Sunday, June 7, 2009

It All Began When…

It was 2005 and I had just come back from what I thought was the most unbelievable pilgrimage - out to Seattle, WA to see the Dave Matthews Band at The Gorge. Actually, The Gorge is in a town called George, WA on the Columbia River. That’s right, the town is called George and it’s in Washington. If you’re a Dave fan this is an absolute must on the list of places to see the band perform. At the time MySpace was a relatively new creature - at least to me, and I had posted a bunch of pictures and a little story about my experience at The Gorge seeing the band.

A few days had gone by and I received a message from this woman who told me how envious she was that I had gone out there to see DMB play and that she was hoping to do the same someday. I couldn’t help but think how cool it was that someone other than a friend had commented on something that I had done. At the time the thumbnail picture was pretty small but I could see that she was pretty, I just needed to see it in a larger format, so I clicked on the message and up pops this gorgeous curly haired brunette who was semi-posed against a wall. The second I saw her picture my heart was in my throat like when you’re about to have your first kiss or when you see the love of your life for the first time. Having already experienced my first kiss some twenty-four years ago, I guess it’s safe to say my feeling was from staring at the love of my life for the very first time. Her name was Melissa.

We continued to write for about two weeks followed by phone calls, each time revealing more about one another so much so that when we finally met I felt like I had known her forever. I think life gets very easy when you actually find the person you’re supposed to be with. I’m not talking about the person you’re going to spend a few months or years with but the one true love that you’re so happy to see when you wake up that all you want to do in life is wake up next to them every day until the end of time. That’s what Melissa means to me and it was all due to a chance encounter on a social networking site because I had gone to see DMB. Thank you Dave.

Fast forward to present day. Melissa and I have been together for 3 ½ years and have been to 8 shows in that time. Our very first was at Fenway Park in 2006, which was made into a CD, followed by The Gorge for 3 shows and a tour of Seattle. The circle was now complete. On May 30, 2009 we had come back to Fenway Park for another DMB show. This time we had VIP seating and we loved every second of it.

Early morning on the 30th we decided to head to the Coventry animal control facility to meet a little Dachshund that Melissa had learned about through a friend at work. Although going into it I had no real intention of getting a dog, of course once we saw him I knew we’d be picking him up in a couple of days. I’m easy like that. So, fresh from seeing our future dog we set out for Fenway and the VIP experience. Boston here we come.

Being the constant planner, I made sure we arrived in Beantown with plenty of time to do whatever it was we wanted. The atmosphere was already thick with excitement as we walked around the historic park waiting to for the concert and mingling with other DMB fans. Not really knowing which way to go, we headed toward our entry gate to see what was going on and to get a feel for how things would work. Further up, there was a small crowd gathered hoping to catch a glimpse of the band. We stopped by for a few minutes but continued on because we hadn’t eaten yet. We ended up eating at a place called The Landsdowne Pub. It just so happens that this place is where the VIP reception was going to be held.

Later we headed back to where the crowd was, in hopes of seeing the band - and luck being on our side, we did. Dave, Boyd, Jeff and Rashawn all walked by and even stopped to sign a few autographs. Very cool experience. We hung around for several hours but the time was approaching for us to head into the VIP reception. The line formed quickly and we were ushered into the reception for free food and drinks. Now that we’ve done the VIP thing, I don’t think we’ll be able to go to another show and NOT do it again. I highly recommend it.

After we’d eaten our fair share, some newly found friends had joined us at our table. We met a guy from San Diego who happened to have friends from Boston with him. The music was super loud but I think that had a lot to do with us sitting under a speaker. Two hours after we entered the reception it was time to head in to Fenway. We had 14th row just to Dave’s left. Incredible seats for an incredible day that only seemed to get better as it lead up to the show.

