In March of 2007, Trevor found out he'd be deploying to Kosovo. He was away at drill and I didn't hear from him, but didn't think much of it since we don't usually talk much while he's at drill. We had plans to have dinner at his apartment when he got back that Sunday. I got to his apartment and just as we started cooking, Trevor asked, "So, do you want to talk first or eat first?" With the look on his face and a statement like that, I thought I was getting dumped. I actually thought to myself I'm not going to sit through a pity dinner with you right before you dump me, let's talk. The next thing Trevor said blew my mind and the exchange was like an automatic pop quiz back and forth:
Trevor: "I'm getting deployed."
Me: "Where's that? When?"
Trevor: "In three months." And he explained where Kosovo is.
Obviously, I knew that time would come, but with their training cycle we both thought we had a decent chunk of time before that would come up. Anyway, we put dinner on hold for a bit, I cried, we hugged, and that was that. Even prior to this news, I was very independent and hesitant to get too attached. I wouldn't even discuss the possibility of marriage or living with Trevor.
We spent those three months enjoying our time together. We took a trip to Seattle, had an awesome going away party for him and did many fun things with friends and family. Trevor would leave for training then get a surprise few days off. I'd go get him, say goodbye all over again, and the same thing would happen again. I think we said goodbye at least four times-it got to be very draining.
He had training at Camp Ripley, MN, Camp Atterbury, IN and Camp Hohenfels, Germany before they actually got to Kosovo. I made sure to send lots of mail to him (and others I knew on this tour) at each stop, especially once he got to Kosovo. As it came time for them to choose their mid-tour leave dates, Trevor told me he wasn't going to take leave so he could just get paid longer when he got done with the deployment (basically take his leave after he got home). Little did I know, this is where his proposal plan started. He had already chosen leave dates and swapped with a handful of people to get the exact dates he wanted, more on that in a bit. We argued about his choice not to take leave. Honestly, I had been a total trooper through the deployment, but I needed a break. Trevor wasn't backing down and I finally flipped out and reminded him he wasn't the only one dealing with this deployment and I needed a break, too. (Mind you, he already had leave dates for February all this time-he was just keeping it a secret so he could surprise me. He took my flipping out like a champ.) He agreed and said he would see what he could do. A couple days later, he told me he could still take leave, but it wouldn't be until May (they were scheduled to come home in July, but I said whatever, it was better than nothing).
As my birthday (late February) was approaching, I started to make plans with friends and family to celebrate. Tosha's birthday is two days after mine, so the night before my birthday we planned a fun night at their house to celebrate our birthdays. Then, the next day, I made plans to go out to eat with my family and Trevor's before going to the bars in downtown Mankato with friends. As you're reading this, keep in mind I had no idea what Trevor was up to. As far as I knew, he was coming home on leave three months later, in May. Here's what was really going on. Trevor had made arrangements to fly in the day before my birthday. This would allow him enough time to pick up my ring (that he designed himself via email while deployed) and meet with my dad to ask for his blessing. His friend Shane was the one picking him up from the airport and helping him with all these errands. So, me being at Shane and Tosha's the night before my birthday made that a little tricky for Shane. Those two staged a huge fight and Shane stormed off to the bar (or, in actuality, to the airport to get Trevor). I was a tad offended that he was being such a loser for our birthday celebration, but Tosha decided to make it just as much fun with just the two of us. The next day, on my actual birthday, my dad came to pick me up and take me to the Olive Garden where we would have lunch with my family and Trevor's. Christy, Trevor's mom, took tons of photos and really got the waterworks going since Trevor "couldn't be there." As we were leaving, Christy pulled me aside and gave me my birthday gift from Trevor. She said he sent it to her so I wouldn't open it early (I'm actually very good with surprises, but whatever, fair enough). She told me I wasn't supposed to open it until I got home and I was alone. Then, I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize, but answered it anyway. This guy, who I later figured out was our friend Jesse, said "Is Trevor there?" and, totally thrown off, I said, "Should he be???" Jesse apologized and said he didn't realize Trevor was still deployed. Believe it or not, people really do lose track of time and think "man, he's still gone?" so I mostly just let it go. It was a little odd though. I got in my dad's car so he could bring me home, but he told me not to give him directions because he wanted to see if he could remember how to get there on his own. I was pretty irritated because I was dying to see what Trevor got me for my birthday. My dad didn't take the most direct route, but we eventually made it home. I thanked him and headed inside to open my present. I lived in a one bedroom apartment by myself at the time and sat down on the floor right inside the door to open the gift. Just like I had asked for, Trevor got me two Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo (the base where he was stationed for the deployment) t-shirts. Woo hoo! (I wasn't a very high maintenance girlfriend, still not a high maintenance wife.) Also a part of my gift was another box. I opened it and it was a digital photo frame. Cool. It had a note on it to plug it in. Okay, I can do that. I walked right into my bedroom to plug it into the nearest outlet. When I did, these were the photos that appeared...
