How They Met
In May 2014, Dean and his friends put on their best bro tanks and made their way to West 6th Street for Sunday Funday. Little did he know that Marisa, who was in town to celebrate earning her Doctorate of Physical Therapy, was at The Dogwood with a local friend. As Marisa and her friend gossipped and shared photos of boys, Dean and the crew walked through the door, in all their tank top and short shorts glory.
One of Dean’s friends began chatting with Marisa’s friend, which was her queue to head to the bar for another drink. Fate has it that Dean was taking a lap, scoping out the bar for any cuties. Dean isn’t the kind of guy to walk up to girls, he’s more of the indirect eye contact across the room type, but this time was different. They met eyes. Dean, without hesitation, said, “Your eyes are gorgeous.” Marisa, taken aback by his boldness, responded, “so are yours.”
They decided to get a table, a chance to get to know each other. According to Dean, he can’t remember what they talked about. According to Marisa, Dean talked about himself and Man Flow Yoga, his new workout program, for two straight hours.
Either way, the time flew by, but one moment stood out most to Dean. The Wobble, a bar song staple since 2008, came on the speaker system. Surely this shy, quiet girl didn’t know the whole dance? She proved him wrong. He couldn’t believe it.
As Marisa and her friend’s dinner plans quickly approached, it was time for them to go. Dean and his friends walked them out of the bar, and on the corner of West 6th and Rio Grande, that’s when it happened. They had their first kiss.
Getting the Blessing
Marisa and Dean’s story didn’t end that Sunday evening on West 6th Street. Over the next 2.5 years, they developed a love of hiking (and each other) on Austin’s greenbelts with their dogs. In November 2017, Dean decided it was time to propose. Bull Creek Greenbelt, one of their usual hiking spots, seemed like the perfect place. But first, he needed her parents’ blessing.
While the couple spent Thanksgiving with Marisa’s family, Cheryl and Mahmood, she and her sister went shopping which was - allegedly - just a coincidence. Dean knew it was now or never. He started by telling them how much he loved their daughter, giving them the full marriage pitch. When he finished, they both said yes and offered him advice on a successful marriage.
Marisa’s mother, Cheryl, was battling stage 4 lung cancer. She passed away 2 days after her 57th birthday, in February 2018, only 10 months after her diagnosis.
“I was conflicted about proposing so soon after her mother’s passing, but ultimately decided that there was no point in waiting, and that this would hopefully be something happy; something to celebrate in the midst of the sadness. The ring was finally finished in late-March, and I had it for a grand total of 1.5 days before giving it to Marisa on March 24."
The big day arrived. Dean and Marisa packed their hiking gear and drove to Bull Creek Greenbelt for their weekly hike, dogs in tow. According to Marisa, Dean was being weird about finding a place with “flowing water” and non-committal about making plans with friends. Marisa wrote it off as “just Dean being his usual weird self” and didn’t look too far into it.
They arrived at Bull Creek Park and began, unknowingly to Marisa, their most memorable hike to date. The ring was safely tucked away in Dean’s fanny pack - maximum security. Not too far along the greenbelt, they noticed two yellow butterflies.
They couldn’t believe it. Yellow butterflies were Cheryl’s favorite.
They continued down the trail, feeling as though Cheryl was with them. Dean anxiously looked for the perfect spot, but nothing seemed right. Until it dawned on him: the yellow butterflies! Would they still be there? What would he do if they were gone?
They returned to the spot. The butterflies were still there! To him, it was Cheryl saying, “Dean - this is the spot. Stop waiting and do it.” Dean asked Marisa to sit with him as his palms started to sweat and heart began to race. He lost all composure.
He was ready, but there was one problem: a lone hiker lingered for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually, the hiker departed and Dean gathered all the courage he could muster. He pointed to something in the opposite direction, placed the ring behind her and told her to turn around. Marisa jumped immediately at the thought of a deadly insect or some other creepy crawler behind her (she’s not a fan of bugs… or snakes). To her pleasant surprise, it was a wooden box with a ring.
Just like the one-sided, two-hour dialogue on the first day they met, Dean began his speech. This time was different, though. It wasn’t about him - he told her everything he promised Marisa's mother and father. Most importantly, he received their blessing before Cheryl passed away.
“Marisa Shirene Hosseini - will you marry me?”
Overwhelmed with excitement, Marisa nodded yes and hugged him as the yellow butterflies fluttered in and around them.
Love this story? Good news! In celebration of Valentine's Day, we're sharing love stories in Austin's parks all week long. Stayed tuned to our social media for more park love stories through February 14th.