Chapter 43 - This is my current reality...
#Spillthebeansonlove – Chapter 43
When you date a general contractor, chances are you will go to Home Depot more in a month than you previously went in your entire life. This is my current reality. Look, it’s no Sephora, but I love it. I never thought I’d say I love the smell of lumber, but hey, life changes, and now not only do I like the scent of lumber, I like the possibility of what can be created from it.
Watching Guapo light up as he runs through the aisles inspecting all the new construction gadgets is like watching a kid on Christmas morning. It’s true, Guapo can’t make it through the saw aisle without stopping and drooling over the latest technology and the romance of imagining what he can create with it. Sometimes I wonder if he actually thinks the saw aisle is romantic…?
One cold winter day while visiting me in Philadelphia, we ran to Home Depot so Guapo could buy some supplies to build my custom closet. Yes, you read that right – he built me a custom closet, and yes it was amazing and yes, it had specific storage and shelving for my shoes and handbags. It was the kind of closet you put a chandelier in because you want to spend time in there.
Guapo asked me on several occasions if he could build it for me and I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I kept saying no thank you because I knew it was a lot of work and I wasn’t going to stay in that condo much longer. Instead of fully understanding the joy this would bring
him, I was trying to spare him the work.
So, one day while having coffee in the morning he slid a piece of paper to me. Quite reminiscent of when I slid my number to him the night we met (check out Chapter 11 for the slide of my phone number story). It took me a minute to realize what I was looking at. It was a beautiful sketch of what my closet would look like if I said yes.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Yes, you may build me this amazing closet and you may make my home so wonderful, that I may never leave…fine.’ In fact, I said, 'You might as well go ahead and lock this down. I can't think of a single reason why you wouldn't lock this down right now.' (this is a joke - but not really - but it is) He cracked up and said, 'not even one reason?' 'Nope, I said. Not even one. If I were you, I'd lock this down soon.' (yeah - I went there) We laughed...we still laugh about this.
I was curious, however as to why he kept upgrading my home. Did he want me to stay? It was getting a little too perfect to leave. So off to Home Depot we went. There he was running up and down the aisles grabbing shelving and brackets and all of the necessary items to build my dream closet when all of a sudden in his favorite aisle (the saw aisle), he pulled a quick 180-degree turn to face me, halfway kneeled, stuck out his arms, flashed his perfectly imperfect smile and said ‘marry me.’
I just laughed because as much I have grown to love Home Depot, I definitely don’t love it enough to get engaged there or to even act like that was a real proposal, but I liked that he was following the direction to 'lock this down.' ;)
Well, this soon began the game of him fake proposing to me. It happened on the beach in
Bimini, it happened in the lobby of a hotel, it happened in our living room, it happened on our family vacation to St. Augustine, Florida so my nieces could see what a proposal looked like.
Ah, my nieces. My squad, my posse. My favorite little girls in the world. You see my nieces are a ten-year-old going on 21 and a very precocious six-year-old and I would call them subtle as a sledgehammer with their proposal hints. In fact, it pretty much goes like this: Six-year-old “Almost Uncle Guapo, when are you going to proposal to my Aunt?’ Ten-Year-Old “Mom says if you get married, I can curl my hair with a curling iron, so can you do it already.” So as much as he has been teasing me with faux proposals, I’ve gotten him back with my 'lock it down jokes' and squad pestering…Team Auntie-E.
OK – back to Home Depot…
I can’t say I’m super into saws, but I am super into watching him light up. It’s truly a blessing to witness someone fully embrace their passion and do exactly what they were born to do. Like everything in life, every profession, every sports player, every student there are different levels at which one plays. One of the things that drew me to Guapo is that he holds himself to the highest standards. His job sites are buttoned up, whistle clean, and built with absolute precision and attention to detail. As I began to attend meetings with him, I noticed that over and over his colleagues would make mention of his perfectionism in his work – and I loved this.
As I got to know him over time, I noticed that this perfectionism and attention to detail was just a natural part of who he is. So of course, once I started dreaming about his proposal, (and let’s face it – THE RING) I knew he would have all the details worked out to a T.
