Monday, February 14, 2005

My Valentine

Thirteen years ago on this day, I proposed to my wife. While I fully intend to say some wonderful Valentiney things about her later in this posting, I want to start by sharing a bit of our engagement story. You see, we were engaged thirteen years ago today, but it almost occurred thirteen years ago yesterday (or perhaps not at all!), as we got into an argument the night before the planned proposal -- an argument that nearly ended with me angrily popping

the question early by hurling the ring at her and saying "the reason I can't tell you why we're having dinner early tomorrow night is that I'm planning to ask you to marry me!".

I like surprises, but in college, it wasn't very easy to pull off a surprise like what I had planned on Becky. My surprise: after months of talking about getting engaged, I decided to propose to Becky right before a Valentine's formal. Romantic? Yes ... the setting was perfect. It was also too easy to figure out though --too easy for her to not be surprised. I planned for months. I had to create a belief in her that there was no way possible that I would propose on Valentine's Day.

Step 1 was to convince her that I wouldn't propose without asking for her father's blessing. I accomplished that by having my talk with him, and then using my post-talk energy (yeah, I was freaking out) to convince her that I had chickened out and would ask him on our next visit home. I was rattled after my talk with her Dad. We both said that right things, but man was I a mess after that talk!

Step 2 was to convince her that I had no way to even buy a ring. We had talked about rings, but we had yet to shop for them. I accomplished step 2 by leaving out a credit card application and telling her that my parents were planning to co-sign, once I finally got around to sending it to them (which I kept *forgetting* to do). I told her that once they co-signed and I got the credit card, we could start shopping. Meanwhile, I picked out her ring and borrowed the money to buy it without her even having the faintest idea of what I was up to.

So, with a ring in hand (well, in a box hidden in my dorm room) and a girlfriend who believed that I didn't have the courage to ask for father's blessing (at least in the first go-around), I set forth on Step 3, keeping my plans secret from her until the last possible minute. I didn't want her to have much time to think about what *could* happen the night of Valentine's Day 1992.

You see, the dance started late, and our friends were planning to dine late as well. On the eve of our engagement, in Becky's mind, we were heading to dinner around 7:30 PM. That's not what I had in mind though. My plan was to take her to a fancy-smancy restaurant, treat her to a fancy-smancy meal, hopefully get away with buying wine (yep, we weren't even legal drinking age!), and lead her on a post-dinner walk through the historic part of UGA's campus -- where I planned to propose to her in special garden.

Unfortunately, I hit a kink in my planning: the only dinner reservation available was for 4:45! Not great -- but better than no reservation! I took the early reservation, and set out to make the best of it.

Telling her about our early dinner plans though --- that's where things got complicated. Apparently, the following things are a big deal:

1. Telling your college girlfriend the night before a formal that she has to be ready at about three hours earlier than she had planned.

2. Telling your college girlfriend the night before a formal that the two of you won't be dining with your group of friends, but will instead by dining alone … in the late afternoon.

3. Telling your college girlfriend the aforementioned while doing laundry and very tired ... in the basement of a dorm at 11:00 PM.

So, an argument ensued ... an argument that included me saying things like "Becky, there are some things you don't understand right now. Just trust me. Eating early will be fun. Trust me ... maybe you don't understand the reasons I wanted to eat early.

Trust me." Well, despite me saying everything but "will you marry me?", she continued to not get it ... and continued to be unhappy with me ... for quite some time that night. "I just don't understand why we have to eat so early!" Just a silly college argument, but one that took her within a few minutes of having a funny, but not so romantic engagement story! Well, somehow we managed to end our argument without breaking up or getting engaged early -- with her still pretty mad at me though!

The next night -- better said, the next afternoon, her girlfriends helped her get ready for our early dinner. They all knew what was going on -- Becky still didn't. Can you imagine these girls knowing that Becky was about to hear the big question, while Becky was still complaining about my dinner plans! (By the way, this is one of my favorite parts of this memory!)

She managed to get ready in the late afternoon and off we went to our early dinner. Toward the end of our dinner, which turned out to be in a very romantic setting, I started to set in motion the plans to take that post-dinner walk. Unfortunately though, the weather wasn't cooperating. It was very chilly with light rain. I wasn't ready to throw in the towel though -- that garden was the spot -- it had to be. I suggested that we take a walk and mentioned that I'd rather walk from the restaurant because I was still a little tipsy from the wine. She quickly replied that she felt fine and could drive. Hmmm ... making it difficult for me. I pressed, suggesting that I really did want to take just a quick walk to enjoy the fresh air. She countered by saying that it was raining -- and that the rain would hurt her coat. I offered her my overcoat. Good grief -- she was making this a challenge! Finally, I convinced her to go on the walk -- and convinced her twice to keep going when she suggested that we turn around. When we got to the spot, in the middle of a beautiful garden, I dropped to my knee and ask her to marry me. And she laughed.

She laughed because she thought that I was kidding. She was so convinced that it just couldn't happen that night that she refused to believe that it was real. I finally got the point across though, and of course, you know by now what her answer was.

Thirteen wonderful years have passed, twelve of those in wedded bliss. Each year, our relationship has grown stronger. We've become better friends and better partners. We laugh more. We disagree less. We communicate more and become angry less. I've learned to cook and wash dishes, and she's learned to ... well, make a big deal of saying thanks whenever I do all the things that guys should do, but still expect praise for doing!

My high school girlfriend in 1987 became my college girlfriend in 1990 became my fiancée in 1992 became my wife in 1993. She is my soul mate. If I tried to write everything she means to me, I'd fill up the Internet. Loving, smart, beautiful, patient, compassionate ... I'll just keep thinking them and wrap up my posting now.

The luckiest man in the world,

February 14, 2005

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