I had planned on this (the FAQ, not the proposal itself!) for a while, but the two of us had to get some ideas and priorities straight first. This is really a combination of truely frequently asked questions (hi to Daniel, Hilary, Nick, Mike, Bob...) and a sketch of just what our plans actually are.
Keep in mind that most of the future dates are just sketches and ideas; by the end of this year, we'll know a lot more about what is happening when, but with big changes coming this fall for deliriumdreams and this November/December for me (at least on the job / office / living situation front), any scheduling past December is conjecture or wishful thinking. :)
F.A.Q. (no, really!)
Q: How did you two meet?
A: Both of us attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico; deliriumdreams for just a few semesters, myself for far too long (1987-1995, sigh). About 1993, shinankoku introduced us, in the guise of helping provide a place to lodge her dog.
Within a few months, it was clear that we were drawn to each other; looking back at it now, I think that both of us believe it's a good thing that nothing happened. I thought (and still do think!) she was incredibly cute, dangerously intelligent, and had amazing taste in music — so of course I thought I'd have no chance, and wrote her off pretty much immediately. She made a pass at me, that she considered blatant, but since I had the "Tkil Is Ugly" filter in full force at the time, it went right past me without a ripple. Yes, she still teases me about that a bit. :)
She left Las Cruces to move back to Albuquerque, and I eventually made it through my degree and headed for Denver. We kept in touch through e-mail, phone, and mutual acquaintances; I was driving from Denver down to Las Cruces pretty often, and would try to meet up with her for dinner or drinks on the way. She made it up to Denver a few times (once for a Legendary Pink Dots show, which was the first time I met the lovely jettdelirium; the other time we both recall was when she was picking up one of her rescue hounds.) In the course of the travels and since then, she's even met two of my exes, K and T; although I was seeing K at the time, so I'm not sure exactly how to phrase that. They were all animal lovers and genuinely nice people, and making fun of me provided an easy starting point to the conversation... :)
deliirumdreams had a run of bad luck with guys a few years back; jettdelirium told her that she wasn't allowed to see any more boys for a long while. When we started spending more time together last year [but see the next answer], her comment was that I was "grandfathered in", and that she'd approved of me back at the LPD show where I first met her. Awww!
Q: How long have you two been dating?
A: We don't have an entirely satisfactory answer for this, but we agree that we started dating somewhere between May and July 2004. She came out on a business trip that May, and we had a great time hanging out in the evenings. She spent Friday night at my place and met with some of my friends at a gaming day that Saturday. Then she and her [fabulous!] daughter K came out for the July 4th weekend, and while the little one did her best to exhaust us by the end of the day, we were definitely rather more than "just friends" at that point.
(And even if nothing had happened that weekend, she accurately points out that she'd not go travelling with her daughter to see anyone she didn't already have pretty high regard for. Erf.)
Q: You used to be against having kids. Did anything change? If so, what/when/why?
A: There are two different aspects to my anti-children sentiment: political/environmental, and personal. I don't believe the environment can really support too many more people, and I don't like where the world is headed... and I don't see that changing anytime soon, sadly.
Personally, having children was never a goal of mine. I never felt that I had all that much to offer, either nature or nurture. In our situation, the nature part is taken care of — deliriumdreams doesn't want any more kids! — and now that I've had a chance to be around her kids a fair bit, I guess I feel that I'll do ok. (And when I talked to her and others about my concerns, they've responded that the fact that I am worried about it is at least as important as the eventual resolution, if not more so.)
Having said all that, I think I find the commitment to the kids more daunting than committing to deliriumdreams. The other side of that fear, though, was the realization that I wouldn't be happy with myself if I abandoned them in any way — and that was no small part of my decision.
Q: You used to be against getting married. What changed? When? Why?
