Where were we .... yes, there.
the first date.
We walked from my townhouse in Alexandria to downtown Alexandria (far but not crazy far) and Simon held my hand* most of the way. Back the truck right up, right there. I know, he just grabbed it and held it. I guess I should convey that while we did share a NYE kiss and we'd talked for hours and hours and hours and exchanged hundreds of emails over the course of the past two months ... I wasn't 100% convinced that he wanted to pursue anything. I could lie and say that it was to protect my feelings from getting hurt and risk serious disappointment (nay, devastation) but if things were to fizzle or abruptly end I would've been a super fun friend to have around. I'd probably have wanted to hash it out daily for the first month and then weekly for the following year until I was a completely friendless and cold mess clinging to the e-memories of November and December of 2007.
*Simon says this was the last time we ever held hands for an extended period of time. I don't know - I guess I'm cold hearted and not a huge fan of holding hands.
Okay. Walking walking walking. We went to a tapas restaurant and everything was great the food, the sangria, the conversation BECAUSE Simon dropped a little bomb on me: he told me that he had decided to move out to DC for the summer. Well, he'd have to find an internship but the summer between first and second years of med school is the last free summer until retirement (I mean, probably, whatever). I was ecstatic and giddy and was not expecting that sort of news. Maybe a fun DTR (define the relationship talk) but THIS? This was serious because it assumed that we'd still be burning up the email lines all the way into the summer. So, it was a stellar first date.
Right before Simon left for the airport the next day .. okay these details are fuzzy but I think one of my roommates (Molly, was it you?) asked if we were officially dating or something and it was laughy awkward and so Simon was like ..... ? Um, yes. Silly girls. To him it was obvious but to me? I needed some verbal confirmation, thank you very much.
So then we took this picture ... official et al.
I'm sorry to say my interior decorating skills have plummeted into even uglier territory since the "throw a Hobby Lobby map on the wall" phase.
first quad city visit.
Because my grandma and Simon's grandpa both live in the Quad Cities we thought it might be fun to coordinate a visit to see them at the same time. We'd both exchanged numerous stories about our trips up to visit our grandparents as kids and knew it'd be fun to stomp all over our old summer vacation stomping grounds together over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend toward the end of January. I came up with the brilliant plan to fly into Kansas City from DC and then make the 6 hour drive up with him instead of flying from DC directly into the Quad Cities. I STRESSED about broaching this with him because I thought it was too forward of me to suggest such a thing. I'm very easygoing, laid back, and fun fun fun fun - can you tell? I eventually emailed the potential plan and Simon thought it was a great idea and I felt silly for losing hair and sleep over flywheregate.
It was another perfect weekend.
Simon's grandpa told he he thought Simon was a rascal and I thought was the funniest thing I'd ever heard. Don't ask me why.
We had enough time after driving back to Kansas City before my flight left for me to see his apartment and meet some of his med school friends and their wives (well, he also went to high school with them but I don't want to confuse you). I got the grand tour of his attic apartment and chuckled at his decor even though in retrospect it was years better than my basement room's. I went to eat dinner at Mcdonalds (I know, I love it - I can't help it). It was fun and not weird and I tried not to be my crazy shy self because .... meeting the friends can determine a lot, you know? Back to DC I flew until ...
Are you ready for this? I don't want to type it but I will. I will. So ... I decided to be super forward once again and ask Simon if I could visit the weekend after Valentines Day. He responded that he had a lot of studying to do and that it probably wouldn't be the best weekend.
Oh, hello flabbergasted Grace. I felt so stupid for suggesting such a thing. Of course he needed to study! I was a little bit hurt but didn't let that stop me from corralling my room mates (and Ruth!) into my basement to make middle schooly Valentines for Simon. I wrote him a nice card and bought him his favorite candy and baked him cookies and sent their Valentines so they'd get there in plenty of time before V-day. Pat myself on the back. Except don't.
I think Valentine's Day was on a Thursday or something. Simon sent me a really, really nice letter and what did I do? I read it and then I pouted and wondered if we were on different pages. I went on a run and asked myself if I should end things because first he denied a visit and then he sent a letter (albeit a nice letter!) while I'd sent a letter plus edibles. Don't think I don't know how absurd I was being. I know. I do.
That Saturday I ran a little 8k in the freezing cold and then went to lounge on the couch in my SUPER messy room while talking to Simon on the phone when he told me to go answer the door. I was confused but obeyed and ..... BEHOLD ... Simon freaking Patton in the flesh with a huge bouquet of flowers. At the door. Sneaky McSneakerson. I was so shocked that I almost slammed the door right back in his face
Don't worry ... I felt like the biggest baby b of all time. He'd been planning to surprise me all along. Liz helped me clean my room really fast while I washed my face and tried to not look as gross as I did because my room was ... trashed and I am not a dewy runner - I am a sweaty hog of a runner. Anyway, we went on a nice date and took this normal photo before we trotted out the door ....
