It was truly difficult to pick one winner, but this one just stood out. The chance meeting, that zinging sensation someone truly special gives you, the wish come true, the logistics of a long distance romance... Nicole and David experienced it all, and it's just incredible!
Nicole sent me their story, and it was so terrific I had a hard time shortening it... so I didn't:)
You Don’t Find Love, It Finds You
Most love stories start with “Once upon a time”, and while I assure you the following is a love story, I find it too cliché to start with this famous line. It has no fairy godmothers, no magic spells, no fire breathing dragons or princes on white stallions. Ours is a story of two simple people who met by chance, and by fate, fell in love and have made it work against all odds. And while being in love feels like magic most days, I refuse to let this love story start with a “once upon a time” like some Disney fantasy. No sir – because this is a “real life” love story, and everything I’m about to tell you actually happened to two very real people.
Our story starts with a coin.
Chapter 1: Coins in the Trevi
I am Italian. I had my first glass of wine in third grade, grew up listening to Sinatra instead of Madonna, and was taught it was a sacrilege to eat spaghetti if the sauce came from a jar. I’ve grown up in the Littleton/Highlands Ranch area my whole life, but was lucky enough to get to visit Italy – “the motherland” – with my family when I was 15 years old. On a whirlwind midnight tour of Rome, our group stopped at the Trevi Fountain to toss in a coin. For those of you who don’t know, there is a legend associated with the Trevi. They say if you turn your back and throw a coin in with your right hand, you will return to Rome one day. I’m usually not a big believer in those kinds of things, but I tossed a coin in anyway.
It must have been one powerful coin I threw in that night… because low and behold, 5 years later, I found myself making a return trip to Rome to study abroad for a semester in college! Now, upon this second trip to Rome, I made sure I paid tribute to the fountain that brought me such great luck the first time around! As I sat there eating my afternoon gelato, watching all the tourists come and go, I flipped through my pocket tourist book. In the footnotes on the entry on the Trevi Fountain I found something that caught my eye – it turns out there was even more to the legend of the Trevi than I was told the first time! The legend says throwing one coin in will ensure a return to Rome, a second coin leads to a new romance, and a third coin leads to marriage. Thinking about the power my first coin had had on my last trip, and the “young and single” stage of life I was in, I shuffled through my purse and pulled out two rusty old pennies. I turned around, mumbled “here’s to fate,” tossed the coins over my shoulder, wondering what I had just gotten myself into!
Chapter 2: Someone To Be Thankful For
I have always considered myself to be a planner. Seriously, I love organizing calendars with to-do’s weeks in advance, and I don’t go anywhere without my day timer! But there was one night in October in Rome when I acted way out of my usual “planner” character. One of my roommates came running into my room and told me she had just found this awesome deal where we could fly to Dublin and London round trip for our Thanksgiving break for only 100 Euro total for all 3 of us—that’s like $40 a person! But if I wanted to go, we had to book it before midnight. I looked at the clock…it was a little after 11pm. Now, the planner in me had already made plans two weeks earlier to go to Milan with a couple of other friends for the break, but something inside me acted WAAYYYY out of character and blurted out “Heck yes!” without even thinking and I booked my ticket on the spot.
Thanksgiving came, and I found myself in Dublin, carving a chicken (we couldn’t find a turkey) with my roommates in our hostel for dinner. After stuffing ourselves in true Thanksgiving tradition, we decided to embrace the local Irish culture and continue our celebration at one of the most famous pubs in all of Dublin, Temple Bar.
When we walked in, it was super crowded. By chance, we ended up being able to snag a table. Not wanting to lose it, we sent one of our friends up to the bar to get some drinks. A few minutes later she came back empty handed and explained she had met Mike, a fighter pilot in the US Air Force, at the bar and that he had offered to buy us a round.
I was enjoying my free Guinness, chatting with Mike about how he and his buddies were here visiting for Thanksgiving when one of his very attractive pilot friends came over and started talking to my roommate, Danielle. Not even two minutes later she was grabbing my arm saying, “Hey, you’ve got to talk to this guy…he’s from Littleton too!” Astonished that I was halfway around the world and could run into someone from my same home town, I shook his hand as he said, “Hi, I’m David.” Now, I KNOW this is going to sound cliché, but the moment we shook hands, I felt something funny inside me. Something I had never felt before – it was tingly, exciting and brand new. I didn’t know what it was, but all I knew was that I should keep talking to this guy! We chatted the whole night, and I found out that he wasn’t stationed in Dublin, but in Sacile, Italy!…Italy!...Of all places!...
