During these initial months of our being “together” we actually weren’t able to be “together” very much. I was living and working an ocean away from Nook, and even though we were doing everything we could to bring that moment when our lives would join closer, there were still many hurdles to cross.
However, as luck would have it, I was scheduled to attend a conference in Miami -- a location far closer to Nook than where I was living.
I told Nook about this and said I’d fly her down to Miami for the week if she could get the time off of work. I knew she had so little of it available to her, and with working two jobs, it seemed like it would be quite tricky to schedule the time to get away. I also knew that she needed the time away from her home, and her jobs. The transition that her life was going through was intense and space and time away from that location would do her good.
It turned out that it was actually quite easy for Nook to get the time off from both employers.
You see, the week of this conference in Miami was actually about the same time that Nook was originally going to be getting married and likely on her honeymoon. Okay, so this wasn’t quite what she had in mind for that time of year, but, she was able to schedule the time off and I made the necessary arrangements.
At last they meet.
One of the benefits of this plan to spend the time together in Miami is that I was able to arrange things so that Nook could make a stopover in the same city that I’d be arriving in and where I had good friends living.
This was important to me, and to Nook. These friends were so instrumental in my initial trip and my first encounter with Nook that I was very much looking forward to the time when they could all meet up.
Due to the circumstances of how Nook and I became a couple, there were complications with her being able to introduce me to her friends -- not for my lack of willingness I should add! I am extremely lucky to have Nook in my life and I was more than happy to stand up to the scrutiny of her friends. I am sure that at some point we’ll have this opportunity, but in the visits that I had with her, it was deemed Not A Good Idea.
As such, it meant a lot to me that Nook would be able to meet some of my closest friends, and, what’s more, be able to spend a week with them in Miami. It was a chance for her to see some of “my world” as well as the sorts of people I value greatly in my life.
Nook was to arrive about two hours ahead of my flight, which would give her ample opportunity to grab her bag, a coffee, and head over to the international arrivals area. Since this entire week was going to be a bit of a big deal, I joked with Nook: “You’ll be there, right, you won’t not show up? This hasn’t all been some huge wind up?”
Of course she promised to be there, and that it wasn’t a joke.
The Gods of Irony decided to intervene.
Nook’s flight was horribly delayed, and as such, I arrived several hours before she did - in fact, her flight had not even taken off when I had landed, cleared customs and immigration, and was heading towards Starbucks to grab a coffee (gah, jetlag).
I admit that even then, even after all that we had been through to become a couple, there was a tiny part of me that wondered if she really would show up - but of course she did, hours late, but that wasn’t a problem at all. We were together, and we were about to spend a week at a great hotel having lots of fun.
I had arranged for a limo (well, towncar) to take us to my friend’s house from the airport. It was about a 45 minute drive or so, and we needed a bit more comfort than a standard taxi. Once we bundled into the car, and he cranked up the airco, we relaxed.
A short time later Nook was finally able to meet some of the cast of characters who helped make our first few meetings such an amazing experience for me. An amazing feast of a dinner was laid on and several bottles of astounding wine were shared.
It was Nook’s first taste of my world, of my friends, and the way we interact and how we live our lives. I think it was safe to say that it was not what she was used to, but at the same time, something she was immediately comfortable in.
Some of my friends (yes, the aforementioned friends) have a nickname for me. Charlie. As in Charlie Sheen, due to my propensity to, well, glisten, when confronted with humidity. It doesn’t take much, just the slightest hint of it and my forehead reacts. I should probably add that this reference and nickname came from the time before Charlie went off the rails...
For those of you who have been to Miami, you know where this is going.
If you haven’t been to Miami, in mid June, well, you’re not missing much.
It was in the mid 30’s (C) and close to 85-95% humidity, with the odd thunderstorm...which, contrary to conventional wisdom, doesn’t actually cause the weather to break, it just makes it more humid and unbearable.
Humans really shouldn’t live in a place like Miami. Having been there a number of times, I’m not convinced any humans actually do, but that’s another matter.
During the week I had the chance to introduce Nook to many of my friends and professional colleagues. People I’d known for many years and from all around the world. Her head was spinning with names and facts and accents and it was all, without a doubt, a bit overwhelming.
I also took the opportunity to share, in confidence, with these many friends and colleagues, what my intentions were with Nook. On my iPad I had saved the image of the ring from Tiffany, as well as several pictures I took in the shop and at home (where the ring was safely tucked away, I hoped).
In a way, this shared secret, which was initially only known about by some good friends and Nook’s family, was now known by dozens of others, from all over the planet. Huge grins and strong handshakes followed me wherever I went that week. I told many people that it was my intention to propose to Nook in early July, a short two weeks away.
She never noticed the extra winks from friends, the grins and handshakes, and she had, I hoped, no idea of what was to come.
The week was a resounding success. Nook loved meeting my friends and being pampered at the hotel, and I loved having her there and being with someone who meant so much to me.
When Nook returned to work, her boss asked to see her hands. “What?” she asked - as she held her hands out for inspection. “I just wanted to make sure you didn’t come back with any new hardware” was his explanation.
Even though I’ve not (yet) spoken to Nook’s boss, he too knew that it was increasingly likely that at some point Nook would have Sparkly upon her hand, in some form or another.
We laughed about that a fair bit after her trip home. Perhaps for slightly different reasons. Nook thought the eagerness of her friends and colleagues to see positive updates in her personal life was an interesting twist, and I, well, I mostly just smiled inwardly.
In just a few weeks time, unbeknownst to Nook, thing were really going to take an amazing twist...