So I have a little (big) news for you!

Spencer and Megan get engaged
{Photos by E. Guy Stephens Photography}


Spencer and I met on a windy March day in 2010. We’d arranged to have coffee at a local cafe on a Sunday — a date I figured could go well (and lead to dinner), or poorly (and wrap up after just one drink).

I’d joined an online dating site two months before and had a few nice dates, but they’d all just been . . . well, um, nice. Though there was nothing wrong with any of them, I didn’t feel that spark. That connection. That camaraderie and mutual interest and excitement. No butterflies, if you’ll pardon the cliche — just a couple of nice excursions with nice men that ended with a shrug of the shoulders.

But then.

Spence walked in wearing a red T-shirt and green shorts — a wardrobe choice I’d come to understand is totally standard for my adorable, endearing scientist. After exchanging a few emails about photography, we set up our date for that weekend — and then I waited. On his dating profile were a variety of photos — some with long hair; some with short; one with a beard, and one without. After trading phone numbers, I sent him my first text message: “So should I expect you clean shaven, or with a beard?”

“Clean shaven,” he replied, joking, “I clean up pretty nice.”

He was right.

Our bond was immediate. We talked for hours that first day, leading from coffee to dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. Our common interests filled every crevice of conversation. Though he grew up in Western New York and I’m a Maryland girl, we come from similar backgrounds and share many philosophies. We parted on March 21 with a hug and a promise to get in touch. He texted me before I’d even gotten home.

And I already knew.

It seems silly to say that, I’m sure — and I don’t know that I’ve ever believed in love at first sight. But from the first afternoon Spence walked into that cafe, pushing his curls out of his eyes and turning a mega-watt smile in my direction, I’ve been his and he’s been mine. After doing my share of dating, I felt confident I’d know when I found a good thing — a real thing. I never doubted our connection, never questioned our relationship. From the first “I love you” to today, right now, I’ve never wanted to be anywhere but at his side.

On Sunday, Spence and I drove into downtown Washington, D.C., to see the holiday display at the U.S. Botanic Garden. We had a date there in 2010, our first Christmas together, and have talked often about how much we like the greenhouse. It’s my favorite place in Washington: easy to find and explore; packed with gorgeous flowers and other greenery; a prime photo spot.

And on the very same bench where we’d taken this picture almost two years ago to the day, Spencer asked me to marry him.


Spencer and Megan get engaged


As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I said yes!!!!

We’re both so, so excited — and it almost doesn’t feel real! Spence asked our friend and talented photographer Guy Stephens to meet us downtown to capture the moment and immediately after, making our first engagement shoot just a few minutes after he got down on one knee. Guy and his family were wonderful and the photos are priceless — especially because I was in such shock at the time, I don’t even remember Spencer putting the ring on my finger! We walked from the Botanic Garden to the Capitol, where we took photos by the Christmas tree and generally soaked up our first moments as a newly-engaged couple.

I’ve already gotten to call him my fiancé a few times, and it’s exciting and scary and awesome all at once. I mean, I’ll never have a “boyfriend” again.

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Thrilled. We are thrilled! I can’t stop smiling and had to come here and tell you all at once. After all the family and friend phone calls/texts were made, of course — and after I had a day to let the news marinate! But after that? Here. I’m all here. You know I wouldn’t leave you hanging after all we’ve been through together.

And I can’t wait to see what the future brings — as Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.

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Spencer and Megan get engaged

Spencer and Megan get engaged


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This is love

Sitting at a high table in a local Panera — a cafe I’d visited a thousand times, with a thousand people — my palms were as slick as a water slide. I’d just finished reading The Help and, contrary to my usual modis operandi, had forgotten to bring a book for the wait.

I was always early for dates.

We met online, exchanging a few clever emails before agreeing to meet for coffee. I’ve saved every one. Reading them now, I have to laugh — we were really honest with each other. Everything we shared in those moments, those first tiny glimpses into what our lives together would be like, were true. Photography. Cooking. Family. In just a few notes, we shared so much.

I texted to tell him I was waiting, though I didn’t want to make him nervous. I was a little anxious, yes, but only because he was my third date in a week. The first two, though pleasant, didn’t compel me to call or email them again. I let them fizzle out.

But him — I liked him already. I had a good feeling. My hopes, despite all logic, were high.

And he met them.

I can see him walking into Panera, pushing his long curly hair out of his eyes. He offered a giant smile and I thought, yes. That smile stopped me dead. I tied myself to it, like an anchor; I immediately wanted to hold his hand or touch his shoulder. Waiting in line for coffee, I might have.

We sat outside although it was chilly, eager to take in an unexpectedly glorious weekend. I talked about my job, my hobbies; he shared many of his. He was wearing a red T-shirt and green shorts, an incongruous combination. I immediately liked that he hadn’t fussed with his appearance, hadn’t worried that I would judge it — or him. On the other hand, I’d selected my outfit carefully: jeans; a blue top cinched together at the waist with a black bow belt. Flats, because I didn’t know how tall he would be. Hair down and loose.

The wind eventually whipped so hard, my eyes were filled with tears. We had to head inside — then, in a moment of boldness, I suggested we get dinner. We slipped next door to a Mexican place and ate, talking more about school and friends. We laughed often. We had so much in common. He listened to everything I said, nodding at just the right moments and sharing his own stories. He was wearing his nervous face — a look I know so well now, but one I hadn’t discovered then.

Now, I know the contours of his face. I can close my eyes and conjure his eyes, lips, teeth. I look for him in every crowd; hear his voice sometimes before I see him. I hold on to him. I feel so lucky that love found me.

We met a year ago today. I love you, Spencer; thanks for feeling like home to me.