lucky in love

I was surprised when M planned a rather impromptu trip to Chicago over Memorial Day Weekend and even more surprised with what happened next.

We (my friend, Oren, M and I) drove up early Sunday morning for an architectural tour, which I've always wanted to do. Even though the day was cold and misty and rainy, the tour was great. We saw the Robie House which Frank Lloyd Wright designed, some buildings on IIT's campus designed by Mies van der Rohe as well as buildings around downtown Chicago like the Rookery. After the tour, it was raining pretty hard and I was starving so we got some dip dish at Pizano's before heading to the hotel for naps.

The plan for dinner had been to go to Top Chef Winner, Stephanie Izard's restaurant The Girl and The Goat but M told me we couldn't get reservations so we opted for a restaurant in the area just in case there was a cancellation. What I didn't know at the time, was that M had reservations and had been planning this for some time. So, she went inside to check us in; I thought she was seeing if we could get a table and when she said we could get a table if we waited about 30 minutes, I was really excited. I just thought it was good luck.

The food was amazing, beyond amazing. It's food you dream about eating, seriously. I didn't think it could get any better or that I could find room for dessert but Michelle insisted. And of course, I HAD to try it; it wouldn't be a complete meal without dessert! M told the waitress that we would have whatever dessert the chef recommended, which I thought was kinda odd. When the chocolate cake and sorbet came out, however, Marry Me? was written in chocolate.

I was surprised and happy, amazed at the thoughtful planning, the romance and love of the proposal. After I got over the shock and said yes, people in the restaurant kept congratulating us, which I was so incredibly moved by. I was surprised that the proposal was so public; M doesn't like PDA of any kind, so the whole thing was kind of out of character, making it even more special for me. Like most of what goes on in our life, we posted the news on Facebook and were met with such an outpouring of love and squeals and congratulations; our phones were going off all night. I've never felt more happy or loved.

Once the initial giddyness wore off, I started making a guest list, trying to figure out venues, possible dates, etc. As I mentioned before, I never really dreamed about having a wedding and even though M and I talked about getting married, having a commitment ceremony especially since civil unions became legal in Illinois, I had no idea how I would feel about a wedding once the possibility became real or how important and significant it would feel.

Michelle is my soulmate. She makes me laugh. She loves me deeply to the core of who I am, all my neuroses and eccentricities and all the ways I make her crazy. She's great in a crisis. While I'm freaking out, she's in survival mode, working out a plan, gathering supplies. She is one of the kindest people I know, generous to a fault with her time, her resources and her heart. She isn't afraid to look silly or try new things and she pushes me to let loose more, to relinquish the control I think I have. Her faith in people and in the world seems unshakable. Though, like everyone, she gets disappointed, she has a confidence that things will right themselves. She is my greatest champion and her belief in me, the belief that I can be great, that I can thrive, that I can accomplish my heart's desires has been the key to my survival this year and in the past. Michelle pushes and challenges me to do better, to become the best version of myself that I can imagine. No one I've ever known has loved me the way she does. No one understands or balances me or makes sense of me the way she can. She's my best friend and the first person I want to tell when something great or devastating happens. My life, my heart, my sense of the world is better because I am part of Michelle's life and she is part of mine. And while it may seem odd or unnecessary that after 7 years together we're going to have a ceremony to pledge our continued faith and love to one another, I am overwhelmed by what it means to me to wear a ring, to have an outward symbol, to tell everyone important to our lives that we are committed to a life together.

A big production was made of my brother's wedding and it was beautiful and special and about two families coming together, all the things a wedding should be. I have come to terms with the fact that my union may be less celebrated. But my oldest friend, Maria called me and said the most amazing and lovely things about how proud she was of me for putting my heart on the line, for loving Michelle so fiercely. It was the kind of congratulations call you hope for and it has meant the world to me that she delivered it. We have been friends a long time and we've been through a lot together. I remember how hard it was for me to tell her I was gay; I was afraid of judgment and fear and that she would see me differently. And I think she did see me differently but not in a bad way; she saw me as brave and more complete, a better version of myself. When she called a few days ago, she told me that when she first met Michelle, she was afraid I was going to get my heart broken because Michelle was young and cute and funny and I was... well, me. But after spending time with us, Maria was the one who encouraged me to follow my heart and she's been present as our relationship has evolved. One of my favorite things she said was, "You need Michelle. I love you and I think you're wonderful but she makes you better. You need her."

And Maria is right, I need Michelle. We need each other. We make sense. We make each other happy. Every day, I know how lucky I am to love Michelle and be loved by her in return.