We met on the morning of March 31st, 2012 in the parking lot of AM/PM in Carson City. I was dressed to impress in my Rams hat, Santa Cruz hoodie, jeans, and legendary eye bags from a sleepless night with my sick kid. Oh, and I didn't have on a lick of makeup. By some miracle, he didn't run away screaming. He didn't point and laugh. He didn't even recoil in disgust! Instead, he uttered the two words that stole my heart:
I briefly wondered if he was visually impaired, but I had just watched him drive up, so...
Being the smooth and eloquent woman I am, I awkwardly said "YOU'RE cute!" And, from that moment on, we were "us." There was never any question of whether or not we were official or exclusive, we just were.
This is John. (Hi John!!!)
Isn't he adorable?! Just the cutest. And no snarky comments about how we were matchy matchy in this picture. It was total down jacket weather.
Ok, so I briefly went over how we met. Now fast forward 5 years minus one day.
It was the day before our anniversary, and we had plans. I had to work all night, and I was only going to sleep for a couple of hours so I wouldn't waste our day. Plus, it was a great opportunity to recreate those alluring eye bags that roped him in all those years ago. After my little nap, we were going to take a drive to the Carson Valley, look at some dream properties, get some basque food for lunch, tool around, then head back to Reno and get ready for our dinner at Harrah's Steakhouse. Being the low key people we are, it really was a perfect day for us.
But things changed a bit on anniversary eve.
John is a (damned good) photographer and works for a local news station. He was scheduled to ride in and film a WWII B-17 bomber that was going to be here throughout that weekend. I was soooo jealous, but excited for him! He seriously gets to do the coolest stuff at his job. But, in true Nevada fashion, a freak wind and rain storm rolled in and ruined everything. The plane couldn't fly in, so they rescheduled the media flight for the next day. Our anniversary.
Even though he'd taken the day off, his boss gave him the option to come in and film the story anyway. He initially said no, that he wasn't going to work on our anniversary. The only way he'd be ok with it was if they could get me a seat on the plane too. At first this was a no-go - the flight was completely full. But, after making some phone calls, it was discovered that there was a paperwork error and there was an extra person listed on the flight manifest - some person that was actually going to be on the flight in New Mexico. We have no idea how they ended up on the manifest for the Reno flight, but they did. And with that error it basically saved me a seat, and everything fell into place for us to go for a ride!
The funny thing is that I had no idea any of this was happening. I was asleep.
I woke up to a phone call from John saying "soooo... change of plans tomorrow, if you're ok with it." I was a little worried, but then he explained this whole thing to me and said "so if it's ok, you can come too. But I'll be working and we might not make it to Carson Valley. And we'd have to leave by about 10:30."
Um... "if it's ok?" Are you KIDDING me?! YES I'M OKAY WITH SKIPPING A DRIVE TO CARSON VALLEY TO GO ON A B-17 BOMBER! And who cares about sleep? It's overrated. At least that's what I tell myself every night.
I was soooo beyond excited! World War II has always fascinated me, so the idea that I could see, touch and fly on an iconic plane from that era was really overwhelming. And I was excited to see John work because he's cute when he works. He's cute when he's not at work, too, but that's beside the point.
So I worked my shift, got to the house at about 7:15am and crashed out until 10. Got ready way faster than I knew to be possible, and we headed to the airfield.
Seeing that plane was absolutely incredible. Look at it! Just look! I was gonna ride in that!
We had a little bit of time before our flight, so John and the reporter we were with, Ryan, got busy getting video of everything for their story. I spent the time mingling with the other passengers, looking at John's butt, and using evasive maneuvers to avoid being on camera. I failed miserably at that, but not for lack of trying. I think the old guy I kept hiding behind thought I was a total weirdo. Whatever.
Finally it was our turn to board. The pilots spent some time going over the history of the plane, safety, rules and gave us the gist of what was going to happen. They explained that each of us would get a chance to sit in the bombardiers position in the nose of the plane, which I could not wait to do. They said we would only have 1-2 minutes in that spot so that everyone would have a turn and, if we took to long, they'd send someone to fetch us. Once they finished going over everything, they gave us the OK to start boarding.
