I apologize in advance to my readers that this is not a post that fits in with the rest of my categories at present, but I am in the process of creating a scrapbook of the same name, at which point this narrative will be promptly moved to accompany images of my papercrafts.
In the meantime, many of my friends have asked how it was that Jay proposed to me last Wednesday, January 1, 2014 (our 3 year anniversary).
In order to fully appreciate the lengths Jay went to make this proposal as "perfect" as possible (he told me multiple times over the course of our relationship that he would only propose when it would be "perfect" to which I responded that ANY proposal would be perfect, like, seriously here...)
Anyway, for those of you who don't know, Jay and I met through the website OKCupid. Yes, the FREE dating site. I had tried ALL of the paid sites: Match, eHarmony (which incidentally set me up with a Season 6 Top 10 American Idol contestant -- he had a Masters degree, physically attractive, obviously talented -- essentially the perfect package a.k.a. too good to be true [and so it was] -- as based solely on a 45 minute conversation on the phone in which he spent most of the time talking...), Yahoo Personals, etc. You name it, I tried it.
While none of these agencies provided a quality mate, I have an arsenal of tales about all the interesting men I've conversed with over that period of time in my life. My friends can attest to that fact!
So, OKCupid was sort of my "oh well, what the hell, it's FREE, so I literally have nothing to lose (and only more laughable anecdotes to gain)".
Saturday, December 11, 2010, was a day I will never forget. I had been on and off of OKCupid for a few months, getting tired of the idiots looking to "cyber" in the chat window, being written to by males that weren't up to my standards, weren't cute enough, didn't have enough ambition, etc. Listen ladies, life is too damn short to settle, and I was willing to lower my standards only so much. So, that said, I had pretty much HAD IT with OKCupid at this point (tossing it in the mental pile of crap sites filled with lame potential pairings that would never come to pass). I was over it.
Aimlessly scrolling through pictures of guys on the site this particular Saturday morning, I came across a picture of a guy who was pretty damn cute. I gave him a star rating of a 4. OKCupid will provide you images of mates that you can rate based on looks alone - vapid and shallow, maybe, but realistic, folks. Anyway, when I rated him, I immediately got a message from the site stating that this individual had rated me highly as well (it wouldn't tell me if it was a 4 or 5, grrr, but enough to let me know he thought I was good looking, too). So, since I was already on the brink of "Whatever, I'm over this crap, lemme just write him and see if he writes back cause I just don't care at this point" I wrote to him the following message (yes, this is THE message I sent, word for word):
Hey! Dec 11, 2010 – 11:34am
So...the second I rated you it told me that we both rated each other highly. Woot! My question to you now, is, why didn't you send me a message?! lol
It's nice to find a grad school nerd like myself! I thoroughly enjoyed the sarcasm aspect of your profile. I liked that you utilized the term "nom nom" in your profile because I say it quite a bit myself, lol.
We're both looking for the same thing in our perspective matches, so I figured I'd be the first to say "Hi!" :)
A few hours later, I received the following reply (as I think, "Holy $#!#, a guy who RESPONDS!):
Dec 11, 2010 – 1:04pm
To answer your question, I noticed that Okcupid says you're 10% my enemy, so obviously I was afraid to risk my life by messaging you. After all, there's a 1 out of 10 chance you would have replied by killing me.
I'm the ultimate grad school nerd. It takes a "special" sort of person to want to study Greek and Latin. What do you study?
I'm glad you enjoyed my sarcasm -- I think a sense of humor is really important. Whether my sense of humor is actually any good is another question entirely.
This geocaching thing you mention in your profile is amazing. I'm gonna start looking for hidden tupperware containers wherever I go. Have you found anything cool and/or made of solid gold?
I better stop before this gets any longer and you stop reading out of exhaustion and fury.
P.S. I wont judge about the Harry Potter, if only because I have a copy of one of the books... in Latin.
And so it began... A series of emails back and forth daily led to text messages, a Skype conversation, a phone conversation, and finally, our first meeting.
Now, it's important to note how opposed my parents were to online dating (since, ya know, everything that's on the news is exactly what happens in the real world, and only terrible scary things happen to women who date online -- this is not to discredit or mock the real-life atrocities that have been documented on 48 Hours and other Investigation Discovery real-life crime shows, but you understand where I'm going with this)... So, of course I told my mother that I met Jay at a party while at Rutgers (the university I'm attending for my PhD in Education). This way, she wouldn't freak out when she heard the truth... I had never met Jay in person, and would be picking him up from the Philadelphia Airport when he returned from Massachusetts (his family is from Worcester, MA, and he attends UPenn, studying for his PhD in Classics). This would be the first place I would ever meet him face to face.
At this point in the story, I'd love to say it was like the opening scene of Love Actually, with Hugh Grant narrating the captivating journey of our intersecting lives, just below the "Welcome to Philly from Mayor Michael Nutter" sign that hung above my head up the escalator. I'm nervous as hell, but trying to keep calm as the doors repeatedly open, family members hugging their loved ones after spending time away from one another... Jay finally comes into view... "You're real!" he says to me awkwardly. I said "Yeah! So are you! Let's go!" I knew he was nervous, I was still nervous but doing my best to look calm and sexy at the same time, while subconsciously doing my best not to trip in one of my favorite pairs of 4" heeled boots. After getting lost on the way back to his apartment (I'd never driven into Philly myself before, and Jay doesn't drive since he's always lived in big cities for school where he used public transportation), we finally made it back to his apartment.
