Small Part of Something Big, Part 3 #LoveIsBlind
Updated: Apr 13
Proposal days started the same as all the others, save one thing. We got even less sleep because everyone's nerves were on end. Will I propose? Will she say yes? What happens after?
These questions and thousands more streamed through my head as I showered, dressed, mic'd up, and entered the facility. The other guys seemed to be in a similar state of mind. We waited for the announcement. Matt T - you're up. I took a deep breath and stood up on weak legs. I knew I was about to take a huge leap of faith, and I had no idea where Danielle, Rory, nor I would land. I entered Pod 1 and waited for the sweet, sing-songy voice I had fallen in love with. "Hello?" I slipped my tux shoes off and unrolled my yoga mat, just like so many of our other dates. "Hey Danielle," I did my best to shroud the nervousness in my voice. "Hi Matt," her voice lifted, which made me feel good. "I don't know how much time we have, so I'm going to dive right in, Danielle. It’s time to propose, and everyone else is proposing marriage. I have a different proposal. Danielle, let's walk out of here together, right now. Let's buy a one-way ticket to somewhere and start our lap around the globe. Maybe we'll find a beach somewhere to get married, or maybe we'll just lose ourselves in a great adventure. I've already fallen in love with your voice, but I want to see you, smell you, taste you, and touch you before I take the next step. Before I say forever, I want to mean it with all of me." I put my hands together in prayer, and closed my eyes. I heard a deep breath, then a quiver. The silence that followed felt like it lasted forever. I could tell she was crying. In so many words, she told me that she cared for me, but that a part of her said she needed to be with Rory. She hoped we could be friends on the other side. I was crushed. The pod proposal ended, and I walked back down the hallway. Nick Lachey was waiting, mic in hand, ready to conduct my exit interview. "Matt, there are going to be critics out there that say there's no way you could fall in love sight unseen. There are going to be critics that say your sentiments about being happy for Rory and Danielle can't be genuine. What would you say to those critics?" Nick moved the mic towards me, and we made eye contact. Holding off tears, my spirit lifted. In every Brawl for a Cause event, we begin the Brawl Class' journey with the "Man in the Arena" quote by Teddy Roosevelt. Given the first line of the quote, I knew what my response to Nick's prying question would be: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Nick looked a little bewildered, but thanked me for being a part of the experiment, then sent me on my way. A few minutes later, my bags were loaded into a car, my phone was returned to me, and I was dropped off back at my apartment. As soon as I walked in the doors, I broke down sobbing. I cried myself to sleep for 18 hours, catching up on all the winks I'd lost during the experiment. I woke up the next day to a text from Taylor: "Hey man, they cut some of the couples who got engaged, including Rory and Danielle. We're all getting together at Gypsy Kitchen to meet for the first time. Want to join?" Almost no part of me wanted to join. I was still tired. I was distraught. I was in no mood to put on a smile and meet people, but I knew that this was my first opportunity to rise to the occasion and do what I promised to do; be their friend. I decided not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk. I showered, dressed, didn't mic up for the first day in two weeks, and drove to the bar. I was one of the first to arrive, chatting with Taylor, Andy and some of the girls in person for the first time. Then, a feeling urged me to look towards the door. Seconds later, Danielle entered the room with Rory just behind her. There was an engagement ring on her finger. My heart stopped. I walked up to her, and with a sigh, said, "Hi Danielle, I'm your friend Matt." I held out my hand, which she knocked away before embracing me in a big hug. After, I walked up to Rory and gave him a hug too. We talked for a while about how too many couples got engaged on the show, and that they couldn't follow every story, so there were cuts. After, I mingled with others while I watched Rory and Danielle's PDA out of the corner of my eye. They seemed to be in love. I tried to be happy for them. I stayed in conversations with others, until I was too tired to continue. As I went to leave, Danielle stopped me. "Hey, we need to talk." She looked serious. "Ok, what about?" I was confused, but excited. "Not here. I'm going on a trip for a few days. Let's get together as soon as I'm back." She left me with a hug. I left curious, but at peace with her decision to be with Rory. They seemed good together, and it was time for me to move on. A few days later, Danielle walked into a different room looking like a different person. When I peered down at her finger, there was no longer an engagement ring on it. What she said next shocked me. Want Part 4? Drop your email in my subscriber box, and leave a comment on this blog, or on Instagram so I can ping you when it's live! :)