They grew up in the same small town, attending the same elementary, middle and high schools, and knew of each other, but had different circles of friends. She describes having a crush on him, but that was all it was. Their families both moved away from the area after high school and they hadn’t seen each other for years. It wasn’t until 2016 when they were both back for class reunions. She was on a parade float and saw him on the side, waved at him (and described having those butterflies again: “there’s Jeff Bradley”), and she says the rest is history. They connected on Facebook that week and began daily long-distance communications for three months before their first date.
Because he lived in Arizona and she in Iowa, they decided to meet back in their old high school town of Red Oak. “We hit it off in person very well, and it felt like we had already been dating,” Laura says. “We spent three days together visiting places in Red Oak and getting to know each other. He even took me to a family dinner where forty of his relatives were attending. He introduced me to all of them as we entered the room. We joke that his family was on our first date. They approved.”
After dating long-distant for a little over a year, Laura using her school teaching breaks to visit him in Arizona, Jeff tried to figure out the perfect proposal. “I had the engagement ring with me for several days and wanted to ask at the right moment, public or otherwise. We were together at my apartment on New Year’s Day 2018 and we opened our Christmas gifts to each other and then I said, ‘I have one more gift to give to you.’ I pulled out the engagement ring and got down on one knee and proposed. It was just us two, and the moment was right.”
Laura adds, “Jeff told me later that he had my ring in his pocket all of those four days [I was visiting him], waiting for the right moment to propose. He had taken me out for dinner, to see Christmas lights, to the LOVE statue in Scottsdale. He just didn’t feel right at those places. He decided the right moment for us was in private, at his home, and to begin the new year with our love.”
They both said the best date they’d shared was that first weekend together in Red Oak. “It solidified we were brought together for a reason,” Laura says. “I never once thought it wouldn’t go well…it just did. Since our families moved away from Red Oaks years ago, both of us don’t visit there much. It was neat to experience our hometown together as adults.”
Laura lives and teaches in Iowa City now and Jeff is in the process of moving here. It was so fun to explore the campus with them, neither of them having grown up here. We had the most beautiful day too: sunshine and cool fall temperatures! I had lots of fun nooks and crannies I was already planning on, but was thrilled to discover a new spot that I’ve never seen before, one of the perks of walking around and finding spots you’d never see in a car.
I’m so excited to celebrate their love next year and witness their joy all over again. These two are in every way perfect together and I’m so thankful that, after all these years since high school, they have found each other at last.