Four years ago, a friend convinced me that I should buy an extra 3-day pass to ACL Fest, and sell the ticket once the festival sold out.
By early summer, ACL Fest still hadn't sold out. The friend who suggested I buy the extra ticket flaked out completely and decided not to go to the festival at all. I had an extra ticket and no one to go with.
On an impulse, I offered my extra ticket to a friend who was in Arkansas finishing up his last year of law school. Abe and I had kept in touch off and on since high school, but had recently been emailing each other more frequently: he had torn his Achilles tendon earlier that summer at an ultimate frisbee tournament and, since he couldn't drive or walk well, had been essentially housebound for several months. I had an insane boss whose weird demands kept me from having a social life. We were both having fairly miserable summers.
To my surprise, Abe said he'd love to take my extra ticket. He only had one class on Fridays that fall, and he figured he'd be able to skip it and ride down to Austin with an old college roommate who was also attending ACL Fest. Besides, he said, since he had torn his Achilles tendon and not his ACL, he wouldn't be exceeding the festival's irony quotient.
So, three years ago Abe, his former roommate Ian, and Ian's friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend Jennifer piled into Ian's car and drove down to Austin for ACL Fest 2006.
That weekend we danced like hippies at Ray LaMontagne and sang along with Willie Nelson and tried our best to stay cool in the 100+ degree heat. I laughed so much my face hurt. By the third night, I was pretty sure I never wanted the weekend to end.
Unfortunately, the weather seemed to have other plans. That Sunday night, a major thunderstorm hit just before Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (the headliners) were supposed to take the stage. When the band still hadn't taken the stage 30 minutes into their allotted time slot, thousands of other festival-goers headed home, assuming the lightening wouldn't stop and the band wouldn't be allowed to play. Abe, Jennifer, Ian and I huddled near the concession stands, still holding out hope.
Finally, the lightening and thunder stopped and the band took the stage. As the opening bars to "Listen to Her Heart" began to play, I touched Abe's arm to let him know that Jennifer and I were going to move closer to the stage. As he looked down at me, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I really liked this guy.
We danced and sang in the rain like we were the only people in the world. At some point during the concert, Abe put his hand on my shoulder. "I owe you a ticket to ACL Fest next year," he said.
By ACL Fest 2007, Abe had finished law school and moved back to Austin, and I had just purchased my condo. We had only been officially dating for a few months, so we spent the festival staring moonily into each others' eyes and holding hands and likely being fairly obnoxious.
Two weeks before ACL Fest 2008, Abe moved in with me to my condo.
And two weeks ago, Abe knelt down in the mud at ACL Fest 2009. He told me that on the way home from the festival three years ago, he'd told Jennifer and Ian that he was going to marry me someday. He held my hand and asked me to marry him, and I cried and said yes, and he gave me a ring.
And hopefully, this is the part where we live happily ever after.