November 09, 2005


The morning of November 9th, 1996, I woke up with a killer hangover. We'd been out the night before at a "goodbye" party for Ray's first in-the-office boss at Mortenson (hey Kurt Messerli wherever you are, thanks!), which was the first time I met most of that rowdy crew, and boy did we have a good time. Too good of a time. Ray got up, muttered something about going out to get us bagels, I put the pillow over my head and went back to sleep.

What seemed like a shortwhile later, he undertook the unpleasant exercise of routing me out of bed. Man did I make it hard on him. Girlfriend from hell -- whining, moaning, feeling very sorry for myself. And he was all excited about going on a big hike? He wanted to take the ferry to Angel Island. It probably took me an hour to get dressed. Whining the whole time. And when he called to confirm the ferry times and found out they weren't running that day...I was happy for about 10 seconds until I saw Ray's sad little face. He was *crushed*. So we talked about alternatives, and finally hit on Mt. Tam. I'm sure I slept in the car.

We drove to the top of Mt. Tam, a gorgeous winding road on a beautiful, crystal-clear day. Parked in the top-most lot, and started our "hike" around the path towards the peak facing SF. Ray was dutifully hauling our big hiking backpack, which he must have packed while I got dressed ... so immediately I start whining "don't you have something to FEED me with in there?" He told me he did, that I should keep going around the bend, and that he'd meet me at the lookout point.

I stood on the point, the beauty of the day and the view seeping into my foggy brain. Ray came up behind me, put his arms around me, and began to tell me how much the view meant to him. That all around us were our life, our love, our support, our future. Standing in Marin where I grew up, where my grandparents live. The East Bay where he grew up, his dad & Suzanne live, and my alma mater. Daly City with my "other mother" Nini and beloved Uncle Gerry, who was a big part of Ray's life then too. And our City, where we met, where we lived, where we fell in love, where we were building our lives together. And then he stepped back, and said my name. My full name.

I turned around to see him down on one knee, with a red rose in his hand, and he asked me to marry him. My oh-so-appropriate response was to wail RAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY and to start to cry. I did manage to say Of course I will!!!!!!!!!!, and then when he handed me the rose I noticed the ring inside which point I said something TOTALLY inappropriate and accidently snapped the rose off its stem. Whoops. I (of course) still have that rosebud. & the cork from the champagne bottle he'd packed too.

Turns out, he hadn't gone to get bagels (nor had he been gone a short while). He'd driven out to Daly City. When Gerry saw him drive up, he opened the front door, Ray still at the bottom of the stairs, and said "hey Ray, what are you doing here?" and Ray couldn't even make it up the stairs "Iwanttoaskforsophie'shandinmarriage". Delighted, Gerry & Ellen of course made him come upstairs, made him breakfast, calmed him down, he stayed with them for quite a while. Uncle Gerry loved to tell that part of the story.

So how did my oh-so-romantic husband want to spend the rest of the day? Besides having to hear me apologize endlessly for my extremely bad behavior all morning, and gush about how incredible and perfect he was and how I was the luckiest woman on earth? He wanted to go be with my grandparents. So after a long walk, we drove down the other side of Tam, and went to tell Baba & Grandfather. Aunt Janie was there too, and we ordered in pizza -- not something my grandparents were used to doing. Baba of course gloated that she KNEW Ray was the one from the beginning, when I called to tell her about our first date.

We knew my mom & Bob were at the Commodore's Ball at the St. Francis that night. But we couldn't put it off any longer, and Ray insisted we tell them in person. So we crashed the blacktie affair. I'll never forget standing in the lobby of the club, us both in cut off jeans & hiking boots, and my mom in her ballgown sweeping down the curved stairs in a panic to be summoned from the dance ... and then bursting into tears at the sight of us, 'cause she figured it out too.

My love. Even at my worst, he loved me. No worries that he didn't know how much of a bitch I could be! He'd seen it all. And he never failed to surprize me, to delight me, to overwhelm me with his thoughtfulness, his sweetness, his love. Happy Engagement Anniversary, baby.