Nearly 9.5 years ago, Katie and I took our first steps down the long (and not always straight or clear!) path that has brought us to where we are today. Where the path is ultimately leading we still don't know, but last Wednesday we took a major step and committed to continuing the journey together.
Several people have asked for details about the proposal and I must disappoint; there really wasn't anything clever or creative or exciting about it per se. That's something I love about being with Katie, though. When we are together I don't feel the need to be "on" or performing; everything is just very natural and easy. Accordingly, so was the proposal. Perhaps I can make the story a little more exciting, though, by filling in some of the history leading up to the proposal:
March 21, 2009: after more than a year of living on separate continents, Katie was visiting me in Lausanne again. Because her flight left before my actual birthday, we did an early birthday dinner at La Suite, which we chose explicitly for their very underpriced 2003 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino. We were a bit chagrined to learn upon our arrival that they were actually out of that bottle--and then we were elated when the waiter returned to our table having found their last bottle of it hidden away somewhere. It was way too young, of course, but we took our time and it really opened up. The evening blossomed into wonderful discussion about wine, food, nutrition, healthcare, careers, the future, and everything else. I blogged about that evening shortly thereafter. At some point I distinctly remember looking over at Katie and thinking to myself, "Who am I kidding; my future is sitting across the table from me," if she would have me ,of course!
April 14, 2009: While on the Amalfi Coast with my mom, we broke away from the group and spent a day on our own in Capri. The weather was gorgeous and we found a little hillside restaurant along the sea to have some local wine, insalata caprese, and seafood (which I blogged about shortly thereafter). During that meal I first announced my intentions to propose to Katie, which thrilled my mom.
June 1, 2009: On another visit to Lausanne, Katie capitalized on a gorgeous summer day by taking me out for a picnic in the park of the Palais de Justice, which offers amazing views of the lake and mountains (also blogged about). Perfect weather, wonderful food, champagne, a lazy afternoon . . . I was sorely tempted to propose to her then and there but I wanted the chance to talk with her parents about it first.
July 12, 2009: On a visit to spend some time with Katie's family in Minnesota I faked a conference call to weasel out of a lunch obligation that Katie had planned. Instead I spent time with her parents talking with them about my intentions over Swedish pancakes with fresh berries out on their deck. Again the weather was gorgeous and we were accompanied by an awesome golden retriever. After initially giving me a hard time, they offered their blessing and encouragement. The next day I submitted my resignation to Poken (blogged about) and began planning for a life with Katie, not thousands of miles away from her.
So finally I had lined up all the right elements; now I just had to find the right place and time! I wanted it to be somewhere special for both of us and somewhere really nice that we would remember (and to which we could return) indefinitely. While we were wine touring in Tuscany, there were many opportunities, but I lived in Tuscany for half a year before I ever even met Katie so it wasn't as much "our" place.
There were some other opportunities in London, Sedona, San Francisco, and even in Houston, but nothing that ever felt just right. After nine years of dating I figured waiting until it just felt right would be OK.
Despite the fact that Katie didn't live with me in Lausanne, I still very much consider it "our" place as our relationship grew much stronger while I was here. My favorite memories of Lausanne by far are when Katie was here with me and it certainly has its share of picturesque locations! So when Katie came out to join me in Lausanne for this trip, I had an eye toward making the move.
Unfortunately she brought lots of rain with her! July 23 would have been a good date for a proposal as it is Katie's half birthday, but the weather gods had other plans. Finally last Wednesday, July 28, there was a break in the clouds and I suggested that we celebrate with a picnic back at the park of the Palais de Justice. Again we packed a picnic lunch and again we brought some champagne--Dom Perignon 2000 this time. I thought that might have tipped her off but she claims that it didn't raise any flags for her. Fair enough; it's not the first time I've gone a bit overboard with wine!
Again we spent the afternoon lounging on the grass, talking about the future, and agreeing that life was not so bad--especially not when we are together. At around 2:23 PM, I got on one knee and asked her to marry me. After some initial shock she enthusiastically said yes and we spent the rest of the day, week, month (and it's still ongoing) in a sort of euphoric bliss.
People ask how it is being engaged and I jokingly respond that, "Oh wow, it's so different!" as if it has somehow radically changed our 9.5-year relationship. It actually is different, though. In the business world we would call this a "credible threat." We've made a move that says this is where we're going and we are no longer considering other options. We no longer hedge discussion about the future with, "If we got married..." or "If we stay together..." or other conditionals. Now we are officially committed to that vision and that feels really, really . . . right.
I'm not sure how exactly I managed to persuade someone like Katie to spend her life with a scoundrel like me, but I'm definitely not complaining! Many thanks to everyone for the tremendous outpouring of support we have received since announcing our engagement. It really means the world to us and we love you all!