Our Story

Part 1: The Beginning

It all started, if you can call it a start, a very long time ago: all the way back in 1996, just after the Atlanta Olympics. That’s when we first saw each other… we assume at least. We were in 4th grade at Wesleyan School, but heaven only knows if we ever even talked to each other back then. If we’d only known where this would all lead, we would’ve been taking notes.

Alice in Wonderland, featuring bridesmaids Gaela Duncan and Angela Giglio.

In 8th grade we both did both plays with the Wesleyan Middle School drama group: How To Eat Like  a Child and Alice in Wonderland. Caitlin was on the cast for How to Eat Like a Child, and if David is feeling particularly cruel one day, he’ll add a link to the video here.  For Alice in Wonderland, we both were on crew, Caitlin as the stage manager and David as the sound technician. It was, apparently, around this time that David first developed eyes for Caitlin: now, of course, neither of us remember this, but David – being the digital hoarder – that he is has saved basically everything he’s ever done on a computer since middle school. An aimless search of old instant messenger conversations saved on an old hard drive unveiled the apparent fact that David had an enormous crush on Caitlin all the way back in 8th grade. But then, of course, she had to go to Milton and put the kibosh on this whole process for several years.

The program from Alice in Wonderland in 8th Grade, featuring Caitlin and David.

After 8th grade, Caitlin left Wesleyan for Milton (followed by Chattahoochee), but she still came back and visited for all the various plays, chorus performances, and the occasional (gasp!) football game. That was also during the time that David ran a web site online of funny quotes from his friends, which Caitlin – despite never talking to David – appeared on a couple times.  More importantly, during that time, Gaela Duncan and David got to be incredibly close friends, and Caitlin and Gaela stayed close friends. Add Gaela to your notes sheet, that’s going to matter soon.

Fast-forward a few years, now, and it’s the beginning of college. We both entered college – Georgia Tech for David, Georgia State for Caitlin – in the Fall of 2005, which has come to be the first incoming freshman class for whom Facebook was the major rite of passage into college life. Remember, this is back when Facebook was only for college students, and only for those at schools big enough for Facebook to notice. Since only certain people could sign up for Facebook at the time, it was somewhat normal to add people from your distant past if they were available just to catch up. David, for one, added people from his old lower school at Woodward North, old church friends, and this girl named Caitlin White from middle school. As Facebook evolved over the years, it became more and more easy to just passively keep up with one another’s lives: the newsfeed appeared, and suddenly Caitlin and David were both treated to the occasional update from each other’s lives. Thanks to Facebook, Caitlin was able to tell people that there was a guy she went to middle school with who was blazing through his degrees at Georgia Tech, talking proudly as if she actually really knew him. David, too, was able to find out there was someone else out there that shared a ridiculously similar sense of humor to his own.

To go on a tangent for a second, on May 1st 2010, David had just gone to the wedding of one of his closest friends, James Rintamaki. Upon returning, he posted to Facebook the note, “David has returned from James Rintamaki’s wedding and is ready for his own. Oh, right, I need a bride. Any takers?” – to which, Caitlin responded, “If there’s a mashed potato bar at the reception, I’m in.” This confirms that either Caitlin is psychic, or she’s been planning this all along.

Caitlin makes the first move in her dastardly plan to wed David.

Around that same time, to go on another tangent, Caitlin was standing in the kitchen one day talking to her dad when she mentioned that a guy her age she knew in middle school was working on his PhD at Georgia Tech. Her dad looked at her and said, with an eyebrow raised, “Oh, really? You should go to know that guy.” Caitlin rolled her eyes and replied, “Ha, yeah, I don’t think so. I haven’t seen him since I was 13, and I can’t imagine why we’d ever be in the same room.” So, it’s possible that maybe she isn’t psychic after all.

All that led up to June 2nd, 2010: Gaela’s birthday party.

Part 2: Gaela’s Birthday Party

The truth of the matter is, as soon as David and Caitlin saw that Gaela was having a birthday party, both of them kind of wondered if the other one would be there – Facebook isn’t the foundation of any successful relationship, but it makes a pretty decent teaser trailer. David posted on the wall for the birthday party event that he would be attending, hoping to lure Caitlin into posting whether she would be as well. Caitlin took notice that David would be attending, but didn’t post whether she would be as well. Fortunately, a couple days later, Gaela spilled the guest list to David, letting him know she’d be there, too. Both of us decided we were going to treat that night as the potential start of something. It was also around that time that Caitlin’s best friend, Michael, asked (on the basis of the nerdy things she had seen David write on Caitlin’s Facebook wall) if David had a “badger-sized crush” on Caitlin – without a doubt the most accurate term possible to describe David’s feelings toward Caitlin at the time.