It was so surreal climbing into that plane. The pilots had talked about how the plane isn't pressurized, so you had multitudes of kids, fresh off the farm, leaving their homes for the very first time, and getting onto these planes for the long ride over the ocean. The lack of pressurization and insulation made for a very cold and uncomfortable journey. The day we flew was gorgeous, but once we were on the plane and gained just a bit of altitude, the temperature dropped like a rock. It really put everything into perspective - they went through some horrific things in that war, but even the journey to the war was a difficult one.
We took our seats and I just took everything in. The plane seems so big from the outside, but there really isn't much space to move around once you're in because its filled with equipment and guns and bombs.
The seats are functional, uncomfortable and small. The plane is really loud - between the propellers, the engine and the movement of all the metal things inside, we had to pretty much yell at each other to communicate. But all of those things just added to the cool factor! The attention to detail was astounding - from the original seat belts to the machine guns and even the desk where the communications person would talk on the radio and send out messages by Morse code.
The takeoff was rad! I love plane takeoffs. This one was different - I could really feel how heavy the plane was. Heavy, but also remarkably powerful. Once we were at altitude, John and Ryan started walking around and filming everything. At this point, I realized that there was no avoiding the stupid cameras - there was nowhere to hide. So I decided to just ignore them and enjoy myself.
But seriously? Look at Ryan, trying to be all sneaky. Creeper.
I was having a hard time deciding what to look at - the scenery out of the window, the antique guns, the bombs in the next section, or John's butt when he was standing in front of me filming stuff. So I just tried my best to take it all in and anxiously awaited my turn in the bombardiers seat.
Finally it came.
The pilot motioned for me to head up front. I had to squeeze my thick self through the middle section that housed the bombs. There's a narrow metal plank to walk across, and somehow I didn't fall or hurt myself... which is totally out of the ordinary for me.
If you look closely, you'll see a guy in a maroon jacket coming out of a small opening under the pilot's seats. That's the opening to the bombardier's section. So I made my way up and had to crawl down into the little room. It's really small, so I had to duck down low to make it to the seat. The seat swivels, and its kinda hard to get into without face planting. But once I was in, I was just in awe.
It was incredible.
Left, right, down - it was all windows. A totally unobstructed view of the landscape below and around us. It was breathtaking.
I didn't want to get up. And I'd completely forgotten about the time limit.
I was oblivious as I sat there looking through the cool sight thingy (that you can see hanging above the seat), when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was John. Over 6 ft of him kneeling down behind me. I also saw Ryan there with his camera, so I assumed they were there to get rid of me so they could get more footage. I said "just one more second" and turned back around to get one last look.
It was then that I found out that everyone knew this was going to happen. EVERYONE ON THE PLANE! The pilots were in on it, the passengers knew, the entire newsroom knew. And the camera Ryan was using to capture everything was live streaming the whole proposal to the newsroom, where everyone gathered to watch in real time.
My dad knew - John had asked for his permission.
John's mom knew. John's son knew. MY CHIROPRACTOR KNEW.
Then there was me... Captain Oblivious. CAPTAIN OBLIVIOUS WITH AN AMAZING FIANCE AND A GORGEOUS RING!
Speaking of the ring, this sneaky guy had apparently been planning to propose on our anniversary for a long time. I'd even gone ring shopping a couple of months prior with two girlfriends because one of them was getting engaged. We all tried on rings and talked about the things we liked and didn't like, etc. Yeah, that was all a ploy to find out my ring size and preferred ring style. Apparently our friends did a good job of remembering all the stuff I said, because the ring he gave me is exactly what I would have picked out. Its gorgeous and absolutely perfect!
We were both so giddy! On our way back to the seats, we were congratulated by everyone on board. Once we landed, the pilots met up with us and wanted to take pictures - they had told their wives the night before what was going to happen, and they were so excited about it that that they wanted pictures.
Once we were all finished, we hurried to the truck to start making phone calls. The family were all thrilled! We decided to head down to Carson City to the AMPM where we'd first met. After surprising the clerk with the love story that originated at their fine establishment, we decided to go tell my grandma that we were engaged. She lives just a few blocks away from there, so it worked out great.
