Saturday, May 19, 2012

Brian + Laura :: Lincoln Square, Chicago

I met Laura when I was six or seven, I think. She was a curly-haired girl from down the block who appeared at our driveway gate and asked if I wanted to be friends. I said, "Sure." We played velcro paddle ball in the backyard, figured out each other's names, and then she went home. Voila. Instant friendship. For the years that we lived close to each other, we went to each other's birthday parties, made mud pies behind our garages together, and played Wheel of Fortune on the computer that she had... in her BEDROOM. (This was epic, my friends -- computers were rare back in the early 90's, and to be a pre-teen with a computer in your room was, well, absolutely legendary.)

When my family moved out of the neighborhood, Laura and I slowly lost touch. But then, the wonder that is Facebook reunited us via the internet, and I learned that she eventually went to Marquette University in Wisconsin... met a guy... got married... and moved back to Chicago! Laura's husband, Brian, is working toward his PhD. In Physics. (Yes. And Wow.) Laura works in public relations, and she's also starting her own photography business... so when she contacted me asking for some pictures of her and Brian in their cutsey neighborhood, plus a few shots of her and her camera... well, golly be, I got excited.

Laura and Brian live in Lincoln Square, a quiet, beautiful neighborhood on the north side of Chicago with lots of German heritage. Laura has strong family ties to the neighborhood, so it was fun to walk around and get introduced to their favorite places: boutiques, drugstores, delis, restaurants, and bookstores (where, right next to the books, they serve coffee, cupcakes, and wine. How is that not a combo we ever see in the suburbs?!). I -- fancy little suburbanite that I am -- had fun masquerading as a city girl for a morning, and what a treat it was to spend time with my long-lost friend and her sweet husband. 

P.S. Brian loves Laura a lot (just look at the way he looks at her), and as always, when I see one of my friends married to a really great guy... well, that just makes me happy :)

Here's Laura and her Nikon :)
Check out her photography blog here!
Now, remember what I said about how these two met in Wisconsin?
Football fans know what that means -- these two are Packer fans. Die hards.
Intense enough to fearlessly wear Packers jerseys in the middle of downtown Chicago.
(On our way to the park, a guy in a Bears jersey yelled, "GO BEARS" from his truck window.
It's not even football season. Sheesh.)

So, Laura?
Here's to reunited childhood neighbors... 
even if they can't agree on the world's greatest football team.

Check Brian and Laura's slideshow... (or click here to be redirected!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

proposal :: 5 years later

Five years ago, on April 28th, Marty proposed.

It was the first gorgeous Saturday of April, so everyone (yes, everyone -- this is important for later) was outside enjoying the weather. My husband-to-be proposed in the middle of a busy park near the office I worked at; he picked it because the lilacs were blooming like crazy (and he knew I liked to walk there on my lunch breaks).

Now, please note one important thing about me: I'm not, in any way, an exhibitionist. At all. Give me the choice between "center of attention" and "fly on the wall," and I'll pick, um, "fly on the other side of the wall... just to be safe." Ironically (and isn't this the case with most people?), I married my opposite. I should have known that this man would propose somewhere out in the wide-open world, rather than cloistered up in a living room, just the two of us. Oy.

He sent me on a little treasure hunt that morning, complete with clues that cued me to drive all over the Chicago suburbs, visiting places that had been significant to our relationship. I guess it took me a little too long, because I later learned that by the time I got to the final destination, he had been waiting there for over an hour. Picnic blanket laid out. Rose petals strewn down the sidewalk. Et cetera. Et cetera.

Here's the path I walked up, when I first saw him:
He was waiting at the top of the steps, giant grin on his face, and I truly wanted to run the other way. Not because I didn't want to marry the guy. (I really, really did.) But remember that whole thing about it being a gorgeous, beautiful day? The park was literally packed. Picnickers, people out for a stroll, college students studying for finals, teeny boppers: you name it, they were there. Throw in rose petals and a handsome, nervous-looking young man conspicuously shifting his weight from foot to foot and peering off into the distance... and, well, let's just say we had an audience.

I reached the top of the stairs, shaking, thinking dear Lord, he isn't going to propose HERE? And I actually think he might have... but then he saw the panic in my eyes. So Marty took my hand and pulled me father down the path, to here:
Right in front of that tree, there was a picnic blanket on the ground. He brought me over to the blanket, and dropped to his knee.

(I kid you not, the teeny boppers started screaming at the top of their lungs.)

He asked. I said yes. I begged him to get up, because, oh gosh, someone might notice you just PROPOSED

And the rest, as they say, is history.

But here's why this guy is the best thing ever: he knows what's good for me. Marty knows that I'm sentimental, and gooshy-mushy. He told me the real reason he proposed there, close to home, was so that every year on April 28th, we can go to that exact spot, and remember, and smooch, and laugh about how ridiculously self-conscious I can be -- and how ridiculously un-self-conscious he is.

This year, it was cold and rainy. (And, holy cow, we had our two kids with us.) So, funny thing -- the park was deserted. I propped my point-and-shoot up on top of my Starbucks cup, set the self-timer, and -- just like the last four years -- we took corny pictures at the very spot where our real story began. 

Quite honestly, I was at least a little less self-conscious than I was five years ago.

See? Told you he's good for me.