Before we knew it, it was closing time. He knew I was going to be in town for one more night and asked if he could have my number and get together tomorrow night. I was so excited he asked! But trying to play it cool (even though I’m sure I was smiling like a buffoon), I nonchalantly took out a small piece of paper from my purse and wrote down my Italian cell number. In our course of conversation, had mentioned he was coming back to Colorado for Christmas (as was I), so I also “conveniently” gave him my Denver number, and told him to also give me a call when he got back to town.
Chapter 3: The “Fake” Number
The next day I was still on a high from meeting David. I had butterflies, was all smiles, and couldn’t get him out of my head. I couldn’t wait for him to call me so I could see him again! Only problem was, my phone was running low on battery and in my packing flurry in Rome I had forgotten to bring my charger.
Then the worst happened – my phone went dead just before dinner!
Worse still – since it was a foreign cell phone, I hadn’t figured out how to set up my voicemail because the instructions were all in another language. So if David DID end up calling when my phone was off, he’d get a the recorded voice of some random lady telling him in another language that my voicemail had not been set up yet and that he couldn’t leave a message.
I was so sad when I never got a call from him. Here I was in Dublin, halfway across the world, and by total chance I met this great guy that was from my same home town, who happened to walk into the same pub on the same night, and even lived in the same country in Europe…and now we had no way of connecting. I didn’t asked for his number the night before, so there was no way for me to get in touch with him either! I was crushed.
The next day I headed off to London and saw the sites of the city. After a whirlwind couple of days, my roommates and I returned to Rome. I unpacked, plugged in my cell phone to charge, and like any college student, logged right on to Facebook. To my surprise, I had a message waiting for me…a friend request from David! I immediately accepted and was so happy he had managed to look me up. The next day when I woke up, David had the following message waiting for me:
“So there I was…in Dublin, and I met this girl. She was the cutest girl I’ve ever met. Unfortunately, this is where the story turns sad because she pulled the old un-callable fake Italian cell phone trick. But alas, the hero of the story was clever and still tracked her down… Sorry that I couldn’t meet up with you again in Dublin. I had a great time hanging out with you. Hope you have a great rest of your trip!” I was so happy to hear that he had tried calling me, and that he had a good time. I was even happier that he took the effort to track me down another way than by my silly phone. I wrote him back and explained what had happened to my phone, and how it had gone dead and that I had not given him a fake number (despite what he still says about it). We messaged back and forth several times over the course of the next few weeks and he asked if I’d want to get together when he came back to the states for Christmas. I of course said yes, and knew I officially had the biggest crush I had ever had in my whole life!
Chapter 4: Third Time’s The Charm
As promised, David called me when he got back in town. He took me out for dinner and a movie on our first date. We both had a great time, and I was swept off my feet by his humor and charm. We met up once more for an afternoon Starbucks before he had to go back to Italy. We both felt the chemistry, and knew we really liked each other, but didn’t know what to do with our situation. I would be staying here in Colorado to finish school, and he had to go back to Italy to resume his post. So we just left it open ended and said, fate has taken us this far, let’s just play it out and see where the rest of the journey takes us. We used email and Skype to talk over the next few months, and wanted to see one another again.
In March, David came back to the states to be a groomsman in his friend’s wedding. He flew me out to Pittsburgh to be his date at the wedding. My family and friends thought I was crazy to fly across the country to spend the weekend with a guy who I had seen in person a grand total of 5 times! But I didn’t care. We said “I love you” for the first time on that trip, and suddenly the realization of what was happening between the two of us in this long distance relationship was becoming clearer.
In August, David had booked a trip to go on a cruise around the Mediterranean with a few families from his squadron in Italy. He invited me to come along, and of course I couldn’t turn down an offer like that! And guess where it was scheduled to start…in Rome! So, I found myself headed to Italy for a third time!
The night before the cruise departed, we found ourselves wandering through the streets of Rome, hand in hand to make our way to the Trevi fountain to toss in our coins for good luck. But this time, I knew exactly how many coins I needed to throw over my shoulder.I looked at David and knew with 100% certainty what I wanted for my future. This time I was throwing three coins in. I rubbed the coins together in my hand as we counted down “3…2..1” and tossed them over our shoulders. I knew it was silly to wish that the legend of the Trevi would come true just because I threw in 3 coins this time, but I really hoped it would!
