Jessica and Arya
How We Met
We met through Craig’s List. Sort of. I had just moved from San Diego back to Baltimore and was looking for a place to live in the city. I found an ad on Craig’s List for a room in a waterfront house in Federal Hill, and after a stellar interview with two bros, the room was mine. The two guys that lived in the house just so happened to be Arya’s friends (shoutout to Rich & Tom!). After myself and the other new girl roommate all moved in and settled in our new house, all four of us roommates went out to Delia Foley’s, an Irish pub in Federal Hill, because our guy roommates’ friends (including Arya) were there. Delia Foley’s (known for the best boneless wings in Baltimore every year) is famous for its “Wings of Destiny,” which both Arya and Jessica ordered that night. There was an instant unspoken attraction between the two of us as we talked about how I had just moved back from California, how Arya was soon moving to California, about our experiences taking polygraphs for our government supporting jobs, about both of us spending time living in College Park, and about both of us being published poets in the same poetic anthology in Baltimore Catholic Schools as kids.
Over the next 6 months a friendship was built watching Homeland, eating Arya’s award-winning homemade guacamole and having an occasional drink or two while supporting the small businesses of Federal Hill. It was the most exciting time to live in Baltimore because the Ravens were killing it. We were together for all Ravens games, including in Boston for the AFC Championship game against the Patriots. The Ravens that year too had Wings of Destiny (like Delia Foley’s wings) as they won the Super Bowl for the 2nd time in history that February. In March 2013, Arya moved to San Francisco to launch his tech start up, Sunstone Analytics. We credit Snapchat (brand new at the time) with chronicling all the little day-in and day-out details since we did not get to tell each other since not seeing each other every day. iMessage, FaceTime and Gchat made it easy to fill in the gaps of all the other days. Every night that we weren’t together, we would share our “Pro and Low” (peak or pit, highlight or con) of the day before going to bed no matter what time zone or country they were in once Arya moved to California, so we were in a routine of closing each day out together despite being on opposite coasts. Some days could have multiple pros or lows and many days were countdowns till we would see each other. After 2 months of long-distance constant communication across multiple media, Arya and I knew we were destined to be more than just best friends and that we were meant to become official lovers as I would say.
Arya flew in from his Europe trip (he changed his flight to Baltimore from Europe just to ask me out officially in person. Upon picking him up from the airport, Arya and I walked from Harborview, along the water, to the Fourt Seasons. The Four Seasons in Baltimore had just opened, so our first conversation about being an official couple took place at the Four Seasons pool bar during the week of June 17th, which became their official anniversary as Arya asked me out formally that day. In 2 and a half years of dating long distance, I traveled to CA 25 times, and Arya to Baltimore over 40 times. When we weren’t visiting each other, they were traveling together to Boston, San Juan, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Kansas City, Rosemary Beach FL, New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Martha’s Vineyard, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach. Arya and I have attended over 40 weddings together in the past 4 years and love celebrating all love. Arya moved back to Baltimore in December 2015 when we became official live-in lovers for good and we found our home in Locust Point month later. We lived happily lover after :)
how they asked
I definitely did not envision that we would be engaged on our 3-year anniversary weekend. I was born 5 days after Valentine’s Day and early on in our relationship, I told Arya how boyfriends of the past had merged the two together for gifts sometimes. He promised he would never double dip the chip, so knowing that, I really did not think we would be engaged on our anniversary weekend. I was so convinced it wasn’t happening that month, that on Tuesday of the engagement week (anniversary was on Friday and the proposal was on Saturday), I got a blow out for a final interview with Keller Williams. I decided not to splurge for a haircut because I didn’t think we would be getting engaged that month. After having my nails done Tiffany green for the past 4 years (unless white), I decided to change them to neon orange a week before we were engaged because I found an old polish and if you know me, people always joked Arya would propose to me with my nails looking horrible painted with my favorite (polish) color, Tiffany green. So, it was our 3-month anniversary on Friday, June 17th and the weather man was calling for storms all day. Arya asked me on Tuesday (the 14th) that week if we could celebrate with what he had planned on Saturday (the 18th).
