May 13, 2006

We're Not Dating Anymore

Today I’m sitting in a Coffee joint in Santa Barbara. What better way to spend a Saturday morning than in a beach town with good coffee and free wi-fi. Writing on my Mac G4 laptop, and some hot guy typing across from me.

Thursday was Larry’s birthday, May 11. We’d had it planned for a couple months to come up here for this weekend. “You don’t need to come over on my birthday,” he brushed it off. “We’ve got the whole weekend to celebrate.”

But I surprised him at his apartment in Pasadena on Thursday, with a couple of gifts. The last one was the shape of a thick CD pack. It was a 60 gig black iPod video. He was speechless.

“I figured you should get this today. That way you can spend the next 24 hours loading it with road trip music.”

He swallowed and laughed, there were tears choking him up. And that’s what he did, from Thursday noon to Friday at 1pm when we left for Santa Barbara.

I used to go up here a lot when I was at UCLA, because my sister Nancy and her future husband Phil were at UCSB at the same time. I know State Street pretty well, but as you can imagine it’s changed a lot in 20 years. OUCH. It’s been over 20 years. Anyway, State Street is crammed with all the nationalized chain stores, from PF Changs to Urban Outfitters to Banana Republic. There’s no more Salvation Army on State Street. Forced out by rising lease costs I imagine. But the Alpha Thrift Store is still here. Go figure.

Larry remarked on the vibe: it’s a transition town, he said: half way between So Cal and No-Cal cultures. It’s true; the Spanish architecture is well maintained. It feels like a town with an old Spanish mission. It’s got that sleepy upper class feel, though. Casual California with blue blood money.

We walked all the way down State Street toward the beach, looking for a place to eat. We passed a couple of Indian restaurants, but I thought we should walk the whole street.
There’s this 100 year-old joint called Joe’s Café from whence came the scrambled egg dish, “Original Joe’s Special.” The place looks like a saloon you’d find in New York's Little Italy, or old San Francisco. It’s near Highway 101, so I imagine it used to be a stage coach stop. The sign out in front used to say “Eat At Joe’s.” Red and white checkerboard tablecloths, the real OLD saloon bar, old style booths, with high wooden backs and a flattened rectangle cushion to park your behind. We were early and so the waitress sat us at the last available booth.

Larry sighed and said, “This has been the best birthday ever.”
Yeah, well when have you ever gotten a 60 gig iPod,” I joked.
“I got everything I wanted,” he started. “Except one thing.”
“Oh, what?” I asked.

I guess I knew what was about to happen. But it didn't look like anything I had imagined. I realized I didn't have any of how this was going to happen. And now it was going to happen, at least I thought it was. Or is that what I was thinking? My thoughts were probably something along the lines of "Oh boy here it is, well go with it, yea! How natural! I feel so calm! Oh gosh am I sweating? is HE sweating?"

He pulled out a piece of paper, on which he’d written down an excerpt from “The Little Prince.”

"What does that mean — 'tame'? asked the Little Prince.
"'It is an act too often neglected,' replied the Fox. 'It means to establish ties.'"
"Just that,' said the Fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy, just like a thousand other little boys, and I have no need of you. And for your part, you have no need of me. To you, I'm nothing more than a fox like a thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you shall be unique in all the world. And to you, I shall be unique in all the world.'

"I'm beginning to uunderstand,' said the Little Prince. 'There is a flower — I think she's tamed me.'

"'It's the time you spent with your Rose that makes your Rose so important,' the Fox said. 'Men have forgotten this truth. You become responsible forever for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your Rose.'

"'The men where you live grow 5,000 roses in a garden and do not find in it what they're looking for,' the Little Prince said. 'Yet what they're looking for could be found in one single rose.' “

He put the paper down, pulled out a ring box, opened it and said, “I've grown a garden with 5,000 roses and never found what I was looking for. But I've found it in one single rose. You. You've tamed me, Susan Emily. Will you marry me?"