A: Again, I had both political and personal reservations. I don't like the idea that a piece of paper from the gov't somehow changes things between two people... but now that I'm trying to support her and the kids, we found that it changed things (mostly finances — taxes, benefits) if we'd do it. She knows that I'd do the same without the piece of paper, but that little paper makes it a lot easier and cheaper for us to do so. (Until the therapy bills start piling up, I presume. :)
My personal reasons were always directed inwards, and never at my partner. (I really should say "hypothetical partner", as there was only one girlfriend before deliriumdreams that came close to the marriage stage — and that one did want kids of her own. See previous point...)
Mostly I worried whether I'd be able to be a good husband: provide physical affection, emotional support, and intellectual challenge. Whether I could be unselfish enough, unguarded enough. And I worried about the loss of freedom — to move where I pleased, quit jobs if they annoyed me, and to flirt shamelessly.
And again, my experience with deliriumdreams over the last year and more have let me prove to myself that I can provide those things to her, and that she's ok with the things that I can't provide (or am not yet willing to fix). She's an amazing example herself of being committed to kids while still going out, seeing shows, etc. Travel will likely be a bit challenging with all five of us, but we're both very interested in keeping that going.
Q: Did you think about it for a long time?
A: Well, I've known for months that we'd be together for a long time. Some of that is probably due to the long distance relationship: that always makes things a bit slower, and the time spent together is mostly "on vacation" and less full of day-to-day trivia and frustrations.
There was more than just that, though. We're surprisingly comfortable around each other, probably a combination of simply getting older, having known each other off and on for over a decade, fitting into each others' friends, having very similar tastes in music and booze, and being surprisingly compatible when it came to physical affection.
I didn't actually ponder the proposal all that long — it probably went from concept to asking in only a month or so. Between feeling that it would last for a long time, and dealing with some financials, the "piece of paper from the government" presented itself as a solution.
Q: How did you propose?
A: Well, here's where it gets extra corny. :) Her flying out for that weekend was a bit of a last-minute decision; we really wanted to see each other again, and this was the last weekend she wouldn't have the boys before school starts.
Because I hadn't been thinking about the proposal for a long time, I didn't have a ring (nor anyone to ask the ring size of, for that matter ... although I imagine that jettdelirium would have been happy to help me out on that score. Hm.)
I also didn't have a special romantic spot picked out. Some of this was also due to the haste, and some of is just that I'm really not that romantic a guy. (Well, maybe in some ways, but not in the "plan out big romantic advenure" way.) We'd made plans to go to the San Diego Renaissance Faire on Saturday, and since we'd at least be dressed up, I thought that'd make an interesting backdrop for the proposition.
The actual question itself was a bit long and convoluted. I really was prepared to hear anything from "no" (I know she'd had a bad marriage before), to "yes, we'll get the paper for legal reasons". And just because I'm still stupidly guarded that way, I really was expecting something between the two, and wanted to make sure that I communicated that willingness to her. I wanted to be very sure that she didn't feel pressured to answer one way or another, or even give me an answer then and there.
Poor deliriumdreams! I started off talking about what a wonderful friend she's been to me all these years, and how fabulous the last year has been. Unbeknownst to me, she came out that weekend fearing that I'd be breaking up with her — I'd been a bit less communicative than usual, and really tired from lots of visitors and work getting crazy — so she thought I was launching into a "let's just be friends" speech!
She was "a bit" surprised when I actually asked if she wanted to marry me. :) Almost as surprised as I was when she was so emphatically positive about it, as soon as she recovered from the shock.
Since I didn't have a ring, and we were at a Ren Faire, and since she'd been admiring some of the collars earlier... Yes, she has an engagement collar. ("Some people laugh, the rest need an explanation.")
Q: Are you getting her a ring?
A: We will definitely be getting wedding bands. An engagement ring is more up in the air; there are a few patterns she likes, but we haven't had the chance to sit down and look through them.
