In 2015 I (Michael) went skiing in Mammoth, CA over Valentines weekend. It was a sad time for me as I was still grieving the loss of my late wife. She had passed away two years prior. Two to three months before I went skiing I thought it may be time to get back out there. At the rehab center my wife was at in the final days, she made me promise that if this is the end, that I would find love and live happily ever after. She said that was her dying wish.
Prior to the trip I, unknowing of it’s reputation, decided I would join a super classy dating site… Tinder! I’d had absolutely zero good dates, (lots of great stories though) from that site and really didn’t pay it much mind anymore. One of the married girls in our ski group told me she wanted to set me up with somebody back in California (I live in Dallas, TX) when and if I get ready. I told this girl that I do not do set-ups at all. Definitely not in the state of grief I was still on the mend with presently. She said, ” have you tried it yet? How do you date now?” I jokingly said “I’m on Tinder;)” She eagerly cheered, “oh wow I love Tinder! Let’s go on a Tinder Binder right now! As someone may or may not know about this app, it pulls up profiles of people in your current proximity. Not only do you have to swipe right to like them, they have to do the same on your profile in order to connect with each other. She grabbed my phone and proceeded to swipe right on one or two girls that she thought would be my type. I realized that evening, while playing poker and drinking too much, that I had a connection and message on the app. I reached out to Julie Gormick, who invited me to the tavern where she and her friends were hanging out. I didn’t make it out that night, but I texted her the next morning to see if she wanted to ski together that day. She politely texted me back and said that she was on her way back to Orange County.
That started a text mania between us for the next 45 days. I finally felt I was starting to re-entered the land of the living again. She was exciting, sweet and very empathetic to my grief. We texted every day. Sometimes 10 to 15 times a day. We had a real connection, at least in cyberspace!
I finally texted her and told her that I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves. “I feel like we should meet to see if we have physical chemistry as well” I politely texted. She told me chemistries are the easy part, real connection is the hard part. So I booked a flight on AA and I flew from Dallas to Orange County to meet her.
As she pulled up at the airport, I saw her from a distance. I was in lust immediately. As she approached, I took off my wedding ring that I had moved to my right hand after my wife passed away, and put it in my pocket. I knew it was time to start moving forward. All I could see from the curb was just this beautiful blonde girl picking me up in her black BMW X5. And I also immediately thought I was out of my league here:) We were instantly both googo gaga!.
Over the next year I flew out there and she flew to Dallas every 2 weeks. We really got to know each other and fell in love. Head over heals in love!
Last December, she and I flew to Maui for her Maui Jim Sunglasses International Sales conference. Three days before the conference we flew to the Big Island to hang out with her brother, his wife and their two really cool boys. I had a lot of fun getting to know her family. The third day they drove us to the airport for us to pick up an inter island flight on Mokulele Airlines. Upon getting out of the car her nephew, Noah, looked at me. While swinging his leg back and forth, he said, “I like you a lot Michael, but please do not come back here again unless there’s a ring on my Aunt’s finger!” He said it jokingly but it was kind of adorable. Funny because what neither one of them knew was that I had already put a couple thousand dollars down on a ring I was going to buy from a private jeweler. I really didn’t have the money at that time to pay the rest the ring off, but it was a great deal and I knew I was going to propose sometime in the next few months. I was waiting for something to come through for me financially.
When we landed in Maui that something came through. I called my jeweler and he was able to FedEx the ring over to our hotel in Maui. The day it came I sat in the lobby of the hotel while Julie was in her meetings, anxiously waiting for that purple and green logo to appear. I rushed out to the van, grabbed the package and immediately took it to the front desk to rent a safety deposit box! The proposal is on. Now the hard part! Where! How?!?
The three days she was in her sales conference I was out scouring the island, inside and out, for the perfect place to do it. (She would interject here to say that she thought I was sipping cocktails on the beach all day while she was in her meetings, she had no idea what I was up to). I ended up going over to Kapalua to hike for the day. I found a possible private beach. Then I found this magnificent tall cliff with a big hole overlooking a pristine blue water cove. I found a wall near it and started to carve into the side of this wall “Julie will you marry me”. I only got ‘Julie will you’ when a gang of kids climbed over a big rock with their bright orange boombox, passing a doobie around and very rowdy. They started cliff diving, smoking pot and blaring some Kanye West. (I have heard that’s what the kids listen to these days I think, ha). I knew I had zero privacy,so I abandoned that idea.