The cruise was amazing, and we went all over – Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt – the sites were incredible and we had the time of our lives! But then I had to go back to start classes, and he had to go back to work in Italy. David flew home for Thanksgiving and Christmas as we celebrated the 1 year mark of our relationship. Soon after, he found out his next assignment was going to be in South Carolina. I was so happy because even though we’d still have to continue a long distance relationship while I finished out school, at least we’d be in the same country again! It meant we could see each other a lot more (even if it still wasn’t as much as we’d like) and actually get to call each other on the phone when we wanted and not have to deal with an 8 hour time difference!
Only a few weeks after he got settled in to his new home in South Carolina, he found out he would have to be deployed to Iraq for 5 months. He took a week of leave to come back to Colorado and spend time with his family before he left. And while it was a pill no one wanted to swallow, we watched him head off to Iraq to help wrap up the war. I wrote him letters and we emailed fairly frequently. We got to Skype about once a week if we were lucky enough to get a good connection, but we managed to keep our relationship blossoming and our devotion for each other grew deeper every day. I graduated college, and got a real job, and he sent his love and support from overseas as we both hit major milestones in our lives.
Chapter 5: And Then He Asked Me a Question
When David got back from Iraq, I took some time off work to fly out and see him. It was like no time at all had passed, and it was as if we had never been apart at all. You know that saying, “distance makes the heart grow fonder”? It’s so true – spending time apart, especially in a long distance relationship, really makes us both appreciate the little time we do get to spend together – and we definitely make the most of it! We did some traveling around South Carolina and Georgia, and finally unpacked the last of the boxes in his house, and then I had to come back home.
David came home again to be with his family and friends in Littleton for the holidays. We were amazed that it had already been two years since that crazy fate-filled day we met in Dublin. I thought about how Thanksgiving was such a special day to have met, and how thankful I was for the gift of him in my life, and how I couldn’t have predicted the way I had fallen head-over-heels in love with him. I was more sure than ever that he was “the one”, and I knew he was feeling the same way.
On New Year’s Eve, he decided to make those feelings a reality. Seconds before midnight, in front of our friends and family, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife! I of course said yes, and have never felt more elated in my life!
It has been two years, countless hours on the phone and hundreds of thousands of miles back and forth to see each other, but we’ve made it! We’ve made it through college, military assignments, separate continents, stress, frustration, joy, excitement, and even through war…but here we are…getting ready to tie the knot! I guess we’re living proof that you CAN meet someone in a bar!
Our love story may not be of the same caliber as Cinderella or Romeo and Juliet, but it is a story of true love nonetheless. A story of a boy who met a girl completely by chance, managed to sweep each other off their feet from across the ocean, and now get to love each other the rest of their lives together as man and wife.
See? Told you it was pretty amazing! I'm honored to help them move into the next phase of their lives together on their wedding day.
Our second place winners! We picked two, because choosing one was an impossible task.
Brittany and Daniel:
How we met…
… Brittany has always been the type to be working and keeping herself busy, so while she was in school, she started working for an event security company. The job was fun, so she continued working for that company even after graduating college. It was October 2008, at a Buffaloes home game (she was working it, of course), and Brittany was stationed in a section where she had to watch the patrons carefully. She noticed this handsome, blond haired, blue eyed guy was making his way towards her. Yes!!! He was stationed in the same section as she was! Brittany was pumped!!!
Brittany and Daniel started talking and kind of hit it off from the beginning, but nothing took off just yet. Brittany went home and told her roommates, "OMG I just met the cutest guy ever!" One asked if she got his number and she said, "No, it was just a friendly thing". Well the next game came and went, and this time a bunch of them went out afterward and got a drink. Again, nothing happened. However, they did exchange phone numbers due to work related things.
They were both in/ coming out of a bad relationship and their connection was put on hold until February 2009. Brittany received several texts from Daniel, but didn't think anything of it until a few weeks later; She just thought he was being friendly. On March 28th, 2009 they had to work another event together and this time there was more than just friendship in the air. This was an all-night event, which they finished around 6am. Daniel asked her if she wanted to go to breakfast with JUST HIM. Of course she said yes, but she was not hungry and just ordered water. Brittany said she was sorry, and that he could take her out again another time when she was hungrier...she had just wanted to be with him. Well by the time she got home it was close to 8am. Brittany fell asleep for a few hours and woke up, text messaged Daniel and said, "I’m hungry now". They met for a late lunch early dinner and hooray, the FIRST KISS happened!! She knew right then that he was the one...
