And Jason pulled it off in classic Jason style: go big or go home! We’d talked about marriage and getting engaged often enough that I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it to happen at SOME point, but with a long, romantic weekend away in Rome coming up, I was sure if it was going to happen it would probably happen there. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? That coupled with Jason’s general dislike for very public celebrations (e.g. being sung to for his birthday in a restaurant), I actually figured it’d happen in a pretty private setting. Needless to say, I was completely oblivious right up until the last minute when in the heart of London near the Eros fountain in Piccadilly Circus, surrounded by many of our local friends (and those who couldn’t make it were there in spirit!), I came out of a souvenir shop with my friend Katharine to a row of people holding signs with individual letters spelling, “Will You Marry Me”.
I wish someone could have been secretly filming the lead up to this, because it was just hilariously and amazingly orchestrated. But…let me back up and start with the early details. I discovered at lunch that there were huge sales going on in all of my favorite stores in downtown London. After getting back to the office, I let my friend, colleague, and shopping buddy know about the sales, who, excited, asked if I’d like to go with her after work. Jason had texted me to see if I would meet him at a nearby pub where Katharine’s boyfriend is manager for dinner around 7:30 so we had quite a bit of time to kill, and holes to burn in our wallets, before we met up with the boys.
As shopping with Katharine tends to snowball, we were running quite late by the time we got back to the office to pick up all of our stuff. Evidently behind the scenes Jason was pacing like mad and his boss, Tom, who played lookout was saying things like, “Where are they? We said 7:30 right? Did I miss them; I mean I know they’re small?!” So, Katharine phoned Phil to let him know we were on our way (still I wasn’t suspecting anything), and we headed out.
After crossing the street, we bumped into a couple that we work with who Jason and I are friends with (Rajko and Dimitra). This wasn’t really that out of the ordinary, and we stopped and chatted really quickly. I was conscious of how late we were though so I was keeping the conversation rather short and apologizing that we couldn’t chat longer. They were on their way to dinner for Rajko’s birthday in any case, so we parted in short order.
Almost immediately following meeting them, Kelvin, one of Jason’s basketball teammates, and his girlfriend who had recently moved to London from Hong Kong, came out of the tube station we were next to. I was shocked to see him so randomly (or so I thought!) and gave them both a hug, introduced Katharine, chatted hurriedly, and headed off again.
On the move again, we crossed the street toward the Eros fountain heading in the direction of Waxy’s when we were brought up short by Phil walking with Jason Roberts, a friend and colleague of ours. I didn’t really think this was odd, since Katharine had mentioned earlier that Phil and she were planning to meet up with some friends and go to Waxy’s too so we would all just have dinner together. I assumed Phil and Jason R. were on their way to pick up said friends. We chatted briefly, and they promised to meet us at the restaurant…and off we went (again!).
Still at this point I’m not really thinking anything much about it. It was evening, right after work, and most of the people we’d run into so far were people we worked with…until we then “bumped” into a friend couple of Jason and mine. Will and Nicolette were dressed quite sharply, so I assumed they were out on a date. After exclamations of “What a coincidence!” and hugs all around, they told us they were heading to see Jersey Boys (a play that is on in the area). Katharine chimed in, “Oh I’ve seen it! You’ll love it!” And with promises of meeting up for dinner soon, we parted ways while I commented to Katharine, “So weird, everyone I know seems to be in Piccadilly tonight!” And proceeded to blithely explain the relationship between Will and Nicolette and Jason and I.
As I chattered along, Katharine pulled me into a large souvenir shop as we passed. She to be quick (since we were still running late) but said that she wanted to look at a Guinness jersey for Phil that he’d been eyeing. We wandered around the shop a bit, but ultimately weren’t in there more than 5 minutes or so when we hustled out…
My first thought was, “We just saw them!” as my eyes hit Will and Nicolette first. Then rather slowly my brain clicked and I realized a bunch of people I knew were standing lined up in front of the shop. One by one they raised their signs with a large letter printed on it…about half way through I realized finally what was going on and started looking for Jason. Hehe. Well I suppose the video can tell the rest.
Though I had initially thought Jason would propose more privately, I couldn’t imagine a better way for him to have done it. There was absolutely nothing better than being surrounded by our friends as we celebrated. The only thing that could have made it better I think would be if everyone we loved and knew could have been there.
As it turns out, Jason had planned this initially for last Friday. Because I was sick and the weather was, as it usually is in London, awful, he postponed. Then apparently yesterday morning sent round an e-mail to everyone and said “It’s today!” A lot of people who were going to be there on Friday, couldn’t make it the new day unfortunately, but it’s the thought that counts and really I think they were all there in spirit.
After lots of hugs and happy words with everyone, a few people peeled off to head on to other engagements (haha!) but a group stayed and came to celebrate with us over drinks and appetizer platters at Waxy O’Conner’s.