My end-of-year plans changed several times because I was leaving my job, moving cross country, planning a family trip, all at the same time. My work end-date changed a few times as well, which kept both of us on our toes and made it tricky to solidify plans. But the important part of all of this is that after 2.5 years of dating we were FINALLY going to be able to live together in the same city, in the same house. So at this point I really didn’t care that it kept changing, I was just happy knowing that it was all finally coming to fruition. With this being said, I did not think that Guapo would be able to pull off an organized engagement for the end of 2021 and I was in no way expecting it with all of the craziness that occurs with a cross country move and massive life change.
The final plan for the end of the year was to go like this. Road trip aka move from PA to FL by way of Charleston. Get to our home (omg) in Florida spend 2 nights there and then fly to upstate New York to see my brother, sis in law and my niece squad for New Year's Eve.
Fast forward – we made it to NY amongst all the flight cancelations, winter storms, and travel changes.
My brother and sis-in-law invited us to a New Year’s Eve celebration for the whole family (nieces included) at his country club. The club is amazing. It’s my favorite place to go when we visit my brother. It’s a sophisticated club with old-world beauty and charm. Perhaps its elegance reminds me of the cruise ship which is why I love it. Anyway, every time I’m in town we create a reason to go to the club and this time the reason was to ring in the New Year together.
Guapo and I tried to find the perfect mix of warm yet sophisticated attire as we had been told that we would be going outside for a fireworks show and that it was the highlight of the night so be ready to stand outside in a New York winter for a good amount of time.
My brother had made mention of the fireworks show a few times. He kept stressing how amazing the show is every year and how it’s the highlight of the night. I kept wondering if he was concerned that I would stay inside in the warmth versus going out to watch them. Well, he was right, that is something I would do. I call this ‘pulling an Elise.’ Watch the show through a window while standing near a fireplace with champagne in my hand. That’s pretty much my speed during the winter months. Luckily, we had a relatively mild weather night, and my sis-in-law conveniently brought me a jacket, so there weren’t any valid excuses to stay inside. Plus, I wanted to share this memorable experience with my nieces. I wanted to see their faces light up when the fireworks exploded. I wanted to see the reflection of the vibrant colors in their sweet eyes.
Inside, dinner just ended, and the music was bumping. Beyonce’s ‘single ladies’ song came on, and I said to Guapo, ‘oh that’s me,’ with some snark in my tone and a twinkle in my eye. Just about then, my brother asked Guapo to go to the bar with him. I found this to be an adorable ‘male bonding moment,’ yet a little out of character as my brother isn’t a ‘hang out at the bar’ type of guy. I stayed back with the girls and watched as they danced off their NYE sugar highs.
In the background, the early bird countdown began, and the kids ran to the center of the dance floor. 100’s of balloons dropped on their heads as they jumped around blowing their celebration horns and playing in the confetti.
The ball had dropped, the champagne was flowing, Guapo and I kissed and held each other close as we entered a new year together. It was now time for the famous fireworks. We began to make our way outside onto one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. My littlest niece grabbed my hand and held it as we walked through the ballroom and out the patio doors.
Right as we exited the building, all six of us said ‘what is that?!’ Baffled as we began to walk towards the perfect fireworks viewing spot, we realized that we could barely see our own hands in front of our faces. What was it? I thought it was perhaps bonfire smoke, but there was no smell. We were all confused. When we drove up to the club just a few hours prior it was a perfectly clear and mild night, and now we were standing in the thickest fog I’d ever seen in my life.
The fireworks began to go off and we could hear them, but we could barely see them through the fog. We were laughing so hard. All I’d been hearing about for a week was the fantastic fireworks show. We were cracking jokes left and right about close your eyes, they’ll look better, someone pull up fireworks on your phone to go with the sounds of these fireworks. Hey look, I think I see one over there, no that’s a light post. This type of schtick.
After a few minutes of continuous fireworks, we began to see some color break through the fog…I was still holding my niece’s hand and my brother sort of gently nudged her away from me and held her tight in his arms. Again, I thought this was a bit out of character, but then again, maybe this was their special yearly tradition and he wanted to hold her during the finale? #GirlDad for the win!
As the fireworks entered the grand finale, the six of us were mesmerized by the alien-movie / apocalypse-like colored sky. There was something mysterious about it, perhaps a bit magical, but whatever you call it, it was a sky like I’d never seen before.
