The tale of how Becca and Michael fell hopelessly in love started in the winter of 2017. Michael, who was sitting alone in the back corner in sacrament meeting (probably on his phone) was puzzled when he heard the word “evolution” echoing from the pulpit. He looked up and saw Rebecca Ann Clement talking about how its ok to be scientist and also be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Becca would not spot Michael until weeks later when in sacrament meeting when she was intrigued by the guy in the corner who was wearing a leather jacket. Becca, who lost her shame many years ago, rushed over to him to introduce herself but lost interest in the conversation when a couple of guys joined the conversation she was having with Michael, trying to prove their superior intellect. These love birds would not speak again until late January when they had milkshakes with the ward basketball team. This is when Becca first learned that Michael is a quick whip and Michael learned about how bad plastic straws are for the environment (Did you know that the amount of plastic straws used per day could go around the a planet TWICE!!!! Do your part and break away from the plastic straw trap.) But these star-crossed lovers would not really have a full conversation until the first time they played ward basketball. After the game, Becca, waiting on a ride from a friend, and Michael, not knowing how to tell Becca “this has been fun but I am leaving now”, sat and talked for three hours. They both noticed something about the conversation. They both had really enjoyed talking to each other and the conversation came quite easy. They would not go on their first “date” until a month after playing basketball when they went to a concert. Here’s the thing about this date…. Becca and Michael were not sure if this was a date. Michael wanted to check out this band and invited Becca. However Michael never called it a date but he did ask Becca if she wanted to eat before, and Becca willingly gave him the opportunity to foot the bill for the delicious ramen (To get the complete review of the ramen, check out Becca’s google review of Haikan near the 9:30 club). Over the next two weeks they hung out a total of 5 nights. They knew something was in the air. After Becca aggressively hinting that she was interested in Michael, he finally mustered up the courage to kiss her, and the two soon fell in love.
The first summer
Before Becca met Michael, her aspirations would point her in the direction of the land down under. So after only one month together, they were separated for two months (technically 6 weeks, but two months makes for a better story) while Becca went to Australia. While Becca was smashing open dead logs searching for termites, Michael was perfecting his smooth ways and charm serving DC’s finest steak (see Becca’s google review for Medium Rare). But although both were happy, they longed to be together, and Becca found herself distracted in the rainforest (at times dangerous, because of the wild boars and stinging trees), thinking about the young man who had recently swept her off her feet. They overcame the 14 hour time difference by Michael waking up very early to take Becca’s phone calls. When Becca finally came back to DC, both were a bit worried that it wouldn’t be the same. Michael came to pick Becca up from the airport 3 hours late (yes the airport is 5 minutes from Becca’s house, and she could have taken an uber home. In fact, Michael made her lug her 200lb bags onto the metro so he could pick her up even closer to her house). To Michael’s credit, it wasn’t his fault he was late, a car was burning up on Wilson bridge and no cars could get through. When they first saw each other and again held hands, they knew they still cared deeply about each other. Becca gave Michael another opportunity to “foot the bill”, and now it’s tradition that any time Becca goes on travel, Michael gets opportunities to welcome her back. They learned that summer how deeply they both cared about each other, and that they both liked it better when they were together rather than apart.
Michael comes to Utah
Although Becca and Michael were both living at that time close to the Great Dismal Swamp in DC, Becca’s heart and most of the people she loved were miles away in Utah. Thus, it was only natural that she would want to bring this dashing dasher home to meet her family and friends. She was excited to take him on beautiful hikes and adventures, and have him as a date for her best friend’s wedding. Unfortunately, the week they came, Utah was burning up from forest fires (Please don’t leave any burning logs in your firepit), so it ended up being a week more of weddings than hikes and adventures. Although Michael quickly gained the favor of all Becca’s friends and family, Becca was most impressed when he took a bunch of hours and weathered the fires to go with her to visit her grandparents in Huntington. He’s a charmer.
They keep dating
The next year passed and Michael and Becca spent more and more time together. Becca took a few more trips to Australia, Michael got a new job working as a staff accountant. Although Michael didn’t develop the deep love for insects that seemed to drive Becca and her research, his appreciation for our small insect friends grew as he spent time hiking and talking with Becca, coming in clutch when he spent 9 hours with her extracting DNA from termite guts for one of her projects. In turn, Becca was surprised to find herself actually interested in the things Michael was learning in his tax class--a total flipflop from her prior opinion that all things money were boring. Inspired by Michael, she opened up a Roth IRA and finally started investing because of him, and the two of them started discussing financial strategies.
Love is in the air
Although the two had mentioned the idea of getting married a few times in conversations, they loved dating each other and both had a lot going on with school and work, so didn’t bring it up seriously, and when Becca’s siblings offered to let her be part of a triple family wedding in June, they declined. But at the end of summer 2019 and yet another return from Australia and another great reuniting, Becca and Michael talked seriously about their feelings for each other, how much they loved each other and couldn’t see themselves with anyone else. They weren’t sure what challenges and adventures their future would hold, but they wanted to go through it together. They began making more concrete plans and looking for engagement rings.
