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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
30 Rock


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Today Seven Years Ago I Met The Boy I'm Going To Marry

I've never really cared too much either way about Valentine's Day.

For the first twenty-something years of my life, I didn't really have a special someone to please or to please me. Sure I had crushes, unrequited loves if you will, but they were few and far between. Whether or not they happened to overlap with any major holidays is all a blur now. It's the classic glass half full/glass half empty approach to life. It all depends on where you're standing when they do the pouring.

One Valentine's Day, however, seven years ago, I started working at my dead insurance job. Everything about that job, in a nutshell, sucked. Now when I look back on my time there, I know what they mean when they say everything happens for a reason. I was meant to take that position. One, because being fed up with jobs like that led me to the job I have now. Two, because that is where I met the man I was going to marry.

I didn't know back then that I met the boy I was going to eventually end up with. What I do remember though is walking through the door and, since the secretary was MIA, having to find the first available cubicle to inquire where I should go and what I should do. Lo and behold, that was the first time I met my eventual boyfriend.

Nothing about him grabbed my attention at first. Then, a month so into working there, I remember getting a random flash when he passed by. Suddenly it came to me that this co-worker of mine was the man I was going to marry.

Now you have to remember that at this point, nothing romantic has transpired between him and I. In fact, I didn't even think I thought of him that way, at least not on a conscious level. Apparently, my subconscious felt differently. As a result I started to realize feelings that I didn't know were there, or develop feelings that weren't there until my premonition.Looking back on things now, events developed quickly. Of course in the moment it didn't feel that way though. It felt like everyday dragged, not knowing what was going to happen.

Once we got together I'd love to say it was smooth sailing from there, but I'd be lying. Relationships, as most of you know already, take a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of compromise. It took us a long time to try and find a balance of the three. There were even times when we gave up entirely because it was too hard. For us, however, all roads led back to the same destination.

Now coincidentally, I thought that Valentine's Day, or there whereabouts, might be somewhat monumental yet again. That's because I knew that boyfriend was on the verge of proposing to me.

How I knew is another story entirely. The fact that we were planning on getting married one day wasn't a surprise. We've discussed this, and the time line for everything to follow, for sometime now. I even went with my boyfriend right before Thanksgiving to get "ideas" for rings. I say "ideas" because I pretty much led the horse to water with this one. I thought for sure we would have to jump from shop to shop, the blind leading the blind, asking about the 4 C's of ring buying. You know, Cost, Conceded-ness, Condescension and Chaos, or something like that. But we didn't make it nearly that complicated (an honorary "C" of carat buying, by the way). We went to one store, in the mall no less. It was a mom and pop type shop where I tried on a few different styles and in under a half hour, I chose the one I wanted the most. And just like that the "circle" was complete.

Since I knew my boyfriend was going to purchase said ring, we decided together that the actual proposal would be a surprise. Thanksgiving passed, but I wasn't too shocked I didn't get anything then. After all, Christmas was right around the corner. Plus he had told a number of people he was going to do this soon, so many people in fact, that one person even congratulated me before anything even happened. Talk about awkward.

But then New Years came. And when I asked my boyfriend if we were doing anything, he said no. Just for future reference ladies, if your boyfriend says you're not doing anything special, chances are good you're really not doing anything special. I learned this the hard way. Still, I knew deep down that there would be a time and place for the proposal. After all, I knew the man for seven years, what would a few more weeks hurt? Still that didn't make the return to school after holidays, with my tail between my legs so to speak, any easier.

Naturally your mind wanders to the next big holiday.

At Christmastime, Valentine's Day still seemed so far away. Of course, it actually came a lot quicker than I realized. I thought perhaps he was going to do it then, but neither one of us are "traditional" people, so the idea that he would center his actual proposal around the holiday at hand seemed far-fetched to me. Plus, like I mentioned earlier, I had already figured his proposal to be around Christmastime. To be wrong once is ok, but to brag about it twice is just downright embarrassing.

So last weekend we went out to dinner in Philadelphia in "honor" of Valentine's Day. We don't go out for fancy dinners often, much less for every major holiday. Typically, fancy to us is a night out at Carrabba's with a pitcher of Sangria and an appetizer of Fried Calamari. I even commented to him that I'm sure that the establishment wouldn't approve that my blouse had been purchased in Walmart, of all places.

But there were other signs, too. When we got to the restaurant and had been seated, my boyfriend told the waitress that he had wanted a table a bit more private, something he never requests. So they proceeded to move us, to something actually that was even more public, but we stayed put.

Still, with these little signs, he still seemed extremely calm considering someone who was carrying around a carat of a diamond in his pocket. He even talked about going out to the movies afterwards. Finally he said to me that he had gotten me something for Valentine's Day and out comes this beautiful ...necklace.

Don't get me wrong, it was a great necklace. But when you're expecting fillet mignon and you get a cheese steak, it somehow doesn't seem to matter how tasty the latter is. So I think I did a good job of hiding my confusion. He had me try on the necklace, which I really did like, but it was too long. So I spent a good amount of time fumbling to get it on and off and put my original necklace back on, all by the light of the dimly lit candle.

Our expensive dinner plates cleared, the waitress then brought the dessert menus. I didn't even get to look at them when my boyfriend announced that he had known what he wanted since the place (and the dessert) had been recommended by a friend. When the waitress came back she placed a miniature cake in front of me. On the cake said the words, "Wanna get married?"

Before I knew what had happened, my boyfriend had come around the table and gotten down on one knee. Naturally I said yes and people in the restaurant began to clap. The wait staff had known all along, but the patrons, of course, had not. It didn't matter whether they knew or not. Though flattered, I was still thoroughly embarrassed about hate being on display.

He tried to give me a heartfelt speech to go along with the proposal, but when a waitress comes over asking if you want coffee and opening a bottle of champagne, it kinda ruins your train of thought. Despite all of this though, it truly was an awesome night. I was doubly psyched to get a necklace and a ring, but my boyfriend (excuse me, fiance)still insists that the necklace was a decoy gift, purchased at Target for $12.00 earlier that very same day. In his mind it was expendable. In my mind it was, and still is, a nice piece of jewelry. It just goes to show you I care nothing about being "high class".

Perhaps the most amazing thing of all though was that he managed to surprise me, even with my knowing it was coming. This was actually no easy feat when you think about it. Then again, it's fitting when you consider our relationship began just as unexpectedly.



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