Alright. I know that this has been a long time coming. Amazingly, this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. Usually words – well, they come easily to me. I’m good with them. I know how to take them and shape them and use them to illustrate my feelings.
Not so much now.
I think, a lot of times, I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect that I have this crippling fear of failure. It’s silly. I’ve failed before. Each time I do, though, I get more hesitant about putting myself out there. And that’s what this post is about, really. Putting myself out there totally. Putting my relationship out there. That’s part of the reason why this has been so hard to write. What if no one cares? (And really, they have every right not to.) What if I don’t do it right?
I’m going to give it a shot, and guys? It’s scary. Really, really scary. But it’s kind of exciting, too. I need to have this written down so I can look at it years from now. And I want to share it with all of you, because over the years I’ve met some really awesome people and I want to share this with them. With you. With all of you.
OKAY. HERE GOES NOTHING.
I’ve known since very early on in our relationship that this was it. I know, I know, that totally cliched, love-at-first-sight experience can actually happen. But it’s TRUE. Sometimes, the day we met seems like so long ago. Other times, it seems like just yesterday that I was a ridiculously sunburned 18 year old on a hot day in July in the middle of Ohio. I remember it being hot and sticky. I remember being scared, because it was my first day of orientation at Ohio State and I knew absolutely zero people, besides my mom, and she didn’t count because she drove me here and in a few short months I was going to be here by myself.
I remember the first time I saw him.
If you ask Eric, he says that he saw me first, when we were all crammed into the dark auditorium. I think it was the Drake but I can’t swear on it – those two days are such a blur and I was so disoriented that I barely remember how I found my way around. But he says when they had all of the out of state students stand up, he saw me. And he thought I was beautiful.
I didn’t see him then, though. I went on my merry way, oblivious to his existence for another few hours, at least. I made a friend (Jess) and did orientation-y things like playing icebreakers (Three truths and a lie stands out in my head. Mine were the following: 1. I was once an invited guest to the White House, 2. I preformed at the half-time show of the Orange Bowl in 2005, 3. I have three ginger siblings, 4. I was a ski instructor during high school. Guess which one is the lie?). Eventually we were split up into groups for a reason I can’t remember. The Orientation leaders were talking and someone moved and there he was.
We made eye contact. I don’t even think I smiled at him. Then someone stepped in front of me and I was shuffled to the side and when I looked up again he was gone. Gone. This sense of overwhelming sadness came over me. I stood there for a moment, thinking about how dumb I was. Why was I so sad about someone I didn’t even know?
Then he held open the door for me when we ended up in the group for ROTC. He smiled down at me, fell in beside me, and we started talking. We ate dinner together, where I was uncharacteristically quiet and he talked with my mom. We go to another orientation-y thingy in the Drake. He holds the door open for me again. We take our seats, Jess to my right and Eric to my left. He asks me for my phone number very nonchalantly. I give it to him. The people on stage give us this speech about how you build lasting friendships at orientation. “Look next to you,” the guy on stay said. “The person there could be your best friend.” Jess and I grin at each other. “Now look to your other side,” he said. Eric and I look at each other as the guy adds, “This could be the person you marry.”
I KNOW. I KNOW.
Fast forward almost five years and we live together in a little apartment in Northern Virginia with two cats, a brand-new sofa, and and matching OSU diplomas. We’ve been inseparable since that day, and every day since, I fall in love with him all over again for a million different reasons.
One Sunday a few weeks ago, the first Sunday we’ve had to ourselves in weeks, the Sunday after Tricia goes back to Japan, I’m curled up on the couch reading (no surprise there). Eric has a cold. We had talked the day before about going to see the cherry blossoms, but I’m really into my book (City of Fallen Angels, if you must know) and Eric’s sick and I figure I’ll just stay in my pajamas all day and read about Jace and Clary. Eric has other ideas. He asks if I still want to go. I say actually, I’m okay here. We don’t have to.
He gives me a look. No, he says, really, let’s go. Get dressed, we’re going.
I put down my nook and sigh. All right, I say, if we have to.
I wish I could say I looked cute, but I don’t think I can lie to you. I put on a white tunic (wrinkled) and jeans and ballet flats. I don’t think I even brushed my hair. I did put on a little makeup. Eric asks if I want my camera. I say sure. He asks if I’m taking my phone. I don’t know where it is (no surprise there) so I say why? If anyone needs me they’ll call you.
He smiles. I’m so freaking clueless.
We drive to Pentagon City and take the metro from there. We get into a nonsense argument like normal about what color his old car was. Green, he insists. Gray-brown, I say. Then he grabs my arm. Please, Jenny, don’t be contrary, he says. Not today.
Since I wasn’t REALLY being contrary, I was just teasing, I let it go. We hold hands and smile and before too long, we’re under the cherry blossoms. With about a gazillion other people. We walk around the Jefferson memorial. We walk around FDR. Eric keeps commenting on the number of people around. I shrug.
Somewhere along the tidal basin, my feet start to hurt. My new shoes are super cute but I’m getting blisters. I tug on Eric’s arm and ask him to sit down. We find an empty bench and just talk about silly things. His arm is around my shoulders and I’m leaning into him.
Where did all these people come from? He asks.
I shrug again. We talk some more.
Seriously, he says, there are too many people here.
It’s totally beautiful out and the last day of the festival. What does he expect?
As if by magic, the stream of people slows down. I close my eyes and lean against his shoulder. Jenny, he says, I love you.
I look up at him. I know, I say, I love you too.
You make me really happy, he says. Like happier than I’ve ever been ever.
I smile. I know, I say, you make me really happy, too.
I just – I just want you to know that, he says.
Well, I tell him, I know. I’ve known that for a long time.
Then BAM he’s down on his knee and pulling out a little black box and saying, No, Jenny, will you marry me?
And I just stare at him.
I can’t even tell you what happened next. He says I nodded and snatched the ring right out of the box and he’s back on the bench and hugging me and these random people walk by and say CONGRATULATIONS and I’m just dumbstruck.
He kisses me. I look down at the ring and back at him. I can’t stop staring at him.
What? he asks.
I have a hard time even forming words. Did I even say yes? I ask. Because -yes. I don’t remember saying it.
He laughs. You said yes.
That’s good that he remembers. We sit on our bench for a little longer, grinning at each other stupidly, before we decide to go out to dinner. I want to call my mom but of course, I don’t have my phone. So we take a few hours, just us, to revel in it. It’s our secret. We’re the only two people in the world who know.
We get on the metro. We drive to Old Town Alexandria. We eat. We stare at each other. We laugh. I keep looking down at my hand and trying to convince myself to wake up. We call our families. We call our friends. We make it facebook official.
I blog about it, of course.
The outpouring of love and support and well-wishes that we get from everyone blows me away. It still does.
People ask me if it feels different. It doesn’t. I don’t think it’s supposed to, really. We’ve known since the very beginning that we were going to get married. Sometimes, though, I sit down and smile and think that yes, this is for real. We don’t have a date set yet, but we have an idea of what we want – laid back, casual barbecue with a civil ceremony. I’m just so excited, and so is he.
And as my dad said, “It’s about damned time.”
PS. I mentioned the pinboard that I’ve been putting together last week, but I forgot to link to it. So here it is, in all of it’s wedding-y goodness http://pinterest.com/jennyadams/jenny-and-eric-get-married/
PPS. This was super, super long. Sorry about that.
PPPS. Now that it’s done, it isn’t nearly as scary as I thought it’d be.