It all began with a one word answer: "Cotton."
Meghan Armstrong, a Navy Brat, and Cole Peyton, a life-long Tualatonian, first crossed paths in their Freshman year at Tualatin High School in Tualatin, Oregon.
Meghan recalls the first time she saw Cole: "He was strutting the halls like he was hot stuff. He was the only freshman to make the varsity soccer team and the notoriety pretty obviously went to his head."
Cole remembers reading an article on the front page of the newspaper, titled "Fast Freshman Finishes Fifth", commending Meghan's state cross country performance. The success had anything but gone to her head.
And so began the Cole and Meghan saga, a tale of ego and humility; near-success and success; and remarkable similarities.
Despite their mutual athletic successes, Cole and Meghan knew little about each other before a US History class together with Mr. Z in the fall of their sophomore year. Cole learned that he liked Meghan more and more over the course of the semester. Meghan learned that she thought Cole was "kind of a jerk."
A bi-semester event in Z's classroom was a game of US History Jeopardy where the class was split into three teams and took turns answering various US-related questions. When the question was asked, "What was the South's largest edible crop?" - an opposing player responded "Cotton?". Cole's eruption of laughter and ridicule prompted a bout of anger from Meghan that would last a year.
It continued with one word: "Sure."
Indeed, it took Cole almost a year to earn back Meghan's secret admiration. Along with mutual friends Mallory Freed, Colleen Godfrey, Amanda Bateman (Evans), Lindsay Hallvik, David Shriver and others, Cole and Meghan sat next to each other at almost every break and lunch.
During one such lunch, in the fall of their junior year, the conversation of Homecoming dates came up only a week before the dance. Cole had wanted to ask Meghan to the dance for months but never had the gumption. Meghan had wanted Cole to ask, but as you know, Cole never got the gumption.
By sheer fate, Amanda unpromptedly asked, "Why don't you two go together?" The door was open. Cole seized the opportunity and turned to Meghan: "Do you want to go to Homecoming with me?" Of course, the answer was "Yes."
In the weeks after the dance, Cole and Meghan went on a few dates together. And late one night, on AOL Instant Messanger, Cole asked Meghan if she would go out with him. Of course, because it was on AIM, her answer was "No" - with the caveat that they should talk about it in person.
Incredibly, Cole had the sticktoitiveness to ask Meghan out on one more date - a date to see "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" in the theater. They held hands for the entirety of the movie. Then, while dropping Meghan off at her house, Cole asked Meghan out one more time. To Cole's delight, the answer was "Sure."
Boyfriend/Girlfriend became Fiance/Fiancee with one word: "Yes."
To make four very long years a very short story, Cole and Meghan endured a long-distance relationship that spanned the entirety of their college educations at USC and Iowa respectively. They visited each other semi-annually, talked daily, and thought of each other constantly. Those years were filled with challenges and excitement, and worth every second apart.
Meghan found incredible athletic success in her four years at Iowa, and Cole found academic and business success. But in the end, they both found each other.
After graduation, Cole and Meghan made a road trip around the U.S. to see their families in Tennessee and Oregon, and to decide what their next move would be. They decided that Minneapolis, Minnesota would be their new home to start their careers and pursue their new life together.
In the summer of 2009, Cole and Meghan found a cute house in the quiet suburb of Richfield, MN that had everything they were looking for. With the help of Meghan's younger brother Tyler, the couple made the move with cats Bronco and Dedro in tow.
In mid-October of 2009, Cole's older brother Kyle came to visit Cole and Meghan in their new home. Cole had decided the time was right to make an honest woman out of Meghan. After months of research, he had purchased a ring fit for his queen and decided to enlist the help of Kyle to make the proposal.
On the morning of Wednesday the 28th of October, Cole also enlisted the help of Michelle Frey, a close friend and fellow runner with Meghan. He instructed Michelle to invite Meghan to run that morning and to take the Minnehaha Parkway trail from the Lake Harriet bandshell. Cole and Kyle had secretly made wooden staked signs that spelled out W-I-L-L   Y-O-U   M-A-R-R-Y over the past few days.
When Meghan and Michelle, along with fellow runners Emily Brown and Katie McGregor, came to a beautiful fall-colored section of the Minnehaha trail, only Meghan was surprised to find 4 staked signs beside the trail spelling out W-I-L-L. Of course, Meghan saw the signs but was completely oblivious to their signficance.
Around two more bends, the group came across 3 more signs spelling out Y-O-U. Meghan was still unaware of what was happening. Around three more bends, and the letters M-A-R-R-Y were staked beside the trail. Meghan's first thought was that she was interrupting someone else's beautiful proposal!
But when Meghan spotted the same shirt Cole had left the house with that morning poking through the trail's trees, her heart began to flutter. Rounding the final bend, Meghan was overjoyed to see Cole on his knee with the final sign, asking "ME?"
With tears in her eyes and 7 years of an incredible relationship behind them, Meghan answered one more time, "Yes."