A Mini and A Marriage

So Kurt and I have some news. Big news. News you might already know about since it technically happened a couple of months ago, even though I’ve backdated this post to make it appear as though it just happened today. But just in case you don’t already know about it, I hope you’re sitting down. Because I’m about to make a huge announcement. Are you ready? The news is… Drum roll please…


Kurt and I are, I mean. Not you and I. Obviously. Unless, of course, *you* happen to be Kurt. In that case, *you* and I are totally engaged, making *you* the luckiest man alive.

Anyway, so there it is. Kurt asked me to marry him today! (Obviously I already revealed that I’m not writing this on the day of the proposal, which was December 29th, and instead I’m finally getting around to writing it sometime in March, because life gets busy and, hello, I’m planning a wedding, but bear with me here because for ease of reading I’m going to write this post as though today were the day, because as the writer that’s the kind of stylistic and editorial choice I get to make. Now back to the story.)

I didn’t wake up this morning expecting to get engaged. I did, however, wake up hoping that the Eagles had somehow pulled out a 4th quarter comeback against the Vikings after I went to sleep last night. No such luck. But there was no time to mope — I had a plane to catch. Knowing that Kurt was planning on taking me ice skating at Boston Commons, I picked out an ice-skating-friendly outfit, which included my awesome new silver rain/snow boots and a gray knit scarf I made for Kurt last year. I put the finishing touches on my packing, and hopped in the cab that was waiting right on time at 6:45 am outside our apartment. My cab driver dropped me off at the airport a little after 7, so I was way ahead of schedule for my 9:10 am Southwest flight.

Being early was fine with me for two reasons. First, I love airports, flying, and everything involved in air travel. Second, my fancy new boots are a bit difficult to pull off my feet, and I was anticipating a possibly embarrassing experience at the security gate if I was unable to gracefully take them off. As it turned out, I got through security without incident, and I snagged a celebratory Orange Mango Nantucket Nectar on the way to my gate. I had plenty of time for some major people watching and some light reading before it was time to line up with the “A” boarding passes. On the plan, I landed some prime overhead space for my overnight bag, and a window seat near the front of the plane. I settled in for the short flight, I read some fascinating federal court opinions about awarding attorneys’ fees, and I edited a memorandum and order I finished drafting yesterday. All in all, a delightful and productive flight.

We landed in Boston on time, I headed for the passenger pick-up area, and Kurt surprised me in the baggage claim area. I noticed he’d gotten a haircut and was freshly shaved. I also noticed that he seemed to keep me to his right side when I hugged him. But I didn’t think anything of it.

We headed back to the Mini and drove into Boston listening to the Martin Sexton station on Pandora. On the way to Boston Commons, we passed the state courthouse and another building “where law happens,” according to Kurt. We parked underground at Boston Commons, and I engaged in an elaborate transfer of necessary items from my carry-on to a purse, repeatedly faking Kurt out by falsely claiming to have everything, only to remember one more thing… Once that was under control, we took the elevator up to the street while discussing how much we missed each other. Ridiculously sappy? Maybe. I mean, it was only 5 days. But we haven’t spent that much time apart since sometime last spring. So it seemed like forever, and we were apart for Christmas, and we missed each other, so get over it.

When we got to the street, there was a cop singing some gospel music to himself by the elevator. A jack of all trades, I guess. We didn’t tip him. On our way to the skating pond, Kurt called his dad. They had a short conversation, and Kurt’s half of it was cryptic. But again, I didn’t think anything of it. When we got to the Frog Pond, we waited in line, I got super nervous (I’ve only been skating once before — last December, with Kurt, in Rockefeller Center), and we watched trying to see if anyone on the ice was falling (to put me at ease). When we got our tickets, picked out some skates, put our stuff in a locker, and got ready to get on the ice, there was a break in the skating for the Zamboni to clean the ice, which was cool to watch (at least for me and the little kids in the group waiting with us to get on the ice).

