Warning: The following consists mainly of the story of when my *new* fiance and I met. If you don’t like that sort of thing, you can skip this and read the blog next week.
A day I used to think would never come came over the Christmas break. Cory, my boyfriend of a year and a half, proposed to me. Well, technically, he didn’t ask and, technically, I didn’t respond, but he gave me a ring and I slipped it on. That, for us, is more affirmative than a question and answer session.
I’m getting married. MARRIED. I’m going to be a wife. A few words and exclamation marks on a screen can’t capture the excitement, happiness and cocktail of other feelings I have right now.
A proposal has been one of those moments I’ve pictured in my mind since I was old enough to wonder why no one ever asked me out. Would I cry? Would I jump up and down? Would it be outside amid twinkling lights? Would the ring be in my dessert at a fancy restaurant? This is not to say I had a preference for how the moment should play out, I just wondered how it would happen. More than that, I wondered when it would happen. With several friends already married off and guy after guy leaving me at best disappointed or at worst devastated, I had finally decided that I would end up married at about 42 years old to a divorced father.
So I gave up. I wanted companionship (read “some dude(s) I could go on dates with now and then”) and nothing more. Not even kissing. In fact, I already had two interested parties in my dating queue when I met Cory. For a reason I don’t quite understand (other than perhaps that it was meant to be), I remember the date: June 30, 2014.
Mutual of Omaha had parked a trailer/mobile studio at the National Corvette Museum and was accepting auditions for their annual Aha Moment commercials, which their hired film crew travels across the country every year to do. A reporter at the time, I received the assignment to cover the auditions. While I waited in the sweltering heat in a red dress and aviators, my friend Telia from the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau showed up, saying she was waiting for “the Map Dot guy” to arrive and do his audition.
Within moments, a flash of a bright red Mitsubishi whizzed through the parking lot and whipped into a space like a Hollywood stunt car.
“There’s Cory,” Telia said with a smirk.
A guy in blue jeans, worn out work boots and a green T-shirt with Map Dot Kentucky emblazoned across the chest swaggered over to the tent the rest of us sat under by the trailer. I can’t recall most of our conversation while he waited for his turn, but I remember I subtly competed with a girl on the film crew for his attention. He was cute, and I wanted to add him to my running list of dudes to date. When he wrote his phone number on the back of his business card and gave it to the other girl, I chalked it up to a loss, but not a big deal.
After I finished interviewing another auditionee, Telia asked me if I wanted to talk to the Map Dot guy. I’d already sweated on the shaded asphalt for almost two hours. What was a few more minutes?
I pulled him aside, asked him to spell his name. C-O-R-Y, no E. He interrupted me before I could pose my first question. “Take off them sunglasses so I can see your eyes.” Not a request. I removed the aviators and matched the intensity of his stare, hoping I was – what? Intimidating? Mysterious? Confident? Even now, I’m not sure what I hoped to accomplish. Maybe I just wanted to leave my memory sizzling in his mind after he left.
“You have the greenest eyes I have ever seen,” he drawled. He had a great voice. Overall, he was a delightful cross between a Golden Age of Television cowboy and Billy Bob Thornton.
We sat down and he gave me the Reader’s Digest version of Map Dot, a movement he’d started on social media to draw attention to the overlooked towns, back roads and landmarks of Kentucky via photos he took during his travels. He called himself and his crew – which included Telia – “these renegade swashbuckling heroes” to the small towns. If that’s not a quote to make a reporter’s heart buzz, I don’t know what is.
I went back to the office, wrote the story and received a minor chastising from my editor for including Cory Ramsey in my story since, unbeknownst to me, she’d written a feature on him less than a year earlier. He stayed in the story, and so did his quote.
The story ran July 2. Telia texted me almost immediately after the paper went out. Cory hadn’t stopped talking about the story and about the quote. He loved it, to which I said, “Well, I guess he should. He said it.”
July 3 was a half day for the paper, and as soon as I got home and logged onto Facebook, I had a message and a friend request from Mr. Map Dot himself. We chatted briefly while he stopped at a place called Rooster Run, Ky., on his day off work from a plant in town. Sunday evening, I messaged him, not sure if I should be casual, flirtatious or professional. I settled for, “So how was Rooster Run?”
“Meet me at Mariah’s for lunch on Wednesday and I’ll tell you,” was his response.
He was take-charge, he was odd in an intriguing way, he seemed fun. I shook his hand after our meal, uncertain what the status of the lunch was. Was it a date? Our second meeting left no question. It was a date.
“You realize this means I can never write a story about you again, right?” I asked. “Bias and journalistic integrity and all.”
“Ah, it’ll be awright. I’ll get somebody else to do it,” he said.
We didn’t want to date for long. We didn’t want a relationship. He never wanted to be married. I didn’t plan to be married for a long time, and certainly not to him.
This is the start of a year and a half of planning and preparing, but I’m not worried. Maybe I’m too naive or stupid to be worried. All I know is, the second I opened that ring box and saw what was inside, I wasn’t nervous. There were no tears. There was no jumping up and down. No twinkling lights or ring covered in chocolate crumbs. Only peace. Peace in knowing that this is it. This is right. This is who I’ve been waiting for.
I had decided to give up, but I truly believe that God hadn’t given up on me. He sent me someone better than I could have envisioned in my blurry imaginings of a future husband. He sent me a renegade swashbuckling hero.