Today is Kristy’s birthday. It means another year older, obviously, but I’m no fool so I won’t discuss that. Today is also the day, 13 years ago, that I proposed to her. We met 19 years ago in Mrs. Boyle’s drama class at Kirby High School and I can still, to this day, tell you what she was wearing and that she had a look on her face like she smelled something rotten. She probably did, she usually does. But we talked and it turned out she lived around the corner from me, so I visited, and we became somewhat inseparable after that. I said on that first day I saw her that I was going to marry her - I know a lot of people say that, but prove me wrong if you don’t believe it.
For part of 1993, we were on a break. That’s right, we were on a break long before the Friends were on a break. We still saw each other, however, and we finally got back together for good on October 20 of that year. I’m not sure when it dawned on me to ask her to marry me, sometime a month or so before I suppose, so I went to The Occasion Shop, a small antique store that was on Poplar across from Burke’s Bookstore. The ancient woman who owned the store showed me a thin, platinum band with a few tiny diamonds on top. I knew it wasn’t impressive in its own right, but it had an inscription from 1929 and I knew Kristy would appreciate it, so I put it in layaway and paid on it over the next month. I had made reservations for us at Giovanni’s, which was on Cleveland at the time and was what an Italian restaurant should be. It was dark, cozy and had Sinatra and Martin on the sound system. We’d never been there before but had always talked of going. Our table was perfect – a little two-top in the back – and the food, I hear, was very good, though I was too nervous to remember it, or even recall later what I’d ordered. When the time was near I went to the bathroom because the ring didn’t fit in the box so well so I knew it would just be rattling around in there and need to be set right. In retrospect, this means that I must have practiced with the ring and the box sometime beforehand, which seems very geeky. But all went well and the ring stayed in its little slot, though it was difficult to see in the dim light. She was very surprised, as I think all future brides should be. We weren’t even technically dating at the time, though, so it was probably all the more shocking. Afterwards, I think, we went to the Peabody Hotel lobby bar to celebrate and then started the rounds of where our friends hung out to tell them the news.
When I called family members over the next few days to tell them what I’d done, they all asked the same thing, “What did she say?” Well, she said yes, and I’m glad she did. I’m glad every day that she did. I promised some things that night, one of them being adventure, though I’m not sure that has come to fruition as she’d intended. There was our time in Florida and a short stint in New Mexico. There was that awful, awful night in 1996, new careers, a couple of businesses and, finally, four kids. And they are the real adventure now. It may not be sailing the world as we’d talked about, or living in a beach hut, but every day I look at my kids and see Kristy in them I’m glad I did what I did 13 years ago. Happy Birthday, Kristy. I love you.