Popped the Question

comments: 194


Andy asked me to marry him fifteen years ago today (if you need a giggle today, remember the funny engagement stories you told me from a couple of years ago? I love those so much). Occasionally, I have a moment where I stop and can't even BELIEVE we are married. It's the miracle of my life. Considering we knew each other for years without ever even giving each other the time of day, it is sort of a miracle. We met in college, when he was a freshman and I was a junior. I still remember where he was sitting (in the middle of the cafeteria, with a guitar) when I met him. He was always in the center of things, even then. We went to a small school. I'd look out the window of the Denkmann (Augustana people, you have to click on that link — it's so cool; in fact, check all of these really old Augie pictures out) library and there he'd be, on the quad, in the middle of the hacky-sack circle. I sucked at hacky-sack [me: kicks sack, falls down]. His circles always included a lot of different people. He knew the burn-outs, the frat guys, the skaters, the smarties, the nouveau-hippies, the geologists, the metalheads, the Deadheads, the preps. We were in the same small circle of good friends, maybe a dozen people in all (and those were about the only people that I really knew). Our group was tight, but out of everyone in it, he and I weren't close at all: We were around each other every day and were each quite close to some of the same people, but I wouldn't say that we had a memorable, let alone remarkable, connection to each other. Except of course for the fact that I was probably secretly in love with him, but even I didn't know that.

After I graduated, I moved away. The next summer, my dad called me one day and told me I'd gotten a letter at my parents' house. It was from Andy Paulson. My heart suddenly went zing! I was very surprised. A letter? From Andy Paulson? To me??? My dad sent it on to me. In the days it took to arrive, I imagined all sorts of things, the most hopeful of which was that Andy was writing to admit that he'd always had a secret crush on me. Squeeeeeeee!!! Yes, that must be it! It couldn't be anything else! Oh, hurry, hurry mailman!

Letter arrived: "Dear Alicia, Hi. I am a camp counselor at Camp Hastings this summer. My campers, etc. We went swimming, etc. The cabin smells bad, etc. Campfires, etc. I have mosquito bites, etc."


I turned it over. Upside down. Read it again. Between the lines. Not quite the love letter I'd imagined. Later, when I asked him, "So, why did you write to me, anyway?" he said, "I don't know, I think I was just writing to everyone I knew."

Oh! Still, I was determined to take it as a sign. When I moved home at the end of that summer, he had just gotten back from camp and was about to leave the next week to start his senior year at school. Our parents lived about fifteen minutes from each other. I stopped by his house one day. No one was home (except for a cat with no hair on the porch). I left a note saying I had stopped by. He called and asked me if I wanted to go on a road trip to visit another mutual friend. I said okay. We drove to Peoria in his mom's white Geo Metro. When we got out of the car, two hours later, we were in love. No kidding. It took two years [of barely speaking] and two hours.

I was 24, he was 22. We had a long-distance relationship, then, for two years (until we moved to Montana together in 1994). We broke up about a hundred times the first year. In retrospect, it was pretty hilarious. Once [now famously, since I've told this story many times] when we were broken up, he came to visit. He was driving me to work (I was waitressing) after we'd gone out to lunch. I remember hoping that the traffic lights would turn red so we would get to be in the car together for longer. I was really hoping he wanted to get back together. A couple of blocks from the restaurant, at a red light he said, "Alicia, I have to ask you a question." And I got really excited and thought to myself, "Oh joy oh joy! Here it comes! 'Alicia, do you still like me?' or 'Alicia, do you want to be my girlfriend?' or 'Alicia, can we get back together again?' "

He says, "Alicia, who do you think would win in a grudge match — the Hamburglar, or Mayor McCheese?"

Light turns green, car turns corner, I get out, slam door. Him sitting there with a very confused look on his face.

I would "break up" with him (which was really more him "breaking up" with me — I don't know, it was very confusing), but then I'd see him and I would think:




I may be slow but I'm not insane, people!!! You don't really think I would let him out of my sight, do you?


If you asked him, he would tell you that he doesn't even remember ever breaking up. As far as he is concerned, we've been together since the minute we got out of the Geo Metro, maybe even since the minute we met. And I love him for that. And a hundred million other reasons, including the fact that he is the kindest, most gentle, and most generous person I've ever met in my entire life.


The rock-solid pipes are just an added bonus, y' know?


