The friday before Christmas was the 22nd. It was unseasonably warm, which was great for Chicago, but not so much for lots of other cities, which ended up veiled in thick, soupy fog. The attending on call decided to be charitable and sent me home just a few hours after I got to work. I decided to stop at the grocery store on the way home, and texted Stephen at work to see if he needed anything.
...Except he wasn't at work. He was sitting in the lobby of our building, sweating his ass off, because the engagement ring he'd had made by a jeweler in Alabama was supposed to get FedEx'd to him that day so he could propose before Christmas. But, remember, fog? Ring was not showing up. And now I was on my way home, and he was supposed to be at work. He quickly came up with an excuse for why he was home, and I quickly came up with all kinds of ideas for how to spend our awesome bonus day! We were both home! Woo-hoo! Did I mention he had to sign for the ring in person and show photo ID, due to the value of the package?
He did agree to go for a walk, maybe we went out to lunch? I think we did. He made up some other story about needing to be home to accept a package that included his mom's Christmas present. I was TOTALLY ANNOYED because we had a dry cleaners in our building that also served as our package receiving, and since when did he have to sign for a book from amazon.com???
He spent half the day fighting w/FedEx on the phone. I was totally frustrated that we were losing our awesome bonus day when he could just tell me the name of the stupid book he'd bought and I'd buy it the next day while he was at work.
When we postponed dinner plans to drive to the FedEx hub in the 'burbs, I started to wonder if maybe something else was up...but dismissed the thought and went along for the ride. I dropped him off to an overflowing hub office, filled with people who hadn't received their last-minute Christmas gifts due to the fog and had shown up, hoping to pick them up in person. Stephen's package was not in the office. It was locked in a truck, parked behind the hub. While I went bra-shopping at Target (heh), he was begging to have the truck opened.
...and they did (is this starting to sound like a tiresome sitcom to everyone but me? it is? Eh. Tough.) He threw the package in the backseat of the car and we drove to dinner in Chinatown. He had to leave the ring in the car, because he couldn't explain why he had the package on the dinner table. Once we sat down, he made up a story about needing his cell phone from the car (further frustrating me- first our lost bonus day, now he needs HIS PHONE?!?!) and ran back to retrieve the ring before someone stole our car and the ring was gone forever. We ate dinner and took the scenic route home. While we cut through downtown, I commented that Millennium Park looked pretty, and he actually asked if I wanted to go walk around. Shocked, I said yes! yes yes yes!
After walking all around the park, stopping at the Bean (where he wanted to propose but some stupid family wouldn't stop taking pictures, curse them for thinking they had the right to be there!), we walked out onto the bridge, and the rest is history.
Three years, one baby, and one very old house later, it all feels like a different lifetime. But every time I see that bridge, I sigh a little bit, and every Christmas since then, I've thought back to the cool, foggy night when the life we have now started to come together.