced each other.
In the distance, I heard a “Yahoo!” and “Whoo!” I turned around and saw Sunni, Alex’s mom, and Shannan, a family-friend who photographed the entire scene. They were hiding at the top of the stadium. Shannan captured photos of the entire proposal, which I’m incredibly thankful for. As they started making their way down the stadium, Alex and I turned to each other. We smiled at each other knowing today was the moment worth-waiting for. The evening was perfect in our eyes and in every way possible.
We were finally ready to move on to the new chapter of our lives: Marriage.