I can still remember what I felt when he told me that he was moving back to Minnesota. It was March 13, 2007, and I was feeling kind of melancholy that day. It was my brother’s birthday and I was missing him and missing Michael, and as we walked from the parking deck in Atlantic Station to the restaurant, I remember saying to Aaron, “You don’t want to date me. I’m moody and I’m mean.”
We got a table outside at the Mexican place (something you can do in Atlanta in March), and ordered our food. I asked him how his day was and he said, “Well … I quit my job today.”
He preceded to tell me that he’d accepted a job with a small firm in Minneapolis and he was starting April 9.
Neither of us ate much after that.
My immediate, first response was, “Well this has been fun.”
But then we started talking. “I don’t know what’s going to happen between us,” he said. “But I’d like to find out.” He told me that he’d negotiated for a travel stipend that amounted to about 10 round-trip tickets and that he wanted to continue dating me.
“We don’t have to decide over this guacamole,” he said. Which has become a family motto. We don’t have to decide everything right now over this guacamole.
So we finished dinner and went to see 300. Before the movie began, I ducked into the bathroom. It was empty, so I stood there looking at my reflection and I started to cry. I was wearing a red Banana Republic cardigan, and I was crying in a movie theater bathroom, because I knew I was going to follow him.
I knew nothing would ever be the same, and I would be leaving the city that felt like home.
Over the next month we saw each other as much as possible, and on the Monday after Easter that year, he got in his car with Julie and Eller and drove to Minnesota.
He came back to Atlanta about two weeks later, and I took my first trip to see him over Memorial Day weekend.
It was jam-packed, because “everybody” wanted to see me. He put me up in the Marriott downtown, going so far as to arrange for a minifridge in the hotel so I would have snacks and water. (He learned quickly that I get grumpy when I am hungry.) There were flowers and gifts waiting for me as well.
We went to the Sculpture Gardens, still one of my most favorite places in the Cities.
We spent the day at Mall of America and had dinner with his friends. We went to a church we thought we might like to attend (that we didn’t end up attending), and his dad hosted a BBQ, where I met 12 other Prices.
Sitting in Howie and Sherry’s front yard that day under their trees, listening to stories and laughter and chasing his cousins’ kids around, they felt like family.
I flew home that weekend pretty certain that this was it.
Aaron came back to Atlanta quite often, about every other weekend. He came to town for my birthday and took me out to dinner at Canoe. I was pretty sure I was going to be getting a ring that night. Everyone at the restaurant greeted me by name and wished me a happy birthday, from the hostess to our waitress. He’d given me a dress from Banana that I’d commented on a few weeks earlier, and it was just the best night. Even though he asked me to go on a walk down by the river, there was no proposal that night. (But it was a wonderful way to turn 31.)
It was convenient that his loft hadn’t sold yet, so that meant he was able to throw me a birthday party/4th of July party on the roof deck so we could all watch the fireworks:
We were in love, and we talked marriage. One late night he told me, “We’re going to get married.” And all I could say in response was, “I know.” Because I did know. This was it.
We crammed in the rest of the meeting-of-the-parents that July. He went to Ohio with me the first weekend of for Colleen’s bridal shower, where he got to meet pretty much my entire maternal family. (Even getting grilled by my brother, which was super fun for him. Ahem.)
And then the next weekend he and my dad both came to Atlanta, and then the next I went up to his mom’s on the lake, where I also met his grandparents and all his uncles. (And learned how to play Texas Hold ‘Em.)
I knew a proposal was coming—we’d started looking at wedding venues after all—but I didn’t know exactly when.
So I was expecting it, but I wasn’t expecting it after a day rafting down a river in Tennessee.