August 1, 2003
Just another day.
Marcus and I had been dating each other roughly two years. It started out as a tumultuous relationship, after all I was trying to shake an ex-boyfriend. Moving pretty much took care of that one, so there we were, two cuties in love.
After work we drove to Paolo’s Italian Restaurant in Northampton for a relaxing dinner. As usual, on a weekend, the wait was approximately an hour, so we passed the time perusing the useless items and tacky lawn ornaments in the dollar store next to the restaurant.
We were seated at a cozy table that bridged the way between the front room and the main dining area. Our server, who has worked there for years, (and notably an unpleasant woman) took our order right away. We got our usual meals, after all this was ‘Our Place’. Marcus ordered the Chicken Parm and I got the Italian clam sauce. It’s just too good – a huge bowl overflowing with linguini swimming in a garlicky white clam sauce. Always too much for the average person to eat, my dish was packed up to be saved for the next day’s lunch.
What a lovely evening. Wait. What is this? Oh no.
There was a storm approaching…a storm, I tell ya. A storm that would demolish everything in it’s path. There was no shelter; there was no hope. Realizing this my body was instantly covered in goose bumps. I HAD to make a pit stop. Thankfully, Marcus still had his apartment in Northampton and I politely requested that we head there first. “You can’t wait?” he questioned. “Um, no,” I responded. I believe he asked me if I was serious, but I couldn’t hear the question. I was going deaf; the storm started to consume my body. I was fearful that walking would be impossible.
We made it to the parking lot in about five minutes flat. I definitely took to the stairs two, maybe three, at a time and anxiously awaited the opening of the apartment door. I rushed through the first floor, up the short stairs and into the bathroom. I relaxed in my deafness. Until it was interrupted by a muffled voice, “You almost done?” Was he kidding? Jeez! So pushy.
After the thirty minute diversion we headed back to Allentown – back to my house. We parked across the street, but directly across from my home. I looked over and noticed flickering lights coming from the living room. It didn’t subside; it was constant. Shit, my house was on fire.
I ran out of the car, screaming mad, and quickly pulled the keys from my purse. I popped the lock and threw open the door. My brain couldn’t comprehend what was occurring. I slowly panned the room with my eyes to digest the scene. There must have been hundreds of flickering tea lights in my living room – on the mantle, on the table, on the floor. Rose petals everywhere, roses on the table, champagne chilling. I slowly turned to my left to see Marcus on one knee, reaching for my hand with a ring in the other.
It took about ten minutes for me to pull myself together. Of course, I said yes and called my parents. Dad knew this day was coming; Mom had no clue – that was their problem. After the craziness died down and the engagement settled in my mind I asked how this was all possible. Who the hell did this?
Apparently, a great friend of ours received a text towards the end of our meal. She and her husband started lighting the candles when we left Paolo’s. My unplanned pit stop forced them to blow out all the candles and wait for the next queue. Once we got in the car to head to my place, the candle lighting commenced. It was a challenge for the couple, considering it was about 80 degrees and I didn’t have air conditioner. They needed to close all the windows to ensure that no breeze would damper the flames. As I entered the house, they slipped out the back door.
So, the day of my engagement goes down in history as a romantic event, complicated by Mother Nature. I wouldn’t have had it any other way - the Italian clam sauce is SO good!