I then left the cove and hiked over behind the Montage Hotel back in Kapalua bay. Climbed out onto this lava made levee and hid a white coral heart-shaped rock, that we had found snorkeling in Kahaluu Beach Park back on Kona. The plan was to climb out there with Julie, dig that heart rock out of an alcove and hand her the rock with the ring and propose. Then we would go over to a little beachside bar and have some pre-ordered champagne and watch the sunset. I walked over to the little bar and talked this idea up with the bartender. I asked how the sunset was there and he said it was just “ok”. Then he told me if I wanted a spectacular one, I should go outside Lahaina and watch it set on the water between the islands of Lanai and Molokai. It’s the only place on Maui you can see the sun sink into the water. He told me that it was just outside of Lahaina about 5 to 7 miles from the city limits. So I went back to our hotel and started to research hikes in that general area.
I found a hike that we could do on her day off, which was also our last day in Maui. I reserved a jeep and thought we would go and have a fun filled day all over the island and end with a hike, and me proposing to her on this hike up the small mountain with a beautiful sunset view. I had plan A, which was the heart rock. Plan B was to be on the lookout for an opportune moment throughout the day. If all else failed, I had at the very least plan C- the hike.
I rented a jeep and was hoping to take the top down and cruise the island and feel the true Uhane of Maui, with the wind blowing through our hair. My lack of understanding of basic mechanics on how to take a top-down would create Julie and I’s first real frustration and fight. There were sighs, Cyclops laser looks and her sternly telling me to please rent a different car. That comment made me furious! It made me so angry that I couldn’t think straight! I finally got it partially down and we left and headed for breakfast. When getting to Lahaina I equally had a hard time getting the top back up, so that her bags wouldn’t get stolen. Rinse and repeat the cyclops laser looks! I finally got the top up and we went to breakfast. I won’t bore the reader with all the walking and frustration we had trying to find a breakfast restaurant. We finally made it to a quaint beach side diner. A little bloody Mary in me and I was starting to feel mildly happy again. We agreed to go rent some snorkel equipment and drive to the other side of the island to snorkel.
We left Lahaina to drive over to Wailea Beach, about 30-45 minutes away. On the way over we stopped and found the trailhead where we were going to hike to watch the sunset that evening. (I wanted to make sure we made it back in time to get to the top of the hill). On the way over to snorkeling ‘Ureka” I had a brilliant idea! We would snorkel together. I would dive down and act like I found something shiny, come up and it would be the ring. I would propose to her in the water. But when I sat down in the sand to put on my fins on, Julie said, “You may not want to put your fins on in the water like that. The waves will wash them out to sea”. I murmured, “I got it, I got it. Don’t worry”. Just then a wave came up and washed one of my fins out into the water. I spent the next 20 minutes trying to find it. It was in that moment I realized that taking a ring out of my pocket while in the ocean was probably not a good idea. Actually I realized it was a horrible idea!!! Plan C was now in operation!
After a beer at a local pub across from where we were snorkeling, we got in the jeep and went to the grocery store. I had already bought two small bottles of champagne earlier that morning for the big moment. She suggested that we stop and get some cheese and crackers to have a small picnic at the top of the mountain. We procured said cheese, got in the jeep and drove to the trailhead. As we climbed, I started to realize that this was an un-shaded, hot and dusty hike. I couldn’t find a single moment that would even hint at being romantic or memorable. I resolved that this was not going to happen today or on this trip. When we got to the bottom of the trailhead I noticed the beach across the road. I told her let’s at least go over there, have the cheese, crackers and champagne and watch the sunset. We found a little private cove called Secret Beach, and set up on the beach and watched a beautiful Hawaiian sunset together. As the sun started to drop I thought “man this is the perfect moment and place to do it”. I suggested we wade out in the water, and I would do it there. She said she didn’t want to get wet again at that time in the evening as it was starting to get chilly. I started to think this day had beat me. Just then all of these tiny sand crabs were popping up around me as the sun was setting. I felt like they were telling me, “Do it. Do it… Just do it!” So I did it! After she started crying and said yes, I pulled out two separate notes. One was from her mom and dad congratulating her, and one was from my mom and dad welcoming her to the family. I had previously asked them to write these for this moment, whenever that moment would happen.
The day before we left San Clemente to fly to Kona, I had made a lame excuse to get out of the house so that I could meet her dad to ask permission for her hand in marriage. I had also asked Julie’s mother earlier that morning if she could write a note and send it with Cal, her father. I had also asked the same of my mom and dad prior to leaving Dallas.
I am excited to be marrying the love of my life, soul-mate and best friend.
- We are going to get married this June 25, 2016 on the cliffs overlooking Crystal Cove Beach between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach! We couldn’t be happier.