Whew! I feel like I’ve been away from blogging for eons! Truthfully, the past few days have been a whirlwind, so I’m going to write about what’s been going on in one gargantuan post. Please bear with me; today’s post is the best and most long-awaited news I’ve ever shared with you!
On Wednesday, my boyfriend Ian completed his first semester of medical school by achieving competency — fancy shmancy terms for passing — in Anatomy. I met him downtown at his apartment to celebrate. One of his classmates and his girlfriend were supposed to join us for dinner, but we ended up having a private Date Night at Capital Ale House. I’m always impressed by the service and the beverage selection there. I tried a pear-flavored cider that was absolutely delicious, and I really splurged on dinner: a real hamburger, mixed greens with a ginger vinaigrette, beer-based German cheese spread with pretzel chips, and a brownie sundae-type dessert. Of course, alongside a fabulous dinner, we discussed engagement and marriage. I don’t remember how long we’ve been talking about getting married, but the innumerable conversations probably began just a few months into our three-year relationship. I think it began as a joke, but the more we learned about each other, the more we realized how incredibly compatible we are and how aligned our goals for the future were. Let me back up a bit…
As more and more of my sorority sisters became engaged when we were undergrads and celebrated their happiness with one of our Alpha Delta Pi chapter’s traditions, the beloved Candlelight ceremony, the more I grew discouraged that Ian and I would never be engaged. (Dramatic much?) In reality, he was a junior when I was a senior, and we were nowhere near ready to make that kind of emotional or financial commitment. He was trying to focus on whether or not to play football his senior year, manage his responsibilities as an RA, prepare to take the MCAT, and give of himself fully to all of his extracurriculars without overextending himself. I was trying to decide which grad school best suited my needs, focus on graduating, and live up my senior year with my sorority sisters and best friends. As much as I wanted what it seemed everyone else had, I knew in my heart neither of us was ready for The Next Step. Now fast forward a bit…
In May of this year, just a few weeks after the end of my first year of graduate school and Ian’s senior year at Hampden-Sydney, his family took me for the third time on their annual trip to the Outer Banks. We were sitting on the beach late one afternoon when Ian casually mentioned that he felt ready for engagement, and that he had been since February. I was completely taken aback, because I had always felt like our previous conversations about The Future were awkward and forced. As much as I wanted to be ready, I didn’t feel ready. But, because I’m way too schedule-oriented to just leave things at that, we agreed that we would become engaged between our anniversary in November of this year and our fourth anniversary in 2013. I felt satisfied with that arrangement… for a few months. I know that patience is a virtue, but it is evidently not one I possess. I determined in August that I felt emotionally and mentally prepared to take The Next Step with him.
In June of this year, we took our time shopping at five different jewelry stores before we found the perfect ring at Littman Jewelers. What makes it so perfect? Ian and I didn’t (wholeheartedly) agree on a single other ring, for one reason or another. This ring spoke to us, and we both knew it was the ring I was meant to wear. Maybe most women want their fiance to pick out their ring and surprise them, but again — I’m unconventional, and I’m a control freak. Our “plan” had been to pick out several rings at a few stores and have Ian choose among them to sort-of surprise me. In the end, we knew that we had both fallen in love with the Littman ring. Fast forward again to November…
I’m not even going to deny it anymore — I flat-out ruined Ian’s and my anniversary dinner last month. I also may have made it sound a little rosier than it really was… We celebrated at P.F. Chang’s with all of my favorites: lettuce wraps, spring rolls, Ma Po Tofu, and even complimentary champagne. I was so convinced that November 9th would be the date of our engagement that I ruined what would have been a completely perfect celebration if I hadn’t been expecting anything. I had curled my hair in loose ringlets, carefully selected one of my favorite outfits, painstakingly painted my nails, and perfectly applied my makeup so that any photos we took would look pristine. I kept trying to nonchalantly look for a square-shaped object in his pockets, but I knew that his taking me up on my offer to drive, combined with his insistence that he didn’t need a jacket nor did he need anything from his car before we left, were signs that my hope was indeed false. Boy, did I feel stupid. Ian had told me many times that I wouldn’t know when the proposal was coming… and he was exactly right.
