Our tale begins in spring of 2001 at a college. Chapman University, to be exact. Dylan was already there studying computer science. Cat was a freshman studying mathematics. Cat and Dylan first met by way of mutual awesome, Katie Horn. Understandably, she is largely blamed for several of the following events. Near the end of the spring semester, Dylan caught Cat kissing the wing on his car for good luck on the way to a midterm (which Katie had suggested Cat do). Cat was unaware the car was Dylan's, and hurried off. Coincidentally, around this time, Dylan began to develop a crush on Cat. At the end of the spring semester, Cat, Dylan, Katie and their circle of friends went to a celebratory dinner. As they waited to be seated, Cat was growing bored while someone who knew nothing of cars attempted to talk to her about them. Dylan had done his research, and knew Cat knew a thing or two about cars. The son of an auto mechanic, Dylan saw an in. He turned around and said, "I own a white '94 twin turbo RX-7." For the first time in earnest, Cat noticed Dylan. Several days later, she put two and two together that he'd caught her kissing his car. An appropriate facepalm ensued.

Summer passed with Cat oblivious that the quiet one with the awesome car had a thing for her. At the beginning of the fall 2001 semester, Katie not so subtly attempted to remedy Cat's blindness after Cat let slip her interest in him. Nevertheless, Cat wouldn't believe it--someone so awesome couldn't possibly like her. The shy nerd and the blind extrovert continued to dance around each other until a fateful night on November 5, 2001. A large circle of friends, led by awesome Mike Melilli, went to go see Monsters, Inc.--to see the teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode III (in case you have yet to gather, Cat and Dylan are geeks. Like, for realsies). In a good mood from a great movie, everyone returned to the Chapman campus apartments where the majority of them lived, and began acting like big kids in the quad area (leftover Halloween pumpkins, a container of gasoline and an abandoned shopping cart may have contributed). On a whim, Cat went climbing up the large evergreen tree in the middle of the quad. Dylan, to Cat's surprise, quickly followed. Awesome Nikki Rice (now Nikki Malki!) began following suit, but was all but dragged away from the tree by Katie (who by now was probably sick of listening to Cat and Dylan talk about, but not to, each other).

Cat and Dylan sat in the tree next to each other, chatting, watching the pumpkin carnage and shopping cart antics play out below them. Dylan eventually gave a resigned sigh and suggested he and Cat climb down from the tree. And that's when the sprinklers came on. Friends scattered from the lawn to the apartment balconies. Cat and Dylan scurried back up the tree, trapped. For an hour. Alone. As the sprinklers turned back off some time after midnight, Cat and Dylan shared their first kiss, up in a tree at the Chapman apartments. As they walked back to Katie's apartment, they looked up in only mildly faked horror to see Katie and Nikki on the balcony, grinning from ear to ear, singing “Cat and Dylan sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G....”

The Proposal

By August of 2010, Cat and Dylan had been dating for 8 years. They graduated college, had gone to dozens of friends' weddings together, acquired a kitty named Modulo from awesome Noah Evans, got Cat through law school and the bar exam, purchased a home together, and visited Taiwan for Chinese New Year. The time just seemed...right. While Cat was out of town for a weekend, Dylan's sister Catherine visited and helped Dylan pick out a ring.

Dylan began losing sleep. He knew generally how he was going to propose and that it had to be a surprise, but where, when? Cat inadvertently provided the solution--she suggested they have a date day to The Huntington Library in Pasadena before using her free outdoor symphony tickets that night. The stage was set.

On September 11, 2009, in the Chinese gardens at The Huntington libraries, Dylan leaned against a rock next to the pond and thought, this spot, right now, is where I'm going to propose. He knew that he'd remember this rock forever. Completely oblivious to what was happening, Cat snapped a picture. It now hangs in their family room, a gift from Dylan's sister Faith. Dylan invited Cat to sit down, then said, “I have a present for you.” He handed her a wood box with a small branch in it. “Do you recognize it?” he asked. She shook her head. He informed her, “It's from our tree, at Chapman.” Cue Cat's waterworks.

Dylan then proceeded to inform Cat that he had a total of nine gifts for her. The second gift was a map of China, with all the places they had traveled circled, including where Dylan got food poisoning. Third was a Chapman pennant flag. Fourth was a little glass jar that Dylan had drawn White Knight with Space Ship One underneath it with a sharpie. Underneath it says “We Were There 2004”. The jar was filled with Mojave Desert sand, where Cat and Dylan had witnessed all three launches. Fifth was a little sculpy clay model of Cat and Dylan's house (Cat initially thought it was sushi). Sixth was a booklet of pictures of friends, some of the relationships Cat and Dylan had made as a couple. Note: Cat was still clueless, even at this point, that this was a proposal. Seventh was a mini-DVD of all of Dylan's pictures, letters and journal entries from Taiwan. The eighth gift was a thick, little notebook, with a reason Dylan loves Cat on each and every page. The very last page said, “Because you are you and I am me.”

So Cat had received eight gifts for the eight years they had been together, each representing the wonderful memories made in those eight years, but she had not been keeping a good count, and had forgotten that there was a ninth gift. One for the future. Dylan told Cat there was one more, and it was the most important one. He pulled out a small box, got up from his seat and dropped to one knee. He said the magic words, “Will you marry me?” Cat started nodding emphatically before he finished getting the words out, and eventually spit out her yes. Dylan remained on his knee, and finally admitted his hands were shaking too hard to put the ring on Cat's finger, afraid he'd drop it in the pond and have to manhandle/dissect a live koi. Laughing, Cat slipped the ring on her finger. It was perfect. Cat and Dylan spent the rest of the afternoon calling family about the good news and telling every stranger that dared wander too close, “We're Engaged!”

Cat and Dylan have been together for ten years now, and can't wait to share their wedding with their closest friends and family.