How We Met
It was my going away party. I was moving to Nebraska the next day, and my friends threw me a goodbye party. Simone was there too. But while everyone was happy, laughing, and having a great time, Simone was in tears. I wanted to know why, so we stepped outside to talk. We talked for a long time, and a lot of things came out – mainly feelings neither she nor I knew we felt. We had known each other, been friends, for a long time but had never pushed beyond those walls. That conversation was new ground. And it followed me to Nebraska and stayed with me. It was the first of many that covered every possible topic – we even talked about her moving out there for school. Simone and I continued to talk regularly but not too much – the way friends in different cities do. I was back living in Maryland, and she was in North Carolina.
One of those days, in one of those conversations she told me that she was moving to Boston. There was more to the story, and she told me everything. Her words drew me into her journey, her life, and her mind as they never had before. I felt her pain. It resonated with my own since I was going through much the same experience. I heard the words “I’m not letting you get away again. Not this time,” come out of my mouth and then immediately regretted them! One awkward pause and nervous chuckle later, the conversation continued almost as if nothing had happened. We spoke on and off, and again, on one of those days, in one of those conversations Simone told me – to my utter shock – that she was now living in Maryland! First, I couldn’t believe it. Then, my poorly timed promise came back to mind: “I’m not letting you get away again. Not this time!” I knew that this was finally the right time to make good on my promise. She came to my Mom’s house for lunch, and seeing her brought everything back.
In my head every scheme, every plan, everything I knew I had to do started to coalesce: I had to bring my “A” game! I had to bring the fire. I had to bring the rain. I knew I only had one shot, and I was not going to blow it. I was not going to miss it, and nothing was going to stand in my way. The new year came, and I could feel that forces were pushing us together more and more. She felt it too and suggested one day that we go away to talk. I was so nervous I got lost driving to our destination. A 40-minute trip took an hour and a half! We had dinner, very jittery chit-chat and then settled in for the conversation of our lives. Pray. Church. I don’t think I’d ever talked that much before or since. But I had 25 years worth of pent-up feelings, news, things I hadn’t told her before and I had to say them. We talked for hours and at about 4:30 in the morning, Simone looked into my eyes and said, “I’m saying Yes”. I just kept talking. It didn’t connect…until it did. And then I was scared! All my plans, my campaign to win her… at no point had I prepared myself for what I would do if she said “Yes.” But I took a deep breath, and stepped into the next phase of our relationship – pushed through the bounds of friendship — with Simone.
how they asked
From late in 2016 I knew that I was going to ask Simone to marry me. It was just a matter of when and where. In February of this year, I got us tickets to a Biz Markie concert. The idea entered my head to propose to her there. It seemed a Herculean task, but I was inspired, and I knew she would not expect it. So began the phone calls, email messages, secrets – this had to be kept a secret! I only told one person so that she could help me pull it off. The staff at the Fillmore, the concert venue, and Biz Markie’s crew were awesome. So many times we came close to having our cover blown! We spoke in code: “hardware”, “the package”, “go time”. I had to hide my phone at times. There were times when Simone was physically close enough to where the ring was hidden she could have touched it.
A million pieces had to fall in place, but God blessed and they all did. Finally, we were at the concert and everything was in place. We suffered a two-hour delay in the program, but stayed on track. I spent the time praying in my head and trying to stay relaxed. Finally, they called us up to the stage – for what Simone thought was a birthday event.
I still almost felt that it wasn’t going to happen. But up on stage we went when they called my name. I took her hand and knew at that moment that our lives would never be the same again. Biz Markie put on a song the audience immediately recognized and they started cheering for us. “…It’s a beautiful night. I’m looking for something fun to do. Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you…” Right there, in front of 2,500 people I went down on one knee and asked her to marry me.
The moment was incredible, and I’ll never forget it.