We’d been talking about it for a while now: “When we get married ... as a couple we'll do this or that ..." And now, here it was: the question I knew was coming without knowing when or how or where. And as much as we both knew my answer, it flowed off of my tongue, simple and calm.
“I can’t think of anything I’d like to do more.”

I moved to his side of the booth, smiled, we laughe. I was so calm and unemotional. Until I burst into tears.

The waitress came over with the food. “Oh, I see a ring box!”
We just got engaged,” Larry spoke for us, as I was busy wiping the mascara out of my eyes.

“Oooooo!!! She squealed. She was a old hippie lady, maybe late forties. “So many people get engaged here!” She held her chubby hands to her heart.

She came by later … “How’s the food-aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!” her big red lips peeled open in laughter, and she answered her own question.

We got out onto the street and I jumped up and down. “Lauren Glade Wilson, I’m going to marry you!”

A while later I called my sister.
"Hi, Susie! Phill just took me out to dinner for our anniversary. What's up with you?"

"Oh yeah, it's your anniversary ! Well add another anniversary of sorts to it.

This morning we found out where they had good coffee and free wi-fi, and dragged our computers there. If you lived here in Santa Barbara, if the Coffee Cat was your hang out, it be an interesting picture, to see this couple walk in, dragging their backpacks, conferring with each other on what’s the best place to park their laptops, together or apart. Maybe the couple would look eccentric, or pathetic, or just from out of town.

But the view from here is, I don’t know how I’ve managed to find someone for whom finding good coffee, free wi-fi and an outlet is the ideal Saturday morning. A guy whose first instinct is to log on to Christianity Today or Beliefnet or some website on the emerging church. Really, where do you find that kind of compatibility? Nerds in love. Hip cool hot old nerds in love.

So the long and the short is, Larry and I aren’t dating any more. He's not my boyfriend. He's my ... oh GOSH. Larry is my fiancé ... accent aigu and everything.

It's the most natural, wonderful, delcious and real moment. I can't imagine my life getting any better than this.

But hey God, go ahead and try.

So that's my version of the story. Here's Larry's Version of the Story


jbg965 said...

Congratulations! What a literate, creative, beautiful marriage proposal! Hhe seems like such a perfect match for you.

David & Heather said...

Susan, you are a rose. I'm happy for both of you. Very wonderful. Happiness, happiness.

Amy Elliott said...

Suz! What joy! So worth waiting for! Larry is a smart guy....and very lucky (blessed....accent grave if I could figure it out....)

Madley said...

Congratulations, Susan! I was holding my breath and sped-read (?) your blog hoping it was a trick title -- and it was! I'm so happy for you!!! Congrats! :)

Dana Bisignano said...

Susan! WOW! Congratulations. The blog of all blogs-and with a curve ball of a title. I am so happy for you both, and Larry is a very blessed man.

Tina said...

Congratulations, Susan! It's so much fun reading your blog and taking this journey with you. Larry is a very fortunate man!

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,
I am thrilled to learn of your engagement and so happy for you and Larry. The pictures are fabulous. He must be very special. I can't wait to meet your Prince Charming. Give him a hug from me.. and a kiss for Honey too. Love, Lisa

Maria said...

Susan & Lar,
Dean and I are very happy for you both. Congratulations! Many happy days and years ahead. Love, Maria

David Henka said...

Congratulations, wishing you all the happiness you can handle. From your Zen Lutheran friend.

Joy Wilson said...

Susan, you are an answer to many, many prayers. You have put a special light in Larry's eyes that was only a slight glimmer before. Yes, he has always smiled, but never with his eyes as he does now. I do not need any more reason than that to love you. I am his mother and I will continue to thank God for sending you aor as long as that light lives. Thank you. Joy, or "Mom" as you prefer.

Anonymous said...

Hip Hip Hurray, dear Friend(s)!! This is the best kind of news- a rose in bloom and a guy ready to walk in the garden. Mmmmm celebrating with you... xoxoxo Mim

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