Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kidnapping leads to big reward

I’m engaged and pretty damn happy about it

So, something kinda big happened this last weekend. I got engaged. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I had to kidnap my girlfriend.

Oh, yeah, it’s like that.

Seconds after the big moment. 
About a month ago I told Jill – the aforementioned girlfriend - that she had to be responsibility and kid-free at 3 p.m. last Friday, through 11 p.m. on Sunday. That’s all she was told. Granted, I dropped some (what I thought were) pretty obvious hints about the location of our little getaway, but she didn’t know for sure where we were going until I told her when we arrived at the airport.

I’d been dropping useless clues for weeks that did nothing to help her figure out where we were going. It drove her and her friends and family nuts. I even got text messages asking me, “Where are you taking Jill?” from both our friends and family. Sorry, that’s Top Secret. 

So on Friday I arrived at her office, roses in hand. She was so excited to leave work and get going that she came out to meet me before I even walked in!  My grand plan to unveil our destination in front of dozens of her co-workers was quickly dashed. So, I improvised and gave her the final (actually useful) clue.

She was pretty surprised by
 the whole  weekend, which
made it extra awesome.
“When you go to this city, you should wear a flower in your hair,” I told her, handing her the roses.

Well, she knew the city – San Francisco – but decided it was best to make me suffer and not tell me. Turnabout is fair play in love, my friends. Apparently the location came to her that morning. She’d be better at explaining how she figured it out, but it had something to do with an episode of Full House. We’ve all learned a lot from Full House, so I get it.

The big, official reveal occurred as we’re unpacking the car in the airport parking garage when I hit play on my phone, blasting The Mama’s and The Pappa’s song, “If You’re Going to San Francisco.”

This song, of course begins like this,
If you are going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

If you are going to San Francisco

You are gonna meet some gentle people there.”

Well, that sort of gave it away right then. We were going to San Francisco, via Oakland, but that’s only because I needed us on a direct flight, since I only had around 50 or so hours for this whole kidnapping thing.

Our proposal spot. 
The big moment
I decided to pop the question early on Saturday morning. Heck, if we weren’t both so exhausted on Friday night – or if we didn’t have to walk through puddles of urine outside our hotel that night, I might have done in on Friday. Alas, the moment wasn’t right, but I’m sure all the homeless people on Market Street or the crazy teens waiting in line for the Krewella concert to start would have given us the thumbs up.

Anyhow, my mind was set for Saturday morning. We get up at the hotel. I see blue sky above and we set out for “this random trail” under the Golden Gate Bridge. Truth be told, I looked at Google Street View. I studied satellite images (no kidding). I read reviews of a nearby coffee place on Yelp. I even found some webcams that showed the approximate location that I thought would be good for a wedding proposal. I didn’t want to screw this up!

The cab drops us off by a trail near the water’s edge. The Golden Gate Bridge is shrouded in light fog and the waves are pushing toward shore. We leisurely walk toward this coffee shop – The Warming Hut - that I think is nearby. Remember, I’ve never been here before and Google Street View will only show you so much. I’m stressing out, but I know that even if this is a massive disaster of a proposal, she’ll say yes anyway. So I hang my hat on that.

Then the rain started. A lot of rain, like sheets of big tears from on high. Yeah. That kind of rain. A sign? Not for us.

We dash inside the Warming Hut to keep dry and look around. She probably thought I was just really interested in seeing every damn trinket in the place, but honestly I was trying to kill time, hoping the stupid hurricane outside would pass. As we’re wandering the store there were dozens of runners and bicyclists coming inside to hide out while the storm blew by. They dripped big puddles of salty rain on the floor of this poor little store.

Either Jill knew that I wanted to get moving or she too wanted to hit the road, because she’s the one who actually points out the bucket of umbrella’s for sale. Duh, if you’re in the rain and need to be there, use an umbrella. I wish I had thought of that first! You see the sort of partner I’m looking for, right?

We head outside to “wander.” Of course I know what is coming next. She’s just along for the ride or maybe wondering what the hell we’re doing out in this storm. We ended up walking out on this rickety pier called Torpedo Wharf.

So, we traverse the pools of rain and muck and take up a position facing the Golden Gate Bridge. The dozen or so Asian fisherman – fishing poles in the water – completely ignore us. We chat about the color of the bridge. Orange or red? I’m stalling. Then the rain eases back to a drizzle and I close the umbrella.

Then, my heart pounding, I say, “I’ve got to ask you something.”

I pull out the ring box and snap the little latch, but don’t open it yet. I tend to freeze during big moments and the words that I really want to say just don’t come out. The speech was supposed to start with, “Five months ago . . .” But I just couldn’t get the words out of my mouth.

I drop to one knee (in the fish guts and mud), surrounded by Asian fisherman, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, while soaked with rain. I look up at this beautiful woman who is looking at me like, “this is happening, here? Now? OK!”

“Will you marry me?”


Tears. Hugs. Kisses. All the good stuff.

That’s a moment we will never forget. The rain starts again, somehow stronger than before. We snap a “selfie” picture from our proposal spot. Somehow Jill figured out how to get the ring in the picture too. Such a girl.

A re-creation of the proposal with the assistance
of a random bicyclist photographer nearby.  
About ten minutes after our big moment, we re-created the proposal on a little grassy hill for some passing bicyclists. A guy walked up to us as we were headed out looking for a taxi and asks if we’ll take their photo.

“Sure,” I said, “As long as you take ours. We just got engaged.”

 “OK,” he says, “But take our picture first!” 

It all worked out. This guy took like 25 photos with Jill’s iPhone that turned out really well.

So, that’s the basics of the proposal, but certainly not the end of the story.

I love this girl and am excited to call her my wife and the step mom to my kids. We both took different paths to meet on the one path that led us to each other. We’re together with our kids and happy.

And this story is just getting started.

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