An Engaging Visit to Philadelphia

This post is long overdue. I wanted to be able to actually sit down and take the time to put some thought and feeling into it. Unfortunately school kept me from doing that for two months. But with the year winding down I thought that it was time that I got around to writing a post about my engagement. That’s right, I’m engaged!

It seems like it happened so fast, but at the same time it also felt like a long time coming. I knew that there was something different about Brendan when I first met him and started hanging out with him back in the fall of 2012. When I came back to school in January of 2013, I knew that I liked Brendan, but was too scared to do anything about. Little did I know that Brendan felt the same way about me! I’m so thankful that Brendan had the courage to tell me his feelings and that we were both brave enough to start dating in February of 2013. After we had been dating for 3 months, we both had a feeling that we might end up getting married one day. I know that sounds crazy to have that feeling so early in the relationship, but when you’ve found the right person you just know.

Brendan and I agreed to wait until we hit the 18 month mark before we decided to take the next step in our relationship. That step being figuring out if and when we would get engaged. We had also read that couples should at least date for 18 months before deciding whether to get engaged or not because that gives the “butterfly” stage time to wear off. Well, this past August we hit that 18 month mark and our feelings hadn’t changed. Our hopes and expectations had stayed the same and our love for one another had only grown stronger. So naturally we started talking about when we thought we might want to get engaged. We even went to look at engagement rings together ( a first for me that felt so strange lol ). After talking about it a lot and not really coming up with an answer, I told Brendan that whenever and whatever time of year he decided to propose would be fine with me. So it was kind of left up in the air as to when we thought we might want to get engaged.

When October (of this year) rolled around Brendan mentioned going to Philadelphia for the weekend just for a fun getaway. My first thought when he mentioned this was that he might be planning something like a proposal. But then he explained that since his dad had gotten a new job near Philly that we might get the chance to see him. So it made sense why he chose Philly rather than another city. With this trip in mind, I worked hard to get ahead in my school work so that I would not have anything to distract me from the pleasure of a weekend road trip. After classes on October 16, Brendan and I packed up our rental car and headed to our destination. We actually stayed in New Jersey with Brendan’s aunt and uncle and then drove to Philly the next day.

The car ride to New Jersey was so lovely. It was the perfect autumn day, with mild weather and that crisp clear blue sky that only appears in the fall. Our road trip consisted of a stop at Starbucks for some coffee, my acquainting Brendan with Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Black Cat”, and singing along with songs on Spotify. Brendan drove the whole way, so the ride might not have been as enjoyable for him. But it’s a drive I’ll never forget.

After spending the night at Brendan’s aunt and uncle’s house, we woke up bright and early on Friday (October 17) so that we could head out and start our adventures in Philly. Even though I had this feeling that Brendan might propose that day, I really just believed it was wishful thinking. Little did I know that wishful thinking would become a reality that afternoon. I had been to Philly twice before this trip, so I was not a complete stranger to the city of Brotherly Love. We both have a passion for exploring cities and capturing their mystery and beauty on camera, so we had just planned to spend the day roaming around the city.

We had a few specific places that we planned on visiting such as the Love statue, Independence Hall, and Edgar Allan Poe’s house. But besides that we were just wandering around hoping to stumble across unique places that we may not have found otherwise. I’ve always loved to wander around the city and soak in the surroundings. I love to people watch and learn about the area around me. There is just something thrilling about being a stranger in a new, unfamiliar city. It’s like a feeling of new beginnings where nobody knows your name or who you are and you have the fleeting chance to be whoever you so desire to be. That’s the feeling I get when I’m in the city. I simply forget about every other care for awhile and just enjoy the moment. I left all of my worries and cares in Lynchburg, Virginia that weekend and came to Philly feeling free.

The weather was absolutely perfect for a day of exploring the city. Brendan and I had been keeping an eye on the weather and originally the forecast said that there was a ninety percent chance of rain on Friday. We had been praying that the rain would clear up just enough so that we could enjoy our time in the city. And by the time we left Lynchburg on Thursday there was zero percent chance of rain in Philly on Friday. God really did bless us with a lovely day.

After wandering around the city all afternoon, Brendan said that he wanted to drive over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to take some pictures. Even though the outside of the museum is beautiful, I wasn’t that excited to go take pictures of it because we had done that a few months ago when we were in Philly with Brendan’s family. Plus the wind was blowing and the sun was almost too bright to take decent pictures. It was at this point when my suspicions about Brendan possibly proposing grew stronger. Once we made it to the front of the museum, Brendan had me stand next to the fountain while he set up the camera and tripod. Little did I know that while I stood posing for a picture, Brendan had started videoing with the camera. He then joined me by the fountain…carrying his jacket with him. I thought it was a little odd that he would bring his jacket over with him while we were about to have our picture taken, but I let it slide. After we posed for a “picture”, Brendan turned to me and said “You know, I didn’t want to come up here just to take a picture. There’s something I want to ask you…”. At this moment I knew what was coming, but I still felt myself caught off guard. This was the moment I had been dreaming of for a long time and I couldn’t believe that it was really happening. After Brendan gave a little heartfelt speech, he got down on one knee and asked “Ashley Blair Bunner, will you marry me?”. I didn’t think I would cry, but as I said “yes” I couldn’t hold back the tears.

We celebrated that evening by going out to eat at Panera Bread and visiting the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site. That kind of sounds like an odd way to celebrate, but it was a night full of some of my favorites! Fortunately for us the Edgar Allan Poe Historic Site was open that evening for free tours. At dusk we were able to enter Poe’s house in Philadelphia with many other Poe enthusiasts. We got a tour through the house as characters from Poe’s short stories and poems recited fragments from some of his best known works. We were even able to go into the basement that is believed to have inspired Poe’s short story of “The Black Cat”. It was an amazing experience for a literature geek like myself.

We made one more stop on our way back to New Jersey that night. I really wanted to see the beach in autumn, so Brendan took me to Ocean City. It was rather windy with a strong chill in the air, so we only stayed for a little while. But we were able to get a few pictures and reflect on everything that had happened that day.

The fact that I was engaged to my best friend really didn’t sink in until after the first few weeks of our engagement. I had so much fun receiving congratulations from friends almost everyday on campus and showing off my gorgeous ring. I am not usually one who enjoys attention, but it felt different this time. I loved telling people about me and Brendan’s engagement and future wedding plans. We’re a little more than two months into our engagement now and it is still just as exciting as it was the day it happened. I look forward to sharing more about our wedding details and the planning process in the year to come. As 2014 comes to a close and I reflect on everything that has happened this year, I can definitely say that my engagement to Brendan was the highlight of my year and one of the most memorable moments of my life!

Take care everyone. I’ll see you in the new year!

 

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