He Was Carrying Roses
He was carrying roses. Red. And the giant smile I remembered. That was all I could really remember about him. A big, old-fashioned smile. Honest and true. He was wearing a suit jacket - a proper plane outfit - and twinkling eyes. I remembered those too. Filled with fire and creativity and ambition. In my tan Volvo, I began to feel very small, as if I were a playing piece in a game that I was no longer in control of. Since meeting this man, I had been trying something new. Letting go and enjoying life. No expectations, no perfect plans. And so I sat, blonde and blinking, nervously glowing (Girls don’t sweat). Waiting to meet this man that I didn’t know, but knew would change my life.
We had only spent a few short hours together, in the place where all soul mates meet – The Southern Decadence Gay Pride Weekend on Bourbon Street. Remnants of the parade scattered the stone patio floor. Men in a mix of glitter and leather restraints milled about and karaoke faded in through the windows. It was late into the night on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, and most of the 10 members of the bachelorette party I was attending had gone back to the hotel. Representing each individual color of the rainbow in full costume and wigs in 100 degree heat is no easy task. Lucky for me and my three champion companions, this city served red bull and vodka in one size only – big gulp. Falling right into place in my star-crossed lovers story, a motley crew of gentleman walked in representing the patched-together cast of what I believed to be another destination bachelor party. Soon we were sitting face to face on matching Cat’s Meow stools. Talking about everything. Our passion for creating food and cocktails, hosting, being artists, working in the wedding business. We talked for hours. And then he asked what I will learn to be the second most important question ive ever been asked. “If given the choice of a year in Europe with an endless stipend, or 10 minutes on the moon, what would you choose?’ THE MOON. Duh. He simply replied “No one has ever said the moon”.
Beautiful Jacob is walking towards me. All dressed up, all for me. Its happening!! Movie moment. He stands in front of me. The flowers drop. We hold each other first, then kiss. I am both Meg Ryan and Zooey Deschanel at the same time. I am a glorious rom-com princess- the most adorable, quirky and irresistible woman in the world - because this man is looking at me like he has never seen another human being in his life. We get into my car and there are no more nerves. A strategically placed soundtrack is playing. "To Whom it May Concern", a love song that talks about missing the true love that you haven’t met yet. I sent it to him through Spotify because it was truly how I felt. I missed him, but I didn’t know him. So I sent it to him and he sent one back. And so began the most nauseatingly awesome playlist of all time. We headed to my apartment for a weekend that became the best “first date” I’ll ever go on.
Boxes, furniture, and musical equipment pile high on the sidewalk outside Jacob’s Lake Charles, LA loft. Its an old department store downtown that was converted to apartments, which he manages as one of his many jobs. He’s the hardest worker I know. One of the things I love most about him. He’s also the loudest person I’ve ever met. Though it was a bit terrifying at first (I’m more on the quiet side) I soon learned that I never want to live without it. My downtown Cincinnati apartment would boom with bad songs, imaginary microphone singing, and wild laughter during his visits. But when I’d return home after taking him to the airport, my apartment would be quiet. No music. No Taylor Swift. No Jacob. My perfect, neatly ordered home, which was just as I had liked it, was empty. It was through him that I learned to see and move through the world the way I feel all people are intended to. Joyfully bumbling, completely unchained, singing show tunes. As Jacob and his friend David (he was the groom from that fated bachelor party) wheeled the piano out of the elevator and down the sidewalk towards the moving truck, it all became very real to me. These were not his things. They were our things. Things that would mix with mine and make up the home we would build together. David and Jacob played the piano and sang an old number from their band days as they led it into the truck, and into the next chapter of our lives. With the trailer packed, we headed to Highway 10, Ohio-bound by way of New Orleans.
We walked hand-in-hand down Bourbon Street as we headed to a lunch meeting with a potential business vendor. It was almost a year ago that we met on this street. With the moving truck packed and parked at the house we rented In NOLA for Jacob’s big “Becoming a Yankee” farewell weekend, I just wanted to get this business meeting over with so we could enjoy ourselves. We got turned around a few times but finally seemed to be on the right street, headed toward Court of Two Sisters. Outside one of the shops we passed, among the many street musicians, there was a violinist and a man playing the saw. There was an acoustic guitar laying near them, propped against the wall. Jacob looked at me and that fiery twinkle he often gets when he’s doing something spontaneous (which is always) flared a bit as he smiled. Randomly playing with a band on the street with someone else’s instrument was par for the course. Many a restaurant patron’s meals have been interrupted for the announcement of this man’s love for me. So I smile shyly and start to sway a little bit to the music as they tune up and start to play. He sings the first line. “You look like Georgia on a cool summer day”. I know immediately. My eyes well up with important tears.
“There’s no place for the words to hide because you mean what you say”. Everything slows down. Except my heart. My heart won’t stop racing. And I’m frozen. My green flip flops are cemented into the stone street. I look down and my hand is firmly pressed on my heart. My eyes are fixed. Barely blinking. I don’t want to miss a second of what I’m seeing. So I let the tears flow down, as much as they want to and then blink them away quickly. I see a girl peering from behind a shop corner with her camera. I know her. Lucie! He made sure there was a photographer!! Ok good, I’m wearing an Anthropologie dress, and I’m only glowing slightly considering the heat.
My wish was that if I were to be proposed to, it must be public and dramatic. A scene from a movie is all I ask. I have always demanded a prince charming and Jacob was the only man that could ever live up to those expectations. Hopelessly romantic, seemingly a figment of my imagination. Out of the corner of my eye I spy a sea of green. My favorite color. The color of things that grow. Michael and Crystal billow out of one of the surrounding shops, floating towards me with two separate bouquets of green balloons. They sway to the music in slow motion with a spray of balloons stacked towards the sky. I know this was a specifically planned detail. The movie “Up” makes me cry. And I know by having these balloons here, he’s promising that we will explore the world together until we grow old.
One by one, I see people I know and love float out of shops and into a circle that surrounds us. Couples dance to the music, both friends and strangers from the street. I look behind me and see Jacob’s parents. Sabra’s hand is clutching 3 letters, marked with the names of my 3 best friends that live around the country and weren’t able to make it. Joseph is standing next to Jacob now, playing guitar and singing with him in harmony. The song continues on. “Love's taken me across the map, all the way to hell and back. Gave everything I had, lost my mind a couple times. Met you and I was sure, I found the center of the universe. Hit the interstate fast now. I'm never looking back, no”. Dominique, Michelle, Christina… They all keep shuffling in, adding to the circle. “ITS HAPPENING!”, I yell.
The friends and strangers giggle. They all seemed to be waiting for me to say something profound and all I managed to do was state the very apparent obvious? It was happening so fast and I was genuinely, soul-shakingly surprised. And I live for surprises. I look down and he’s on one knee. It is truly happening. I don’t at all remember what he said. It really is just like all the stories I’ve heard. I didn’t remember a word he spoke and I don’t remember the ring, other than it was green, it was from him, and it was perfect. All I remember is that giant smile. Honest and true.
I said yes. We held each other first, then kissed. It felt different this time. Because we were now two people who had committed to spend our lives together, work hard, and make each other better people. All while filling the world with very loud, wonderful music and art. Someone promptly handed me a bouquet of roses. Red. And off we went, trailed by the people that love us, walking hand-in-hand down the cobblestone street that first allowed our paths to cross. The saw musician and violinist played a song I will never be able to remember, but knew in my heart was leading us into the next colorful chapter of our lives. And I can’t wait to start writing it.