Taking the spare room at my grandparents' house, I duly reported to New Teacher Training and looked at 5 different apartments. By phone I relayed the extreme ickiness of the ones I could afford alone and the glorious beauty of the two I could afford with (ahem) a roommate.
D allowed me to twist his rubber arm and agreed to share the security deposit and join me in a two-bedroom at $480 a month that October.
For a month I enjoyed the pretty new apartment (fresh paint! clean carpet!) and sort of wished I could live there alone because really? Soon D would show up with all his yucky guy stuff and spoil it. But move him we did (I single-handedly deposited 5 years worth of Sports Illustrated in a dumpster), and retrieved my surplus crappe out of the storage unit, and settled into a facade of cohabitation. With no ring.
D called me at work one day to tell me: Green Girl, my friend S is coming to town with his wife and they want to meet us for dinner.
D: His wife's family is from Door County so they want us to meet them there Friday night. Do you want to go?
Me: Door County? I love Door County! Please! Yes! Yesyesyes! (FYI, Door County is our little New Englandy peninsula and in October it's all about pumpkin festivals and fall colors, hot cider and quaint cozy shoppes.)
D: I guess her brother owns this bed and breakfast so we'll meet them there. I don't know if we should spend the night, though. You and she might not get along ...
Me: We will! I don't care if she's a chain-smoking NRA card-carrying Walmart manager with season NASCAR tickets! We'll be great! She'll be great! I want to stay overnight! Door County!
D: Well, let's play it by ear. We can pack and see how it goes.
Later that week ...
D: S called and they're running late with her cousin's family so we're supposed to eat without them and meet them later at the B&B.
Me: (singing) Door County! Who cares? We're going to Door County!
D & I drove north and ate dinner en route to Bailey's Harbor. In my blissful state, I ignored D when he tried to goad me into fighting about commitment and kids. The lure of bike rides under a canopy of orangeredyellowbrownburgundy leaves, apple orchards and winery tours is a strong force--in a fog I told him we could compromise at 2 kids to avoid a fight. We paid our bill and drove the remaining half hour, pulling into the most charming B&B on Lake Michigan. We walked in and the innkeeper met us in front of a blazing fireplace.
Innkeeper: S called, they're running late. He said to go on up to the room and make yourselves at home. There's champagne and you're to help yourselves.
D: That SOB! He's always running late!
Me: Door County!
We climbed 3 flights of gleaming oak staircase and let ourselves into a room with it's own blazing fireplace and a whirlpool tub. French doors led to a balcony overlooking the lake and a huge arrangement of fresh flowers sat on a dresser. A bottle of champagne chilled in ice and I stood by the door sighing Door County! Even the air smelled better, all spiced with cinnamon and fresh harbor breezes.
D: Let's open this champagne.
Me: Door County.
D: I want to propose a toast.
Me: (craning neck to look at Lake Michigan glittering under the moonlight) Whatever. Door County.
D: (launching into some discombobulated speech about never being a rich man but never leaving me blah blah blah)
Next thing I know D's on one knee and pulling out a little black velvet box.
Oh! Oh! Now I get it!
There was no S and wife coming to town. And the innkeeper, the guy at the liquor store in Bailey's Harbor and the local florist have been in on D's proposal plans for a month. Practically the whole town was waiting to hear my response the next morning when we came downstairs for breakfast--obviously it was a yes. Even my parents knew because D had asked my dad's permission 2 months prior. D left nothing to chance except for my answer to his question.
We had a lovely weekend. I wore my sparkling diamond solitaire and made sure I positioned my hand so everyone could admire it. We got married 10 months later in front of a packed church on a rainy day that peaked at 95 degrees. Over 380 people drank to our good health and danced the night away in true Wisconsin supper club style--the DJ played everything but the Chicken Dance and nobody objected to that or to our vows. Everyone told us that if it rained on your wedding day you'd either be lucky or wealthy.
Looking back, we were so young (and thin and dumb) to get married. I was 24, he was 31. We knew nothing about how to be married, but we adhered to the fundamentals of not quitting it no matter how tough--and no cheating. We had the distinct advantage of 2 healthy incomes and no family living nearby to meddle in our lives. It was just the two of us and we ended up doing pretty dang well. I'd say the old saying was right--we're lucky and wealthy, whether the weather that day had anything to do with it or not.