Sunday, October 26, 2014

Things happen on October 26th

When you're dating, there are lots of "anniversaries," most of them created by the fairer sex. There's the date we met. There's the date we started seeing each other. There's the date we became a couple, which isn't the date we started seeing each other because we didn't know where it was gonna go so we don't count it until we actually became a couple. There's the first time she got her nails done since we've been a couple while it was also a full moon on the third Friday of the month. There's an anniversary for everything. Then things progress and maybe you get engaged and that gets an anniversary. It's so hard to keep up sometimes.

Linda and I were in a long distance relationship. We met in terms of becoming aware of the existance of one another. We met in terms of speaking and getting to know each other. Then we physically met. We acted like we were dating before we met, but we weren't dating because you can't date someone you haven't met. And you can't be dating as of the moment you physically meet. So you wait two days and call it dating. I'm exhausted.

You don't want to miss any of these dates either. Luckily, in 229 days we have one date to trump all others - the wedding anniversary. Incidentally, that will be June 12th. Why June 12th you ask? Well the 12th seemed as good a Friday as any in June. But 6 and 12 have a distinct relationship that 6 and 19 don't have. 6 - 12. Easy to remember. Plus, one of my best friends on the planet is 6/8 and another is 6/10. So we're 8, 10, 12 and can help keep each other abreast of fast approaching dates. They have a multi-year head start on me though.

So why today? What does 10/26 have to do with anything about anything? Well, 3 years ago today my good friend Tim spoke in favor of those wacky OWSers shitting in Zuccotti Park about damning the corporate man while posting about it on Facebook from iPhones connected to WiFi in Starbucks. That means it's also the day that Linda and I met. Three years have gone by since I giddily called Matt to tell him about the hot girl I was chatting with on Facebook. She's so adamantly conservative and gorgeous and she's a Jets fan. She's like me, but prettier by 1 million orders of magnitude. And you'll never believe what just happened. She sent me a Facebook friend request that I'm not going to accept for almost 24 hours just make it plainly obvious I'm not that creepy desperate guy that looks at her like a lion looks at a steak. Nope. I'm going to wait and run the risk that the woman who turns out to be my future wife loses interest and walks away. Yup. Sounds like a solid plan. And I did exactly that, but I got lucky.

And so began the first Adventure of Jason and Linda - getting to know each other over Facebook, text message, phone calls and FaceTime while I finished my sentence enlistment in Mississippi. Skip ahead 17 months and I'm home and we're living together. We have successfully endured long distance and now that we're cohabiting we have to endure no distance; and we've never yet experienced that happy middle.

Skip ahead 7 more months. It's October. It's a cold blustery day. We're in the city to take photographs because I'm a photography hobbyist and Linda has chosen to be my pupil.

I told you all about the details of that day. We took no photos at all because in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, which is one of Linda's favorite places, I took a knee to retrieve a memory card for the camera and out came an engagement ring instead. We did, however, go to Eataly to celebrate the day's events.

That wasn't just a day in October. That was October 26th. Two years to the day from when Linda came into my life, I decided to make sure she never left it and asked her to marry me. It was not by accident that we shared the photos of our engagement photo shoot with everyone just one day prior to this on 10/25. Nobody quite knew why, but the anniversary was around the corner and I was leading up to today.

So here we are. It's Sunday evening, three years from the day I met her, one year from the day we got engaged and less than a year from the date we marry. All these dates seem somewhat arbitrary, but they remind us. When I find lights on in every room of the house and she finds my socks ever so close to the hamper, yet not quite in the hamper, these dates remind us. One day we were strangers, the next we were acquaintances and 2 years to the day we were fiancé to one another.

All along the way, we've been this happy, squishy faced couple:

I know what some of you are wondering - did I plan the dates to overlap? That sounds like a very "me" thing to do, but that's a complicated answer. I couldn't possibly have known what date I was doing to meet her and that it would also fall on a weekend 2 years later when I would ask her to marry me. I couldn't possibly have known that 7 months after moving home, we'd be taking that next step. So, no, I didn't plan it. However, when I got the ring in my possession and it occurred to me that I had her, the ring and an empty calendar on 10/26, there was no stopping that train. So, I did make sure, come hell or high water, to follow through with my plan that morning (part of which included copious amounts of DayQuil and, later, wine).

