Will Forever Say YES!
In high school, teachers would assign us to write a letter to our future selves. I would daydream about my future husband. Of course we would meet in college. Where else do you meet husbands? As Senior Class Vice President, my primary duty would be to plan our ten-year reunion in 2019. To an 18-year-old, ten years into the future seemed like an eternity, but I couldn’t help but imagine my future life. I assumed by 2019 I would easily have a husband, two children sporting hair bows and/or sweater vests, and let’s just throw in a white picket fence to really round out the “All-American family.”
After high school, I went to the University of Texas to study business, and the idea of finding my husband fell into the background as I made friends and focused on my studies. I earned a marketing internship in New York City and fell in love with Austin, Texas before eventually moving back to Texarkana to teach dance. Older friends encouraged me to move to a bigger city, concerned I was in my mid-twenties and risking being single for life. I understood the “risk,” but I felt focused on my education career and was enjoying my life in Texarkana.
The longer I lived in Texarkana, the more active my social life became. In the summer of 2017, two friends from high school, Shane and Cole Riddell, moved home after Cole finished law school. They began talking to me about their friend, Kyle Akin, who was a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas law school and a new attorney at Haltom & Doan with Cole. Shortly thereafter, Kyle and I met at a Fourth of July party at Cole and Shane’s house. We enjoyed seeing each other in our group of friends while Kyle settled into his new job and hometown. On New Year’s Eve, I convinced a close friend, Amelie Karam Tidwell, to be my wingman at a party to see if she thought Kyle actually liked me. Everyone had a great time at the New Year’s Party, and five days later Kyle asked me to dinner at Twisted Fork, which I accepted despite having just eaten a cheeseburger. (Fun fact–Amelie ended up meeting her future husband, Jackson Tidwell, at that same New Year’s Party).
Kyle and I quickly fell in love. Although not spoken, we both realized our love for each other on my birthday trip in March 2018 to Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards in Pittsburg, TX, with friends. After 13 months of dating, Kyle asked me to marry him on February 16, 2019. Kyle was sick on Valentine’s Day, so we did not go anywhere, but he called two days later and asked if we could go to dinner. Kyle is the romantic one in our relationship, so this seemed very normal. He picked me up, looking a little nicer than usual, then told me we had to stop briefly at Mr. Haltom’s house “for a work thing” before dinner. Although this seemed odd, I had no choice but to ride along before I could indulge in bread and pasta at Verona. When we arrived at Mr. Haltom’s house, the back porch was decorated beautifully, and I knew Kyle was going to propose. This proposal had been planned in 24 hours with the help of our moms and my close friends because Kyle received word the engagement ring was ready from the jeweler, and he could not wait another minute to get engaged. Kyle’s parents drove the ring from Longview to Texarkana on Saturday afternoon so we could be engaged on Saturday evening. I love Kyle’s child-like enthusiasm, and of course, will forever say YES!
Kyle and I were blessed by friends and family who showered us with engagement parties, dinners, and celebrations. On November 24, 2019, we had a small, intimate destination wedding at DeLoach Vineyards in Santa Rosa, CA, surrounded by immediate family. I encouraged the decision to have a small wedding, but ultimately, we decided together that is what we wanted. I liked the idea of being surrounded by beautiful scenery with our closest family members. I wanted the day to be about our marriage and our love (and a little bit of wine), and I know we succeeded in that. Our family had time to spend together in Healdsburg, CA in the days leading up to our wedding, and I still cherish that time we had together.
When people tell their love stories, they often end after their wedding. For Kyle and me, it was just the beginning. After our wedding, we honeymooned in Hawaii where we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and people of the islands. We explored new places, ate delicious food, and took time to unwind from wedding jitters. The true story began when we came home and started our lives as a married couple in Texarkana. We learned to live together each day, in the middle of a pandemic. For the first few months, I often described our marriage as “an adjustment.” I took most of Kyle’s closet and bathroom counter space away from him, remodeled what used to be his living room and bedroom, and insisted we stop using the bedroom ceiling fan. He snored. Like I said, all adjustments. On the flip side, Kyle makes me coffee almost every morning, always answers the phone when I call and he is the best cook. I have taken on his laundry (and started snoring). You win some, and you lose some.
I would love to show my 18-year-old self her ten-year reunion. I did not have small children with me. There were no big hair bows or sweater vests. Kyle and I were not yet married, but Kyle was by my side as I landed skydivers onto the Pleasant Grove High School football field for the pre-game ceremony. Little did I know as an 18-year-old, I would be the Director of Marketing and Communications for my alma-mater. I even lead the tour, showing Pleasant Grove’s progress in academics, fine arts and athletics, for my own high school ten-year reunion, with my fiance by my side. I like to think my 18-year-old self would be proud that I have taken chances, been independent, and found my dream husband. I guess I will have to keep working on the white picket fence.
Debbie Brower Photography