Brenda and James
How We Met
James and I first met several years ago at the University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus. He was in the school of medicine and I was in the school of pharmacy. We were required to meet once a week with an assigned interprofessional group to learn about how to work with fellow health professionals. During the first group meeting, James, being the jokester that he was, broke the silence with his idea of an icebreaker: singing Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” at a very loud volume. I was not sure if I thought he was obnoxious or funny. I just knew he was special.
In our pharmacy class, they taught us appropriate ways pharmacists should deliver and request information from physicians without overstepping boundaries or offending the prescribers. James, of course, found this hilarious, as his program never once mentioned how they should interact with other health professionals. He used this to tease me from that day forward. “Do you know who you are talking to?! I am the DOCTOR.” He would also constantly volunteer me to answer the professors’ questions without my having actually known the answers. He would do this until the day these required group meetings ended when we realized that we did not want our interactions to end. So we continued our conversations online where we laughed and learned more about one another.
Laughter sparked into love. I found myself admiring James for much more than his sense of humor. He was an upstanding man who was intelligent, confident and hardworking. He made me feel like a princess, a feeling I often rejected because I thought the word was the antonym of a strong, ambitious, self-reliant woman. But he made me recognize those things in myself too. He treated me with respect and kindness (despite not being formally educated in school on how to interact with pharmacists). He valued my ideas and conversed with me in a way that boosted my self-esteem. He praised my accomplishments and supported me in all my endeavors while also working extremely hard on his. If we ever argued about anything, he would act upon logic and love and never egoism. He took full responsibility for the way I felt, even if he did not need to and he embodied so many qualities that I, myself, wanted to embody. He is what I have always wished for love to be.
How He Asked
A few days prior to the proposal, two of James’s co-residents from his emergency medicine residency program invited me to go to a girls’ night/dinner at the Korean restaurant across the street from my apartment. I was very excited because I have not had a lot of opportunities to make new friends since moving to Syracuse from Denver. They told me to dress up so we could celebrate the fact that we had all recently passed some exams. I spent the day cleaning the apartment, making a tiramisu, and preparing some cocktails thinking I’d have guests come over after dinner. It was six o’clock so I headed to the restaurant.
When I walked in, I immediately saw James dressed up in front of a romantic set up with balloons, cakes, lights, flowers, a stuffed animal, and posters. I recognized that Cashmere Cat’s “Mirror Maru”, one of my favorite songs, was playing over the speakers and that a personalized slideshow was displayed on the restaurant TV. My heart froze. I’ve dreamt of this day happening since I was a little girl. I didn’t know how to react and I especially did not know how to be candid in front of the photographer who, I then noticed, was standing in the corner. So instead, my nose tingled, my lips pursed, and my eyes squinted to keep back the tears. But James, as he always does, eased my frantically racing brain with his presence. He let me digest my surroundings as he also began to talk to me about how he loved me and knew I was the one for him. He pointed at the wine on the dining table, a wine called The Franciscan from northern California where I am from. “It’s a 2013 wine. That was the year we met. That was our past” he said. He pointed out the window, from which we could see our apartment, “that is our present.” He then bent on one knee and revealed the ring, “and this, I hope, is our future. Will you marry me?” You already know my response.
To top off that incredibly romantic speech, he had posters of my three favorite Instagram-famous dogs on the wall behind him. They all said, “Will you marry me, Brenda?” I thought he had photoshopped the words their photos and I thought it was adorable. He then explained that the dogs were actually wearing or were next to signs that the dog’s owners created. James had messaged my favorite Instagram dogs and got them involved in the pawposal!
I was floored! Daily Dougie the Shih Tzu, Jolene the Dolly Doodle and Teddi Bear the Cav personally helped in the proposal?! They (kind of) knew who I was?! I will not lie. I cried more during that realization than during any other part of the proposal. My love for dogs is unmatched. There is absolutely no saying no to doggies.
We then ordered and ate bibimbap, a bento box and an array of banchan as we listened to the playlist he curated that included laughable YouTube songs. I would relive that dinner over and over if I could, but I don’t have time for that. I have a wedding to plan!