you are probably all wondering, what was the story of this engagement? How did
it all happen? Pull up a chair, sit down, grab your favorite carbonated beverage,
and let us tell you a story.
As many of you know, Amy is beginning graduate school this fall,
pursuing a Master's degree in social work. This week was her last
at the agency she has served for three years, Evangelical Child
and Family Agency (Wheaton, Ill.). The staff was planning a breakfast
for Amy, as a sort of "going away" party at the Wheaton office
(even though Amy was based out of the Chicago office).
Knowing that this day was a sentimental one for the
couple (7 year anniversary of their first date), Steve began planning a creative
way to "pop the question" that tied into this point in history. It began with
many phone calls to Amy's supervisor, where the two discussed how to "influence"
Amy to take the rest of the day off after the breakfast. But since Amy had so
much work to wind down during her final week (as she is extremely dedicated to
the kids and families she serves), she wouldn't hear of giving up that time.
Eventually, Steve volunteered to take some time off work to attend the going away
breakfast with Amy (with the blessings of his superiors at work, as well is his
client in dot com land -- they may be for retired folks, but AARP wished us the
best!) Amy, thinking that it would be nice to celebrate the first date anniversary
with the man of her dreams, eventually rearranged her schedule to free up the
After breakfast, the couple prepared to leave Wheaton and
head back into the city. However, a momentary flash of creativity flowed from
Steve's backpack. It consisted of a stack of 12 index cards, each one listing
an event/activity for the couple to do together. Amy was to select a card and
then they would continue on, working through the deck.
This choice of
game was sentimental because it paralleled a similar event experienced during
our first and second dates together back in 1994 (it was a crazy date idea by
Steve... it's still crazy today!). In a way, we were walking through history at
each of the places we visited. At each of these stops, we would take photos commemorating
the event (however, many people thought we were quite odd, as in order to both
get into the shot, we set up the camera on a tripod with a timer... what can we
say... it was about making a memory!). Combine this unique aspect with the fact
that the heat index was pushing 95+ degrees, and you have the makings of quite
an interesting day.
As we visited numerous locations, it was refreshing
to share stories and experiences that we had forgot about in more recent years.
Sometimes when you are working full time and caught up with today, you forget
about why you were together in the first place.
One thing that Amy found
amazing was how she kept randomly pulling cards, yet they all seemed to conveniently
fall into pattern (for example, it was quite "lucky" that she pulled all the Wheaton
events during our time in that suburb, without pulling a Chicago-related activity
first... more on how this was accomplished later).
Our travels took us
to many memorable locations throughout Wheaton (a place Amy lived for many years),
and then into Chicago to various sites of interest from our early times together,
including Wrigley Field, a local ice cream shop, and a nostalgic hot dog drive-thru
where they still serve you at your car window.
As the day wore on and
the heat intensified, Amy thought something might be up... Nevertheless, the couple
eventually found themselves at the Chicago Botanical Gardens (which actually isn't
in Chicago, but rather in northern Glencoe... go figure). This place has held
many memories for us, as we've had numerous conversations and walks over the years.
The Gardens are currently undergoing a very large capital improvement project,
involving many new areas slated to open in 2002. To make this all possible, the
large lagoon that surrounded the Garden was drained, and many surrounding areas
are undergoing redevelopment. Included in these areas is one special hill that
we spent much time at over the years. It was "our hill". Now it seemed a bulldozer
preferred to call it home.
Out of nostalgia, the couple hiked around
the empty lagoon to get as close as possible to "their spot". When they reached
a large fence preventing them from proceeding into the construction area, they
found a nice plot of grass under the shade of a tree and just reflected on the
It was at this point that Steve had Amy draw the final card from
the deck... and it read "Daily Double" (referring to our similar date many years
past, where upon drawing this card, Steve presented Amy with a gift). At this
moment, Steve whipped out a poem he wrote, oddly titled "Old Lip Balm" (you'll
have to ask Amy about that one some time). The poem tied in how even though we
have had such a great history at "our spot" in the Gardens, that area was now
being prepared and nutured for a very exciting future - much like our relationship.
Eventually, the poem asked the question "will you be my wife?" Before he could
really get the ring out of the box, she said "yes!" (Amy was waiting for this
moment for a L - O - N - G time). Eventually the ring was on the finger, and there
was much merriment in the land.
Thankfully, the temperature turned cooler,
and the couple sat and talked as the sun set, all the while listening to a bell
tower concert played on the Carillon at the Gardens. It was quite delightful.
The couple returned to the city to play a round of mini golf (also an
event celebrated from their earlier dates together -- by the way, Amy won... but
Steve swears the course was fixed). By then it was late evening, and the couple
was quite exhausted after "Steve and Amy's Engagement Adventure". They hit the
sack late, and slept blissfully through the night.
That's our story and
we are sticking to it!
thing that Amy didn't realize was that up until noon, Steve didn't actually have
the ring with him. Due to a shipping error, the diamond was sent to the wrong
jeweler, pushing back the preparation time. Although they were rushing to get
the ring completed in time, the jeweler couldn't assure it would be ready until
mid-day. It was at this point where Steve's sister played "ring courier", checking
on the ring status as Steve and Amy continued their adventure around Chicagoland.
Eventually, Steve and his sister connected (right under Amy's nose too.. he he),
and the secret ring handoff was made. Talk about cutting it close!
you may be wondering how it seemed that Amy always pulled the "right" card out
of the deck. What she didn't know was that each time Steve held out the deck for
her to draw a new card, it was a brand new deck. Steve actually had prepared 12
different decks of cards, decreasing in number each time, but with each card listing
THE SAME ACTIVITY. Thus, no matter what card Amy selected, it was always the "right"
destination. Sneaky, we know... :)