So that's the story of October 26th and why it continues to be an important spot in the timeline of our lifelong adventure.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Engagement pictures teaser

Most people take engagement photos the moment they get engaged. Linda and I waited and did it last night. There were a few reasons for this, not the least of which was scheduling. Moreover, with a large percentage of our courtship spent apart, what really defined us? Our dear friends Tim and Theresa are big time beach goers. Their photos were done on the beach because it embodied important parts of them and their relationship.

So we got engaged in October of last year (11 months tomorrow). We found our wedding photographer in January or February of this year - when it wouldn't stop snowing. New jobs, travel, the photographer being swamped during spring wedding season and a multitude of other issues got in the way of earlier photos. That gave us the perfect amount of time to think about a backdrop that is important to each of us as individuals and as a couple.

The moment we gave it any serious thought, the answer became apparent immediately. It was Manhattan. I grew up across the East River in Queens and then across the Hudson River in Jersey. I worked in the city starting in the summers of 1995 right through 2002. I partied in the city for so many years. Even my going away party for the military was in the city. I had a bar and restaurant for every occasion. Then there's the 9/11 thing. Everything about the pulse and rhythm of that island resonates and accords in tone with me.

Linda's story and affinity for the city doesn't differ greatly. She loves it and is equally amazed by it. If you can't find it in the city, it doesn't exist. She loves the variety of cuisines and neighborhoods and history. Of course, she loves the shopping and style. She's always been a lover of Broadway too.

We were dating just a short, short time when I came home from Mississippi for a Christmas visit. We pretended to be tourists and ran around Manhattan all day. We went to Rockefeller Center and saw the tree. We walked and shopped along 5th Avenue. She drooled and I cringed at Hermes and Henri Bendel. I drooled and she cringed at the flagship Apple store. We had candy and played with puppets at FAO Schwarz (Ok.. I played with puppets and she pretended not to know me. I was a hit with most 5 year olds though).

You've all read the story of how we got engaged. I hoodwinked (such a great word) her. She thought we were going to take photos, but the camera bag was just a hiding place for the ring box. Onto the Brooklyn Bridge we went to "take photos" but instead I proposed because it's one of her favorite places ever. We then celebrated the event at Eataly - a full square city block of Italian food, eateries and, of course, wine.

So, yesterday our photographer came to our house and well left for Manhattan on a multi-stop tour that spanned afternoon into sunset and right on into the night. We went places we've been to together and some that we each like but we've never been in at the same time. At every stop our photographer got wide-eyed and began setting up and posing us and that's when the magic happened.

We will share the photos when we get them. We are really excited to show these to everyone. Our photographer did an amazing job of capturing our love and happiness and enveloping it in the energy and rhythm of the city. Stay tuned for more...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hot Foodies - literally

Everyone knows that one of the core components of my relationship with Linda is food. We love to eat. It's the north Jersey Italian in us. We also both happen to really like spicy stuff. Everyone knows that I try to melt my face off as often as possible with the hottest hot sauce in all the land.

She's put up with me making hot sauce and filling the house with eye burning, throat closing, pepper vapors. She's had to make room in cabinets for my collection. We search high and low for pepper pods at farmer's markets. We even spent the weekend at a hot sauce festival where I was the guest of honor due to my love of it. It's a little out of control.

Beyond that, we have food adventures where we pick restaurants to check out and make a date of it. They are usually off the beaten path or have some kind of notoriety. Usually they have a unique food of some sort.

Food is a big part of our lives. And everything we do, we do together. That's because we're best friends. So, when we talked about sampling all of the hot sauces we own, we decided to do it together. And... she even decided to get on camera with me so the world could witness us go through pain for your information and entertainment.

Here are all 5 parts.

This is the link for the YouTube Playlist so you can watch them all in a row, if you like. Have fun.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Let the countdown begin

You may have already put together what this is about. But it is so hard to believe it is real, that maybe it hasn't occurred to you yet. This blog got started in 2011 when Linda and I first met. Although it doesn't get updated frequently, it has been a transcript of the adventures we've had along the way. They get fewer and further between with time, as we settle into life. But every so often, we have a milestone that needs to be recorded. At first it was small things like places we'd go and short jaunts we'd take. Then it became bigger things like her last visit to Mississippi or our 2 day trek diagonally across the eastern part of this country.

Then came the big news of our engagement. On October 26th, 2013 - just 7 months after moving home and exactly 2 years to the day of our meeting we got engaged. If you haven't read that story, you really should... all the details are in their own post.

