How We Met
A dark, smoke-filled basement bar. Not exactly what one envisions as the start of a fairytale. Patrons were having fun while “oldies-but-goodies” music was playing. I was there during my weekly Pool League focusing mostly on leaving before my clothes thoroughly adopted the aroma.
But then Kristi walked in. She was hanging out with my teammate, a mutual friend. It was one of those moments where nothing else mattered in the world and my sole interest was getting to know who this woman was. We talked about many shared passions and past experiences, and to be honest I can’t recall most of what I said. I was more entranced by the fact the dimly-lit bar seemed like Times Square to me when she smiled.
After that night, it became a regular occurrence to see her on “pool night”, and we grew closer with each meeting. After many weeks of me trying to be nonchalant, which I’m certain I succeeded mostly in my own perception, it became apparent there was something more there. What had began as seeds of flirtation and genuine fascination with each other, soon sprouted into a myriad of feelings and anxiousness. It amazed me how I could feel so certain of something, yet be so unsure of what I knew to be. I was excited and scared. The possibility of creating a real relationship with Kristi was thrilling, but I felt timid. My caution stemmed from lessons learned from past heartache and failed efforts at filling that relationship void.
Through consistent and ever-evolving time spent with one another, we established our interest in each other. We shared our feelings, committed to them and each other, and began dating.
How They Asked
One of the early conversations we had together was our love for travel. She had done quite a bit on her own, and being an Army brat and a traveler myself, I have also had my share of time around the world. Due to this shared passion, we decided we wanted to travel somewhere together.
Kristi had expressed that one of her biggest dreams was to be in Paris on her birthday, and we found the timing to be perfect to make it happen. So Paris it was!
After booking it, we were both thrilled to be traveling again, but for both of us, it was the first time traveling with a significant other. In excitement, I told my friends that I was going to Paris and was going with Kristi. The initial responses were all of the admiration, but were commonly followed up by a question. That question was “Are you going to propose?”
I reflected on our relationship to that point and knew I couldn’t pass up this immense opportunity. The certainty of wanting to spend the rest of my life with her made for one of the easiest decisions I have ever made.
So I began planning.
First was when, then how, then getting everything ready to execute my plan. A side note, asking her father for his blessing was also one of the most nervous times of my adult life, despite my confidence in his answer!
Everything was set for us to fly, and get there a day before her birthday.
We landed in Paris, and a shuttle took us to our hotel. After a brief time of getting our things settled in the hotel room, I turned to Kristi and told her “I know your birthday is tomorrow, but I’m going to give you your present today, and you’ll see why.”
For her gift, I told her about the award-winning, professional Parisian photographer I had booked months ago, and that we were going to have an early morning photo shoot around Paris. She’s always loved modeling and photography, so she was ecstatic about getting some professional photos of our time together in Paris.
Kristi had expressed before we left home that on her birthday, she wanted to dress up and go to dinner. She also wanted to look nice for a toast of champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower that night. Because of this plan, Kristi had packed a beautiful black dress to wear for her birthday.
Because of my own secret agenda, I had packed my suit without raising suspicion thanks to the formality of the birthday plans. Ultimately, we both had an outfit nicely suited for what was about to happen, unbeknownst to her.
So because of the early meetup time with the photographer, we didn’t make it a late night and went to bed promptly. We woke up very early, got dressed up and ready, and left the hotel to meet with the photographer. At this point, I was praying that everything would go as I intended and hoped for, and the gravity of what I was about to do was starting to get ahold of me.
We met with the photographer, Cengiz, who immediately makes you feel like your old friends from the moment you first meet him. You could instantly tell he was extremely professional and personable. We walked and talked to get to know each other a little, traveling over to where I planned to propose.
The location I chose was Trocadéro, one of the most beautiful spots in Paris due to its stunning panorama view of the Eiffel Tower. This spot was perfect, especially since we timed to be there right at sunrise. The whole event was mapped out with Cengiz months prior to leaving home, and it was surreal to be executing this plan without saying anything about it to each other when we met for the first time.
Cengiz started us off by doing just some nice poses primarily to make us feel comfortable and understand his direction. While he was doing this, I was waiting for my cue from him.
My heart was pounding, my mind was racing, and all I could think about is how much I love this woman. I thought to myself, “this is for her”, and she deserves a proposal as amazing as she is and makes me feel.
Then Cengiz gave me the cue.
Cengiz started by taking Kristi to a designated spot. He simply directed, “Now I’m going to have you turn around and close your eyes, and I will have Greg walk slowly up behind you and kiss your neck”. Kristi obliged, and while she was being positioned, I went to my bag, which was on the ground nearby, and pulled out my wireless speaker.
I turned it on, set it on a nearby wall, took out my phone and waited for Cengiz to get into position with his camera.
I hit play on my phone, took a deep breath, and focused on nothing but Kristi.
An instrumental track of the beautiful French song, “Hymne à L’Amour” began to fill the space we were all standing, and I began to sing. My years studying French in school all seemed to finally pay off, as I sang to Kristi in the romantic language of the country.
Being a professional singer, I have sung on some of the worlds most renowned stages, yet no performance was as meaningful or paramount as this one. While 7:45 in the morning after a flight isn’t the most ideal time vocally, I was able to serenade in a way I was happy with, and could tell Kristi was too.
After finishing the song, I held Kristi’s hands and said to her “I love you so much. Ever since I met you, you’ve brought so much happiness into my life. I’m so blessed to have you…”
“…You told me your dream was to be in Paris on your birthday, well, here we are – and you let me help make that happen…
But now I want to ask you for your help in making MY dream come true…..by spending the rest of your life with me.”
I stepped back, descended to one knee, and as the locals would say,
She said “Oui!”