A couple weeks before the party, Caitlin and Gaela were laying out by the pool when tragedy struck: Caitlin came away with the mistaken belief that David wasn’t available relationship-wise, along with a sunburn that cooled to some very strange tan lines (we’re talkin’ really messed up, people). Still hopeful, though, she went to the tanning bed for the first – and last – time to try to even things out, and bought herself a [ridiculously perfect] new dress. There was also an ill-advised juice fast, but we won’t talk about that. Despite all the preparation, though, she still found herself oddly nervous as she arrived at Gaela’s birthday party. She kept finding reasons to duck into Gaela’s bedroom to put down her birthday gift, or to poke through her purse, or to generally fidget nervously. She knew David was coming to the apartment and felt jittery. She figured she must already be interested in him since all her thoughts about the party had centered around him, not the dozen other people that she didn’t know.

Shift to David, and we find basically the same. He had planned out his entire day ahead of time: get to work a bit earlier, get done earlier, head home to shower again, change clothes, shave again, put on his favorite shirt, and generally get ready for what he hoped would be a significant night. But then, Gaela threw a monkey wrench into his plans: as early as 4:00PM (when David planned to leave work and get ready), she texted him letting him know that Caitlin was already there and that he should come on over. More interestingly, David and Gaela had never talked about David’s interest in Caitlin, so it was beyond David how Gaela knew he’d be interested that Caitlin had arrived. Regardless, David hurried home, changed, and raced to Gaela’s (who, granted, only lived about 5 minutes away at the time).

David finally arrived at Gaela’s and walked in. Standing at the corner of the couch, facing the door in the most perfect pink dress, was Caitlin. Our eyes met, and as cliché as it sounds, neither of us will ever forget that first moment. Caitlin stood, half-turned toward the door, with a shy cute smile giving David a little half-wave, as if we already knew we shared a secret that we had never spoken. David gave a nervous wave back as his heart leapt into his throat, and tried his best to suppress the smile he was certain gave away his every thought.

David walked up to Gaela, 100% certain that if he walked right up to Caitlin he’d say something incredibly stupid, like “So how about that grammar?” or “I just met you, and this is crazy, but will you marry me?” After talking for a moment, though, he turned to Gaela, Caitlin, and Gaela’s roommate each in turn and told them each how nice they looked that night, a gesture that caught Caitlin’s attention even more considering how ill-acquainted we still were at the time.

After a little more bantering at Gaela’s apartment, the group (now ballooned to around ten people) split into two cars for the trek to Fado, an Irish-themed restaurant in Buckhead that has mysteriously spiked in popularity over the past few years. Gaela and Caitlin joined David in his old Volvo, with Gaela letting Caitlin ride in the front seat. Caitlin tried her best to sit pretty and be charming, while David did his best to stop wondering if this would be the first of many car rides with this gorgeous girl in his passenger seat. At some point during the ride, David commented on his car’s broken odometer, saying, “But on the bright side, it didn’t stop on a prime number. That would have been annoying,” prompting a response from Caitlin of, “I know, right‽” David bit his tongue to keep himself from blurting out another all-too-soon marriage proposal.

When we arrived at Fado, Caitlin ducked off to the restroom with Gaela, leaving David with one of the most complex and important problems to solve of his young academic career: faced with a certain arrangement of open seats, and with the promise of the birthday girl and Caitlin returning from the restroom, where could he sit such that he kept a spot near Caitlin while making sure Gaela got a central location worthy of the birthday girl? Fortunately, his experience with probability, combinatorics, algorithm optimization, and human psychology did not fail him, and upon their return Caitlin took a seat next to him. We chatted, flirted, and laughed throughout dinner, quartered off on the far end of the table from the rest of the conversation. Throughout the dinner as well, David kept checking his phone to try to help a then-single Briana Roeder arrive, silently hoping his frequent distraction was not giving Caitlin the wrong idea. Hindsight would suggest that it didn’t.