After ten minutes or so, the Zamboni was done and we got on the ice. I’m pleased to report that I didn’t break any bones in Kurt’s hand this year, like I almost did last year with my first-time-skater-death-grip on his arm. We skated for about 45 minutes, and near the end I did 3 whole laps without holding onto Kurt at all. And, like last year, I didn’t fall at all. A Christmas miracle! We took some pictures, saw a little boy whose skating style basically just looked like short-stride running, a really fancy guy who I dubbed Apollo Ono, and a little girl who will probably be in the Olympics someday. Also, they played some Ace of Base, which makes surprisingly enjoyable skating music. While skating, Kurt either kept me on his right side, or made sure I didn’t get too close to his left side. I notice that only in retrospect.

When we were done, we put our boots back on and returned our skates to a guy who took his job very seriously (he explained the importance of us placing the laces inside the skates). Before we left the Frog Pond, I posed for some obligatory pictures with some little frog statues. We “spontaneously” decided to walk around Boston Commons, since I’d never been there. Everything was snow-covered and beautiful. We walked over a big bridge, saw people walking on another pond that looked precarious to me, saw the bar from Cheers, and looked for the statue of the ducklings. Kurt and I bought the book (Make Way for Ducklings) for my nephew, Trevor, last Christmas. I hadn’t read the book as a child, and I’d never seen the statues.

Obviously, more statues means another photo op for me. With that out of the way, Kurt developed a need to sit down. Yet again, I thought nothing of it, since I knew he’d been doing some major shoveling of his mom’s driveway over the past few days, and his back was sore. So we sat down on a bench across from the ducks, which was apparently one of the only benches in the whole park that wasn’t covered in snow. Kurt made sure to seat me to his right, and when I initially sat down too far away for his liking, he made me move closer to him. More signs something was up, but I continued on in complete obliviousness.

At that point, Kurt started doing some talking. About how long the last few days were, and how things are better when I’m around. Naturally, I assumed we were having a normal conversation, so I interjected with such hilarious comments as, “You just figured out now how great I am? That should’ve been obvious a long time ago.” Not to be dissuaded, Kurt pushed on, telling me how great the past year and a half have been (Me: “It has been amazing, isn’t it crazy to think we might never have met…blah blah blah…”). After calmly allowing me to finish, Kurt continued, saying how lucky he feels (Clueless Me: “I know, you are SO lucky…”).

It was only when Kurt took a small red box out of his pocket and opened it while saying he’d be even luckier if I’d say yes, and then actually proposed to me, that I finally used my gigantic lawyer brain to deduce that he was asking me to marry him. I have always assumed that when Kurt proposed to me, I would, you know, realize it was happening. I was wrong. But the total surprise of it all made it absolutely perfect. Plus, it makes for a funnier story.

So, back to the proposal. As he pulled out the ring and I figured out what was going on, I of course started crying. And nodding. And eventually I managed to say “yes.” Just like the proposal, the ring is absolutely amazing. I could never really picture myself wearing a diamond, but Kurt managed to come up with a ring that is just plain perfect for me. After I calmed down and stopped hugging him, Kurt dazzled me with a variety of facts. First, he is now an expert in diamonds. Second, he basically designed the ring himself, with the help of a really awesome jeweler in Philadelphia named Henri David. Third, he was planning the whole thing behind my back since October! My cluelessness knows no bounds!

The next thing we did was call my parents. They were as surprised as I was, mostly because I had told them I thought Kurt was starting to think about proposing, but I instilled in them my own belief that he wouldn’t be doing anything until at least my birthday, or maybe the summer. Wrong again! Anyway, Kurt talked to my dad, who obviously gave his blessing. Then I called my mom, who was at my sister’s house babysitting for my nephew. Both of my parents were thrilled, to say the least. I texted pictures of the ring to them, and announced the big news via text to some of my close friends. My sister was the only person in my family who knew what was in the works, since Kurt consulted her with some ring-related questions. Lesson learned = my sister can keep a secret!

