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Work was crazy when I returned from Spain. We were planning our first large-scale event, a pro bono fundraiser for Honor Flight Network. That consumed me for six weeks, but I didn’t mind at all. We were doing great work for a great organization, and I love event planning.
Once that was over, the work pace slowed a bit and the pre-Christmas season was in full swing. The early part of the holiday season was … how should I describe it? Annoying. I really wanted him to be there; I wanted to do romantic holiday activities like going to see the White House Christmas tree, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and attending parties as a couple. Fortunately he returned to the States around Dec. 20 and had three weeks of leave for our marathon family tour: Washington to Boston to San Diego and back to Washington, capping off his visit with a romantic overnight in Annapolis, Md. — the home of his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy — for New Year’s Eve.
I probably shouldn’t say this — I know, everyone wants to surprise that special someone when proposing — but I had a sneaking suspicion that Aleksei was going to ask me to marry him in Annapolis on New Year’s Eve. The setup was just too perfect: He would have a chance to ask my parents for their blessing (I was already convinced that they liked him more than they like me), Annapolis was one of our favorite places to visit, we had discussed (hypothetically, of course) ring styles, and one of my best friends was acting very weird (she knew something, right?).
Our family visits were great, but exhausting. We met more of each other’s relatives and friends, ate a lot of food, and didn’t get enough sleep. This is going to sound ridiculous — but anytime he tied his shoe or bent down to pick something up off the ground, I thought for sure that it was the moment. I know, I had decided that it was going to be in Annapolis, but the more I analyzed the situation (again, creating scenarios in my head), it could be in my hometown, his hometown, or Washington. All I knew was how thankful I was that during our stop in Boston my sister took me to get a manicure (another not-so-subtle hint?) and insisted on shellac (for any male readers, it’s like the duct tape of nail polish, heavy-duty, practically indestructible).
After we completed the Christmas hometowns marathon, it was time to fly back to D.C. and then make the short drive to Annapolis for New Year’s Eve. By then, I was really sweating it out. We arrived in Annapolis to a room stocked with several bottles of champagne — so of course I was sure that he was proposing at midnight. After we had some champagne, he said he wanted to go to the early fireworks show. We bundled up, walked over to the Naval Academy grounds, picked a bench, and watched the fireworks. As I write this, I am realizing how dense I was … I was still convinced that he was proposing at midnight.
I was wrong. As the fireworks show was ending, Aleksei knelt down — this time I actually thought that he was tying his shoe — and he asked me to marry him. To be honest, I don’t have the slightest clue what he said, but I said, “Yes!” Somehow he managed to surprise me!
We went to the closest bar we could find and asked for champagne — they were out of champagne. Who runs out of champagne at 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve? So we opted for vodka tonics (close enough, right?) and started calling our family and friends.
I had already planned the sequence of sharing the news: calls to parents, siblings, grandmothers; then a few mass texts to close friends and relatives; then the obligatory (who am I kidding, I couldn’t wait to post it) Facebook status update. When my iPhone battery faded because of the influx of congratulatory texts and Facebook posts, we went to Red Red Wine Bar for dinner.
Dinner was fantastic, and the wonderful people at Red Red Wine Bar comped our entire bill. Friends joined us to celebrate, and we had a fantastic night out. Sorry for the lack of details; my memory is a little “fuzzy.” Nonetheless, I was over the moon and couldn’t wait to start planning our wedding — every event planner’s dream (or so I thought!).milfam milspouse
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