Seventeen years ago today, in a cozy little bed and breakfast in Dubuque, Iowa, Kim and I got engaged.
She didn’t know it was coming. We’d only been dating since March of that year – a bare eight months – and for that entire time we lived nearly two hundred miles apart. I was deep into my preparations for my comprehensive exams , which would take place the following spring, and she didn’t want to add to the stress on my world by bringing the subject up. She had come down to visit me the weekend before, and she told me later that on the drive home she had decided that if I hadn’t asked her to marry her by the time my comps were over she would ask me.
I already had the ring by that point, though. It was up in the closet, hidden away, waiting.
I’d figured out fairly quickly that I was going to ask her. Long before November. Before even that summer, when we had climbed into a car and driven from Wisconsin to Philadelphia to visit my parents. That we made it through that long of a journey together after only three months as a couple just confirmed what I already knew, what I had known since April.
I can still remember the moment.
Like a lot of world-altering moments, it was simpler and quieter than you’re led to believe such moments have to be. It has been my experience that most are.
I had come up to visit Kim in the apartment she lived in here in Our Little Town, and we had spent the day doing whatever it was we were doing, out and about in Baja Canada. We’d come back for dinner, though. It was a big apartment, nearly half the size of our current house, with a full-sized dining room and a kitchen that featured the same hideous orange-flecked-with-yellow countertops that seem to have been installed in every apartment in America between 1972 and 1978. Kim was in the kitchen cooking and I was in the dining room setting the table, and for some reason I needed to ask her a question and I called her name.
It hit me at that moment that yes, I could happily spend the rest of my life doing just that.
A lot has changed in the years since then.
But that hasn’t.