I think Guapo felt the magic and he pulled me in tight, kissed me on my cheek, and said, ‘I still think they look beautiful.’ I said, ‘I do too.’ Then he backed up and got down on one knee. He opened a box that had an LED light shining onto the most beautiful ring I’d ever seen. He said, ‘My love, Will you Marry Me?’
The ring, him kneeling, the LED light- it all took my breath away. My eyes were glued to the light trying to figure out what was going on? My mind was dancing between what is happening with these fireworks, this fog is crazy, why is my ten-year-old niece taking pictures of us, and OMG is he proposing?!!! I managed to whisper, ‘is this for real?’ (I was genuinely nervous that this was another fake proposal and that I was going to be embarrassed by saying yes). A little louder over the sound of the fireworks I asked again, ‘Is this real? Are you for real? Babe, is this real?’ And he said, ‘yes…are you going to say yes?’ ‘YES, I said…oh my gosh, is that ring real?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Put it on! Put it on! Put that ring on my finger!' I squealed.
Then he asked me, ‘are you sure?’ ‘Yes, yes, yes yes yes! I am so sure.’
In shock and in a complete glorious cloud 9 daze I floated back inside the club, where the 6 of us popped champagne (Shirley Temples for the girls) and soaked in the moment.
The feeling was hard to describe because I was simultaneously experiencing so many emotions. Joy, honor, gratitude, excitement, all swirling in the intoxication of love. I just couldn’t believe that Guapo was sweet enough to propose in front of my family and particularly in front of my nieces. What a blessing for them to experience such chivalry right before their young eyes. I hope this memory of watching a man honor a woman is ingrained in them for life because they witnessed and were an integral part of Guapo proposing to Auntie-E. (In fact, they knew the whole time and kept the secret - I found that out later and was so proud of them).
I actually felt like I was floating. I couldn't come back down...I would take steps, but my feet didn’t feel like they could stay on the ground. Was I dreaming? Was this real, was this ring really for me? I couldn’t believe it. It was the most gorgeous ring I’d ever seen but the meaning behind it is what kept making me want to smile, laugh and cry all at the same time. (I might be crying a little right now).
The thought swirling in my head was, is this really all for me? For the past twenty years, I celebrated everyone else’s engagements, wedding showers, divorces (😊), remarriages, baby showers…this was something I celebrated for others, this was the type of event that would make me run and buy a gift for someone else, this is when I would pick up the phone and facetime with my friend and celebrate with her…not myself. Even now, as I write this, I can’t believe it's my turn. Maybe a tiny part of me had wondered if I would ever have my turn?
I could tell the minute I saw the ring on my hand, that he designed it. I knew this was not a ring you could just go pick up at the store. The detail, the intricacies…it had every feature I would have wanted and then some. It was so very Guapo to custom design this ring to my taste exactly as he does his homes to his clients. His perfectionism and his attention to detail were front and center and oh my gosh I can’t stop staring at it as I type this chapter. Did I mention how fun it is to catch glimpses of it all day long?
Goodbye, 2021 hello brand new life in 2022.
For two and a half years Guapo and I were on and off planes to see each other. The countless tears shed at the airport. The dramatic goodbyes...I just couldn't take it any longer.
We used to dream of the day when we would be able to actually sit on the plane together.
We would imagine going on a trip together and leaving that same trip together and what it would feel like. Anyone who’s done long-distance has probably had this thought… How glorious would it feel?
For years I dreamt of the joy of traveling as a pair versus an individual.
Finally, for the very first time, we went on a trip and were returning to OUR home together on the same plane.
There we were, the end of an amazing vacation, sitting on the plane, waiting for takeoff… me, Guapo, Milo, and my ring (lol) when it dawned on me. Not only was this the first time that we had gotten to fly home to the same destination, but in an even more special moment than I had imagined, we were getting to fly to our home for the first time as an engaged couple…
Sometimes our actual life experiences are even more fulfilling than what we can imagine for ourselves. I was so focused on what it would feel like to travel together that I hadn’t even imagined what it would feel like to travel HOME, TOGETHER, ENGAGED…and now begins a whole new chapter...