Once Upon a Time

This is the spot…

One year and seven months ago, I drove into the parking lot of Friday’s and saw a man in a black coat, standing in front of the entrance, talking on his phone. The man was tall with very dark, very spiky hair, and he was my date for the evening. I had seen him in a few goofy pictures on match.com, but this was the first time I had seen him in person. He looked very tall and surprisingly business-like.

It was black Friday, and my parents and I had hurried home from visiting family for Thanksgiving so I could get ready for my date. I tried on at least three outfits before resorting to something comfortable and safe but cute: jeans with low-heeled black boots and a plum sweater with a modest neckline. I think I had chosen my green coat that night, but I don’t remember for sure. The only jewelry I wore was a pair of dangly earrings with purple stones and the rings that I wore every day, minus the one I had worn on my left ring finger since middle school. I had intentionally removed that ring because I didn’t want my date to think I had any unsavory baggage… because I didn’t. I just liked the ring and for some reason, had always worn it on that finger. It served as excellent unwanted suitor deterrent at times.

As I walked toward the man in the black coat, I hoped he wasn’t irritated that I was a couple of minutes late for our date. For me, a couple of minutes late is the practical equivalent of being 15 minutes early, but I know that not everyone has my impeccable sense of time.

I wish I could remember more of what we said, but I know I made a serious dating faux pas and brought up politics…

I was nervous and excited, of course. It had been a long time since I’d been on an official date; it was time. I don’t remember what I said when I walked up to the man in the black coat, but I’m sure it was something along the lines of, “Hi, Denny?” We followed a waitress back to our table and began the awkward ritual of getting to know each other. I wish I could remember more of what we said, but I know I made a serious dating faux pas and brought up politics, then called myself out on it. He just laughed. The man in the black coat seemed to be amused by me, rather than offended, so it couldn’t have been going too badly.

We finished dinner, and he asked if I’d like to do something else. I was surprised but happy that he felt it was going well enough to prolong the experience. We wandered around Target for a while and then went to see a movie. The next morning, I got a very sweet text from the man in the black coat, and from then on, the sweetness never stopped.

That Sunday, the man in the black coat invited me to his house to make dinner for me. Despite the vague but troubling fear that he would murder me and make my bones into wind chimes, I went to his house. Since you are reading about this now, I clearly survived, there were no murderous intentions, and the man in the black coat continued to want to see me.

One day not much later, I unexpectedly saw the smiling face of the man in the black coat as I was passing through the morning traffic, and in that moment, my heart told my brain what it had not yet worked out: the man in the black coat was going to be a big part of my life, a wonderful part of my life.

One year and seven months after that night at Friday’s, the man in the black coat asked me to gogeocaching (the wikipedia entry explains this concept, if you aren’t already familiar with it). This has become one of my favorite activities, and the geocache he mentioned was a new one in one of my favorite spots: a battlefield with a beautiful walking trail. The man in the black coat had introduced me to the battlefield, and we often walked the trail. The first geocache we ever attempted to find was there, as well.

So it was that we walked the battlefield trail to what I consider to be a magical little pocket of the world…

So it was that we walked the battlefield trail to what I consider to be a magical little pocket of the world: this section of the trail is flanked by trees, which have grown together overhead to form a leafy tunnel. When we reached the benches in the tunnel, the man in the black coat told me to sit down and watch for muggles while he checked for the geocache. So I sat, peering back and forth, up and down the tunnel. After a moment, he handed me a pill bottle. Smiling, because I love to see what people have placed inside the caches, I opened the bottle to find a slip of paper, which is not the least bit unusual. However, the note written on the paper read, “This is the spot where I asked my soul mate to spend the rest of her life with me,” and was dated Jun 25, 2010. I looked up to find the man in the black coat (who, by the way, does not wear a black coat in the summer heat, of course) down on one knee, with a ring box, containing the most beautiful ring, in his hands. I vaguely remember hearing the words, “Heather, will you marry me?” and I apparently shrieked, “Are you for real?!” though I don’t remember that at all. It’s so very eloquent; it does sound like something I’d say. I then lived the tried, true, and wonderful cliche, threw myself into his arms, cried, and said yes more times than I can count.

After more crying (on my part), he put the ring on my finger, I jumped around for joy, kissed him over and over, and smiled from then until I fell asleep that evening. I smiled so much that my cheeks were sore.

Two days later, I’m still smiling, still drooling over my gorgeous ring, still counting myself as the luckiest woman in the world, and will be ’till death do us part.

I love that black coat. 😉

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