When I thought about my life 15 years ago, two dates stand out in my head. One was my birthday, and the other, Christmas – nine-year-old me enjoyed presents as much as, if not more than, the next kid.
Now, July 3 and May 28 stand out more.
On July 3, Elizabeth Habermehl and I were in Washington, D.C. It was the first time I’ve been there. Even though it rained a lot, and it was hot, it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
On one of those hot days, Elizabeth and I visited the Washington National Cathedral. The beautiful Episcopalian cathedral sits atop a hill commanding what may be the city’s best view, and it’s steeped in lore dating back to George Washington himself.
Outside the cathedral is the picturesque Bishop’s Garden, which is filled with flowers, sculptures, stone architecture and a Shadow House, a gazebo-type structure.
I can still remember the details of that gazebo, from its woodwork and stone work and the view of the garden outside to the feeling of the stone on my knee.
It was there that Elizabeth sat in an arched opening of the Shadow House, I read her a poem about us and our love, and she agreed to marry me.
One day, I hope to take any children we may have there and have a picnic in the flat, grassy area near the Shadow House, where the kids can play.
As you can probably guess by now, May 28 will be the day of our wedding.
It’s been a whirlwind of activity – DJs, venues, caterers and more shopping than I think I’ve done in my entire life. And through it all, friends and family, and even Elizabeth and myself, joke often about how “it’s not too late to elope.” It’s a jest often preceded by some ridiculous interview, menu review, or realization of just how big the guest list is getting.
It’s good, friendly ribbing, but I know that, in the end, I’ll get to marry the best person I’ve ever met and my best friend. There’s no better gift.
So take that, Christmas.
Nathan Kraatz is a writer with the News Journal.