I arrived home in New York on Friday, November 18,2011, at 2:00pm from Germany. Rich had class until 8:00pm that night at Columbia. So,I took a cab home and unloaded all my laundry to wash and repack. We had a 7:00am flight out of JFK to Phoenix that Saturday morning. Rich got home a little after 8 that night and after a brief, dramamine state induced, reunion we finished packing just in time to catch two hours of sleep. We woke up that Saturday morning bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for our holiday travels. We hopped into a cab and headed to JFK. As I paid the cab Rich got out and checked us in. As we were standing in line I noticed our boarding passes said San Francisco instead of Phoenix. Of course I thought they made a mistake. Rich proceeded to tell me he thought it would be nice to steal a couple days and reconnect. San Francisco holds a lot of history for us and our relationship. First sign I failed to see. I agreed with his reasoning that this holiday season was going to be crazy with us going to Phoenix then to St. George to spend time with his family and how I had been gone for 2 weeks to Europe. San Francisco seemed like a reasonable “proposal”.
I was all excited looking forward to this mini vacation. On the plane I told him I was very emotional that day. As I looked out the airplane window it hit me. Omgosh would if he was going to propose? My anxiety and anticipation were eased as I looked over to Rich laying knocked out, in a comatose state, next to me. I mean what man could sleep that soundly if he was about to embark on one of the biggest chapters in his life? He slept the entire 6 1/2 hour flight, while I read, watched a DVD, journaled, and reevaluated every decision ever made in my life.
We then retrieved our bags and loaded into a cab heading to our hotel, The Stanford Court Marriott Renaissance. A beautiful hotel, not just because of its quaint location on Nobb Hill. After checking in Rich surprised me again with tickets to Cirque Du Soleil, Totem. Second sign I failed to see. It took me some time to wrestle myself out of the bed and get ready. The jet lag and previous two hours of sleep were catching up with me. We then went down stairs to catch a cab to the show but ended up taking a car service. I don’t know if it was a second wind or the fact that the driver must have literally smoked 2 bowls and a pipe before we got I’m the car but I was feeling more awake. Totem was awesome! Cirque really is amazing. It always surprises and excites me to see what talents people have and what limits a person is able to push their body.
We left in high spirits, even with the San Francisco rain. It was impossible to catch a cab, so we settled on mass transit.
The bus dropped us off a couple of blocks from Franciscan, a beautiful seafood restaurant that sits right on the bay over looking Alcatraz. Franciscan was a place were Rich and I found each other again after some time apart.
Third sign I failed to see. We had a very romantic, emotional dinner filled with spectacular food, bubbly Champaign, beautiful views and most importantly…each other. We toasted all night to the men we were and the men we had become. Each of us grateful for the other, agreeing we had no say in the matter. God lead us to meet…pushed us through hell…and then, with his ever so strong hand, pulled us from the mess….dusted us off..and placed us even closer together. After Rich forced me to order desert he pulled out a huge surprise from his coat…a book (back story= I am a huge fan of journals and Wednesday Letters. Rich and I talked about getting a book that we could keep between us. A book were we could write notes, letters, draw pictures, really anything we wanted. Just something we could look back upon and maybe someday give to our kids. But, if nothing else then something that would bring us closer together.) At this point you are probably thinking how I couldn’t see what was about to happen. I mean, after all the signs you would have to be blind not to see it coming. Well, yes in most cases. Rich though, he is different. You have to understand Rich always does stuff like this. I have never experienced a more thoughtful, gentle, caring man. It really is just who he is. After three years I have seen nothing different. Almost every outing and every dinner feels like a proposal. And believe me I have had many nights filled with excited anxiety, because it just felt……..it just felt to perfect and there was to much magic in the air. But, after three years I learned. It is just what he does. He creates that electricity and you can’t help but feel excited.
So when he actually got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, my heart and my head were racing a mile a minute. Wait! No thats not accurate. I can not find a simile that can describe what my heart was doing inside my chest. I know it sounds corny, but it literally felt like my heart had just found its rightful owner(Rich) and was doing anything in its power to return to him. Of course my initial response was not ” of course, yes I will marry you”. You never sound as eloquent as you would like in this situation. Instead my initial response was, “are you sure…I just couldn’t believe he actually wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. It was bad enough being seen in public with me, now he is choosing to be seen in public with me for the rest of his life? Wooooo. After, my heart realized it was not physically going anywhere, I kissed his left eye and said yes, probably a couple hundred times.
We spent the next couple minutes together crying, hugging and kissing. Rich then slowly and carefully unveiled the entire operation. Of how he called one of my best friends, Brittney Wascher, in Texas to have her help find out my ring size. She was to call my mom and feed her some story about getting me a friendship ring for christmas, and seeing as how we have the same ring size. My mom apparently took forever to get her ring sized, and had everyone freaking out. And how he meat up with Shauna Zambelli in Utah, another amazing person in my life from Chicago, to help him finish designing the ring at OC Tanner. Which is ironic because I spoke to Shauna so much while I was in Europe. I later learned she was with Rich most of those phone calls. So together all three worked diligently while I was away on my first tour with Cedar Lake. Of course I cried again when he told me that he flew to Arizona the week before, took my family to lunch and asked for their blessing in his proposal, our wedding, and our new life together. It really takes a certain kind of man to do that. Of course my family was elated and said yes under misty eyes and full hearts.
After I felt comfortable learning, what I thought was every detail, we headed to a Champaign bar. As we walked into the bar I was surprised again to see…Shauna and her husband Chris there at the bar. Shauna had reworked all her previous New Orleans plans and flew to San Francisco for Chris’ 30th instead. It meant so much to me that they were there. They were there from the beginning of our relationship and have been there for every trail and triumph Rich and I faced. They are a model couple. I pray that they will continue to be in our lives forever. The four of us then shared a celebratory toast and celebrated the milestone our lives had all came to. We are a very lucky group and truly have some amazing garden angles looking after us. Before the night was over Rich and I wanted to get our photos taken in a photo booth at bottoms up. A bar we had visited before and previously had our photo both picture taken. After some interesting cab rides we found the bar. To my realization the bar was not called bottoms up at all but rather the end up. Either way both names were extremely gay, as we’re the places. However, we ended up finding the photo booth and getting our pictures taken. We also shared some drinks and celebratory toast at this bar. We found a booth in the corner and enjoyed each others company. Sharing stories and memories about the past and the very exciting future. We took a cab home about 3am and found our way back to our room……
The next day was filled with the last and final surprise. My brother Hector and his fiancée Jasmine meet us at a 5 star brunch at the very elegant Palace Hotel. I loved sitting at that table with Shauna, Chris, Hector,Jasmine, Rich and I. People who whole heatedly support us. We walked around that day enjoying San Francisco and feeling like the most blessed people in the world.
Rich and I spent our final day in San Francisco enjoying a dombuggy tour. I think I looked at my ring at least once every hour since then. I am incredible lucky for what I have. This is truly a dream come true and our family is more than supportive, they are involved. I hope I can be the man he deserves. I will spend the rest of my life trying to be. I am no were near perfect, but with him I know I don’t have to be. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. I know we will reread that book one day and smile at how in love we were and cry at how much we still are……….I love you Rich