Hello, Baltimore. I’m the newest writer on the Married in Maryland blog, and will be chronicling my journey from girlfriend to wife. I’m sure I’ll use my space here to talk about centerpieces, dresses, guest lists and all that gooey wedding stuff –- but I hope I’ll also remember to focus on the non-material things that being engaged is also about.
I thought to kick things off I’d tell you my engagement story, which is still fresh in my mind as it was only a few weeks ago. But quickly, the back story: I’d been dating my boyfriend Sam for over a decade, and many of those years were long distance. A mutual friend introduced us in high school, which is the last place this adventuresome gal expected to find her future spouse. We attended different colleges, then he went on to grad school while I started my career in journalism 200 miles away. In June 2011 we moved to Baltimore together, thrilled to finally share a ZIP code and a home.
And now for THE story:
It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and unseasonably warm temperatures beckoned. Sam and I had spent the morning lazing around our Mount Vernon apartment –- making pancakes, reading on the couch, surfing the web -– and by mid-afternoon, we were eager to finally get moving.
Since we were leaving to visit family on Wednesday, I suggested we walk to a small market nearby to pick up a few necessities instead of doing our weekly shopping trip at a bigger grocery store. It was such a nice day, Sam suggested we walk around the neighborhood a bit before heading to the store.
Hand-in-hand, we headed down Saint Paul Street, probably debating the merits of various running backs we had started in our fantasy football leagues. I don’t remember much about the conversation, except that it was completely normal, and when we reached Mount Vernon Park I hadn’t noticed Sam’s sweaty palms or anxious voice.
As we crossed over the park, Sam stopped me near the fountain, centered under the Washington Monument.
“Wait. Hold on,” he said turning me toward him. “Olivia, I just wanted to say that I love you.”
Thinking he was just being sweet and fishing for a kiss, I gave him a loving smile and stepped closer to deliver.
But then he kept talking.
“I have never been happier as when I am with you…”
At this point I started to blank out because I realized what was happening. My mind emptied aside from a few words, “This is it. This is it. Oh my god. This is it.” I can only recall shreds of what he said next. It was a long string of compliments, which I usually bat away shyly, but today I absorbed.
“A lot of big moments in our relationship have happened in parks,” he finally said, his voice cracking. I thought back to memories from the park in our hometown: our first date, the first time we held hands, the nights we spent strolling along the trails long after the park had closed.
He stepped back, got down on his knee and I completely lost it –- warm tears came out of nowhere and a huge swelling arose in my chest. It felt like every atom in my being was thumping with joy. Before he could even ask the question, I bent down to be closer to him. The 2.5 feet of distance between him kneeling and me standing felt too great.
Then, he asked. And I answered.
We didn’t make it to the grocery store. Instead we walked together through the city that we’ve come to love in our short time here. Eventually we made our way to Federal Hill, where we sat and looked over the harbor, soaking in the occasion and each other. It would be late evening before we called our parents and friends to share the news, and at least for a short time it was our most beautiful secret.