|Tandem bike ride (underrated)|
You're 30 and find yourself in the unexpected position of falling in love w/ a 22 year old...a 22 year old that happens to live 800+ miles away in a foreign land known as Texas.
The love stick hit you both so hard that you decide to pick up your life and move south to be w/ this 'kid' fresh out of college, the college you work(ed) at.
You settle into the heat and humidity as best you can. But, admittedly, you both know Texas doesn't fit as well for you as it does others. But, as long as you're together, you shine.
Shine. You know what else shines? That small, but mighty symbol of commitment that glimmers on the ring finger of your left hand.
But, no matter how often you look, your finger remains empty.
If this guy doesn't commit soon, what are we doing here? What am I doing here?
This is very much a nutshell of the position Jilly found herself in when she uprooted her life and moved it to be w/ me in Houston.
In short, Jill was eager (not pushy) to move into marriage.
Did I mention I was 22?
Slow down, old lady. We'll get there. We've got time. I uttered variations of this sentiment to Jilly over the course of her first year and a half in Houston.
Ultimately (as you know), I stepped up.
|Hot air balloon ride (overrated)|
The entire process was a highly charged experience. I guess you can attempt to strip the emotion away from such a life-altering decision; but, no matter how you slice it, it's a freaking milestone.
So, I had the ring.
Next up, permission.
I called Jill's dad. Always great to speak w/, he simply, but thoughtfully asked that I treat her well. If I promise to do that, I had his blessing. I reiterated my devotion to his daughter and he was in.
I wrote a song. ~5 verses accompanied by a very simple chord progression on the guitar. (I know Jill kept the original draft of the song; but I haven't stumbled upon it in awhile.)
A bold move given I
I just needed the right space to (loosely) perform it for her.
At that time, I was working with multiple music venues in town. And b/c of these connections and my strong lean toward live music, I often yanked Jill w/ me to attend shows. More often than not Jilly didn't know the act. I'd summarize/spin them in such a way that Jill would will herself to go w/ me. Sometimes she liked what she heard/saw.
The general manager at a theatre downtown agreed to help me get this proposal off the ground. I just needed to convince Jill to go to one more show (for now).
I needed to be proactive in my efforts. "It's Bob. Say what you will about his voice - and I know you will - but he's a cultural icon. Just check the box and join me for this one," I nearly begged.
"Alright, but maybe we don't have stay the whole time..?" Jill attempted to negotiate.
|'Little (bit of) Italy' Valentine's Day 2014|
That Tuesday evening rolled in and my anxiety was hitting a high note. But, I couldn't show it. (I thought I was going to implode...or maybe just pee a little.)
We parked in the theatre's loading dock and entered the backstage door.
"It's quiet. Where's Bob?" Jill whispered as we walked thru side stage. She could see a strip of the stage thru the curtains, pointing out the acoustic guitar and candlelit front edge of the stage.
I pulled back the side stage curtain for Jill to enter the main music hall.
Except for a single table w/ a single chair under a spotlight, the room was empty. Empty and silent.
Jill quickly turned and looked at me, clearly confused.
"Oh look, there's your seat," I pushed out of my mouth as nonchalant as I could.
I walked Jill to her seat. "I'll be right back."
I went back behind the side stage curtain where I proceeded to run a slideshow of our time together on the video screens flanking the main stage. This was my opening act while I had a couple minutes to throw on the suit I had planted in the dressing room earlier that day.
The slideshow concluded and I worked my wobbly legs up onto the stage.
I remember looking at Jill as I crossed the stage to my guitar. She was clearly in the moment. Beaming. Utterly beside herself w/ joy. It was everything I wanted for her.
Then I 'sang.'
I think the important part to note is that I got thru it (maybe slightly rushed b/c of nerves).
No matter my performance level, my audience of one clearly approved.
I jumped down off the front of the stage (careful not to tip any lit votives) and floated to my girlfriend. I don't recall exactly what I said in that moment. It was intentionally unscripted.
What I can say w/ great certainty and pride is that Jill's response gifted me 10 more years by her side.
That was Tuesday, April 1, 2003. April Fool's Day. I got her.
I got her.
J, J, & r