Patricia McCloskey and David Blick met in a historical setting, but their attention almost instantly turned to the future.
David was the cultural resource manager at Aberdeen Proving Ground north of Baltimore in 1997. Patricia was finishing up a graduate degree in historic preservation at George Washington University, and she had a fellowship at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and School in Fort Gregg-Adams, Va.
There was a management relationship between the two institutions, and Patricia's boss asked her to talk with David about some interface issues between the two.
"He said, 'He'll help navigate this,'" she says.
People in her office had told her David was a nice guy, and she set up an appointment and went to meet him.
"I'll just say this. I walked into his office, and I thought, 'Oh my gosh. He's really cute,'" she says. "And so I looked around his office to see if I could find pictures of a girlfriend."
David was the focal point but the backdrop didn't hurt.
"He was handsome, he was funny, he was smart," she says, "and maybe the setting contributed to it. He worked in this historic Victorian building, so it was maybe the perfect storm."
For David, the attraction was also instant.
"She was really pretty and I also thought she was really smart and sharp," he says.
He asked her to lunch, considering that to be the lowest-pressure type of first date.
"I did that a couple of times, and then I worked up the courage to ask her out to dinner," he says.
The first time he asked her, she told him she was busy. He gathered his resolve, though, and asked her again -- and again, she was busy.
"I tried a third time and she finally said yes," he says.
Patricia says she was not playing hard to get. She really was busy. Plus, she commuted to work from Alexandria, Va., and David commuted from Annapolis, Md.
"The logistics were a little bit challenging," she says.
After their first official date, they got together as often as they could.
They went bike riding and had many dinners out.
"He had a sailboat, and we did some scary sailing in the Chesapeake Bay," she says. His sailboat motor was not the most reliable, she explains.
They explored Maryland and Delaware, visiting some of the historic places.
"We got pretty serious," she says.
They had not talked about marriage, however, and Patricia did not know he had resolved not to broach the topic until after she completed her degree.
"I didn't want to be a distraction," David says.
Patricia jokes that might have motivated her to work faster.
"If I had known a proposal was contingent on my getting my thesis done I wouldn't have dragged my feet for two years," she says. "I would have gotten my act together."
David's parents gave him his grandmother's engagement ring for Patricia. He asked for Patricia's mother's blessing and then asked Patricia to dinner around her birthday.
"I had the ring box in my pocket and it felt like a boulder, like I was carrying this huge thing around that it was obvious, everyone could see it," he says. "I was so nervous."
They went to a restaurant in the city hall area of Alexandria, and then strolled through the market square.
"We were sitting on the little brick wall by the fountain and I pulled the ring out of my pocket and said, 'Will you marry me?'" David says. "She said yes right away."
They exchanged their vows on June 2, 2000, at Washington Farm United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Patricia's home church.
"I'm an Army brat so I've been all over," Patricia says. "But my really formative years -- the last of elementary, middle and high school -- were in the Mount Vernon area around Alexandria and I actually worked at Mount Vernon. It's kind of part of my DNA, basically."
They had reception at the Fort Belvoir Officers Club, overlooking the Potomac River.
Patricia's father was in the hospital the day of the wedding.
"I walked myself down the aisle," she says.
They honeymooned in St. Lucia, at a small resort with just eight units atop a hill overlooking a lagoon. They took day trips around the islands and they had dinners and drinks with other guests who were vacationing from England and Germany and various other locations around the world.
"It was a great way to relax after a crazy wedding," David says.
Patricia and David and their daughter, Annie, moved from Annapolis to Little Rock in 2010. Patricia is executive director of the Quapaw Quarter Association. David is a program manager with the U.S. Housing and Urban Development.
"My mom is one of five and they're all here in Central Arkansas," she says. "My sister and brother-in-law are here and almost all of my cousins are here. We just felt the pull to be close to family."
They agree that they met and married precisely when they should have.
"It was the timing. The timing was everything," David says. "It was the right time in our lives to have met and fallen in love."
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The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: "He was very handsome and I thought, 'He will be mine."
He says: "She was really dressed up and looked almost preppy. She was really pretty and really smart. I was really attracted to her right away."
On our wedding day:
She says: "I had this little Volkswagen Cabriolet that sometimes wouldnt start when you turned it off, and that was our getaway car so we told our friends not to turn it off after they pulled it around so we could leave."
He says: "I just remember when Patricia walked down the aisle and I turned around and looked at everybody in the congregation — people who were there to help us celebrate our new beginnings — and I got kind of emotional."
My advice for a long happy marriage:
She says: "Communication. Never assume that you understand what theyre thinking or how theyre thinking. You could be wrong and probably have been. You just have to talk it out."
He says: "Teamwork. Both of us help around the house. We help and support each other."