I don't know. I'm mortified for us too.
And so that was that. I'm the worst ever.
It was tough but we didn't know anything different and we had the summer to look forward to and we were able to visit each other quite a bit. Things got serious fast because when the majority of your communication is via phone and email you have to talk through the big stuff like matters of faith and ideas about family and parenting and all of that. Simon came out for his spring break and I took a week in between jobs and went to visit him and all was dandy.
Simon's spring break. (Bangs, not a bowl cut)
med school prom.
I can't think of anything remarkable to write here so I won't ramble ... even though that is my love language.
Simon really lucked out and found a room for rent pretty close to my place because if you've ever looked for housing in DC that doesn't cost a load of lettuce ... you KNOW. It's tough. He worked a couple of different internships and I still worked on the Hill and it was the best summer. We biked to Mt. Vernon and the zoo and went to happy hours and the monuments and the Smithsonians and flew out to the Quad Cities where both of our families were visiting and I have no complaints about that summer.
I'll be honest in saying that I hadn't really thought about a proposal. I mean ... I knew we were serious and in love and that he was the best guy in the whole entire world. He was so thoughtful and paid close attention to the smallest details. He still does - but you know, for the sake of the story I'm using the past tense. Everything was very sunshiny unicorns but okay I guess I thought MAYBE Christmas? Maybe? But you know how it can get when girls start staring at their watch and then their ring finger ... no bueno.
A girl I sort of knew at work got engaged in mid-July and I was telling Simon about the ring and mentioned that I really liked how thin her band was and he asked me 99 questions ... "thin band? how thin? what do you mean by thin?"
My birthday fell on a Friday in July (I mean it is always in July but this July it was on a Friday - clarification for the slows) and Simon and I tried to meet for lunch as much as possible. We'd eat on a bench in front of the Capitol outside my office and Simon would take the metro from his internship for that day. This Friday was no different except Simon told me he'd take care of lunch. He took great care to make a quiche with turkey bacon (I went through a looooooong turkey bacon phase) and bought a nice cooler, and called his mom to tell her I was wearing my casual Friday attire (jeans and kitten heels - cringe, and a t-shirt) and should he match me or go with dressy? You know where this is going mostly because of the bold print above this paragraph.
I was happy to see him for lunch (of course!) but was a little bit antsyish to get back to work to try to finish an op-ed before the freakin' weekend could begin. Simon presented me with a big scrapbook that he'd put together with lots of pictures including a photo of my baptism with his mom holding me while pregnant with him. It was really very sweet. The inside cover had a letter that I won't type verbatum but said something along the lines of "all the memories we've had and all the memories in the years to come ..." I still didn't even kind of get it. I don't know how he did it ... magic? All of a sudden he was down on one knee right there at that bench and had opened a ring box with a very, very pretty ring sparkling in my face and asking me to be his wife. Simon says WHAT?? We'd been dating almost seven months and I knew I wanted to marry him ... I wanted to marry him very badly but I was shocked. Shocked and elated. Oh! I said yes, yes, yes, and yes. We went to the Catholic church on that side of the Hill and had the ring blessed before we went to the monuments to have another picnic of mimosas and to call our families.
Asked a stranger to snap our picture. Why we went barefoot is a mystery.
The ring had been his maternal grandma's and Simon had told his mom much earlier in the spring that he wanted to propose and she gave him the ring ... he had the diamonds put in a new band (same setting) and it could not be more perfect.
At the Tapas restaurant where we had our first date. I still crave that Sangria.
I have a really weird ring shot with clasped hands and my hand is hairy so ... I'll spare you. You've seen plenty of hairless hand ring shots I'm sure.
We were married 13 months later - not an engagement period I recommend because right smack in the middle of Lent we were like ..... six MORE months?! It felt interminable but it came to an end and was worth the wait.
And now we are living happily ever after. We are. Even if you don't have a blog I'm going to be annoying and recommend you pound out your love story. It's been really good for me to go back and relive all of these happy moments. That reads as though there are no happy moments now. Of course there are! Lots of them. I get so bogged down with the long days and the kids that send me straight to hanging by a threadville almost hourly and the disappointment that comes with "another long case" and another late night and another sleepless call weekend but it won't always be like this. The kids are growing up and -----
-------- um okay I've been trying to finish that paragraph for 4.5 hours but the kids - the kids have needs. Lots of them. All the time. I try to type something semi-nice about the monsters and they prove me so very wrong. C'est la vie. C'est la good and tiring and really good life.
(Simon just walked by and said he looks like a "doof" but I disagree plus it's not like I'm winning any coolia awards here or ever.)
And let's make it a link-up! If you've got them ... I'll take them!!