I was in Columbus headed back to Crestline on March 02, 2008, and decided to stop at Panera Bread, just off I-71. The one on Polaris Parkway. As I stood in line, waiting for my order, I noticed someone standing in the line next to me. A couple minutes passed when I decided to try to talk to this lovely, young woman. Lucky for me she was holding a book, giving me something to use as a conversation starter!
Long story short, we ended up talking for a couple hours and exchanged phone numbers! I can remember getting dirty looks from the people trying to close down the restaurant, we stayed well past closing.
For the past couple years Laura would ask to stop at Panera Bread and I'd always say no. I'm really not sure why. I now think it was my subconscious telling me don't. I guess it wanted to me "pop the question" in the seat we first sat in so many months ago.
Laura wasn't due home until around 4:30pm and I didn't work that day, so I had some time to kill. I got a call from Laura around 4:00 and pleaded with her to let us go out to eat. After a few minutes of pleading and complaining I got my way and convinced her that we should go out to eat somewhere near Polaris! (do you get where this is headed?)
As soon as Laura got home, I rushed us out the door. On the 12 minute drive to Polaris, I kept asking where she wanted to eat. And the answer was always, "I don't know!". So I thought, "no biggie". As soon as we get in sight of Panera Bread she'd ask to eat there, right?! Unlike a Vegas Craps game, the odds were in my favor.
Unfortunately, I wasn't so lucky. In the time we had been together, we had probably driven by Panera Bread 100 times, and Laura had mentioned going to eat there at least 99 of those times. But wouldn't you know that on that particularly rainy night, the mention of Panera Bread as a choice for dinner hadn't made conversation.
We were literally right in front of the store when I finally said, "How about Panera Bread?". To my delight, she agreed.
Phase 1 complete...Get Laura to Panera Bread without raising any suspicion.
Phase 2... Somehow get us to the seat we drank coffee at when we first met.
As we walked into the restaurant I noticed that our table was empty. So we ordered, waited for our food, and then poured our drinks. Oh no! What do I see?! Two people sitting at "our table"! Rats! By the time we started to walk into the dining room, another couple had taken our spot!
Have no fear. Take a couple deep breaths and count to 10!
We found another booth and took our time eating. That had to be the slowest I had ever eaten a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich. I noticed the couple in our table was getting up, so I asked Laura if she wanted to go over and sit in "our table", as I had no desire to ask for her hand in marriage in a table other than the one we first sat in. She said, "really?". And I responded, "Yea, why not?". So we stacked our trays and headed over to our seat. Laura decided to order a cookie, which gave me the perfect opportunity to get the ring out of my camera bag and into my jacket pocket. When she came back to the table, we nibbled on the cookie and chatted.
Phase 3...Ask Laura to marry me!
About half way through the dessert, I asked Laura how long ago it was that we had met? She counted the months in her head and responded, "2 years and 8 months". And I said, "Well, it's been the best 2 years and 8 months of my life". As I was starting to get down on one knee, I said, "Laura, I have something I want to ask you". Before I could say another word, she gave me - what I call the evil eye - and said, "Are you serious?". But before she was able to finish her sentence, she noticed the box in my hand. Her evil grimace turned to joy.
Before she could say anything else, I asked if she would marry me! I think she said yes. Although it was more of a muffled whimper than a distinct yes. She couldn't quite speak. All she could do was sigh and wipe tears away.
After she accepted the ring, we sat and talked for a few minutes and then called her mother, Ruth , to tell her the great news!
And the rest is history! You've obviously been invited to celebrate this joyous day with us and we can't wait to see everyone!
See you at the Ceremony! Remember to save November 12th, 2011, for our wedding!
James & Laura