According to Brittany, Daniel is the most NON-romantic guy ever! They had gone back to his mom's house in Lexington, NE for the weekend. During the four hour drive back Brittany called her mom and talked for a bit. Brittany's mom was telling her about her brother's wedding and when she hung up, Brittany started telling Daniel how her mom was excited and got to see the dress, the invitations, the party favors, etc... Daniel was just driving along when all of a sudden Brittany looked and him and told him she loved him and he was wonderful. He looked over at her and said, "No, you are more wonderful and I love you more". She came right back with, "No way I love you more"... After playing their little cheesy game a while, she threw out the words, "PROVE IT". Daniel started reaching into his pocket and pulled out a ring and looked (as much as he could, since he was driving), at Brittany and said, "You are the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. I love you more than anything else in the world. WILL YOU MARRY ME??" She was confused at first, thinking to herself; really you are doing this while driving?? Then Brittany said, "YES OF COURSE, I LOVE YOU!"
They were just outside of Sterling CO when this happened, now every time they drive to NE she will always remember this event!! :)
Daniel proposed to Brittany with his Grandmother's ring, a symbol of everlasting love. He told her that his grandmother and grandfather were married for over 55 years and he wants that to be the symbol between them.
Our last, but not least, couple are Simone and Andy, and this is their story:)
Our story - April 2004:
Her Story: We were college students, and were joining friends in volunteering at the American Cancer Society Walk for the Cure. These events involve raising funds for research and walking around a track for 24 hours to support the raised funds. After so many laps around the track, they become a bit mundane. Simone decided to change it up a bit & walk backwards, to add comedy to the walk, if nothing else. Fortunately, she never tripped over herself. However, she did trip over a cute guy in her path. Enter, Andy. As it turns out, they had common friends. Simone inquired about this cute boy, and they were soon introduced. They wound up spending the entire night walking around the track, wrapped together in a blanket talking about everything and anything. They struggled to part ways in the morning, and after a first date for ice cream sundaes, the romance began.
His Story: While walking for countless hours at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Andy spotted a cute brunette walking backwards. Being the stone cold stud he is, he decided to step into her path, and quite literally let Simone just bump into him (pretty sweet move, huh). The rest of the night was spent getting to know each other and Andy realized that he had met someone special. After hours of talking and walking, they went their separate ways, although Andy forgot to get her phone number (details, right?). Thankfully, a friend was able to reunite the two for a first date for ice cream sundaes and six years of friendship, adventure, and love.
The proposal: On a cold Halloween night, Simone came home for lunch and Andy told her he wanted to build a snowman in the backyard after an unexpected snowstorm. They ate lunch, went out back and built a giant 6 foot snowman. Later that night, Simone came home to carve pumpkins, part of our Halloween tradition. These were no ordinary pumpkins, however. Andy had cleverly cut tiny holes in the bottom of the pumpkins and inserted two envelopes into two pumpkins. The first pumpkin, when cut open, revealed two plane tickets to San Francisco for a vacation a week later. Just as Andy had planned, Simone became very nervous thinking that Andy would pop the question in San Francisco. It was very amusing to watch Simone squirm inside with anticipation. Just then, Simone’s friend Jamie called as planned, giving Andy the distraction he was looking for to carry out the rest of his devious plan. When Simone finally got off the phone, she cut open her second pumpkin and began carving it, only to find a second mysterious letter. The letter simply said to go outside. Outside, the snowman they had built earlier was standing next to a glowing campfire, decorated as a waiter in a tuxedo and holding two dozen roses and a bottle of champagne. Simone, to say the least, was surprised, but confused as to what was happening. Just then Andy got down on a knee, pulled out a ring, and asked her to marry him………
For me, I couldn't resist certain aspects of both of these stories... the "I love you more" exchange between Brittany and Daniel really got to me because Ames and I do this. I will always win the "I love you more" battle, due to the fact that I told Ames I loved him a good two months before he said the words to me, and this gives me what... 60 some odd days advance on him? He says that because he is taller he now has the advantage. I think not.
With Simone and Andy, I loved his planned surprise and that he used a snowman to carry it out! I have a small (heh!) snowman fixation, and imagining one all dressed up as a proposal prop I found adorable. I also love that he teased her a bit with the plane tickets:) I hope Andy never loses that urge to keep surprising Simone!