My grandma is 99 years old - she'll be 100 in October - and she still lives on her own, enjoys a pint of beer now and then, and is pretty much just awesome. Her nickname while I was growing up was "Grandma Dynamite" for a reason. And she absolutely adores John.
If you're wondering how she took the news, I think the look on her face says it all.
Stick with me, folks. The story isn't over yet!
After a completely joyous visit with Grammy, we headed back to Reno to get ready for dinner. That's when he gave me the purse that he made me. Yes - he made me a gorgeous leather purse, complete with a little hidden Death Star! He spent God knows how many hours cutting the leather, stamping it, dying it and stitched the entire thing by hand. That is no small feat, people - that leather is thick! It was hundred, possibly even thousands, of stitches. Just wow.
And in the middle of the purse are my soon-to-be initials! He said "its a good thing you said yes!"
John had made dinner reservations for Harrah's Steakhouse, which I was really excited about because I've heard so many good things about it. And because I'd been craving rib eye for weeks. To be honest, I kinda always crave rib eye. Beef is life. I was so ready for this meal.
We found out that this whole saga was going to be on the news that night just before 7pm. Our reservations were for 7pm, so we knew we'd be watching it on the almost-live stream on our phones. I talked to the guy at the restaurant and explained what was going on so he could hold our table for us for a few extra minutes. The steakhouse is down below ground, so we didn't have enough signal to watch it down there. The guy was really nice about it and told us to take our time.
We watched the story, both of us fairly well embarrassed. But they did such a great job on it that the embarrassment subsided pretty quickly. We had a phenomenal meal that included Rib eye steaks, lobster mashed potatoes, a bottle of wine and a whole lot of other decadent foods.
That steak... unreal. After our incredible meal, the gentleman who had greeted us brought us a special treat. I was wondering why they didn't bring us a dessert menu!
Look at the little bomber!!!
Overall, I cant say enough good things about Harrah's Steakhouse. It's easily one of the best meals I've ever had, and not just because it fell on such an amazing day. It really was heavenly.
During dinner, John had sent and received a few texts. He kinda played it off, and even though its unusual for him to text at a nice dinner, I didn't think anything of it. I soon found out what he was doing.
We got back to his house, and I was starting to crash. I was coming down off of the adrenaline high and my lack of sleep was starting to catch up to me. Plus I was steak drunk and a little bit wine drunk. I unlocked the door and started to walk into the house and realized immediately that the alarm wasn't on. THAT is unusual - we always set the alarm. I backed out back into the garage and told John, thinking he'd get out his gun and call the police or something. Instead he walked in calmly and said "its fine."
So I walked in behind him and immediately realized that the night was not over.
The floor was covered with hundreds of little paper hearts and rose petals. COVERED! In the kitchen and leading into the dining room and fireplace area. There were also candles lit everywhere and little vases of flowers, some big gorgeous flower arrangements on the dining room table, and the fireplace was lit with delicious cherry wood.
This had been his initial plan for proposing to me, before the B-17 opportunity came up. And it was breathtakingly gorgeous. Absolutely perfect. Just when I thought I couldn't be more overwhelmed by the day, he went and outdid himself again.
He explained the texts during dinner. He was coordinating with our friends who broke in to set all of this up for us. And apparently I nearly ruined everything because I walked out after him when we left for dinner and locked the door. He had intended to walk out after me and leave it unlocked without me knowing. So he was frantically texting his mom, who lives nearby, to have her rush to the house and let them inside. Mom saved the day! And our friends came in and did an incredible job... and drank our whiskey.
They definitely earned it.
We are so blessed to have these incredible people in our lives! They went above and beyond for us, and continue to do so as we plan our wedding. Thanks just are not enough.
Overall, I can't think of any day that beats this one. Even now, over two months later, I'm still totally overwhelmed by it all. I'm so beyond fortunate to have found my person - a man that I look forward to growing old with, and who makes me feel special every day. He brings me a peace and calm when life is difficult, he makes me laugh and has a kind heart. He's an incredible dad to his son and a remarkable role model and stepdad to mine. And I couldn't be happier knowing that we and our boys will officially be a family.