After dinner, we returned to Gaela’s apartment. David went to the restroom, and while he was there, the party effectively completely dispersed. Half the guests went ahead and left, and the remaining ones that were staying over went to bed. David came out of the restroom to an empty living room, save for Caitlin sitting on the loveseat looking back at him and smiling. A portion of David’s mind screamed, “Don’t risk the awkward silence! Leave! Run! You don’t want to mess this up!”, but in a fit of confidence, he strolled over to the loveseat, bypassing the much larger and entirely empty couch, and took his seat next to Caitlin. We turned on the television and sat together for hours, chatting and mocking infomercials and sitting so close together that we would be mistaken for a couple already by anyone but our naïve selves. We talked about everything from old Disney movies to Christian symbolism in The Matrix to politics to the site online that tells you what your phone number spells. During that time, we were both struck by a simple fact: both of us err on the introverted side and sometimes have trouble keeping up conversations with people we’ve just met, and yet, sitting on that couch, we talked as if we had been together for years. Nothing had ever felt so natural.

Sometimes, there are no words.

Minutes turned to hours, and finally the clock struck an hour that seemed to suggest that staying any later would give away David’s affections. Caitlin was spending the night at Gaela’s, so she didn’t have anywhere to head off to. We hugged, and Caitlin said, “I guess I will see you in another ten years!”, bummed and sad that she thought she would never see him again. David replied, “Oh, it will be a lot sooner than ten years from now.”

David went home, sat down at his computer, and typed up a simple status message: “Woah.” He knew that that night would turn out to be very, very significant.

Part 3: The Early Days

The next morning, though, David was confronted with one troubling fact. In his infinite wisdom and enormous depths of dating experience, he had forgotten to do the one most important thing you must always remember to do when you meet a girl you’re interested in: ask for her phone number. Somehow, David had come away empty-handed.

So, David devised a plan to get said phone number that didn’t amount to, “Hey, Gaela gave me your number.” The next morning, he messaged Caitlin – the first of literally tens of thousands of Facebook messages exchanged since – mentioning the site that tells you what your phone number spells. He wrote, “The 0’s throw mine off; the best thing I can come up with is I-0-I-ICY-AFT-0. Maybe my phone’s trying to tell me something. Hopefully yours spells something a little more interesting.” Then, fully aware of how transparent his motives were, he added, “Yes, this is an extremely unsubtle way to make up for in a late night-induced stupor forgetting to find a way to contact you that doesn’t involve typing ‘Facebook’ into a web browser.” Caitlin responded with her own, “Hmm…yeah…my phone number spells nothing. Luckily, I am not an infomercial… PS-0-SUX-JZ-LB…So, it is still a little entertaining. I do feel that Jay-Z sucks, and p.s. and pound are irrelevant.”

Equipped with the phone number, David set about the most challenging task of his life: calling a girl and asking her out. He knew the normal rule was to wait a couple more days, but the truth was, he couldn’t wait that long to see her. Gaela’s party was on a Wednesday, meaning it was now Thursday: if he waited much longer, it would have to be an entire week before he saw her again, and that just wasn’t acceptable. And despite having spent approximately 90% of his post-16th-birthday life in long-term relationships, calling a girl and asking her on a date was a task that had long eluded him. He paced around his apartment for literally two hours, trying to figure out the right thing to ask or say. In the end, he failed, asking her over to watch a movie (planned to be The Soloist, but ended up being Hitch) under guises so innocuous that she was not even sure if it was a date or not. The date took place, but at the end, Caitlin was left guessing as to whether or not there was any more interest there on his part. David came away with a very strong realization, however – he wrote later that night, “I think for the first time I’ve found a girl that can make me legitimately laugh out loud. I was the one in hysterics half of tonight.”

David had no doubt, however, and had always planned it as a date: his framing was just a little unclear to the other willing participant. That week, he and Gaela were on their way to dinner. Gaela and David tended to be one another’s confidants about relationships and such, but in this case, since Caitlin and Gaela were even closer, David didn’t want to put Gaela in an odd middle position by asking for her help earlier. So, he told Gaela that he wasn’t looking for advice, but that he had called and asked Caitlin on a date after her party, prompting a response of, “Aww!” Then he continued, letting Gaela know Caitlin had said yes, prompting another, “Aww!!” Finally, he said that the date had been the previous Sunday, prompting a response of, “WHAT?!”

