I’ve known Jason maybe nine years now. First met him as just the brother of someone I was becoming fast friends with, but it wasn’t long till I called Jason a friend myself. We’ve done a lot together over the years. From stumbling around Los Angeles blind-drunk, exploring the streets of Barcelona and Madrid, to somehow jumping out of a perfectly good airplane together. I’d say I’m not sure how he got me into that last one, but Confidence is his middle name, and he can be very convincing.
Jason is getting married soon, and to show him just how much we all love him, a few of us hopped on planes and rented some cars for his bachelor party. By “a few of us,” I meant 23 grown men. Most of whom I’d never met. At face value, all the ingredients of this turning into a mess were there. Two things were certain going in though. First, was that Jason was all our common ground. Second, was his brother Drew was organizing the whole thing. In another life, Drew might’ve been a master clockmaker. What I mean is, he’s very good at taking a lot of moving parts, and making them all work together. So about a month ago, we flew in from almost every corner of the country to set out on an adventure together that started in Salt Lake City.
A quick weekend trip to hang with Drew, George, Duncan, and Jon in Seattle. My friend Jesse was in town by happenstance too. We got into all sorts of fun but there was an obvious standout from the trip.
Over the years, our friend Drew has mastered the art of surprise, and frankly, generosity. He’d planned something specific for us all to do together for Saturday, but kept it under wraps. When it was go-time, he announced our ride was out front and we headed out the door to find… a stretch limo waiting for us. A classy move if I’d ever seen one. Still none of us knew where we were going or what we were getting into, but drinks were flowing and we were cruising in a limo. Morale was through the roof and I would’ve been set if that was the extent of our night. It wasn’t.
By now, we’d been driving a while, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Tractors, corn, and cows were the only things flying by our jet black windows. Traffic eventually stacked up and came to a crawl. Wherever we were, we had arrived. Didn’t take us too long to realize, of all places, we were at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Yep, and Bad Company was opening. I’m not sure I could’ve imagined a more ridiculous thing for us to do with our night. Needless to say, we were the only stretch-limo in sight. Just about everyone we passed in the lot squinted and smiled at our impenetrable tinted windows. Pretty sure they thought we were the band.
I was big Skynyrd fan back in high school, around the time I was learning to play guitar, obviously. Turns out I still know all the words. Anyone who was standing within 100 feet of me can attest to that. Don’t think the guys particularly cared much for the them, but that’s not really the point though, is it. Fun was had and memories were made.
Few of us got together on The Oregon Coast for a weekend getaway a few months back. Twelve friends, two dogs, a pool table, a jukebox, a hot tub, and plenty to drink. We trekked the windswept shoreline, hiked the forest trails, and wandered the sleepy town of Lincoln City. It sure is a pretty place.
It was the last time a lot of us saw Hunter. He was a dog that above all else, loved food. Any food. Never had a dog, and never quite knew what you could and couldn’t feed them. I try to stay out of it when the begging starts. But the way he looked into your soul as you were about to take your last bite, of literally anything, defeated me every time. Godspeed Hunter.
I asked the girl I’ve been crazy about (and driven crazy by) since the day I met her, to marry me. How we got from there to here is a long story. One that I’ll save for another time. But today, I want to tell you about the best day of my life.
A few days earlier we started to plot our weekend, and talked about spending the day together. No friends, no family, just us. The weather was shaping up to be nice, so I suggested we go downtown to layout at Grand Park. I knew this is where I wanted to propose.
There’s been plenty of opportunities to propose in more exotic, adventurous or even stereotypically romantic places, but Los Angeles is where it was meant to be. It’s always been the backdrop to our story. It’s where we found each other. It’s where we fell in love. I also knew how much this city means to her as an individual. She moved around a lot growing up, and Los Angeles is the first place she’s ever called home and truly meant it. I figured what better place to propose than in the heart of LA, in a sprawling park overlooked by one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
I usually have a hard time getting out of bed, but on this particular day you’d have thought I spent a lifetime in the military. I left Alexis in bed and got breakfast started for us straight away. I had some time sensitive plans in place, and I wanted to get ahead of the day. Thank God she still wanted to go to the park.
We got ready, packed a bag and headed over. When we got there, we found a blaring children’s dance festival of some sort taking place. It was loud and it was weird. Not exactly what I expected. Thankfully, it’s a big park and where we were headed was on the opposite end. It was a hot day, really hot, but we found some shade under a tree to lay our blanket across. We sat down and talked a bit while I doodled the iconic LA City Hall building across the park. I gave up after a few minutes and told her I was going to just draw her instead.
I repositioned myself so she couldn’t see what I was drawing. I lifted my eyes from the page every few minutes to examine her features, all the while she was doodling too. After a few minutes, I said I was done. My heart was racing and was hoping she couldn’t hear it in my voice. With a worried face, I warned her not to be mad, since the portrait didn’t really turn out that great, and didn’t quite look like her. When I spun my sketchbook around, she found the words “Will you Marry me?”
Her eyes lit up and moved from the page to me, back to the page and back to me again. As she stared at me with wide watery eyes, I took the ring from my pocket and offered it to her. I told her I loved her, that I always had, and that I wanted to spend the rest of my days with her. We kissed and held each other. After a few beats… I had to remind her she still had to give me an answer. It was a strong yes, and I finally put the ring where it’s always belonged.
Once our nerves settled, I pointed to a man that was hiding out behind some bushes. His name is Archi, and I hired him to photograph the moment. He’d been there the whole time. We all finally made eye contact and laughed. Honestly, I didn’t even know where he was for a while. True mark of a pro. We spent the next half hour or so taking some photos with him. Some in the park, and some across the street in front of the LA City Hall building. It’s was just too beautiful a building to pass up with a professional photographer on hand. As we were walking up to City Hall, I joked to Alexis that I was really just trying to fast track this thing, and get the papers today.
Visited Seattle for the first time. Beautiful city and geography. Good eats, good drinks, and good company.
The idea to go was suggested and agreed upon, among friends sitting in a hot tub with full beers in hand, with plenty of empty ones nearby. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the idea would fade away in the sobering light of tomorrow.
People don’t really do what they say, especially if they said it after a few drinks. But as luck would have it, we did what we said.