How We Met
March 17th, 2007 ~ St Patricks Day
I was heavy into preparing for my first season coaching the dancers of a local minor league basketball team. Our practices were being held at a gym owned by Jake's friend Mike. I had seen Jake at the gym a few times but hadn't officially been introduced to him.
Jake and his friend Mike were in downtown Seattle celebrating St Patricks Day. On a whim I decided to head downtown with some girlfriends. Shortly after arriving my cell phone rang and it was Mike suggesting I stop by where they were for "just one cocktail". When I arrived I was introduced to Jake. He was funny and sweet, tall and charming. As the night went on I found out that Jake was a Scorpio like me, loved to dance, was a big fan of Heineken, had a 4 year old daughter named Josie, and . . . was in the process of a divorce.
We ended the evening and went our seperate ways. Jake worked the front desk at Mike's gym on the nights that I held practice. So I decided he would be a cute acquaintance that I could flirt with at the gym but that he was "off limits".
The Courtship Begins
Then one day as I was working I got a text message from an unfamiliar number on my phone. I had forgotten that Mike used Jake's phone to call me the night we met. I don't remember the exact wording but it was a cute "hello" from Jake that made me smile from ear to ear. We sent messages back and forth for the rest of the day as I vented to him about my stringent diet to get ready for the basketball season and how I would kill for a double-stuffed Oreo.
For a few weeks the flirtation and chatting continued. I still had hesitations about going on a date with Jake but got some great advice from friends. My friends told me that as far as they could see Jake was a solid guy, he was sweet and supportive, gentlemanly, and pretty non-threatening . . . although at the time I was convinced that he had to be on the rebound and it wasn't safe to get involved with someone going through a divorce.
So that night after dinner with my family I gave in to Jake's request to spend some time with me and drove from Puyallup to Arlington, 85 miles to be exact, on a Sunday night to get to know Jake . . . that and he had a hottub . . . which sounded pretty relaxing for my overworked body.
I Feel Loved
May 5th, 2007
The more I got to know Jake, the more similarities I saw to myself and how I viewed life. We had the same political views, religious ideals (or lack there of), the same taste in music (well . . . except for Dave Matthews), and honestly just a general appreciation for each other. Even a trip to the grocery store with Jake was fun. We could do anything together and make it a good time.
Falling in love with Jake was easy, the part that was difficult was trying to keep myself from telling him every second of every moment once I realized it. I remember the look in his eyes and the smile on his lips when I finally said it aloud. We couldn't deny the feeling, yes it had only been a few months and we still had a lot to learn about each other but deep down something just felt right and we both knew it.
A Natural Progression
Jake and I started slow with combining our cell phone plans : ) and buying groceries together. I got to try my hand at being "step-mommy". I have to say its definitly not what I expected. Trying to parent someone else's child is a task I had never planned to take on before I met Jake. Sure babysitting helps and your natural maternal instinct is pretty strong but feeling comfortable while your boyfriend's 5 year old tells you all about how wonderful her mommy is can tug at your heart strings some days.
We started carpooling to work to save money which gave us 2 full hours each weekday uninteruppted in the car to talk to each other. To really talk to each other. Even with the stress of traffic and making ends meet financially it made us a stronger couple.
Here comes the fiance?
The fact that all of our friends and families approved of our relationship only served to fuel the fire we felt for each other. Our next natural stage seemed pretty apparent . . . to Jake at least because I truly believe he got a great deal of enjoyment out of watching me squirm.
He launched an all out "let's drive Leslie crazy" attack on my psyche. When he would hold my hand he would slyly trace little circles around my ring finger and say things like "just getting it warmed up". Don't get me wrong, I loved the insinuation that someday we'd be married but he would say something daily, while all of my friends are getting engaged and having babies . . . thought I would kill him if he made one more comment about how beautiful I’d look someday in a white dress. Daily comments . . . no ring . . . started to wear on me.
Early in Sept Jake had done his annual trip to The Gorge for the Dave Matthews concert with Brandon. Upon arriving home he presented me with a Sterling Silver heart bracelet. It was too large to fit my wrist so a few days later we took Josie with us to the jewelry store to see about getting it sized. Of course the clerk was in on the whole thing and it was a big 'ol trap but I didn't know that then. Armando said he didn't think they could size it but he'd check with the shop and be right back. He took the bracelet into the back room and Jake led me towards the ring cases and suggested "maybe you should show me the styles you like . . just in case". Every girls dream, ring shopping.
45 minutes of sliding things on and off my finger . . . what a surreal feeling . . . and I finally found something I loved! Armando chose a radiant cut princess shaped diamond to set in the middle this beautiful setting. It made the diamond look like it was floating and I lit up. Love, love, loved it!!