Since then it has been a whirlwind of adventures with DJs, photographers, wedding reception locations, the Catholic Church, flowers, invitations and invoice after invoice. We are basically sparing no expense, while being level headed about it all. We are walking the fine line to keep from being grandiose outside our budgets and ensuring it's the day we both envision (and by both... clearly, I mean her).

And then you wake up one day and 228 days have evaporated in front of your eyes and it is one year, to the day, until your nuptials. And all of a sudden you freak out because it's so close. I mean. It was 20 months away from the day we stood on the Brooklyn Bridge crying, hugging and kissing. And now it's 12 months away. That' a measurable unit of time. ONE year. ONE trip around the sun. And then the next epiphany comes and you realize you don't care. It could be tomorrow for all it matters. It's one year from some arbitrary date, in reality. You love each other. You live together. It's one year until there's a legal decree. It's one year until a name change and a hell of a party, but nothing else changes. Nothing else matters. We are married now, for all intents and purposes. Our lives are shared until death do us part even without the notary stamp.

But wait one more minute. It does matter. The event does, in fact, matter. Not for us, but it's not just about us, is it? We have friends and family and co-workers and, in truth, some people we've never met all waiting for the day we profess our love to one another. Signed, sealed, delivered - until death do us part. That does matter. My friends and family and Linda's friends and family do get to see this and should get to see this. Because we are that couple. We do everything together. We have food adventures together. We cook together. We get drunk on Sundays together. We binge watch TV together. We share our hopes and dreams together. We want to build a life and a family of our own together. We got it right. We became best friends and then I fell in love with my best friend.

And those friends and that family... they are also my life. And even though we've all met one another... for the first time we will be Mr. and Mrs. and our lives will merge. She can still go watch shirtless Channing Tatum movies with the girls and I can still watch movies with guns, explosions and breasts with the guys, but the activities we do, do not define who we are. We are a couple that actually enjoys being around one another nearly constantly (nearly).

Linda and I are not high school sweethearts. We've been through the wringer with relationships. And we are lucky enough to have found each other. One of us is luckier than the other, but I'll let you figure out which is which. And dammit... I want the whole world to see and know. I want to everyone we've ever met to celebrate and bask in our joy.

So after going through this series of flip flops I realized a couple of things.
  • I don't need any more time to prepare marrying my Linda because I'm ready to spend forever together.
  • I need that whole year to prepare marrying my Linda because the other important parts of our lives deserve an amazing, joy filled day to celebrate with us.
And so, with 365 days to go, we go on with being who we are - best friends and lovers, but we do it with a certain level of excitement knowing that in one year from today we will formalize all of it and celebrate our joy with all of the people we love most in the world. And every time we think of the challenges associated with this event, we will remember that a day like that deserves all of the attention it gets.

The only part I'm not ready for... the overwhelming emotions of standing at the alter and watching Linda walk down the aisle toward me. In my wildest imagination I cannot come close to knowing how beautiful she'll be. It's going to be a long year.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A snowy first

Linda and I have been together since the fall of 2011, if you can believe it. It's been a while. You've all seen us go from just meeting to moving to engaged. She flew down every 5 weeks from NJ to MS while I was still in the US Air Force. We've been living together since March of last year. In all the time we've been together and in all the things we've done together. Would you believe that this is our first Valentine's Day together? That's right. The timing has just worked out that even though it's our third Valentine's Day as a couple, it's the first one we are spending in each other's company.

With it being a Friday amidst a snowstorm, we are basically housebound, but that doesn't matter. We could go out to dinner and have champagne to celebrate over a fancy candlelit dinner or we can hang around at home watching movies and giggling like idiots at nothing. It doesn't really matter to me.

When I'm home with her the rest of the world doesn't exist. When I'm out with her I rarely acknowledge that the rest of the world exists. So my goal is to tie up any work I have to do, as early as possible and then leave all of you on social media to your own devices for the rest of the day.

Linda and I have nothing in particular planned. We were expecting 22 inches of snow. Remarkably, we only got about an even dozen. But on top of what was here already, it's enough to make it worth it to stay in.

So we will make it a point to not rush into dinner when we are already starving or just zone out in front of Candy Crush and syndicated reruns of sitcoms. I'll do my best to make today about us and have some fun. I respect Hallmark's intention to share the love while profiting at unforeseen levels, but we don't need their help.

Truthfully, I don't need anything. I have her - for the first time on Valentine's Day. It's about damn time too.