OK, alright already, will the two of you marry me? You're just right, just meant to be. I adore your stories. And I agree that Andy is hot, but mostly due to that latch-hook phase a couple years ago. Happy, happy. xo Nancy

You are the cutest couple I know! (Except for the minor fact that I don't actually know you, tee hee). I love that you have been together for so many years and still are able to really love and appreciate each other. It's very inspiring!

Your story reminds me a lot of my hubby's and mine, especially the break-ups. Oh, and the pipes too ;)

This was a wonderful, quick read. Just love your blog and wish we were neighbors.

Happy Anniversary! So let me get this straight: it takes two years of barely speaking and two hours in a white Geo Metro to fall in love? How has it taken this long to isolate the formula?!!


Hands down this is my most favourite post ever!

Christine says: March 16, 2011 at 10:16 AM

I love this post! Reminds me of my own relationship with my hubby. Long distance relationship, break-ups that only I can remember (and he has no recollection of), a drive during our "iffy" stage ending with a ridiculous statement by him. Oh, it's all so familiar. Hahahaha! But his hotness outweighed his "randomness", a girl can't resist :) Thanks for sharing! This made me smile today :)

Augustana? My hubs grew up in Rock Island! We lived just up the road when we were first married, on 8th Ave. We lived on Henry's hamburgers back then. Sooo cheap, but it was all we could afford.
Love your stories!

Oh, Alicia, sometimes (frequently) your blog just makes my morning! Thanks so much for sharing, and congratulations to you and Andy both.

What a wonderful story. I love your humour Alicia, you make me LOL! Thank you for sharing, and happy anniversary.

Charlotte says: March 16, 2011 at 10:35 AM

I love you both quite a bit right now. Happy Anniversary!

sweet story!


I love this story. Happy anniversary of your engagement. A man who knits, cuts fabric for kits, loves you, and has fantastic pipes is a keeper.

I wish you both a lifetime of happiness together....all that your hearts can hold.

It is a wonderful feeling to be with such a person. My husband and I will have been married for 35 years this month, and I feel so much the same way about him. He makes me laugh, even when I'm feeling sad,or mad. I love that so much about him, and I'm grateful.

Best wishes!

I've never met either of you and, very likely,never will. But I will never forget reading your story and seeing the pictures of the two of you in Hallmark Magazine. I thought you were the sweetest couple ever and I was in awe of your story and of Andy becoming a nurse after your accident and how you nursed your soul back together with your own hands and some embroidery thread. I think you two are the coolest evah! Thank you for being you.

Oh, that is just what I needed to read this morning. I can't help but think about all the good and lovely things in the world when I hear stories like this one. And that quote about the hamburgler - so awesome :)

I love reading and re-reading the story of you and Andy. It just makes me hopeful for the world at large. So much happiness.
I met my DH in college where he was a freshman and I a junior too! Neat-o.

Ah,sweet love. Anyone who has it should hold onto it with all their might. I have been in love with my high school sweetheart for 44 years and the fire has definitely not gone out. It is a true blessing when you find the one you are supposed to be with for your whole life. May you and Andy have a happy eternity together.

the Hamburgler, or Mayor McCheese?"
thing...oh my Gosh...lolololololol, thank you, thank you!

HOT! Oh, I cracked UP at that! I think I've confessed this before, but... well, we all have our secret husbands, right? It's not like we'd actively DO anything in pursuit of said husband... because frankly, we're very happy with our actual (and not secret) husband. BUT. Andy Paulson is *definitely* one of my secret husbands. I hope that's okay with you.

Happy day! But I think one of my favorite parts of this story is that in describing all of the different groups of people that Andy was friends with, you list geologists as a separate group. I guess we are a 'special' breed. It made me giggle- thanks!

Wow Alicia. And Andy. Thank you so much...

tears to my eyes! beautiful, thank you so much for sharing!

Okay, really, what IS it about a guy in rubber boots?! I picked boyfriend up from work on Monday (when it was a full monsoon in Seattle) and he rounded the corner of his building wearing his work pants tucked into his rubber boots. I had a total melty, fluttery, twitter-pated breakdown right there in the car.

He got in the car and had absolutely no idea why I had a smooshy grin plastered all over my face. It really is the little things, idn't it? ;)

Your story brought a little lump to my throat. I think you should write a book. I love your posts, they are so true, so keen and I feel like we are sitting together in a little cafe or maybe my front room and we are just old soul friends! Love you guys!
P.S. My husband is an R.N. too.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.