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Well, that was a surprise: Part 2, the ring
How I met Frank, how he proposed and what we're up to next.
Not finally as in, “Frank, why did it take you so long to ask me to marry you?”
But finally as in, “Frank, I’ve been waiting a long time for you.”
Everybody says their partner is exceptional, but Frank is really something else. When we first met — three years ago on May 11, no less, that special of specialist days — I knew he was different than the other people I had dated or interacted with during my five years of dating up to that point.
“Have you ever had a squash blossom pizza?” was the first question I remember him asking. He didn’t know I was a food writer at the time; he was just an enthusiastic cook and conversationalist.
Frank had an energy to him, a curiosity, a kindness. I wanted to know more.
We were at an art opening for our mutual friend, Alberto Martinez, who had photographed a book about Barton Springs written by Ed Crowell, my first editor at the Statesman.
(Alberto, who is now retired, had been a photographer at the Statesman. He was the person who first mentioned to me that I should apply for the food writing job all those years ago. A few years after that, I put in a photo assignment that led Alberto to meet his now wife, Edie, who hosted the dinner where I asked Frank if he wanted to get a coffee. Alberto and I have changed each other’s lives multiple times. It’s strange and divine.)
The following night, I knew Alberto and Edie were hosting their weekly “family dinner.” I managed to snag an invite, so 24 hours later, Frank and I were sitting across from a table, trying to play it cool about how excited we were to be in conversation again.
A few days later, we had a happy hour at the Four Seasons before seeing Ai Weiwei’s nearby “Forever Bicycles” one more time before it closed, sharing things we learned about partnership during our collective 25 years of marriage and 12 years of singlehood. Splitting a bowl of chips and salsa, sharing stories from our past, and hoping for the best.
He ended up being the best.
By the end of the week, we were trekking on Bull Creek and slinging pizzas at a retirement party he was hosting for his department chair.
That first week with Frank felt so magical, and I know it’s cheesy, but those sparks haven’t faded. I still think he’s fascinating. And charming. And the most handsome man I’ve ever met.
During our trip to Costa Rica to celebrate his birthday last June, I finally gathered the gumption to tell him that I wanted to get married. To him.
We are both long ago divorced, and I think we’d had an assumption that we would just carry on with our partnership without making anything official, but as the years ticked by (and the pandemic shaped us in ways we’ll never fully understand), I realized that I did want to have another shot at being partnered in a more ritualistic way.
I also knew it would take some time to go from talking about getting married to actually being engaged, but I didn’t know exactly what that transition might look like.
As the winter months ticked by (and the 14 miles between our houses felt longer each trip), we started talking about combining our households. He lives in North Austin. We live in South Austin. Driving back and forth and keeping up two houses’ worth of chores is exhausting. Julian and Avery adore Frank and would protest moving anywhere else except a place like Frank’s.
We set a target move date of June so the boys could finish the school year. I hadn’t forgotten about wanting to get married, but the move was starting to take up more of my headspace.
But a couple of weeks ago, after we went out to eat at the lovely downtown restaurant, Hestia, to celebrate our anniversary, Frank walked me to the sidewalk along Shoal Creek.
“It’s not Bull Creek, but it’ll do,” he said.
The ring was one I’d picked out late last year, but it was still a surprise to see it on my finger. “Of course, I’ll marry you.”
Frank, you see, is the surprise. He’s the twist in the second act that changes the direction of the entire plot. I hadn’t imagined being with someone who had a house that was more established than mine. I thought the kids and I would live on our little cul-de-sac until Julian graduated.
But then Frank shows up with his mini homestead. He raises bees, makes soap, and tans hides and pelts. The chickens are thriving in their coop. And so is the garden (kinda). It’s where we buried Shiva. The boys will thrive there, too.
I would have been happy with someone who cooked, and here I get this whole human with his whole heart who knows enough about love to know that it starts with letting go and doing your own thing. He lives his life; I live mine, and we share as much of it as we’re able while loving without the enmeshment and control.
We go out on a lot of dates.
With that generous heart of his, Frank made homemade pizza for me to take to a potluck on the final day of my herb school for the semester last weekend. It was nice to wear a wedding ring and brag on his cooking and feel those same butterflies that fluttered the first time he held my hand.
The gratitude I feel for Frank holds a special kind of sweetness in my heart. I’m so grateful to him for opening his heart to me and my kids, and to y’all for letting me share a little bit of this joy with you. I tell our story because if we can find love where we least expect it, maybe other people can too.
So, that’s the big news! As we think about what kind of wedding celebration we want to have, I’m so glad to have attended Chris and Haylie’s union last week to remind me of the power of community rituals. That’s the subject of my next newsletter in this mini-series on letting life surprise you.
Thank you for reading!
In case you missed it:
Coming Thursday: Well, that was a surprise: Part 3, the ritual