After settling in, we decided to head to Bobby's Burger Palace for a quick bite to eat. I had never been, and Jay lived (literally) down the street from one. This is of course Bobby Flay's signature burger joint, and it was as good as you'd expect from the Food Network King. I related a tale from a blind date I'd gone on a year earlier (a horrible one) where I ate a burger in front of the guy because I "knew" it wasn't going anywhere after that first date. Basically, if I can eat a burger in front of a guy, it means I'm willing to eat with my hands, get messy, and not worry about my appearance -- it means I'm comfortable, or, that I just don't give a shit enough about what the guy thinks so I'm going to eat whatever I want and too bad if that involves onions and oozy mayo. I informed him that while we were eating burgers (limited menu, plus I love burgers) I simply felt comfortable with him (though, still, nervous as hell). I can FEEL the butterflies in my fingers as I recount this memory...a very happy, fluttery memory.
This was the start of a three year relationship, two of which were spent "long distance." Once Jay completed his coursework at UPenn, he was able to move to New Jersey to be closer to me. We moved into an apartment together in April 2013, where we happily remain to this day.
Now for the part you've all been waiting for.
Jay informed me that we would be going out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary. I had a feeling he might pop the question (as did everyone and their mother apparently, from the stir our engagement annoucement made complete with tears of joy, cat-calls, and "I knew it! I knew it!") but Jay REFUSED to tell me where we would be going out. I even tried to trick him into giving up the info by asking for a menu or web address to the place... "Do you think I'm an idiot?" was the response :)
So, by the time 5:45pm rolled around, I casually suggested we head to dinner, while inside I'm secretly freaking out that this may be THE dinner in which I'd become a fiancee...
We get into the car, and Jay begins directing me based on the Google Maps directions he had up on my phone. I had NO CLUE where we were headed, but a half hour later I'd recognized the plaza we were pulling into. I'd been there before... Sure enough, Jay managed to find one of the FEW NJ locations of a Bobby's Burger Palace. For the record, I had been to this large plaza to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings, so this particular Bobby's was "new" to both of us. They all look the same inside, so as soon as we walked in, seeing all the undergraduate students inside, casually eating on a Wednesday evening, I was immediately brought back to our first (and many subsequent) visit(s) to Bobby's. I ordered a Crunchified burger (double American cheese with potato chips) and a chocolate shake. Jay ordered his usual Dallas burger with a chocolate shake. We also got fries and onion rings. "Damn," I thought to myself, no proposal tonight. There's no way this kid is gonna propose in here. Oh well, the burger is yummy, and the shake is to DIE for!" I started to reminice about our first date, and told him so. He smiled, knowingly... This was his plan all along. He wanted to remind me of our first date, how we first met... He wanted to recreate the night our eyes first laid eyes on each other (sans screens).
"Well, just wait until dessert" Jay says, sipping his dark chocolate frosty beverage. "What?! You didn't tell me there was going to be dessert! I'm full from the shake!" I hadn't even finished the thing but I knew I wouldn't be able to eat dessert right away (and trust me, anyone who knows me knows how much I love desserts -- I could live on them, easy).
"Dessert is light! I promise!" he consoles me. "Okay," as I think to myself, "Mmmm, maybe we'll get crepes at Cafe Paris! Those are light AND delicious!" I also thought there may be a proposal accompanying dessert, which gave me hope (again) that this may indeed be happening this evening.
We drove around for a bit, attempted to go to the Michael's craft store, but forgetting it was New Years Day, realized it was closed. We headed towards his mapped out "dessert" location. Ten minutes from where the Bobby's was, we approached a road behind a Hampton Inn, off of which was a deserted path, overgrown with weeds, surrounded by brush, icy, and desolate... "Are we going geocaching?" I asked. Geocaching is an international treasure hunt of sorts, where crazy people like Jay and I go searching in the woods for hidden tupperware containers filled with random items -- things you'd find in quarter machines at the grocery store, etc. "Yes, that's what we're doing," Jay agrees. Now I'm thinking "Damn, maybe he paid someone to hide 'Will you marry me?' in a cache container -- that's brilliant!'" I say to him, "Why didn't you tell me?! I would have worn sneakers!" I'm playing dumb, but I'm still thinking this cache is where my proposal will be... I'm eager to search but it's cold, Jay seems lost (I'm the one who got us into geocaching to begin with and am usually the one to initiate hunts), and I'm growing impatient because I don't have my phone to look for the coordinates and the wind is fierce. Jay has me follow him another two feet or so before he stops. "We are here." I say, "Where?! What's going on here?" Jay begins, "Well, this whole night we've been reliving the first night we met, right? Except it's in reverse..." (I'm sort of getting it but not really at this point...) "Where we're standing right now," Jay continues "is the runway of an airport that was abandoned about 40 years ago. You're picking me up from the airport." At this point I am laughing and crying HYSTERICALLY because of what he was saying. He's now getting down on one knee, pulling a small box out of his coat pocket. "Erica Holan, will you marry me?" He pulls out a ring of some sort, but I can hardly see it through my tears. I laugh harder as I wipe my eyes. "An ONION ring!"
Jay explains, "Well, my parents were wondering why we were leaving to NJ in the middle of our visit to see them (we had been in MA for Christmas and were going to be there for Jay's 30th birthday party on January 4th), so I explained that I was proposing on our anniversary. My mom picked out the perfect onion "ring" and my dad found the jewel underneath my bed when he was rearranging my room."
I'm laughing, crying, gasping, sighing. It was truly an out of body experience that can barely be put into words, but the overwhelming amount of emotion I was feeling in that moment was euphoric and exhausting all at once.
I relaxed as we retreated to the comfort of my car that had been running with the heat on the whole time.
Prior to his proposal, we had discussed that ring finger tattoos would be the perfect symbolic tribute of our dedication to one another. Jay had deciphered the transliteration of the words "We" and "Fit" in Elvish (the language spoken by the Elves in The Lord of the Rings).
A match made in nerd Heaven, we are <3