Since Christmas of 2009, when Ian and I exchanged gifts for the first time — and after having known each other for just two months — we have had our own private Christmas. This year, he was bound and determined to have “our Christmas” this past Thursday. To be blunt, I thought it was a stupid idea; my sister and her best friend Rob were expected home Thursday evening, and I knew things would be frenzied trying to get dinner ready with six hungry people in the kitchen. I kept trying to suggest that we have Christmas at any other time — Friday before our company arrived, Saturday before the U of R basketball game, Sunday after church, or Monday morning before he left for home. But he wouldn’t have it. Finally I consented to Thursday, but I pestered him about it all day. He was insistent that we wait until it was dark outside. Actually, he wanted my sister and Rob to be home, and for us to sneak away from the rousing game of Monopoly we were supposed to get started. I thought that would be kind of awkward and non sequitur, so finally I pestered him into opening presents around 3:45 Thursday afternoon. Nothing was going on, and only my mom was home. It was quiet and laid-back, and I thought we’d have our Christmas and be ready to greet Rob and Caroline when they arrived.
We gathered our gifts for each other and sat on the floor of my bedroom. I made him open two of his first before I opened his family’s Christmas presents for me. Then he opened his other two, and we sat talking for a bit about our gifts and the thought behind them. I thought I had done a decent job this year, even though I hadn’t stuck to the $50-limit we had set for ourselves. When we were done raving about our gifts, I barely noticed that he got up and walked out of the room while I was admiring the lightweight running jacket his mom had thoughtfully selected for me. When he came back, he had a small black box in his hands. He got down on one knee, and then on both knees since I was still sitting on the floor. His voice shook as he opened the box to reveal the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and said, “Will you be my wife tonight? Will you marry me tonight?” I knew he was nervous, but he looked so confident and so hopeful. I immediately squealed, “YES!” and threw my arms around him. For those of you who know me — and who know I do not have tear ducts — or for those of you who are wondering, yes, I cried. Then he said, “I went a little over budget…” I kept repeating, “Ohmygosh, we’re engaged!” interspersed with, “We’re getting married!” He just kept smiling at me and saying “yes, we are” over and over again while I tried to catch my breath. It’s been nearly 72 hours since he proposed, and I still don’t think I’ve fully absorbed that I am engaged to be married.
I could not stop staring at my left hand as we gathered up the tissue paper and packed up our gifts from my bedroom. I was preparing to put the tissue paper in the gift-wrapping closet in the loft when I saw my mom below me in the living room. She said, “Are you wrapping or unwrapping?” and in response, I screamed at her, “We’re engaged!!”
Evidently, she and my dad had known for several days. Ian had asked my dad out to lunch on Monday so he could officially ask for my dad’s blessing. He won’t tell anyone when he actually purchased the ring, but he brought it with him to lunch to show it to my dad before asking permission to marry me. This was something Ian and I had discussed, but not something I suspected whatsoever had already occurred. In fact, on Wednesday evening at Cap Ale, I even said to Ian, “I know you haven’t already talked to my dad, but when you do, maybe you ought to ask him not to tell my mom. She doesn’t lie and she’s not very good at keeping secrets, so I’m afraid she’ll give it away.” He’s a sly dog; he just laughed and said, “Okay.” Sorry, Mom 😉
Little did I know, my parents had chilled champagne waiting for us.
Ian had wanted to wait until dark to have our Christmas because he wanted my entire family to be home. I think it worked out perfectly the way it happened, because if you know me, you know it’s just not my style to wait or to be patient. Plus, I was able to collect myself and get
the majority of at least a few of my squeals out of the way before my sister and Rob rolled in. I was literally jumping up and down in the kitchen when they walked in, saying, “We’ve been waiting for you to get here!” Caroline was on her phone texting or SnapChatting or Heytelling someone or whatever, so I wiggled my fingers near her cell until she noticed and screamed. There was hugging and everyone talking over one another for a good ten minutes — typical of our family. I officially asked her to be my MOH, something we have been excitedly discussing since we were little girls. I finally allowed Ian (who was bursting at the seams) to post “She said yes…” on Facebook with a picture of the ring on my finger.
I have never been so overwhelmed by love and congratulations and well wishes! I still cannot believe the outpouring of love I have received from friends and family, and especially my beautiful Alpha Delta Pi sisters. One of my pledge sisters gave me advice that evening via text which I will carry with me until we are married: Enjoy this moment! It’s one you will always remember 🙂 don’t let social media and text messages take away from it 🙂 She’s exactly right, though I can’t deny that I have cherished each and every text, tweet, call, and Facebook “like” we have received. I was wearing jeans, an ADPi tee, no makeup, and my hair in a messy ponytail when Ian proposed. And you know what? It didn’t matter one little bit. Every moment was completely perfect. Everyone keeps asking Ian the significance of December 13th, but he just smiles. I guess there are a few things I’m okay with him keeping from me!
Well, I’d better go finish getting ready. This evening, we are celebrating my birthday and our engagement at the Tobacco Company in Richmond. There will be martinis and steaks and smiles all around! To be honest, I haven’t stopped smiling since 4:30 on Thursday 😉