That's right. I found someone just crazy enough to marry me -- me! -- so I mustered up the courage to propose to her early last month. The young woman (previously referred to as Meeko) and I are already well on our way to tying the knot, with a beach ceremony and reception planned for Clearwater, Florida, in November.
I've had a ton of ideas for new blog entries and other projects these past few weeks, but they're on the back-burner until I get some major wedding logistics out of the way. In the mean time, allow me to introduce you to my beautiful fiancee, D'Lolly, and to share our story with you (written in third-person for our wedding website)!
Gio and D'Lolly (DD) first met at Trinity Grace Church in November 2012. Hoping to "make it" as a musician in New York City, he had taken up a day job, working bar-back shifts at a neighborhood coffee shop and bakery. Mutual friends at TGC told Gio that they knew a young, experienced baker who was looking for work in the neighborhood. So after they were introduced, Gio helped DD get her foot in the door (so to speak) at the coffee shop.
For the following three months, they spent many hours working side-by-side. In talking about Gio's artistic projects and ambitions, DD offered to help him organize his thoughts and plans. They met two or three times where they actually worked, but most of the times that they met, they just talked, laughed, and/or watched MTV's reality show about their neighborhood, Washington Heights.
One day they planned to go to midtown Manhattan together, to help Gio find another (better paying) job. They dropped off a handful of résumés before getting a call from D'Lolly's sister, who had tickets to see Annie on Broadway that very night. Since Gio and DD were already in the neighborhood, the three of them went to see the show together. It was their first date, though unofficial, and a clear sign to Gio that after only three months, they were already becoming more than just friends.
By the time they went to see Annie, Gio was crushing on DD pretty good. A few days later, he decided to communicate to DD how he was feeling, in the only way that he's really familiar - awkwardly. He learned that day that DD reciprocated such feelings, despite his weirdness, but still decided that they should wait a few days before they made anything official (certainly before facebook stati were changed!). He wanted to be absolutely sure that this was the right path. By March 7, they were both sure. Facebook-relationship-status-update sure. They were official.
After only a couple months, Gio knew that this was the girl he wanted to marry. But their pastor Gary advised him to wait at least one year before becoming engaged. They would want to meet each others' families, to experience all the seasons together, to travel, to get as broad a range of experience as possible - all to get a sense of how they would work together in a long-term committed relationship. Gio thought this to be reasonable enough, so they got on with their broad range of experience - traipsing about the city, enjoying the parks, shows, museums, and restaurants; trips to Miami and Las Vegas; rock climbing in the mountains and swimming in the oceans; planes, trains, and automobiles; and meeting much of each others' families.
In the mean time, they also enrolled in a six month relationship course with other young couples at their church that would help them prepare for the relational complexities of marriage. It should also help them decide whether they were sure that marriage would be right for them. As it turned out, the course ended on March 8th, one day after the anniversary of their dating relationship. But by then it was too late...
Gio had already proposed!
Shortly after moving to New York City in September 2009 (long before the D'Logio saga began), Gio had his first experience with Ethiopian food at a dimly lit restaurant in Harlem. He loved it - and not just the strong Mediterranean spices and flavors, or the ample vegetarian options. He especially loved that patrons are expected to eat it with their hands, to get their hands dirty, sticky, covered in gooey goodness. He knew that if/when he ever met the girl that might be his future wife, this would be the test. If she can't handle it, thinks it's gross, doesn't want to get her hands dirty, then she's just not the girl for him.
By the time their anniversary rolled around, Gio had not yet taken DD to eat at his favorite Ethiopian restaurant in Harlem. So after a year of both good times and difficult, happy and trying, it was time for the final test. If she passed, then he would ask her to marry him. And he hoped that she WOULD pass, too, because the night that he took her out, exactly one year after their courtship had begun, he already had the rings in his pocket (yes, there were more than one... keep reading!).
For anyone following along here who may not know Gio so well, he likes to call himself a freegan: basically, he avoids spending money on stuff, things, consumer goods. Clothes, furniture, even food. Jewelry. Especially jewelry. He says that he abstains from consumption for ethical reasons, which is totally true, and yes jewelry CAN be an especially egregious industry; but for most people, especially young women expecting a proposal for marriage, arguments against the exploitation and greed of the big C's (consumerism, capitalism, and corporatism) sound only like the refuge of a tacaño. But Gio isn't SO stingy - at least he had always secretly planned to get her a Ring Pop when he *popped* the question.
Perhaps DD would have been just as happy without any ring at all (so she sometimes said); but Gio has always been one to appreciate the element of surprise. So he was sure to also get DD as nice an actual ring as he could reasonably afford, diamonds and all (he was sure to get stones that were 100% conflict-free!). What's more, he never once let on that he was getting a ring (let alone two!). He could hardly wait to see the look on her face.
A week prior to the big night, Gio secretly asked DD's mom for her blessing on their relationship. She was very enthusiastic about his plans for their engagement - a very good sign! He then met with DD's sister over dinner in Brooklyn, to do the same. She also gave phone numbers for him to reach DD's two brothers, three male cousins, another (male) friend of the family, and lastly - most importantly - her father. Gio already knew that he would have to contact all of these men in DD's life, as she had long ago presented the challenge. She probably assumed that they would ask together, but again - Gio loves surprises. He would have to go it alone. Of these men, Gio had only previously met one brother and one cousin. So getting their approval and blessings was no small feat ("if you do her dirty, we're coming after you"). But after one full day sweating over the phone, securing all of their well-wishes, he was ready to "put a ring on it" - provided that she pass her own final test --
DD didn't like the bread that comes with the food.
Here's the thing - the bread is HOW one eats the rest of the food. It's dipped in the hummus or used to scoop up salmon or cabbage (or whatever else one orders). DD refused to eat the bread, though, so how would she eat the rest? Gio offered to get some utensils for her, figuring that she'd failed the test (who was he kidding, though, he was going to propose either way!)
But lo and behold, she refused the utensils too! She needed neither, apparently, as she just dug right in with her own two hands.
After dinner, Gio offered her a moist toilette, saying "you'll want to use this, for this next part."
He pulled out the Ring Pop, and, with tears welling in his eyes... well, you can guess what happened.
She said yes! Even with just the ring pop! But the surprises didn't end there. He pulled out a plastic Cinderella ring that he just so happened to find while walking to her apartment earlier that day (score!).
And just like that, the two were engaged to be wed.