Future Plans - near term
Legal Ceremony / California Celebration
Currently we're thinking about doing a small civil ceremony here in San Diego this November, probably the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day — so Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005. deliriumdreams's best friend jettdelirium will be in town visiting, and my brother Joe will have moved to L.A. by then, so they can be our witnesses. We'll probably also have a small(er) party out here that Friday or Saturday, for our friends who can more easily make a SoCal event than going out to New Mexico or Colorado. (It'll be open to anyone, but I worry that it'd be difficult and/or expensive to fly and find lodging during that weekend — and my place will be full up.)
Big Shindig / Gathering of the Tribe
The main ceremony will be in 2006 or 2007; deliriumdreams would like it early next year, but I don't want her dealing with that at the same time she's finishing up the school semester. I'd push for Fall 2006, or even late Spring 2007. Inspired in no small part by K&A's wedding in Cloudcroft, N.M., and J&S's wedding up above Denver, we're thinking about finding a place up in the mountains where we can rent a bunch of cabins for a few days and just have a huge party. One day would have the more formal events so that the relatives can have a single event to schedule — but the more people who can come up and share that time with us, the better.
My job situation won't change much through at least November, and stay stable through early next year. Some pretty big changes are coming in November and December, though: they're moving the office, and it's likely that lots of the other people left from before our aquisition will leave then. My current project will hopefully finish next summer, and then I'll see what else is available inside the new company. On the plus side, they're pretty flexible about people working remotely and/or part time — which might work out really well for us.
deliriumdreams won't be able to finish her degree much before May 2008. Until then, I expect we'll be in Albuquerque; we're discussing whether to move houses (so that I can avoid some of the allergy situation), but a few years should be doable. At that point, we'll probably look harder at moving elsewhere, but that's still up in the air.
I'm not sure how I'll relate to the kids once I move in permanently; I worry that most of our interactions have been "on vacation", which is a very different mode from getting them to school every morning. deliriumdreams thinks that I've done fine, though, so I'll just trust her on that. (She also mentioned that it'd be ok if I stayed "fun uncle tkil", because even just getting them out of the house for a few hours would give her a much-needed break!)
On their last trip out here, the middle boy started calling me "Daddy". Eeek.
And little K would be delighted if I formally adopt her. I'm incredibly honored and happy about that, and just hope that I can live up to it.
I can't remember having long-term goals for myself in years. This marriage rearrangese my life and priorities, but I still don't really have a plan for myself. I'd like to maybe go back to school and get an advanced degree, and if I end up teaching, I'd be pretty happy with that.
I wouldn't mind moving out of Albuquerque eventually, but if the kids find strong groups of friends there, I'm loathe to break that up. If they don't, though, I have very fond memories of living in places (New Jersey and Colorado) that have actual seasons, and those made my childhood memories, especially of holidays, poignant and memorable. Not that New Mexico is totally lacking in that charm, but feeling the seasons turn with leaves dropping, then snow in the winter, then budding in the spring...
As I said at the top of this message, everything past the end of this year is up in the air, and I'll probably look back at this message in a year's time and laugh my head off.
Finally, I just wanted to say thank you:
- to all my friends for putting up with me for this long, and beating me into sufficiently good shape that she said "yes".
- especially to my exgirlfriends, who put up with more than was reasonable, and taught me the (often painful) lessons of when to be strong and when admit weakness. I owe you all, and I'm so glad that most of you have stayed friends with (and that some of you even know and approve of) deliriumdreams.
- to all deliriumdreams's friends for accepting me and not killing me just for looking at her twice. Or a hundred times. Or leering a bit. Um, ok, more than a bit.
- to shinankoku for introducing us, and for not being too insistent about us getting married. :) And for being a big huge softie when we told him we were engaged. :)
Anyway... if you have any more questions, suggestions, taunts, please comment below.
A last few links:
- My post announcing our engagement
deliriumdreams's reaction to it
(locked post). Summary: "The 'marry me' marry me?"
- ramona wrote a lovely tribute to our engagement. Cute fluffy kissing owls! AWWWW!