Jordan Rice left his girlfriend, Taylor Tinnin, on the dance floor. Surrounded by her friends, she barely noticed his absence.
He made his way back up to the Charter Day Ball’s coat check area where a friend was waiting, hunched like a boxer ready to enter the ring. He jumped up as Jordan approached, hyped for him, and passed on the ring box he had been holding onto throughout the night.
Jordan remembers the first few times he saw Taylor.
He first spotted her standing in the back of a meeting for Navigators, a campus ministry. Then he noticed her walking across High Street near Benton at the same time he made his way from Porter Hall to cross-country practice. And he remembers shaking her hand three separate times at various campus events.
Taylor doesn’t remember these interactions, and despite being in Cru together and having similar friends, she didn’t register his existence until spring of their sophomore year.
She asked their friend group if anyone wanted to go skydiving with her. Jordan was the only one to respond.
Despite being scared of heights, he thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know Taylor more. They did talk, but it was withdrawn, and the overall situation was less romantic than Jordan had expected.
“I pictured, like, ‘Oh we’re both going to skydive out of a plane, holding hands or something,’” Jordan said. “But it ended up, she got strapped to this like 27-year-old stud, while I got strapped to a 38-year-old man who smelled like Doritos.”
After hearing that Taylor would be in Oxford for the summer, Jordan got a job at Chipotle to stay in Oxford, too, hoping for another chance. But he didn’t know that Taylor had gotten back together with a recent ex-boyfriend. He had to keep waiting.
Taylor was called to the stage, having apparently won a raffle. She was confused.
“Our friend had bought a ton of our tickets for us and we just paid her, so I was like, ‘No ticket is under my name,’” Taylor said.
She was suspicious.
Jordan had discreetly made his way into the giant box on stage and, with the help of two escorts, was moving into place. Swoop the Redhawk took a photo with Taylor as a distraction.
Once Jordan was planted, he started freaking out. He needed to make sure he opened the ring box in the right direction, and he wasn’t in the most comfortable position — an awkward, non-athletic, half-kneel. Huddled and fumbling with the ring, Jordan said he probably looked like Gollum from “Lord of the Rings.”
When Taylor was instructed to turn around to see what she’d won, she noted that that the white box with the red ribbon was Jordan-sized. And when the escorts began to lift the box, she noticed his feet.
They got to know each other more in the fall of their junior year, being in the same prayer group. Taylor and her then-boyfriend eventually ended their relationship, and a few days later, Jordan took another shot. He asked her to Cru’s dance.
They still debate whether Jordan made it clear that he meant as friends, but either way, Taylor agreed and even anticipated he would eventually ask her out on a date. After several days of awkward back-and-forth, he finally confessed his feelings for her.
Jordan and Taylor went on their first date to the Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights.
Even though Jordan was the one waiting patiently for eight months for Taylor to like him back, Taylor was the first to recognize something more.
“I remember one night…I was laying in bed and I was like, ‘What am I feeling?’” she recalled. “And I was like, ‘Oh, it’s love!’”
Their favorite restaurant Uptown is Krishna, but Taylor hates spicy food, so they have to order the chicken curry with a spice level of zero. When they cook together at home, they argue over whose way of preparing chicken is better. They enjoy their regular car rides to Columbus. Jordan likes when Taylor sings, except when she tries to harmonize to “Chocolate” by The 1975.
They had to spend the summer apart — Jordan home in Columbus, and Taylor out in California for an internship. Being in a new place and away from the people she knew was hard, but they talked every day and took that opportunity to grow.
Jordan visited Taylor and, after spending the day at DisneyLand, he confided…
I want to marry you.
I want to marry you too, she happily replied.
“The moment went so fast,” Jordan said. “I couldn’t even hear my own voice, but apparently I did ask her to marry me.”
“I heard him say the words,” Taylor confirmed. “I didn’t even say yes, I just nodded, like, frantically.”
The crowded dance floor in front of them had erupted in cheers as soon as people noticed Jordan down on one knee.
“It was just so special ’cause I looked out and … a ton of our friends were all on the front row or really close by and they were getting pictures and video and stuff,” Taylor said.
“Pretty sure we have enough videos and different angles to make a panoramic video,” Jordan added.
Their friends flocked to the newly engaged couple at the foot of the stage to offer congratulatory hugs. Taylor’s parents were even there, coming down from among Millett’s dark and near-empty arena seating where they were waiting to share in the excitement.
“I couldn’t have imagined it a better way,” Taylor said.