Friday, May 31, 2013


He surprised me with a tough to get reservation at ABC Kitchen, the Jean-Georges restaurant I had been craving since we met. Our table was candlelit and decorated with flowers. He made a toast to us. I sobbed the entire cab ride home.

This isn't a post about the night Jon proposed. It's about the night he didn't. 

Allow me to rewind about four months.

Jon spent Thanksgiving with my family in Tampa this year. During our two year relationship he had hung out with the Garcia's at least half a dozen times but having him home for a holiday felt extra special. He drank scotch with my dad. He put my parents' gadgets up on the Cloud. He eagerly accepted multiple servings of my mom's empanadas. Jon fit in effortlessly. It was a really good Thanksgiving. Possibly too good.

As Jon gained approval, the when's-the-wedding bug spread. My mom made her case for a winter wedding in Florida. My friends took turns guessing the proposal date. And my dear sister, well, she waited six minutes after picking us up from the airport to cut the radio and deploy the third degree. Something like, "You know you gotta get married before you move in together. Seriously, the family won't approve. Seriously."

Of course I had thought about marrying Jon. Who are we kidding-- I've spent countless hours (days, months) daydreaming about a wedding and marriage with him. I've practiced signing his last name. I've Pinned my favorite bridal bouquets, cakes and sweetheart necklines. I've even thought about what our babies would look like (all nose). I'll admit I've been shamelessly using my job as event planner as an excuse to dream up my wedding for half a decade. 

But thinking or even Pinning about a wedding or proposal is very different from actually planning a real live one. As a relatively rational woman for 28 years (breezing past the early teens),  I know just how dangerous premature planning can be. Still, with a little too much encouragement from the peanut gallery in Tampa, I caught that pesky wedding bug too. I let myself wonder, really wonder, when Jon might pop the question. Wondering boiled into obsessing until, while sitting in a pedicure chair next to my best friend, I convinced myself that he would do it right after we got back to New York. All (two) of the signs were there. 

Sign #1: He asked me to save the 2nd anniversary of our first kiss for a surprise plan (Well, he didn't reference the anniversary. He just said don't make plans on Wednesday which happened to be the anniversary of our first kiss. Ya know, that anniversary that every man commits to memory.) 

Sign #2: He had plenty of one-on-one time with Dad while he was in Tampa.

It was decided! I squealed, selected a pale pink nail polish suitable for an engaged hand and boarded a plane to New York.

At work on wedding-proposal Wednesday, I simply couldn't help myself. I told my colleagues and anyone within ear shot that I thought it was happening that night. Jon didn't help. He refused to reveal our plan for the evening. Just wait for a text, he explained, unknowingly perpetuating the rom-com engagement that was reeling through my imagination. At around 3:00 p.m my phone buzzed "Meet me at the corner of Broadway and 17th St. at 5:20 p.m." 

We met. He grinned as he lead me into ABC Kitchen, our candlelit table, our perfect bottle of wine. He grinned through our tuna sashimi and chicken liver toast appetizers. He told me about his day. He ordered us meticulously muddled cocktails. He insisted on dessert. He was having a lovely dinner. Meanwhile, across the table, I was freaking out. When is he gonna do this? Is there a ring on that strawberry?  What if I swallow it? Maybe it's happening after we eat? Do the waiters know? I should put on lipstick. 

After dinner, as Jon hailed a cab and complained that he was too full to walk to my apartment, my brain finally began to compute that it wasn't happening. I wasn't getting engaged. It was simply a lovely, thoughtful surprise reservation. No proposal. Not happening. Get a grip.

Thing is, I couldn't. In the back seat of the cab I did the only thing I didn't want to do. I cried. Hard. Jon turned to me startled. I struggled to catch my breath as he asked what was wrong. I wasn't angry. I wasn't even sad. I was embarrassed and overwhelmed and frankly I was exhausted. I had spent the last week of my life out of my mind. 

After unsuccessfully searching for a lie to explain my outburst, I smeared my mascara, snorted up some tears and admitted why I was crying. Jon laughed. Hard. He wrapped his arms around me and assured me that I was crazy, that he wasn't going to propose in a restaurant and that he certainly wasn't going to propose when I expected it. 

As  embarrassing as that night (and the subsequent morning at work) was, I'm glad it happened. After that excruciating cab ride home, I truly let go. I let go of predicting and planning. I kept the Pinterest board (duh) but I shoved the engagement out of my brain. When Mom asked about it, I shushed her and changed the subject. I was grateful for my relationship where it was.

About a month later, in the middle of our move to our new apartment, barefoot and in between dusty boxes, Jon got down on one knee and gave me the greatest shock of my life.

Our first photo after the proposal...taken by our doorman :)