He asked because what he had planned for us was a surprise and it was weather contingent. I agreed and said I can leave work early on Friday to start my surprise adventure for our anniversary in the afternoon since I had already worked over 55 hours this week, so I technically didn’t need to be in the office. Arya said he had tons of work to do on Friday (our 3-year anniversary), so I should save my day off for a day when he could actually do something fun without not feeling guilty about his mounds of work. On Friday at noon, Arya called and said he finished all his work in record speed and he was just too excited to celebrate our 3-year anniversary. He asked if I could leave work early because he was just giddy for our “lovers weekend.” Little did I know he had been meeting with Four Seasons Staff that morning and the photographer every day that week to prep for our proposal.
My surprise (for Arya) for our 3 year was to sail around the Baltimore harbor on Friday afternoon with an old neighbor sailor of ours, however he cancelled on me the night before (Thursday) due all day thunderstorms. Instead, we spent the day eating a fancy chocolate ganache cake I had made at a French bakery in Mount Vernon that said “Happy 3 Years to Us” from me, eating Peruvian food at a new restaurant in town, making a summery grapefruit salad/homemade dressing and watching episodes of Friday Night Lights, our then current binge show at the time on Netflix. “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.” – Coach Taylor That afternoon, we exchanged gifts for our 3 year. One gift was a pair of Burberry sunglasses because I had just bought my first pair of designer sunglasses in Austin 2 months prior for $115 bucks (TOMS brand) and I lost them at Red Rocks in Denver a month later when taking pictures with my fancy cam. The second gift was that he booked a hotel room at the Four Seasons in Harbor East, so we could lay poolside at their luxurious infinity pool all day Saturday and Sunday that weekend.
The weather was going to be gorgeous all weekend long, so it was perfect. Arya told me had a whole bag of tricks all weekend long in addition to that. The bag of tricks really didn’t sound out of the ordinary because we always do romantic stuff for all of the ‘versaries that are surprises, but staying at the Four Seasons was insanely lavish. The Four Seasons pool bar back in June of 2013 is where we first talked about being official and we had spent a few ‘versaries there for swanky dinners in the past 3 years. One of his gifts from me was a new outfit from J.Crew. Good thing I did that because Arya was wearing two mismatching plaid patterns on Friday when I got home Friday afternoon. “These are the only two clean things I own right now, ” pointing to his button up and shorts. That J.Crew outfit (blue plaid shirt paid with yellow shorts) was the outfit he proposed to me in. That night, we were just two excited cats, so ready to max out in the lap of luxury that we went to bed before midnight and slept like babies. I was told we had to leave, no ifs ands or buts, at 9:15 a.m. Saturday morning.
Of course, that morning, I was trying to dry wet clothes in the dryer that did not dry on time and ran out of time to take a shower, straighten my hair or paint my nails that morning that were close to 2 weeks old now, so I kept the old neon orange polish on when everyone was going to see my toes and fingers at the pool-oh well I thought. I saw how Arya was dressed in his new J.Crew outfit from me and said I will just mimic your outfit because I don’t know exactly what is planned for the rest of the weekend since you have a bag of tricks (that’s why we are both wearing yellow shorts, blue shirts). Arya came in periodically to tell me my time frame as I was not watching the time. His last update was a little firm, but I didn’t think much of it because he always lays down the law as I’m late at times and he had certainly communicated that we have to leave by 9:15 am clearly to me. I always assume there is some wiggle room, which I should not do. We left on time, but I was rushed and not fully put together enough for the Four Seasons.
So, I ran out of time as Arya was being a drill sergeant on the 9:15 a.m. exodus. We parked a block away from the hotel, which I thought was odd, but I attributed to him maybe wanting to save like $20-30 bucks for me (I am the notorious cheap one) on parking this time around. In my head, I figured maybe the free valet only lasts for 24 hours and we were going to be there longer than that, so he was thinking we would meter till our room was ready at 4 pm to get our pool day’s money’s worth. Turns out, Arya didn’t want any of the valet/bellhop/concierge guys to recognize him/ his car and say something like “Nice to see you again” since he had been to the Four Seasons every day that week to coordinate with the employees and also the professional photographer he had booked. Sure enough, one of the doormen did smile at Arya and say “Welcome back.” I saw that gentleman cordially say that to him and remembered thinking, “How do they know we have been here before, I feel so welcomed, what a good customer service tactic.” Little did I know, Arya was concerned and watching my every move to see if I was on to him, which I totally wasn’t. But really, as we walked past the bellmen and into the lobby I thought, “Damn, that’s smooth because we have been here before to eat, so that is nice to welcome us back, whether we have been here for a night or not.”