Once the family calls were done, we walked back across Boston Commons to the Ritz, hoping to find somewhere to have a celebratory lunch. I, of course, refused to put the glove back on my left hand, and I couldn’t stop staring at the ring. A concierge at the Ritz referred us to a little french place called Bistro du Midi, a few blocks away along the park. We told the bartender we’d just gotten engaged, and he poured a champagne toast. The people next to us at the bar congratulated us and took a picture for us. At that point, we decided to let the world know by announcing the good news via our Facebook statuses. Within minutes, our phones started buzzing like crazy as well wishes started pouring in for both of us, which was awesome. The maitre’d found out, and he treated us to a second glass of champagne. We were seated by the window and feasted on croque monsieur (Kurt) and croque madam (me), followed by a quince and grape crumble for dessert.

High on our engagement and champagne, we strolled around for some window shopping on Newbury Street, I persisted in my refusal to wear a glove on my left hand, and eventually we made our way back through the park to the car. On our way to Marblehead, Kurt called his mom and his dad, and I talked to my sister. We went to see Kurt’s dad and his grandfather, who was the first of many people to comment on how amazingly sparkly my ring is! After talking through just how wonderful everything was, we headed back to Kurt’s mom’s, where we were staying. His aunt came down to inspect my new bling, and Kurt called his cousin Randy, who will be his best man. Even Cody and Smokey (the dog and the cat) seemed psyched (Cody more than Smokey). Congratulatory emails and text messages continued to pour in, and my face started to hurt from all the smiling.

We put on PJs and got comfy, then I opened my Christmas presents from Kurt’s mom, Cody, and Smokey (an awesome Christmas tree Pandora charm, super comfy slippers, and the softest blanket in the world). Sadly, the Celtics got so distracted by our happiness that they lost to the Pistons, and KG even got so blinded by the sparkle of my ring that he got hurt.

Any other day, that would have been a real mood killer. But not today. I’ve never been this happy — I literally feel like I might burst! This year has been the best year of my life, thanks to Kurt, and today was hands down the best day of that year.

And now, bring on the new year, and the wedding planning!

Top 10 iPhone road trip apps

As you know if you read our blog throughout our trip, Kurt and I are highly dependent on our iPhones, and we used various iPhone apps throughout our trip to help make things go smoothly. From navigation and booking hotels to music and finding restaurants, our iPhones were invaluable during our 6 weeks on the road. Here’s a list of some of the apps that were most useful to us during our journey:

1. Pandora Radio — so much better than the radio (minimal commercials and no need to constantly switch stations as you move from town to town), and it often manages to keep working even when your data signal and/or phone signal are weak-to-nonexistent.

2. Mint.com Personal Finance — a great way to stay on top of your finances while on the road, with the ability to check all your accounts in one place (*does require some set-up before you go if you don’t already use Mint).

3. The Weather Channel — as long as you have a good data signal (3G or strong Edge), a great way to track storms where you are and where you’re going.

4. Flashlight — when camping, the flashlight app was almost as strong as our heavy-duty flashlight, especially on a new iPhone with the LED flash.

5. Yelp — a helpful tool for finding attractions, hotels, and restaurants with reviews, addresses and maps.

6. KAYAK — for the most part, a good resource for finding hotels (once in a while it wasn’t accurate re: availability, but generally it pointed us in the right direction).

7. Priceline Negotiator — often unhelpful, but it snagged us a room at a Hilton in Omaha for super cheap, so that one success made it worth our while.

8. OpenTable — especially after some time zone kinks got worked out on the newest version, a great way to make reservations on the fly and rack up dining points (we earned a pretty nice gift certificate just by using it during our trip).

9. Maps (standard on the iPhones) — much easier to use than MapQuest; just be sure to map your routes or focus in on your location each time you get 3G so that it will retain the map info even if you move into a bad/no service area.

10. AAA — provides lists of businesses that offer discounts to members, including hotels, museums, restaurants, and other attractions.

Kurt and I use some of these apps in our everyday life as well, and I’m sure there are other travel apps that would be helpful to road trippers too. All of these apps are available on iTunes in the App Store.