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A True Texas Love Story

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“It WORKED!”

Rachel Lindsay, the Texas-born stunner who stole America’s heart on the most recent season of ABC’s hit reality series The Bachelorette, has an enthusiastic answer for anyone wondering why reality television was the right place to find love.

“It wasn’t a quick decision,” Rachel insisted. Nor should it have been. While the matchmaking franchise is plenty of fun to watch, it exacts a heavy emotional toll on its cast. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the better part of the millennium, the show works like this: One man or woman is crowned Bachelor or Bachelorette, then a group of 30 vies for the protagonist’s heart over a handful of weeks. The show runs on roses, champagne, and globe-trotting romantic dates, plus the inherent drama in a houseful of people dating the same person.

In short, being the Bachelorette would be an exhausting proposition in the best of times. For Rachel, that decision also came on the heels of heartbreak.

Fans of the franchise will remember the dramatic moment when last season’s Bachelor, Nick Viall, broke Rachel’s heart after seemingly confessing his love for the charming attorney on a date in Finland. Rachel was one of the final three contestants that season.

Mere days after the emotional split, producers offered Rachel the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to find love on The Bachelorette. “We laugh about it now, but I was still in Finland, fresh off my break-up with Nick,” she recalled. “I thought they were kidding. I thought they were just telling me that to make me feel better! And then we continued to have talks, and I realized, ‘This is serious.’”

With suave Bachelorette winner and husband-to-be Bryan Abasolo at her side, it’s easy to see that Rachel made the right decision. But the ride wasn’t without its difficulties. Unable to contact loved ones for months while shooting the show, she had to navigate her journey to find love almost completely on her own. The separation was difficult for her family, too.

“There was a sense of void, as if something was missing,” explained Rachel’s mother. “We communicate daily via family group text messages. Rachel could not respond during her absence. As a parent, you never stop worrying about your children.”

Rachel and her mother, Kathy Lindsay | Photo Courtesy of Rachel Lindsay

Although her family anticipated the distance, it didn’t temper the impact of reality. “It’s still difficult because you know she’s making the biggest decision of her life and she doesn’t have her normal sounding board of family and friends to be there; it’s as if she’s living in a parallel universe,” Rachel’s older sister Constance shared.

Rachel agreed. “That’s why going home was so crucial to me,” she said. “I wanted my family’s input. I wanted to be reassured in the decisions that I was making in my journey.”

She finally got that opportunity a mere two weeks before making her final decision on a fiancé. Her family can tell that she chose well.

“After the completion of the show, Rachel and Bryan came over to our home and spent some time with my parents, husband, and our kids,” said Constance. “I can see he makes Rachel extremely happy and he treats her with love, respect, and adoration. She deserves nothing less and seems to have met her match.”

Forces besides love were at play throughout Rachel’s journey. Lindsay, 32, made headlines when she was announced as the first black Bachelorette. Indeed, she was the first black protagonist in the entire BachelorBachelorette franchise—a staggering fact considering the shows’ 33 combined seasons.

The implications of that position weren’t lost on Rachel. “You know, I thought I was going to be selfish and go after what I felt was missing in my life, but then I realized the platform that I had to reach and relate to so many different women. And not just black women—black women for sure, but professional women, women in their 30s. I think a lot of women can relate to the struggles that I have. It’s very humbling. Honestly, I was shocked that I was offered The Bachelorette, because I am older, I do have a career, and I am black. And that’s a combination you haven’t seen in this role before.”

As it happens, it was that very combination that made Rachel so relatable and well-loved across Bachelor Nation.

Her mother agreed.

“Rachel presented herself as a mature, confident, witty, independent, friendly, and empathetic woman. By staying humble and ‘keeping it 100,’ people could see the real Rachel. For that, I am a proud and blessed parent.”

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Now that the show’s final episode has aired, the leading lady and her beau are free to live out their happily ever after. The first step? A winter wedding in the bride’s hometown.

Rachel and Bryan | ABC © 2017 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

I don’t have the details ironed out, other than that I would prefer not to wear a dress, I want a lot of flowers, and I want a lot of family,” Rachel said, before adding, “I have a big family and so does Bryan, so it’s going to be a big wedding.”

No dress? It appears that Rachel Lindsay isn’t quite finished breaking down barriers. “I would love to wear a sexy, fitted white pantsuit,” she confided. “Maybe with high-waisted pants that are a little flowy. And either no shirt underneath, or maybe some lace underneath that peeks out a bit. Bryan’s already on board about it,” she pointed out. (Honestly, how could he not be?) “So now I just need to get my mom and his mom on board!” A comparatively small hurdle to clear after her whirlwind stint on reality TV.

The details will come. For now, the happy couple is enjoying their time together off-camera. Without the distractions of, say, a production crew and 30 other men, Rachel and Bryan have learned a lot of new things about each other.

“Bryan and I joke that he takes longer to get ready than I do,” Rachel laughed. “I said on the show that he was my best friend, but that’s more evident to me as each day goes by. I’m really hanging out with my best friend and my fiancé at the same time. It’s great.”

Bryan was quick to agree that life together is everything he hoped it would be. “I was determined going in and throughout the journey to focus on Rachel first and foremost,” he shared. “I told her exactly where I stood emotionally every step of the way even though she wasn’t able to fully express where she stood with me. I could sleep well at night knowing that I gave this woman my all and if things were meant to be with her, then she would choose me… and she did!”

A Tale of Two Cities

Now that Rachel has chosen her groom, the two of them are eager to settle down and start a life together. “My family would love for me to be in Dallas. And Bryan’s family would love for him to be in Miami,” Rachel explained.

Rachel and Bryan on their first date in Oslo, Norway, looking at the North Sea | ABC © 2017 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

But no matter where the happy couple lands, Dallas—and Texas in general—will always hold a special place in her heart. “I grew up going to the [State] Fair, football games at the Cotton Bowl—I’m a big sports fan, so I grew up going to Rangers games, football games, basketball games. I was going to games in the Reunion Arena before there was an American Airlines Center!” She has plenty of love for other Texas teams, too: You’ll find her wearing Astros orange throughout the playoff push this fall. “I mean, I’m about supporting the state,” she said. “Hometown team first, then if we’re not there, I root for state teams.”

For a Dallas girl, Rachel is surprisingly hip to Houston’s finest. “I eat at Pappadeaux,” she enthused. You can also find her enjoying a craft cocktail at one of Houston’s trendy hotspots. “I love the Galleria area, so I’m over there a lot. I go bar hop on Washington Avenue in the Heights. I like that area.” One of her favorite Dallas hangouts, Moxie’s Grill & Bar, has announced plans to open in the Galleria area soon.

State pride aside, Rachel is ready to start a new chapter with her fiancé, wherever that may be. “Bryan and I are really into the idea of starting something new with each other,” she confided.

But first, there’s that Texas wedding to plan. I know there will be a lot of dancing and great music at the reception. That’s a Lindsay family tradition—if it’s not, I’m starting it.”

And so the story comes full circle: She grew up steeped in the culture of Dallas, set off from home, and became a role model. Now she’s back, ready to start her own traditions—and family—with the one she loves. Endings don’t come much rosier than that.

Mary Cate is a writer, performer, and content creator, recently back in her native Houston after a few years in Austin and New York City. When she isn't buried behind a book, you can find her creating new ice cream recipes with her husband and exploring local bookshops.

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