Anyway, a few days before he told me one of his gifts was photography related and that my mom was helping him in some way. He only disclosed this because I saw my mom texted him as we were watching something on his phone during pillow talk on Tuesday night that week. I wasn’t sure if we were doing a photography thing and brunch thing first before the pool and wasn’t asking questions at this point because the plans were floating secrets and I was along for the ride. Again, surprises are customary for our major versaries with us, so I just ran with it. But, then we went straight up to the pool level, which I thought was strange because I do love to lay out at 9 am though he does not. So, I did not think it was, but not strange enough. In the elevator, he said that our friend Natasha had told him about this one spot off from the pool that we should see, take some pictures before doing something else (I assumed brunch), etc. The pool staff greeted us sweetly, but it was the Four Seasons, so I just thought this was expected.
I was eying up the fruit infused hydration station as I had not drank anything since my toothpaste water two hours prior. Then Arya led me to a staircase off the main pool I had not seen or noticed before. We climbed those stairs and were immediately engulfed into a brand-new vista point of the beautiful and colorful Baltimore city skyline right in front of us. I said something like this: “Damn, this is incredible. The buildings look like they are all on top of each other from this perspective. Who knew this pool could get an even better view?” Arya replied, “I know. I didn’t think it could get any better. I think this is my new favorite view of the city, Jess.” I then remember asking, “What pictures should we take first — fish eye lens, fancy (Canon) cam, selfies, snapchats?” I figured we would be shooting for a while, making some of our high res photos canvas pictures for our first home together. And he said, “Just come here for a second, leave the selfie stick on the chair (which was in my hand), I want to give you another gift from my bag of tricks, but it’s kind of heavy, so I’m bringing my bag over here.
I will come grab the selfie stick from your purse in 10 seconds.” I dropped the selfie stick, not my cell phone, obliged and walked over to him. He told me to put my new sunglasses (3 year anniversary gift from the day before) down on my face and told me he could see my eyes in my new shades, so I should close them for this surprise. In recent gifts, we have stopped wrapping gifts, so I figured he wanted this gift to be shielded til the last second, just like what he did with the Burberry sunglasses the day before, pulling the box out from the (book) bag of tricks. I was just pumped I was going to take pictures without a soul around of this sick view with him in a few seconds. Then he told me to open my eyes and that is when the ring box video started. I didn’t know there was a camera in the ring box, nor did I notice the photographer.
See link here for that…. Super flattering camera angle from down below haha ;) I seriously was so stunned as you can tell from the first few words that fell from my lips. I never say “stfu” to anyone, let alone him, so I seriously was in shock upon opening my eyes as you can tell. P.S. I seriously apologize for my French, that is not usually me. Afterwards, we hugged, giggled, sighed and kissed a million times and I tried to stop shaking and crying.
The Four Seasons employees came out with multiple mimosas, showering us with our first congratulations for the day. Then Terri, the photographer, came out from hiding and Arya introduced us. You can see my reaction to her in pictures as I cry harder in the pictures. Allegedly, she had a great angle and I never noticed her or heard flashes. She asked if she could take some lovers photos, so then we slide around the pool for like an hour or so shooting those. My non-straightened hair, way casual outfit and 2-week-old chipped orange nail polish looked so good in the shoot haha, but seriously I am grateful for every second and for her being there to capture the proposal magic. Once we were done our professional photography session, we sat in this pool cabana and Arya read a poem he wrote. We write a lot of poems to each other for all of our celebrations/’versaries as we learned the night we met that we are both published poets in the same Anthology.
