There I was minding my own business when we were brought together. Literally and figuratively. I wasn’t really paying attention to her when I realized there was something attractive about this girl whom fate made the only other person in the massive room that night. With whom I had to work together to string lights over a basketball court in the gym. I dismissed the thoughts quickly.
The week before I had been telling a friend that starting dating around the holidays was worthless and not genuine. It would be all about emotions and would be not be a good time to meet someone. Plus, the only reason I was there was because no one else was willing to lead decorating on Christmas Eve. Also, I was done with girls for another few months.
But there she was. With an amazing smile. Giving up her Christmas and Christmas Eve to volunteer. Seemed to love people, was beautiful and goofy and sarcastic and funny. After what might have been the most stressful day of my year being a “leader” Hannah invited me to a friend’s place for Christmas dinner and some games.
“I was just invited to the decorating girl’s friend’s place for dinner. If I go I know emotions will be involved. Encouragements and rebukes welcome” is what I texted a buddy.
I had noticed Hannah blush a little as she wrote down her number. It seemed like there was something there, but I was exhausted, but what if this is the one chance Eminem talked about, but I’m really tired and I’m already late, but I should just go.
I went, late and with beer to celebrate making it through the largest event of the year, and for nerves. I made a short appearance, lost at Skip Bo and went on my way home.
“How was your night?” was the text I received as I got home.
“It was fun. She is really cute and funny, but not sure if she is nice to everyone”, to the same buddy.
And 20 minutes later he got another. “Well, I know now…we have a date Wednesday”
‘What am I doing?’ I thought. I just asked a girl out on Christmas…by text. I thought similar things when I invited her to my friend’s New Year’s Eve party for our second date. And when we took a 12 hour road trip two days after. But… she was different…beautiful…caring… and open.
Little did I know these emotionally open, exhausted, completely censor free interactions would influence the rest of my life less than 3 months later.
Last Sunday, having planned a super romantic and creative way, only to have it not completely work, I surprised the girl of my dreams in her house when I asked her to marry me. I was sick and Hannah was still waking up from her nap, but it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. The timing was a surprise but the act was not.
We had talked about marriage early in the relationship as we clarified our intentions. A couple weeks before I walked out of a horrible movie with my mentee to call her mom and ask if I could marry her. Her brother also gave his blessing. My family was on board as was the inner circle. My grandmother’s ring had been restored, sized and cleaned for her…and wasn’t going to wait until our trip to majestic Crater Lake next week.
We spent the weekend with friends in Bend, where it was cold and snowy and forest-y and beautiful. I had gone to retreat, pray and figure out how to take over the world. Hannah came because I was going away for the weekend. Since I had the ring, and am not an eloquent speaker…just writer…I decided to type my thoughts out. How amazing she is, has made my life better and how much I want to spend every day of the rest of my life with her. The standard things. Because I knew I would want to actually say the words, I left the last sentence unresolved and asked her to read the last few sentences aloud…
The forecast for the mountain pass coming back to Portland was treacherous at best so I found a hiking trail near Salem that we could take a short hike and then when we returned to the car I would give her the letter while I changed my shoes and shirt, leaving me time to grab the ring and listen for her cue. The pass wasn’t that bad but my cold was. It started to make me tired, stuffed up and nauseous occasionally. As we approached the turn off for the trail, the skies opened. It was not raining- even by Oregon standards. It was dumping a month’s worth of sky water in a matter of hours. So we kept driving, skipping the hike and I prayed…
God, I thought this was it. Did I miss something? Am I supposed to wait? Is there a better place or did I mistake your timing?
The negative thoughts flooded in as my perfect plan failed. I still had the letter and realized there was a better place and it would have more meaning.
After a much needed nap, we were sitting on the same loveseat we confessed love and infatuation for the other. It was where we had shared some of the largest and deepest pains and hurts in our life. It is also where we decided we were in this together and neither Hannah nor I was leaving. Now to make that official. I had called her over to the chair after finding a song that we both enjoy- and she sings to me- and handed her the letter.
As she started reading, I held her and I could feel my heart in my chest, then throat… then forehead. I waited as she read. Setting the laptop to the side so I could get up and down on one knee. I waited more. I notice she was reading parts again so pointed to the margin note to read the last part aloud.
She started, “After thinking of you in all these ways, I have made a decision that both delights me because there is no one as perfect as you and scares me as I wonder if I can protect and love you as much as you deserve, but it is with incredible certainty I ask… ”
I have to admit I teared up a little as I asked her to make me the luckiest man I know. She accepted. We hugged and stared at each other. Called family. Texted friends. Told my Portland family at Sunday night dinner. Then I went home alone to my cold now lonely bedroom, ready to start the next chapter of this thing called life.
So there is the story. And no, we are not getting rid of that chair anytime soon.