Today is National Proposal Day. Due to the fact that Nicholas and I didn’t start our first blog until 2003, the story of Nicholas proposing to me in 2002 is one of the few facets of our lives together that hasn’t found its way on to the internet.
Well, no day like today!
I thought there is no better time than in the depths of caring for our brand new baby and THIRD child to remember how it all began.
In the summer of 2002, Nicholas and I were living together (in sin, as my grandmother liked to say) in Durham, North Carolina. I had joined Nicholas there after completing my junior year at Transylvania University because I simply didn’t want to be away from him. He was working as a research assistant for one of his professors and living alone in a four bedroom house he and his law school roommates had rented. The rest of his roommates were working in law firms in NY or DC so he had the entire house to himself.
I had planned on getting a job once I arrived in Durham and I tried my hardest but I was late to the game. I applied to every clothing store and restaurant in the Research Triangle but to no avail. Since Nicholas worked from home, we basically spent 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We didn’t have a lot of money. Scratch that. We had no money. We ate a lot of Hamburger Helper. We played so much Phase 10 we invented a new form called EXTREME Phase 10. We watched Crossfire every day at 3pm.
It was one of the happiest times of my life.
I spent a lot of that time planning our wedding. Of course, we weren’t ACTUALLY engaged yet. I had already picked out my ring with the expectation that Nicholas would propose towards the end of the summer. I also had the expectation that the proposal would be fantastic, which looking back was a tall order considering I had completely removed the element of surprise and had pre-selected my ring.
Luckily, Nicholas was up for the challenge.
One morning I awoke to find no sign of Nicholas. Instead, there was a note on his pillow that told me to go to the computer. It took me a moment to realize what was happening as I excitedly ran to the computer and found the note above.
At 10, I received an e-card (remember those!) explaining that he was beginning with an email because that’s how we started flirting with each other two years before at Transy. Instead of conversing face to face on a tiny campus with less than a 1000 students, we wrote long flirty messages to each other in the beginning. We’re weird that way.
The email also sent me to a website with instructions. I was going on a scavenger hunt through all the places and activities that had played an important role in our relationship.
The message than told me my next stop would be the movie theater. Going to the movies was not only one of our favorite date night activities (those were the days!) but three years previous we had randomly gone and seen The Insider together. It wasn’t in any way romantic, especially since I had just been cheated on by my high school sweetheart and was heartbroken. I was telling Nicholas all about it (as I was apt to do to whoever would listen) and he looked at me and said matter of factly, “You know what your problem is? You’re trying to reason with idiots and idiots don’t understand reason.” At first, I was appalled. I wasn’t the one with the problem!
Then, I realized he was right. This was about them not me.
It was also the first time I thought, “Hmmmm… this Nicholas Holland guy might be more than I gave him credit for.”
Fast forward three years and I was rapidly discovering Nicholas was still capable of surprising me. At the theater I had very detailed instructions. I was to go to specific posters out front and write down certain numbers from each time.
The numbers created a call number for a book and PAGE at the Duke Law Library. Plus, they weren't just ANY numbers. The numbers were the date of our wedding and the date of our first kiss.
I was terrified of misplacing a number but luckily I perform well under pressure. I got to the Law Library, which was the next stop because law school had and was going to play such an important role in both of our lives, and found the book. Stuck in the specific page was a map that led me to a secluded spot in Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
Secluded turned out to be important because the television show Dawson’s Creek was filming on Duke’s campus that day. The episode even featured a guest appearance by Jack Osbourne, one of the stars of our favorite reality show The Osbournes. It was a fun little bonus.
I found my way to the spot and waited expectantly on Nicholas. Finally, he came around a corner and got down on one knee. He told me he loved me more than he had ever loved anyone and asked me to be his wife.
Of course, I said yes.
What I remember so vividly from that moment is how nervous he was. He had been running around all morning putting together this elaborate scavenger hunt. He was sweaty and a little bit flustered. Seeing this man put all this effort into proposing to me - a man who didn’t particularly enjoy romance or seemingly empty gestures (since we already knew we were getting married) – cemented everything I already felt about marrying him. That he loved me unconditionally, that was going to make the most wonderful husband, and that we were going to be so incredibly happy together.
And I as I lay down next to that man every night, in a home filled with love and laughter and three beautiful boys, I know that the proposal of marriage was fun and unique but the marriage itself is the real story.
What's the story of your proposal? I'd love to hear!