We had made plans for a "date night"...dinner out and a visit to somewhere like Longwood Gardens to help get us into the Christmas spirit. Although we spend a lot of time together, much of that time is the daily routine, life passing by. We go to work, come home late, make dinner, watch a Flyers game or football and go to bed. We talk about making sure we have more quality time together, but we all know it's easier said than done.
Andy came home early last week and was bummed because he found out at work that the higher-ups had planned a dinner in the city for all of the managers and their significant others. Okay, date night postponed again. "It's fine" I said, "We'll get dressed up and make it a fun night. Hey, free dinner on the company right? Maybe we'll have our date night sometime in the next few weeks."
I had a 30th birthday celebration to attend in the city at your classic dive bar in Philly. I was out with friends from college and Kelly till 2:00am.
I volunteered to help Kelly with an event for her work. I took the bus from South Philly to North 5th St. in North Philly. I passed through some of the worst neighborhoods in Philadelphia on that bus ride. I spent the day encouraging residents of this once bustling neighborhood to fill out surveys on how they can improve their community. I watched kids smile as they visited Santa on a trolley (donated by a pharmacy in the neighborhood). Kelly told me stories of things that happen in this neighborhood that I will save for another entry because this is a happy post. It was one of the most fulfilling days I've had in a long time. I felt so good about donating my time. Sometimes that's all it takes to make a difference, and I felt great that I made a difference that day.
I got back to Kelly's and was exhausted after being out so late and spending a long day in the freezing cold talking to at least a hundred people---probably more. I was starving so I grabbed a piece of pizza and planned on taking a nap. I wasn't expecting Andy to pick me up for the Christmas dinner until 6:45pm.
He called me around 5pm and asked if Kelly could drive me or if I could cab it to the Lowe's Le Meridian hotel near Love Park. He explained that some people had booked rooms because they didn't want to drive from Philly to Delaware after the party. The plan was to meet at the hotel and have drinks before going to the restaurant at 7:30pm. I said "that's fine, I'll start getting ready" and instantly realized the idea of taking a nap was out. About 45 minutes later I was on my way.
Kelly's place was just under two miles from the hotel. I had to walk about a mile before a could hail a cab. I really enjoyed my walk through the city. It was cold, but not too cold. I was dressed up and excited for the fun night ahead. For a few minutes it was almost as if I had a conversation with myself. I started to think about the evening ahead, and I had a moment when I said to myself "By the end of tonight, I might be engaged." I don't know what made me think that. Most people know Andy and I have been together a long time. We've known we wanted to marry each other for years and there was never a doubt in my mind that I would be saying "yes" one day when he asked me to marry him. Over the last two years there were many times when I thought "this might be it". Something was different as I walked down 9th Street that night in the city. My other thoughts were..."maybe he has something planned and I'm going to get to the hotel and our families will be there." "Maybe I should just stop thinking like this because this is a work Christmas dinner and I'm going to get to hotel and find a bunch of people I don't know." "I really had a great day today and I'm looking forward to a fun night with Andy."
I hailed a cab and hopped in. I called Andy to let him know I'd be there in a few minutes. He told me he had to come down with a room key because you couldn't get in the elevator without one (true.)
The first thing he said to me when he came up to me in the lobby was "you look so beautiful" and gave me a kiss. As we were in the elevator and walking to the room Andy asked me "so when are we going to have our date night? We're always so busy." and I suggested maybe we try for sometime during the week next week for us to go out to dinner, just he and I.
Andy inserted the room key and during those few seconds I noticed it seemed very quiet. At that moment I knew this wasn't a work party. He opened the door and said "this is our date night." It was 6:50pm.
The room was beautiful. The decor was modern with the colors black, white, gray and dark red throughout. Andy had a dozen roses on the night table and rose peddles on the bed. Our favorite David Gray songs were playing and the laptop was sitting on the bed with a slide show of "us" pictures playing. People have been saying "didn't you know he was going to propose?!?" I thought for a moment maybe this was the night, but I quickly decided to dismiss the thought. I loved that he planned this special evening. It was already perfect, and I didn't want to focus on the fact that he might propose. I really thought this was a special night he had planned for Christmas and left it at that.
The next hour and a half went as follows...
Andy: You always say we don't have a lot of time just you and me. It's Christmas time and I thought this could be one of our Christmas presents. A night in the city, just you and me. We can go to dinner, and then do whatever you want. Go to a bar, come back and relax, it's up to you.
Me: (tears rolling down my face, giving him a big hug) Really? This is amazing. The view! (you could see Love Park and the Christmas tree from the window.) Wow!
The room had a living room area with a couch and a main part with the bathroom and bed. We sat on the couch and started talking. I told him about the party on Friday night and my awesome day with Kelly. It was nice to relax and catch up with each other. No stress, no schedules.
Andy told me we had a choice of a 7:30pm reservation at Spasso or an 8:30pm reservation at Maggiano's. Although I was really hungry, I chose Maggiano's because it was around the corner from the hotel and we hadn't been there in a long time. At this point we had about an hour to kill before we had to leave for dinner.
Andy: "It was fun looking at some of the old pictures from a long time ago today."
Christine: "Do you want to go and watch the slide show? We have time."
Andy: "Nah, that's ok. Let's just stay here for a bit."
We talked for a while more and then Andy said "why don't we go watch the slide show, we still have time."
We went in to the other room and I started commenting on all of the pictures. "Aw, that's when we were at the Gorge, Red Rocks, this wedding and that wedding, Memphis" etc.
Christine: (looking up at Andy while he has his arms around me) "Wow, we have so any great memories. We've done so many fun things over the years. We're going to have so many more great memories."
Within the next several seconds I had just enough time to feel Andy's hand move and to think "Oh my God, he's going to propose."
Andy: (opening the ring box) "A lifetime of memories?"
It was a moment I will never forget. A moment I pictured a million times and will cherish forever.
He got on his knee and said "If you'll marry me."
Tears rolling down my face, I said "YES!"
He placed the most beautiful ring I've ever seen on my finger. We hugged and kissed. I blurted out "Do my parents know?" Andy told me he had asked my Dad in November but no one knew he was doing it that night. It was between he and I. We would get to tell everyone tomorrow and the coming days.
I asked Andy "wait, what did you say and what did I say?" I realized quickly that it was all a blur and I wanted to make sure I didn't forget the moment.
Andy went into the bathroom and opened one of the bottles of champagne he had on ice in the sink. I joked and asked "what if I had to go to the bathroom when I got here?" He shared he had a back up plan and when I asked about the champagne in the bathroom he would have said "we have something to celebrate tonight" followed by the proposal. I'm glad it happened the way it did :-)
I tried calling both my mom and dad's cell phone and neither answered. I wanted to call Kelly so bad but I knew I had to wait until I told them first.
After all of this, it was almost 8:30pm and time to leave for dinner!
We had a fantastic dinner at Maggiano's. The food was excellent and we shared a bottle of white wine. Our server brought us a CONGRATULATIONS cookie plate. It was so much fun to hear all of the stories Andy had to share with me about planning out our special night. He also told me about the several other times he planned to propose and all about the ring.
After going back to the hotel to drop off leftovers (I knew I'd want them in the morning) and finishing the bottle of champagne we decided to go out. We never go out to the bars and I thought it would be fun. Tir Na Nog is where we ended up and it just so happened my new favorite cover band Second Majesty was playing. We stayed until the bar closed.
It truly was a perfect night. For days it was fresh in my mind and I can feel the moment slipping away a little bit as time passes by. I wrote this because I wanted to share our story, but also because I want us to remember every detail from that night from this day forward.