I've typed the beginning to this post about ten times now, and deleted it. Its hard to put down words when you're taking about the things that really matter, most of all when they are so fresh in my mind. I'm engaged, the meaning of that still hasn't completely sunk in, and while part of me wants to sound all manly and totally together in this post, it couldn't be farther from the truth. I'm engaged to the love of my life.
I'm a weirdo, and kinda old school. I knew the week Rachel and I started dating that she was the "one" though what that even meant I don't know. It was a feeling that washed over me like a breeze on that dock at sunrise, like a thought that didn't start in my head, but was something alot bigger and smarter. Even though I knew, I wanted to wait, to enjoy all the parts of getting to know this fascinating person, so we waited, I waited to kiss her till our 2nd date, I waited to say "I Love You" till a couple weeks after that. I wanted to spend a christmas with my "girlfriend" and a new years. I wasn't going to be engaged before at least 1 valentines day. I waited like I always have, waited and soaked in the moments, memories, and feelings of my Love. I'm young, ignorant, and foolish, but somewhere along the way I figured out that the joy of life is in the journey. Its not something to get done, over with, finished. "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and awhile, you might miss it" :)
Every moment of mine and Rachel's time together has been a story, one I can't wait to tell our kids someday, and a month and a half ago, as I walked into a jeweler in Whitefish Montana, the reality of this story couldn't have felt more tangible. On the way there I had called my best friend, Jon, for support, and a push. He as always, proved to be that friend that few guys are blessed to have. He said a few words, enough to get me up and through that door, and though I wish he could have been there, like I had when he picked his now wife Jenni's ring, just being able to let him know was a blessing. They had to order the ring in, so the next few weeks of waiting for a email that it was in was nerve racking. Trying to keep my cool and not leave any hints for Rachel to figure it out. I kept making excuses to go into town on errands, trying to get Rachel used to me leaving on my own, and being gone. She apparently likes being around me, and that makes it kinda hard to get anything done in secret. I dropped off fake film, lied about mailing in camera's for repairs, and was a pretty dishonest person. Even going as far as to dis the ring I had bought when I saw Rachel looking at a picture of it she had taken on her phone.
I finally got the email that the ring was in, and once again called Jon on the way. He was the only person I had told at this point. We got stupid excited (Still in a manly way) and I picked up the ring. It literally felt like it was burning in my coat pocket, and I was waiting for the soonest opportunity, I had an idea of how I wanted to ask, nothing flashy, but something that meant the world to me. The next couple days where hard, until Rachel and I decided to drive to Billings to pick up Brinkley from Tracy Moore, a awesome photographer friend of ours. He was just barely old enough, and Rachel didn't want to wait another day. I saw my chance:) Our first date, I drove from Bozeman to Kalispell to go to a movie with Rachel (Cowboys and Aliens Ahem cough) and then we spent the night talking and watched Pride and Prejudice, and Singin in the Rain, then watched the sunrise at Mcdonald Lake. For more on that, and a picture, go here :)
We went to Billings, driving all the way there no stops, and picked up Brinkley, it was the first time Rachel had seen him, I had been able to a couple weeks before on a trip to Billings by myself. I felt so bad taking him from Tracy and Matt, two of the coolest people in Montana. We talked in the yard, while he played with his brothers, and ate grass. Tracy asked about our wedding/engagement plans, and I tried to play it off all cool, freaking out inside. I had a pretty good idea of how things where going to work, but alot of details had to line up. I insisted I wanted to get back home that night, it being a 8 hour drive back to Kalispell from Billings. Rachel wasn't totally onboard with the idea, but I wanted to do all the driving, so we set out again, this time with the World's Greatest Dog. We stopped in Bozeman to see Rachel's friends Kenzie and Andrea, then continued on to Missoula. I loaded up on energy drinks, both to stay awake, and for spastic courage. I told Rachel I wanted to watch the sunset at Mcdonald Lake again, and that it would be a great chance since we would be getting home right around sunrise. She reluctantly agreed, I think beginning to suspect I was up to something. We drove all night, me thinking deep hyper thoughts, and listing to "Stuff You Should Know" our favorite podcast for roadtrips. As we got closer to Glacier, I put on my iPhone music, playing our songs, just like our first date, as we drove the same road we had 9 months before. The first rays of morning began to form, and once again my mind began to hold tightly to all the sights, smells and fractured moments that I knew would one day be my best memories. We arrived at the dock, it was freezing out, and I took Brinkley out, and we played. Rachel wrapped herself in a blanket, and we walked down the dock. The sky was once again full of pinks, reds and blues, the sound on the lake clear. This time we were alone, no wildlife photographers, or anyone to disturb us. We sat down, and I told her I loved her, we hugged tightly to keep warm, Brinkley smothered between us. I pulled Rachel to her feet, I kissed her and we whispered to each other. Holding Brinkley in one arm and reaching in my pocket with the other, I knelt down on one knee, shaking like a leaf, and asked Rachel Lynn Catlett to be my wife...
All but 4 images above where taken on Fuji 400h and Kodak Portra 400 & 160 on a Mamiya 645af, and Canon AE-1