How We Met
Nick and I met at a restaurant on stilts, on a pier in Mission Bay. He was a charming boy from Boston, with good manners, and equally good jokes. I had just graduated from college from UC Santa Barbara and recently arrived home from a road trip around the circumference of America. We both met at our new, temporary jobs at a fine dining restaurant on the bay in San Diego. He was a server, I was a cocktail server. We both had big dreams and big plans, but sometimes, dreams take small steps. And working at the restaurant helped plump our bank accounts to do the things we wanted to do. The first moment I saw Nick, he walked into work holding a cup of coffee, smiling. There was this intoxicating light about him. Like he was complete and whole. His eyes were soft brown, yet vulnerable.
I don’t think you believe in love at first sight until it happens to you. But this sight, it was the closest thing I had ever experienced to instant love. I had never seen a person radiate more positive energy. But the trick was, we both made vows to never date a co-worker. So as you could imagine, we became close friends. Fast.
When there was extra food in the kitchen, Nick would sneak it into a side station, where he’d share it with me. And we would eat the free thirty dollar piece of salmon together. When there was a customer upset at my table, he would be the first one there to calm him down. When there was a gorgeous sunset or spectacular rainbow, he’d beckon me to see.
Nick wanted to find a girl he could treat like the heart of the world. And I, so readily, wanted that girl to be me.
And then there was the moment, where I knew he felt the same way.
I think there is a moment in all love stories where everything changes. Where an ordinary story evolves into something more.
Nick and I stood out on the dining room floor. Dinner service had not yet begun, and he was setting up red candles throughout the restaurant. I was bored, and lingered near him, helping him set-up. We got on the topic that we had avoided, my boyfriend/ex-boyfriend. I confessed to Nick that he and I were done. The day he flew back home to the Midwest for summer break, I deleted him from everything. Erased him from my life, ready to start again.
Nick set down the tray of candles, took out a pad of paper, the one he took orders on, from his apron pocket. He flipped to a blank page.
“Well, what is it that you are looking for in a man?”
I was caught off guard. “I don’t know. Why are you asking?” I squirmed at the question.
“Come on. It will be fun. Let’s start with how he would look like.”
I responded, “Ugh, I don’t know. Tall. Brown or dirty blond hair. Blue eyes.”
Nick penciled in every word I said. I waited for him to look glum, that the superficial image of a guy in my head did not look like him, exactly. But it was obvious Nick was doing this out of true aid to me, not for personal gain. He continued.
“Now what is your dream man like?” Nick asked.
I made a joke, “Someone who does not go out more than 5 times a week. Someone who, you know, breathes.”
Then I took it serious, for a moment. I said, “Someone who comes from a good family. That’s really important to me.”
Nick diligently continued writing, then asked, “What else do you need?”
“Someone who makes me laugh, you know, someone like Adam Sandler.”
Something in Nick changed. He smiled to himself as he reread his notes. Then he flipped his pad of paper closed. As he walked away, back toward the kitchen, he pointed at himself and mouthed to me, smiling, “I can be your Adam Sandler.”
Three years later we were engaged. Four years later we were married.
Nick will always be my Adam Sandler.
how they asked
how they asked. A Culinary Treat.
On the day of the proposal, Nick re-created our entire first date. I had no idea this meant anything at the time. I had returned the day before from a writers conference and we were celebrating my graduation from graduate school. Nick did cute things like this a lot, so I didn’t think twice. I just went along with it.
That morning, we rode beach cruisers to our first date spot in Pacific Beach called, World Famous. We ordered the same veggie omelets and mimosas that we had before. We walked on the boardwalk and bought five-dollar sunglasses, and took a picture with the Pacific Ocean, dazzling in the background. The rest of the afternoon we spent lounging by the pool. When we got home, he made me stay in the room, as he was cooking something special for a picnic he had planned. I asked him if I could just wear yoga clothes, and he told me to dress up, that it would be fun.
Nick cooked for hours. When I came out of the room, the kitchen smelled like heaven, an eclectic aroma of various culinary treats. I noticed a bunch of red roses on the table – much more than a dozen. Next to it, sat a picturesque picnic basket. We then drove to the cliffs at La Jolla Cove. A wedding had juts ended and beautiful rose petals covered the grass. He set up the picnic, which was extravagant. We started out with cucumber Moscow mules. For our first course, Nick made baked stuff shrimp. For the third course, he made chicken Oscar. For the third course, he presented me with a turkey stuffed bell pepper, my favorite. I was unsure of what all this meant.
Then he took me hand and led me over to the cliff. He told me that each course had meant something. The drink represented the restaurant we met at – they served the same one. The first course represented what his parents had on the night they were engaged. The second course represented what my dad made for my mom on the night of their engagement. And the third course represented my favorite dish that he cooked for me. Nick told me that it was this day three years ago that we had our first date. And that there were three dozen roses on the table, to represent the three years of us being together.
He then continued to look into my eyes and tell me how much he loved me, and how we were soul mates, and meant to spend the rest of our lives together. Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He pulled out a yellow diamond, vintage style engagement ring that he picked out himself, my dream ring. I was so shocked, but was so excited to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. We ended the meal with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries that said, “N+C 6/12/14 and forever.”
I also have a funny story about the ring. To get my size, he secretly stole one of my other rings, pressed it into a stick of butter, then drove the stick of butter to the jeweler. But it was a hot spring day, and the butter was melting. The jeweler measured it anyway. It fit perfect.