We sipped our we engagement mimosas and caught up on behind the scene details I had missed that last week or so. Arya explained his asking of my hand with my parents a few weeks ago (the night I called 911 and had 6 firefighters come over because the washing machine was smoking, then the fire fighters give me a ride to my bocce game). Arya brought my mom sunflowers and my dad beef jerky after working in Arlington till 5pm that night, so he didn’t get to Westminster till like 7:15. He told me he was stuck working an integration thing in DC till 8-10ish, which was unusual, but had happened a few times before. Then, Arya told me all the different ideas he had (emailed Coldplay about doing it at the Coldplay concert in Chicago, having Al email Giuliana and Bill Rancid about doing it at their restaurant in Chicago too). Side note, Coldplay actually wrote back saying congrats to you, but sorry no. The Rancic’s did not write back. He even booked some other plans (limo and boat around Annapolis after the engagement, had flights booked to take us to Boston after the proposal (and stay at the Commonwealth Hotel), booking a fake trip to Boston over the 4th of July to throw me off).
Arya had been tipped off that I thought it might be on a trip (SF in April, Denver in May, Boston in July, San Diego in August), so he was trying to divert all along. Plus, I think he was always looking to celebrate on our 3 year. In my head, I thought we already had an anniversary to celebrate, so he would never merge the two. But its sweet it happened on our 3 year and 1 day. I just didn’t ever think it would be then because I figured we were already celebrating something really big. Honestly, Arya hadn’t been acting really strange minus me seeing that one Mom text the Tuesday before, but I thought it was about a 3-year anniversary gift and then again, we planned on being local for our 3 year, so we would both do our planned anniversary activities for one another. The rest of the day, we splashed in the pool, ate a poolside lunch, and snapped photos of us on the pool deck including going back to the proposal spot a few times. Everyone at the pool knew that we were the couple that had just gotten engaged that morning when the pool area was totally empty by word of mouth or by hearing our phone calls or the employees constantly checking us, the newly engaged couple. At 1 pm, Arya was told that we could check in 3 hours early (he had been there every day this week, so the staff knew him at this point) and he really wanted us to go get situated. He went and moved the car from a metered spot, grabbed my luggage and when we checked in, we were bumped up to a premier view (everyone knew him from that week of popping in and they want us to get married there too I bet).
Our room had an incredible view of the harbor, our Harborview house where we spent the first 3.5 years of our relationship/ friendship and our first home together in Locust Point, not to mention we could see all the other nice memorable spots we’ve shared together from walks, runs, hangouts and dates around the city. Arya had the biggest bouquet of red roses I have ever seen before in my life (better than The Bachelor décor too), chocolate covered strawberries and champagne delivered to the room before we strolled into our suite. The next morning, we had poolside breakfast, I got a manicure at the spa, we lounged at the infinity pool again, then ran to the Under Armour to buy our dads gifts for Father’s Day. We were hosting my parents for a cookout that night or so I thought. And we were going to go to Arya’s parents’ house later in the week to celebrate Father’s Day because Arya’s mom was sick. Turns out, both of those were lie. As we were walking from the UA store back to the Four Seasons along the waterfront path, we were greeted with a huge, “SURPRISE!” from my parents, Arya’s parents and Arya’s sister!
Arya had organized a waterfront brunch at Wit and Wisdom, a Michael Mina restaurant, also within the Four Seasons with our families on Father’s Day to celebrate our dads and our recent engagement. It seriously was the perfect way to end our most perfect weekend. Our families gushed for us and we all just swooned under the Baltimore sunlight for hours. I have never felt so loved by the people that love us the most on Earth. Never again will I change my career (become a realtor) on a Tuesday, give my 3 weeks’ notice on Thursday, have my 3-year anniversary Friday and get unexpectedly engaged on Saturday, with a surprise brunch on Sunday with our families and then hear that our landlord has agreed to sell our rental house to us when it’s not even on the market that same week. It really was the happiest week(end!) of our lives. I love you Arya and seriously am so proud of the perfect execution of a surprise homerun proposal he planned. Thanks for all the magic that weekend and every ounce of love every day in our lives. And thank you to all of you for reading this short novel on our amore. You are the best and we are grateful for you in our lovers’ lives!