Before the two of them went ring shopping, Becca was pretty much clueless about ring types, shapes, colors etc. She only had a few requests: First, she didn’t want a diamond, especially an unethically sourced one. She once watched a youtube video about how the idea that diamonds mean forever was just an advertising scam and heard stories about how diamonds from some countries were used to fund civil wars that involved child soldiers, and knew there were so many other great gemstones out there so decided she would prefer a different type of rock. She also didn’t like the idea of the groom going into debt to pay for a ring right before their lives together started, and wanted the ring paid for in cash. She mentioned these two requirements to Michael and he came up with one of his own. He had to also like it. You see, Michael has an eye for style and wanted to be able to find a ring that was simple, elegant and unique that he knew both he and Becca would love. So he searched high and low and finally found the ring that would fit all of the qualifications. But the problem was, it wouldn’t come for two or three more weeks and the holidays were just around the corner. So Michael told Becca that the ring wouldn’t be here for a while and then sneakily bought a placeholder ring. He knew that Becca would appreciate being proposed to in a quiet place, so he made a plan.Thanksgiving together was a blissful time for the lovebirds. The previous year they had spent Thanksgiving together in dread, knowing that the following day, Becca would leave to Australia for another month, but this Thanksgiving, they knew that they could spend the whole day together, and the next day, and the next day and the next. Michael asked Becca if she wanted to spend Black Friday together outside hiking instead of in a store shopping and Becca agreed, especially when he mentioned going to the National Arboretum. Since Michael had family in town, Becca asked if they would like to come too, but Michael said “Nah”. Becca didn’t think much of it, but her suspicions were slightly raised.The morning of Black Friday the Arboretum was a lovely place to be. Becca had pulled up a list of the best things to see at the arboretum in the fall, and they had already seen the Bonsais and a few other things. When they walked past the old columns from the Capitol building, Becca thought to herself, “This would be a great place to take engagement photos”. With that thought in her mind, Becca wanted to make sure Michael wasn’t up to any funny business so she subtly checked his coat pockets for a ring under the guise of having cold hands. Finding nothing, Becca let down her guard.After walking a little while more, Michael pointed to a group of trees. “Let’s go over there,” he said. “What’s over there?” Becca responded, wondering if it was on her list of things to see in the fall. “I don’t know, it just looks nice,” Michael said with a smile. So Becca followed Michael up a trail into where the azaleas usually are, a secluded area with lovely trees. When they came to a bench, Michael asked if Becca wanted to sit down. She crumpled to the seat, exhausted. A few people walked by and Becca and Michael enjoyed sitting next to each other in the quiet morning. After a moment of silence, Michael asked Becca what she was thinking about. She mentioned something about how the couple walking by was probably looking at them and thinking “Oh to be young and in love again.” Michael quipped back that the couple that passed was clearly still in love--they were holding hands and everything. He waited for Becca to respond asking him what he was thinking, but she clearly didn’t get the memo. Instead, she grew cold and said, “Ok, it’s getting cold, want to keep walking?” Michael, worried that his plans would be foiled asked if they could stay for 5 more minutes on the bench. Becca agreed and after a moment finally figured out her cue and responded asking Michael what he was thinking about. “A lot of things,” Michael responded. Becca rolled her eyes and asked him what kind of things and after a moment of hesitation, he responded that he was thinking about how he would propose to Becca. This was not an uncommon conversation--Michael often joked with Becca asking her what she would say if he proposed over the loudspeaker in a baseball stadium or at church in front of a lot of people, and Becca knew he didn’t have a ring so wasn’t suspicious. “How would you do it?” she asked. “I think I’d start out with a joke,” Michael replied. Usually Michael tells pretty good jokes, but the one he told her then was a total flop. “Yeah,” Becca said, “I probably wouldn’t do that.” But Michael wasn’t finished. He had yet another joke that he tried out and it flopped. He then claimed to have another joke up his sleeve, but this time his sleeve was empty. So he looked Becca in the eye, and grabbed her hand and said, “No, Becca, I think if I proposed to you, I would just look you in the eye, and tell you how much I love you and tell you how much these past 19 months together have meant to me and how much I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my life with you.” At this point, Michael got very serious and started tearing up a little. Becca looked confused back at him. Was this yet another joke? Was this the actual proposal? But he didn’t have the ring--what was going on??? She realized that this was not a joke when Michael got down on one knee, and said, “Rebecca Ann Clement, will you marry me?” pulling out his placeholder ring from his inside pocket of his jacket, and slipping it onto her right ring finger. At this point, three thoughts rushed through Becca’s head. First, Michael had put the ring on the wrong hand, and she needed to tell him, but didn’t want that to be the first thing she said to him. Second, she was still a bit dazed and couldn’t believe that this was happening right now. And third, she wanted to tell him how much she loved him and of course she would marry him and was so looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together. Somehow, these 3 thoughts were flurrying around her head, and she when she tried to say any one of them, no words came out. For the first time in her life, Rebecca Clement was speechless. But Michael, waiting on one knee on the cold hard ground, wasn’t really willing to take speechless as an answer, and so Becca nodded her head yes. When the words finally came to her, she said, “Yes, yes, 1000X yes!”, and then quickly followed it with “You put the ring on the wrong hand,” followed quickly by “I love you so much Michael, of course I’ll marry you”. The two embraced and were giddy the whole day that they had made it official.
To be continued...