We’d already come halfway across the country for a family trip, and figured we may as well just keep on going. We knew we’d be heading to New York City to see Alexis’ brother Tony and Olivia, and of course our unofficial godson Gnarly. We wanted to see somewhere new first though. Alexis had never been to Philadelphia. It’d been a long time for me, and our friends Drew and Kelsie said they were in, so that settled it. It was a trip of exploration, late nights, loud music and drained glasses. I was run ragged by the end of it, but it’s always worth it. Tough to beat the company.
One day my friend Drew told me he wanted to move into a new place with his girlfriend Kelsie. They really hadn’t been dating very long at all, and the new place was a pricey two year lease. There was never a thing not to like about Kelsie, but I still owed it to one of my best friends to warn him he might be rushing into something here. He agreed he was rushing in, but rushing into the right thing, so why wait. I remember thinking it to be pretty bold.
Turns out, they just signed a lifetime lease, and tied the knot. They married near Palm Springs on April Fools, because well, it’s Drew and Kelsie we’re talking about here. It was a beautiful Saturday.
The ceremony and reception took place at the Lautner Compound near Palm Springs. There are only four rooms on the property, and Alexis and I were offered one. Had to be the most stunning room I’ve ever stayed in. It felt so open but at the same time totally private. Couldn’t help but feel pretty cool even just standing in it, and the entire grounds followed suit. Was really a sight.
The bride and groom have a lot of gravity in my life, and it meant a lot to me to stand up with them on their day. It’s the only wedding I’ve ever been in. Another first they’ve given me. They do that a lot. During the ceremony, I remember watching them, and watching Alexis, and wondering to myself, just how in the hell I got here. How did I get so lucky to have this family. It was a weird feeling. Like a wealth of time and memories, all converging to a single point. I don’t know that I’m explaining it right, but I do know I couldn’t stop smiling. Really, my face was starting to hurt a little.
We set their union in stone the best way we know how. By partying. We danced, we drank, and we laughed the night away. I can’t imagine they could’ve wanted anything more. It was a great day and they’re gonna do great things together. I’d wish them all the good things there are to wish on their journey, but they don’t need anything besides each other, and they’ve already got that.
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.
This is Michelle, and today is her birthday. She has a contagious smile and I swear, more teeth than the average person.
It’s really something when I stop to think about everything we’ve done, and everywhere we’ve been together. From my first drink, to my first stamp in my passport. Ten years is a long time when you’re young.
She’s seen me at my best, and helped pick me up at my worst. Through and through, one of my truest friends. I’ll know this one till the day I die.
Here we go.
Alexis. Drew. Magic Johnson’s Friday’s. LAX. San Jose. Terminal Drinking. More flying. My first stamp. Lima. Our apartment. Carolina. Sebastian. 4am 90s top 40. Taxis that weren’t taxis at all. Karaoke. Pisco sours. Sushi. Con permiso. Agua con gas. Agua sin gas. Tour busses. Catacombs. Chili’s. Our taxi ran out of gas. Ice cream. Another plane. Cusco. Our hostel. Cinemax. Michelle. Dancing in markets. Hiking. Hunted by wild dogs. Altitude sickness. Snickers grande. Canadian Irish pub. Dos mas please. A train. Aguas Calientes. Jurassic Park. Hot springs. Market bargaining. Machu Picchu. Touring. Hiking. Photo ops. Wonder. Naps. Rain. A late train. A missed bus. High-speed taxi driving. Intercepting and boarding our bus. Frostbite. Arequipa. Sand boarding fail. Rafting. Rafting rescue. Cerveza hunting. Bibs. Alpaca. Another plane. Back to Lima. More Chili’s. Ramada. Security cameras. More Cinemax. Another plane. San Jose. More flying. LAX. Mckenzie. Home.
That was my trip to Peru. Exhausting, but I wouldn’t do a thing differently. If this was difficult to grasp, then I described it perfectly. You really had to be there.