Trevor in his office in Kosovo.
Trevor on an airplane.
Trevor with a plane ticket to MSP (didn't notice the destination at the time).
Trevor at Perkin's with my dad (thought nothing of this at the time).
Trevor standing in front of my apartment door.I know what you're probably thinking, the photo of my dad was a dead give away, but at the time that one went right over my head. I saw that last photo of him actually in front of my apartment door-that should have been impossible. You may think I'm crazy for not sprinting, but I set that photo frame down and walked to my apartment door so slowly. I'm not sure if I didn't want to be disappointed by my assumption that meant he would be outside, or if I was nervous, or what. But holy cow, when I opened that door he was standing right there. I jumped on him and he just stood there for a minute. I felt like I was in dreamland. Finally I said, "Can you set me down inside? I don't have any shoes on." Trevor kind of laughed and said yes then set me down. I took a step back to let him in and he gave me a little stuffed puppy (a distraction), dropped to one knee and took out a ring box. Can I say holy cow again?? He asked me to marry him and I said YES without hesitation! (At the beginning of the deployment I wasn't ready to admit I knew we were right for each other, but by this point I had actually started a daily "reasons I want to marry you" journal that I intended to give him when he proposed-I just didn't realize it would be so soon!) The ring box even had a little light shining down on the ring. I couldn't have cared less what the ring looked like at that point. Poor Trevor put a ton of time, energy and love into designing it and I didn't even notice. Later that night he explained the meaning and why he designed it the way he did.
So, backtracking a bit. Jesse, the friend who called asking for Trevor, was deployed with Trevor and had the same leave so they flew home together. He knew about the surprise but thought it had taken place by then. My dad wanted to "figure out how to get to my apartment on his own" to give Trevor enough time to get in place for the surprise. Once my dad dropped me off, he gave Trevor the go ahead to start running (he didn't want to park too close so I'd see his car). When I opened the door he had just made it there and was a bit winded. I think he was a little frustrated I jumped on him (just a little) because he wanted to pop the question.
We had a couple hours to ourselves to stare at each other and say things like "you're really here!! and we're engaged!!" then kept my plans to go out with friends that night. Because he didn't want anyone to spoil the surprise, no one knew he was home, so they were all thrilled to see him out with me-and of course excited about the engagement. I definitely didn't want a holiday proposal and typically I probably wouldn't have wanted a birthday proposal either, but Trevor and I met on my birthday so it was very cool that he planned the proposal the way he did.
Playing Dance Dance Revolution. Trevor couldn't take his eyes off the TV.
We had fun talking through all the steps it took to make Trevor's surprise work-him getting the right timing for leave, getting the photos taken and onto the digital frame, arranging to get picked up from the airport and meet with my dad, his mom and the fake waterworks at lunch, everything. And we had even more fun beginning to plan the rest of our lives together! We were both much more focused on planning our marriage than planning our wedding. Our wedding was amazing and beautiful, but that one day was not nearly as important as the rest that would follow.