Jeff and I hadn’t been dating longer than 4 months before he told me to send him rings that I liked. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to, not in the sense that I wasn’t ready for engagement, but rather I wasn’t sure I wanted to be the one to pick it out. And then I remembered the trouble he had selecting Christmas gifts.

For me he purchased an over the shoulder designer purse and it was perfect, but the first words out of his mouth after I had unwrapped it were, “We can return it if you don’t like it.” I know it had stressed him out and I don't blame him - if I had to pick out a purse for 'me' I’d be stressed out too. I mean, it was just last month I purchased, used, and returned three vacuum cleaners in less than a 3 weeks - I wasn’t satisfied with their ability to suck. 

But Jeff? Jeff is patient. That makes us not only work, but work well. So I settled on sending him some ideas for rings. 

My email began, “I’ve never before in my life looked at or thought about what I might like in an engagement ring,” which would have been half believable if I hadn’t followed that statement with a series of detailed bullet points on cut, color, size, and whatever else mumbo-jumbo things selecting a ring requires. But that was the truth. Rings (and a wedding for that matter) weren’t expected for another 5 years according to my well thought out plans (which scared the crap out of my Mom and Dad in terms of their hopes in ever becoming grandparents). Age 30 sounded nice. But from what I’ve learned sometimes these things just can’t be planned. 

After the ring conversation my mind got to wandering... I'm going to have to live with someone for the rest of my life. I'm going to have to change my name. I'm probably going to have to buy new things at the grocery store and more importantly... what am I now going to call my blog!?!

"Jeff! How do you feel about being more included in my blogging?... don't answer me now but I can't very well call my blog NicholeRSmith.com if I'm changing my name!"

He looked at me and smiled because that's what he does when he sees my wheels turning faster than I can keep up with myself.

"I'd love to be upgraded from being called Mr. Kladder to being called Jeff," he replied. His tone said it all and he was right, the fact that I intentionally address him not by his first name in any of my previous entries is sure fire proof that he's a one of a kind, patient dewd. Before Jeff I was a self proclaimed independent. I didn't need a boyfriend and really, any guy I met couldn't handle me so why bother? This is what I told myself anyway. But then he asked me. 

Since we began dating Jeff and I routinely go over our weekly schedules on Sundays. It's usually a quick, "What do you have going this week?" We both check our phones and rattle off work events, dinner plans, game times,  and early morning coffees. This week in particular was packed. 

"On Wednesday after work I'm going to that Kate Spade event I told you about at the GRAM," I said. "But we can probably get dinner afterwards if it gets done early enough."

Fast forward to Wednesday at around 6 PM. I receive a text from Jeff: Send me a message when you're out. We can meet at your place and go from there.

Fast forward again to 8:30 PM. Freshly inspired by the amazing speaker that evening, my mind was crowded with creative thoughts on design. Precision and color schemes danced in my head as I walked home. I sent him a text: Be home in 5. See you shortly. 

The entry to my place was all very normal - scan my card, open the door, call the elevator, exit to the 4th floor, round the corner, turn the key - until I opened my front door. It was dark inside which I didn't expect. He was suppose to meet me here right?! And then my eyes adjusted. Carefully laid out was a trail of candles and rose pedals. Now, I love Jeff but until this point I wouldn't use 'romantic' as a word to describe him; something was up. 

My thoughts immediately raced back to our conversation about rings and then the tears came. I called out his name but he didn't answer. Was he really going to have me walk through this romantic booby trap of rose pedals, dimly lit candles, champagne, and love? 

On my kitchen table I found a note that read: Nichole, I finally figured out what to write on your wall. 

Near my dining area there is somewhat of a graffiti board. Friends come over time after time and with each visit appears a new picture or message. Currently it's a mix of skeletons, inside jokes, and autographs. Until now, Jeff has refused to sign it. He'd say, "I just don't know what to write. It's permanent!" 

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My eyes frantically searched the board and landed on a logo my friend Julia created a few weeks back. It includes an 'N' + 'J' along with a dainty little heart. It's more of an emblem really and represents my and Jeff's initials. I think it's cute. And there it was, having not been there when I left for work that morning. Written beneath were his words: Will you marry me? 

Now, if I wasn't crying before - there had to have been mascara everywhere - I followed the rest of the candles and pedals to find him down on one knee. 

"He's so handsome," I thought. "I wonder how long he's been kneeling there."

He held out the box, placed the ring on my finger, and hugged me.

I finally swept up the rose pedals after work today. I wanted to savor them for as long as possible. Tonight Jeff is in Detroit for a baseball game with his buddies and me?... I get to write this blog post which has never made happier. 

Oh... I said, "Yes." We'll be planning a Fall wedding, 2013. 

They say love is patient, love is kind… and Jeff… he’s both.

This is the official introduction of Mid City Love – what it’s like to live, work, play… and... what it’s like to get married in a mid sized city like Grand Rapids, Michigan. We promise to share the good and the bad, the fun and the down right lame, our travels, our mid sized city living stories and tips, our downtown adventures, and the excitement of soon to be newlyweds. I'll be leading this project but you can plan on hearing Jeff chime in too. 

Here's to the next chapter in life and a new site to share it with. Read on internet. Read on. 

{  NRS  }

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