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Annie and Rahul. (Photo: Annie Daly)
Who: Annie (writer) and Rahul (software engineer)
First Met: Camping in the Catskill Mountains, August 2014
Relationship status: Dating
(As told by Annie)
Last August, my two girlfriends and I decided to get out of New York City for the weekend and go camping in upstate New York. We all needed to escape the city for various reasons. One of my friends, Miri, had just broken up with her boyfriend, and she was bumming. The other one, Zoe, was in grad school, and she was overwhelmed with schoolwork. And I had just started taking a skin medicine that made me feel pretty ugh. For all these reasons, planting ourselves in the middle of nowhere, with no one to talk to but each other and the trees, seemed like the perfect move for the moment.
All we wanted: sunshine, tents, and trees. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Given our last-minute planning, there was only one campground still available — Bear Spring Mountain. We got there around 3 p.m. on Saturday. The girls and I changed into our scrubbiest Spandex, grabbed our towels, and went to soak up the last hours of sun by the lake.
A couple minutes into our lounge session, an Indian guy with glasses who looked to be about our age approached us: “Do you know where the bathroom is?” He stayed to chat, and it turns out, he was also escaping NYC with his three friends. Eventually, our new friend motioned for his friends to come join the convo.
Now, remember, we did not go camping with the hopes of meeting men. We were there to do just the opposite: Escape them and everyone else, chill in the woods, and let our friendship work its rejuvenating magic. But when the other three guys came down the hill, I thought one of them was cute right away. Like, really cute.
His name was Rahul. He had on a bright neon orange hat, an athletic T-shirt and shorts, and he flashed a very welcoming and easygoing smile. We all sat down in a semicircle on the lawn and did the small talk thing for the rest of the afternoon. I quickly learned that Rahul and I had a lot in common. He was a software engineer and tech entrepreneur who develops apps, and I am a freelance writer who often writes about tech, entrepreneurs, and apps. Weird, right?
Before we knew it, the sun began to set, and Miri, Zoe and I invited our new friends to come back to our campsite and hang with us for the evening. Rahul and I sat next to each other by the fire for the entire night, sharing stories, laughs, homemade quinoa salad, wine, and gulps of Johnny Walker Black. By the time he and his three friends left our campsite around 1 a.m., we were all sorts of whiskyed up and ready to hit our sleeping bags.
A little more whisky and wine, and we would’ve been singing Kumbaya by the flames… (Photo: Thinkstock)
In the morning, Miri woke up and said, first thing, “Annie, you should go for Rahul. You guys were totally vibing!” Zoe agreed, and I was happy to hear their confirmation of said vibe. “I thought so, too, but I wasn’t sure if I was making it up in my head or not…”
I was not making it up. After breakfast, we went down to the lake again, and Rahul and I ended up chatting for an entire hour in front of the bathroom cabin. Just us. Miri and Zoe jokingly refer to our bathroom trip as our first date.
Our first real date was two nights later. We exchanged numbers before we left, and we started texting right when we got home on Sunday night. We decided to get drinks at a bar on the Lower East Side on Tuesday night, and boom. Vibe = confirmed.
Definitely can’t find fancy cocktails like these in the woods. (Photo: Thinkstock)
It’s been six months since our camping moment, and we’ve been going strong ever since. And the best part? Meeting in such a natural way in such a natural state set the tone for a very real relationship. I am completely myself around Rahul, no chaser, because he met me in my utmost me-ness. I had on scrubby Spandex, no makeup, and I don’t think I even brushed my hair for that entire weekend. But I was me, and I’ve continued to be me ever since.
Plus, meeting in the great outdoors set us up for a future relationship filled with even more nature adventures. Just knowing that we both like being outside — remember where we met! — inspires us to get back into the woods, where it all began. On our third date, for example, we went hiking in Cold Spring, which is about 45 minutes outside of the city.
Quick pause for a hiking selfie. (Photo: Annie Daly)
And just last week, we returned from a five-day trip to Jamaica, where we stayed in the famed Blue Mountains and fell in love with the misty mountain mornings and clear, pure air.
Taking in the freshness. (Photo: Annie Daly)
I'll leave you with this: I only Instagrammed one photo from that legendary camping trip back in August. I stumbled upon a flower with sweet sunlight shining through, and I captioned it with a quote from the Grateful Dead song “Scarlet Begonias”: “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” At the time, I was only talking about the flower. Little did I know that that quote would eventually come to describe so much more: the beautiful — and oh so unexpected — way that I met my boyfriend.
Who knew this photo would be so symbolic? (Photo: Annie Daly)
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