When I woke up that Friday morning last June, I had no idea that I would be engaged to be married by the end of the day.
I sent Matt a text that morning. “Why don’t we go to a nice dinner tonight? Something French, maybe?”
“Sounds good to me,” Matt wrote back. A consummate foodie, he was never one to turn down the idea of going out for a good meal.
In a few weeks we were set to go to London and Paris for a vacation, so I brought up the idea of doing a Paris-themed night out. Matt was on board with that, too.
We went all out at dinner, dressing up in jackets and ordering whatever we liked from the menu. When we finished our meal, Matt had a mischievous smirk on his face.
“Why don’t we head down to Per Se and have drinks before the movie?”
“Per Se?” I asked. “As in the single fanciest restaurant in all of New York?”
The mischievous smirk turned into a full-blown smile. Yes, that one.
I can’t remember what cocktail we ordered at Per Se, but I remember that it was obscenely priced and delicious. Matt had started checking his phone for news updates at that point, knowing that the New York Senate was supposedly going to vote on same-sex marriage equality in the late hours of the day. No news yet, though.
We finished our drinks and made our way to the movie. The theater was packed.
Throughout the movie, Matt kept peeking at his phone, which would have driven me absolutely crazy, but he got a free pass for his excitement, waiting to see if New York would join the handful of states that had decided its gay and lesbian constituents weren’t second-class citizens.
As the movie wound toward its conclusion, Matt nudged me and surreptitiously showed me his iPhone screen.
“NY SENATE: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LEGAL”
I gave him a quick kiss, and we held hands until the movie finished. I felt a flush of excitement. Matt squeezed my hand and I squeezed back.
“Wow, I can’t believe they did it,” I said to Matt as we walked out of the theater, referring to the New York Senate.
“I thought they would,” Matt said. “I’m glad they had the courage to finally get it done.”
We stepped out into the summer evening on the Upper West Side, across the street from the glowing, newly-renovated Lincoln Center. We felt a little wired from our great date night, combined with the news coming out of Albany.
“Should we go for a drink?” I asked.
“Why don’t we go for a walk around Lincoln Center,” Matt suggested.
We stopped at the famed fountain, brightly lit from within, as cascading water rose and fell in artful arcs. We walked toward the Vivian Beaumont Theater, mere steps away, and through a grove of trees that reminded me of previous trips to Paris. It was a fitting ending, I remember thinking to myself, for our Paris-themed evening.
“Let’s sit for a minute,” Matt said.
We soaked in the quiet of the city and the warm-but-not-stuffy evening air.
“So,” Matt said, speaking slowly, “what would you think about us getting married?”
I smiled. “I think that’s where we’re heading, don’t you? It’s exciting that it’s finally legal here in New York.”
Matt tried again. “But what would you think about us getting married. Now.”
I sat up. “Now? Oh! Well.” I collected myself. “Do you think we’re ready? Should we wait, save money and things?”
Matt laughed. “Josh. We’re ready.”
“Wait. We’re not just doing this because New York passed the law tonight, are we?”
He shook his head. “No, we’re not. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now.”
It was my turn to smile. “You have?”
“Okay,” I said. “Pretend like we didn’t have that whole conversation. Ask me again.”
“Will you marry me?”
I felt myself start to get a little teary, but I held it together. I leaned in toward him.
“Yes,” I said.
Out of the jacket pocked of his suit came a little black, velvety box. Adrenaline shot through my chest.
“Oh my god, this really isn’t just because the law passed tonight!” I said. “You’ve been planning this!”
“I’ve had it with me on a few dates now,” Matt said. “I was waiting for the perfect moment, and if this wasn’t it, I don’t know what would be.”
Inside was a Tiffany platinum band with a small, glittering diamond in it—perfect for a guy, and utterly classic. He put it on my finger.
“Oh my god,” I said again, unable to stop saying the phrase. “We just got engaged!”
We headed toward the car and both started calling friends and family to tell them our news. My first call was to my best friend, whose name is also Josh. We’d been best friends since college and had even moved to the city together, years ago.
“No way!” Josh said. “You’re serious? You’re engaged?”
“Yep. And I have the ring to prove it.”
“Okay, you have to come downtown. A ton of people are gathering at Stonewall to celebrate the passage of the marriage law. You guys have to come. I’m walking there right now.”
Soon we were standing in front of the site of the original Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, where the gay rights movement had started in 1969. Just over forty years later, here we were, with a crowd well into the thousands, celebrating as a couple engaged to be married in a state that would now legally recognize our union.
“Alright, you two, smile!” Josh said, pushing Matt and I together and taking a picture of us with his iPhone. We’d been engaged less than an hour, and you could clearly see the delight on our faces.
That’s the photo you see in Matt’s post below, and it became our official engagement photo.
A year later, and more than six months into our marriage, now on our path to becoming dads together, I’m almost speechless thinking about how my life has changed, very much for the better, in twelve short months.
I’m so glad that Matt asked that biggest of questions that night last June.
I’m so glad that I said yes.
I love you, Matt, and I’m so excited to start a family with you.