Jake says "you like that one? Really? Thats the one huh, well why don't you go hang out with Josie in the toy room for a bit while Armando and I chat." Surprised he didn't burst into flames from the death stare I was giving him! There was no way that I even could have fathomed the plotting Jake had gotten into with the clerk.
I later found out that Jake had visited the store several days in a row on his lunch hour that week and picked out numerous settings he thought I'd like. He had arranged for Armando to make sure I looked at his choices. Funny thing . . . Armando had suggested the setting I picked out and Jake promptly passed saying "its awesome but she'll never like that one." Thank you Armando for your persistance!
So we eventually left the store ringless as Jake mumbled something about it being too expensive but maybe someday he'll buy me a nice ring like that one.
As a New Life Begins . . . so does our future
Finally one day I was helping Josie tie her shoes before we headed out the door to visit my parents. As Jake grabbed the bags and went out to the car I knelt down to her and she says, "umm Leslie . . . I really like the pretty ring my daddy bought you." Shocked and speechless I couldn't help but smile and laugh knowing that by the look on her face she just realized she wasn't supposed to say anything. Jake opened the front door at exactly that moment and I did everything I could to hold it in. For about 10 minutes in the car I smiled from ear to ear as Jake coaxed me to tell him what was going on. He then glanced into the back seat to see Josie almost in tears. She spilled the beans to daddy about her boo boo and it was all I could do to keep him from throwing it at me in frustration because he felt his surprise had been ruined. I told him I still had no idea when or how he would do it . . . or even if it would be soon, or even if it would be "the ring" so its not a big deal.
Around early September just after Lacey's birthday and close to her due date for her first child, Jake's comments started to increasingly annoy me because now I know there is a ring. What I didn’t know is that Jake had been talking to more people than just me about it. He had already asked permission from my parents long before we even visited the jewelry store. He had talked to my brother, and even my two best friends . . . who I found out are truly great at keeping secrets.
The day Lacey's son was born, Jake and I spent the whole day at the hospital with Lacey and her family eagerly awaiting his arrival. It was such an amazing feeling to have him by my side no matter how long, no complaining, no asking if he could go home and watch TV until the blessed event arrives. And finally in the early evening I got to see that adorable new baby resting in Jakes arms . . . was enough to bring me to tears. I remember sitting next to him as he cuddled the new baby and looked into my eyes with a big smile . . . "I'm ready now," he said. He wouldn't tell me for what but later the next night I found out.
Damn he's good
Several minutes later he returned and announced "we are going to dinner with your parent’s tomorrow night . . . and I think I’ll dress nice, you should too." He knealt down and kissed me on the cheek with a but smirky smile on his face. My pulse started to race and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. Oh god I thought, he's going to do it tomorrow in front of my parents at dinner. What am I gonna wear? I spent the next 5 minutes in a numb state of shock as I raced through the scenarios trying to be prepared for what he'd say, how would I react, would be parents be supportive? So compelled with my own thoughts it didn't dawn on me how odd of a suggestion it was for us to take Bella for a walk. 10:30pm and chilly September winds and my dog was half asleep already. But I went anyway, I was too busy contemplating.
As we headed out of the driveway Jake stopped to "turn the dome light off in the truck". I was still so consumed in thought about tomorrow night that I didn't even notice him getting the ring out of his hiding place in the car, one of many places. We started down the street with Bella in tow. Clothed in an oversized sweatshirt, wearing my glasses, and his warm-up pants I kept walking till we got to the top of the street and he asked which way we should go. Then he looked down and smiled and tugging my hand towards a large sitting rock next to a tree with a heart carved in it . . . and then . . . I got it . . . he wasn't waiting until tomorrow, he is going to do it right now!!
"A good place for what?" I asked.
"To ask you to spend the rest of your life with me,".
He led me over to the rock and sat me down as I could feel his hands shaking. Sadly I can't remember much of what he said, I was so in shock that I just kept smiling and giggling and crying. And then he pulled out the most perfectly exquisite ring I've ever seen. I think my exact words were, "OH MY GOD!!" when he showed it to me. It was, the ring, perfect, shiny, and amazing. I remember the relieved look on his face under the street light. Not relief that I'd said yes, just relief to finally stop having to hide the ring from me. So he pulled the ring out of the box and proceeded to place it on my right hand . . . yep my right hand. I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him and then started to scold him for the way I looked and how I'll always remember how scrubby I looked on the day he proposed to me.
So then he spilled the beans about all his plans and the sneaky way he'd kept things from me and had been planning for weeks for the perfect moment to ask me. And told me that he arranged for the members of both of our families and my closest friends to meet for dinner the following evening so we could all celebrate. He's a one in a million!