Many of you have probably heard me tell this story before, but it’s never been on (digital) paper before, so here we go: On March 14, 2007, I flew in to Austin, Texas, for its annual South By Southwest Music Festival. It was my first time ever attending, and I was so giddy with excitement that I had mapped out a very comprehensive multi-page schedule in advance. The first band I had on my schedule was Chicago’s own Smoking Popes, who were playing a day party at Emo’s sponsored by (if memory serves me correctly) legendary Chicago venue the Metro. No more than five minutes after I arrived, I saw her: short, blonde, wearing a strapless blue dress with a brown floral pattern on it and maneuvering her way through the crowd. I immediately took a liking to her, but I was far too shy to approach her. She eventually receded into the crowd, and I assumed I’d never see her again. After all, tens of thousands of people attend SXSW each year–what were the odds, really?
Later that afternoon, I ran into a colleague of mine, Dawn Burns, who invited me to tag along with her to a showcase taking place that evening put on by Victory Records. When I showed up, I spotted Dawn by the bar, chatting up the exact same girl I crushed on just hours earlier.
“Scott, I’d like you to meet Aubrey–she works for Victory,” Dawn said.
She shook my hand as I introduced myself. It was at that exact moment I told myself that I needed to close the dead-end relationship I had been in for the past six months as soon as possible–I just met the woman with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life.
Since that day, I’ve traveled the world over with Aubrey (16 states and four foreign countries, if my memory serves me correctly), learning more and more about her, and frequently realizing that my initial gut feeling was right: This was the woman I wanted to marry. Last September, I acted on my feeling. At our hotel suite overlooking the Las Vegas strip, minutes after her 27th birthday had ended, I told her, “I have one more gift for you,” as we sat on the balcony sipping champagne. I made her close her eyes before getting down on one knee. The Bellagio fountains, running just minutes prior, had shut off, leaving me without the special effects I thought I’d need to woo her into accepting the engagement ring I had custom made by her family’s longtime jeweler, including two diamonds gifted to her by her late grandmother.
I took her hand and told her to open her eyes.
Scott’s version is pretty romantic, right? I love when he tells that story. The truth is, I actually met him about six months prior at a music festival in Flint, Michigan appropriately named Dirt Fest. Just having been promoted at my job, I was beginning to buy advertisements in Alternative Press (the magazine that employs Scott) and when I saw their tent at the festival, I thought it would be wise to introduce myself to whoever was manning the booth. Sure enough, I announced myself as “Aubrey from Victory” to a big, burly, bearded guy named Scott Heisel. It must not have been that memorable, since, to this day, Scott will admit that he has no recollection of that moment.
I will be the first to acknowledge my oblivious nature. After that weekend at the SXSW Music Festival, I was convinced that I had left Texas with an awesome new friend. A few weeks later, I met him out in New Jersey for the Bamboozle festival and that’s where I realized there was something more than a budding new festival-going friendship. He then asked me to be his date to his sisters wedding, and a few short weeks later, I was sitting at a table at Katie and Dan Brown’s wedding, surrounded by his family. It was an intense first date! Finally, in September of 2007 I overcame my clueless nature and agreed to call him my boyfriend. We even changed Facebook statuses, to make it official!
After two-and-a-half years of dating long-distance between Chicago and Cleveland, finally, the time was right to bite the bullet and make the move to Ohio. Five years into this relationship, and there isn’t a single day that I don’t laugh, or learn something new about Scott. He is truly my better half, and I consider myself to be very lucky.