The moment I knew: I said ‘marry me or never see me again’ – and he went straight down on one knee | Relationships

It was 2015, and my then-boyfriend and I were living in Canada on working holiday visas from Australia. In the dead of a Toronto winter, I got a job at a restaurant that hosted open mic nights every Sunday, and as a singer-songwriter myself, I was excited to perform.

The open-mic host, David, a bespectacled guy with a neat haircut, bore a striking resemblance to Buddy Holly or Ferris Bueller. He played a few songs to warm up the crowd, and I was instantly impressed – and jealous of his talent.

David and I quickly bonded over a love for 60s pop and Ben Folds Five. We were both in relationships, but always found reasons to talk to each other at work. Soon, we began to collaborate musically.

I would hear stories from others about David’s “wild past”, but the David I met was on a long sober streak, very mild-mannered and a fitness fanatic. One night at the restaurant, he was talking about resting heart rates and exercise, and I started making fun of him for being a nerd. He asked if he could check my pulse and took my hand in his and held my wrist. He held my gaze a little too long and we both pulled away.

I wrote David a note, addressing my feelings and admitting it was more than a friendship, and that because of this I didn’t think we should have any more contact (I even asked our boss to stop rostering us for the same shifts). David read the note, memorised it and wrote a song inspired by the note, which he sent to me in a voice memo. He then put the note through the restaurant’s paper shredder to destroy the evidence.

A couple of months later, in late 2017, I released a solo album of indie piano pop. My touring band fell through at the last minute, so I asked David, who had just ended his relationship, if he would accompany me on guitar and backing vocals for a couple of Canadian shows. We hadn’t been talking but we were each secretly giddy about having an excuse to steal away together.

We spent the first night in Ottawa at a friend’s place, and made a big deal about bringing an extra mattress into the spare room for one of us to sleep on, then wound up sleeping in the same bed – only I slept in a sleeping bag so we definitely weren’t touching. David put his arm around me as we slept and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Couples who sing together … Chelsea Reed and David Macmichael perform together in Toronto, Canada, in 2019.

After the tour, I told David I needed some time alone so I could figure out my relationship. To complicate matters, my work visa for Canada was about to expire.

David and I had no contact for about a month until he reached out and invited me on a songwriting trip to Los Angeles. It was February 2018 and I had finally ended my relationship.

In LA, we hiked to the top of Runyon Canyon where I gave him an ultimatum that addressed the reality of my situation: due to my expiring Canadian visa, he would either need to marry me or never see me again. Without hesitation, he got down on one knee and proposed. “YES!” I responded, and then in my excitement I flashed my boobs to the city below. The spontaneity and wild abandon it took for David to make a decision like that was immensely attractive to me. That night, we were the only two people in LA – no one else in the world existed or mattered.

Back in Canada, we married at Toronto City Hall. In David, I saw a future that wasn’t claustrophobic or boring or routine. We formed a band – a duo called the Tryouts – toured, partied and cycled everywhere. Our first single, Washer, about our proposal, was a song we wrote together in the back yard of our LA Airbnb the day after our engagement.

In late 2020, pandemic pressures prompted us to relocate to Australia, to my hometown of Newcastle.

Our band and our relationship are intertwined. David is very open about his feelings, and has an enviable ability to put them succinctly into songs, even the most embarrassing details, which I find so endearing. We may be flawed, but that’s what makes us so perfect together.

Follow the Tryouts on Instagram for their latest music and tour dates

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