David was not the only one who knew it had been a date, either. One of David’s closest friends, Angela Giglio, had been getting the play-by-play all throughout the process. Angela went to middle school with Caitlin and David as well, and is also famously close with David’s mother. The Sunday morning of the first date, Angela joined David and his parents for church. After church, Angela said to David’s parents (as out of the blue as humanly possible), “So, has he told you he has a date tonight?” She went on to say, “Don’t worry, we definitely like this one.” Later that day, Angela added Caitlin as a friend again on Facebook, and proceeded to spend the entire day talking with her through Facebook to gather information while Caitlin was at work. When he heard this, David told her, “Angela, that’s so awkward! She’s going to know exactly why you’re doing this!” Angela replied, “Relax, she doesn’t even know we’re still friends,” to which David corrected, “Actually, I told her Wednesday that we go to church together every week and are very close.” “…oh. Shoot.”

A second date followed, this time successfully watching The Soloist (which neither of us recommend), followed by a third movie date to watch G-Force. Caitlin knew it was adorable and wanted to share it. Throughout the movie, we talked, flirted, and found excuses to put our arms around one another. It was like being back in high school again, two adorable individuals that hadn’t started a new relationship in so long that every slight little maneuver carried volumes of meaning. The night drew to a close and it was time for Caitlin to leave, but she didn’t want to. David didn’t want her to. We hugged on the couch, arms around each other, hearts pounding together, and finally turned toward each other and shared the first of many kisses. The following night was the fourth date, in which we decided we were a couple. Facebook officiality followed soon thereafter, prompting the hilariously shocked reactions of everyone with whom we had gone to middle school.

Part 4: And the Rest is History

After that, we became extremely close extremely quickly. Only a couple weeks later, we were sitting in my car watching the sun set over Atlanta from a parking lot near Atlantic Station that I’m familiar with, when Caitlin brought up that she had seen me respond to a Facebook poll asking how long two people should date before they get married. My reply had been one to two years, and I followed it up by citing studies on the chemical changes the mind goes through during the first eighteen months of a new relationship. I then asked her what she thought, and she said she just knew she wanted to get married on the first Saturday in November, whenever that happened to be for the given year. We looked at each other, and wordlessly realized: if we were to be married, it would be November 3rd, 2012. At that point, we didn’t have any way of knowing if we’d marry each other, but somehow knowing when we would if we did made everything seem significantly more real. David went home and wrote in his journal: “November 3rd, 2012, 844 days.” A few weeks later, we were discussing another significant topic: “I love you.” Not that we had said so yet, but wondering what it meant when it was appropriate, and how one another felt. It was during that time that David said something that stuck with Caitlin for a long time: “I can’t wait to fall in love with you. I know I’m going to. I can’t wait to actually do so.”

We could go into great detail on all the great dates, great nights, and great times that have brought us so close together since then, but a picture’s worth a thousand words, so these should be worth several novels.

Us on one of our first dates, the fireworks at Phipps on the Fourth of July 2010.

Us at the Georgia Aquarium in 2010. Not quite the most significant date we had at the aquarium.

Caitlin at the dairy at Berry College in 2010 on David’s surprise birthday date for her.

Caitlin and David at the Stone Mountain laser show in Summer of 2010.

Caitlin meeting David’s parents — and Doorknob — for the first time.

Carving pumpkins and looking awesome during Halloween 2010.

Banana in a top hat! (Also Halloween 2010.)

At the Botanical Gardens, Fall 2010.

The chillest Santa in the world, at Callaway Gardens at Christmas 2010.

Decorating David’s apartment for his first Christmas on his own, 2010.

Caitlin getting her Christmas present from David’s parents, 2010.

Us at David’s surprise 24th birthday party.

Caitlin cooking David’s birthday dinner in 2011.

At Gaela’s wedding, Spring 2011.

At the World of Coke, May 2011.

After Caitlin’s graduation in May 2011.

Reenacting the marriage proposal from a few minutes before, June 2011.

Hunting for pumpkins, Fall 2011.

At Briana Luders’ wedding, November 2011.

At the Botanical Gardens for the Christmas lights, December 2011.

Engagement photoshoot, November 2011.

The stockings Caitlin made for Christmas, 2011.

At our engagement party with both of our entire families (sans Dave White), January 2012.