How We Met
Our love story began six years ago in a bar on a “blind” date. Well, it wasn’t totally blind as we had already scrolled through each other’s Facebook profile pictures to take the pressure off of a bit. My sister actually met Ryan first when our cousin Ian would bring him home from college with him for family functions. Living in Southern California at the time, I missed most of these events. My sister and Ryan continued to run into each other at bars all over Sacramento once Ryan graduated from St. Mary’s and returned to where he was born and raised. Eventually, I found my way back up North – to Sacramento to be exact – to be closer to my sister. However, she would soon leave me for San Francisco, but not before telling me she had a guy she thought I should meet and she arranged for the three of us to have drinks at a local pub.
When Ryan walked in that night – all 6’5″ of him looking like a Kennedy – I was struck. We spent hours talking, moving on to another bar (still with my sister in tow), never once having to search for conversation or something in common. At the end of the night, he dropped me off first before my sister and after he walked me to my door, he excitedly exclaimed to her “I got the digits!”
how they asked
After living together for the past two years, I had always said that I didn’t care how Ryan proposed, as long as I was surprised. Each year, on the Friday before Christmas, we have a tradition of meeting up with friends after work for dinner and drinks to kick off the holiday festivities. This year, December 22nd, was off to a rocky start. I woke up with a bad flu bug and was already rehearsing my excuse to bail on that night. After Ryan convinced me to just rest and see how I felt after lunch, I was able to power through and I told myself after I hadn’t eaten all day, I needed food, I might as well go. The guys had started the party early and so the girls took an Uber downtown for a reservation at a nice restaurant. The four of us had a lovely meal at a restaurant near Capitol Park in Downtown Sacramento with wine for them and Hot Toddys for me.
After dinner we had planned to drive around looking at Christmas lights on our way back to our friend’s place for a night cap. Sneaky Ryan told me we had to walk through the park to get to his car on the other side. As we passed a familiar sight, I pointed out that we were close to the California Firefighters Memorial. The limestone wall is full of names of firefighters who have died in the line of duty or as a result of service and it includes my father’s name. He died 17 years ago and Ryan and I often make a point to stop by and visit. This time was different though. He suggested we walk closer and I was so cold, so tired, so feverish and achy that I refused him twice while bundled up in his jacket begging him to hurry up to the car. And again, he convinced me to “power through, babe.”
As we approached the wall, I saw candles on the ground and thought someone must have come by earlier to honor their loved one too – that was until I saw our friend Madison’s head poking out from around the corner with her camera in hand. I was beyond surprised. Ryan got down on one knee in front of my dad’s name and asked me if we could spend the rest of our lives together. Overcome with excitement, emotion and wanting to kiss him, he had to remind me to actually answer the question. We savored the moment for about 20 minutes, said goodbye to Madison and tried to FaceTime our families with no success.
We walked back through the park to meet the couple we had dinner with for that nightcap. He said they had been in on the surprise and were waiting at a bar nearby to celebrate. I remember thinking I was a little disappointed my family wasn’t there to celebrate with too. Then we walked in and as we neared the back of the bar, I saw my sister’s red hair and I was surprised for the second time that night. And thankfully, Madison was there again to capture the moment.
The Irish bar was the very same place where Ryan and I made our relationship official 5.5 years ago – after I accidentally called him boyfriend. Both of our families had gathered there earlier in the night to have dinner together and they were awaiting our arrival with champagne and cake to toast our engagement. They quickly filled me in on all of the careful planning Ryan had been putting into this proposal for the previous six weeks.
His thoughtfulness included driving to my hometown to ask my family’s permission, ring shopping with my sister in San Francisco in the middle of the week and scouting the lighting at the proposal location with Madison. Friends continued to arrive to join the celebration up until last call and we hugged, cried and laughed as they filled me in on who knew what and when. Apparently, I had given everyone quite a scare when I left work sick earlier in the day! But I was so surprised, overwhelmed and excited that I didn’t even remember I had a fever.