Willie Nelson was the opener and he was basically leaving the stage as we sat down. We were looking forward to this show. We had been listening to and learning to songs on the band’s new CD, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. The CD was named for the band’s original saxophone player Leroi Moore, whose nickname was Grux, and who passed away last summer. Earlier we were told by one of the bands personal security team that the show was going to start at 7:35. Well it was 7:35 and the crew was just putting the finishing touches on the stage set up. I stood up and looked around to soak up the fact that I was standing on center field of Fenway Freaking Park staring UP at the Green Monster and seeing a view that all of baseball’s greatest players have seen before. As I looked out at the crowd all around the park I couldn’t help but feel humbled by how lucky I was to be standing there. After all, this was the night that I was going to get engaged to the woman of my dreams… right there on the field during a DMB concert.

The ring was in my left shorts pocket in a small pouch. While I was standing soaking it all in, I decided to free it from the pouch and just have it in my pocket for easy access in case the perfect moment struck. As I took the ring out I actually fumbled it and almost dropped it to the floor. Really, how cliché is that? Luckily my cat-like reflexes kicked in and I saved the day from being ruined. Anyway, I secured the ring and not a moment too soon. As I was pushing it down into my pocket the band slowly entered the stage and the crowd erupted, including Melissa and I.

Leading up to this day I had been in constant contact with the jeweler in hopes that Melissa’s ring would be ready for the show. It was my plan all along to get engaged on this day. I mean, I couldn’t have asked for a better scenario and when I realized it was all going to come together it took everything I had in me not to tell everyone I knew and even people I didn’t. My plan was to wait for the perfect moment during the show. The problem was I didn’t know when or if that would happen.

A few songs into the show and I started losing my voice from yelling but I never lost focus on my mission. I was waiting for my chance and I wasn’t going to let it get away. The fifth song of the night had just finished and I had asked Melissa to switch spots with me because a couple of seven footers were standing a few rows ahead of us and right in her sight line. Just after we switched the next song started. From the first note of the song we both knew what it was and she turned to me with a little tear in her eye to tell me how much it reminded her of when we met. It’s a song called “So Damn Lucky” and that’s exactly how I felt then and will feel the rest of my life thanks to her.

It was like a giant hand smacked me in the face and said “do it now” because as perfect moments go, this was right there with the best of them. I reached into my pocket and with a firm grip pulled the ring out and held it clinched in my hand. I looked Melissa in the eyes and said in a very slow deliberate way “I love you” to which she responded much more assertively “I love you too baby!” I then said “No, I LOVE YOU.” It was at this point that I think it hit her that this was really happening. I went on to say a few things that will remain personal between us. I’ll just have you know it was totally unrehearsed and from the heart. She started to cry as I slide the ring on her finger. Then I started to cry. We stood there embraced for what seemed like a million years just crying and hugging the type of hug that only comes along when two people are so happy to be with each other they almost want to occupy the same space. The moment felt almost movie-like as we stood there listening, hugging and crying. It was surreal, fifty thousand people surrounded us but it felt like we were alone.

All of this was happening during this incredible song called “So Damn Lucky” that was being played by the Dave Matthews Band, who brought us together 3 ½ years earlier, as we stood in center field of Fenway Park.

Immediately following the most AMAZING moment of my life to date, I turned to the couple standing right behind us and I grabbed Melissa’s hand to show them that we had just gotten engaged. Everyone within earshot went crazy with cheers and congratulations. Complete strangers started snapping pictures and shaking our hands. I must have passed out twenty or so high fives to people I may never see again. If by chance one of them reads this I’d like to thank them for being part of our moment.

The show continued on and we continued to hug and cry and stare at her hand. I remember wanting to share this with everyone so I updated my Twitter feed, which updates my Facebook, with the statement “She said YES!” Apparently I didn’t need to explain to what she was saying yes. All fifty-six people who responded over the next several hours knew exactly what I was talking about. We’ll never, ever forget this day.

Remember the dog I mentioned way at the beginning of the story? Well, we picked him up on Monday morning. His name is Grux Black. Now if we could just get him to act cool around our cat Dave. Well... not everything can be perfect.

Bob Black
Williams & Stuart Real Estate
870 Oaklawn Ave
Cranston, RI, 02920
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Mobile: 401.261.1599
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Anonymous said...

It couldnt have happened to a nicer pair. Congratulations to both of you.

Now we can start looking forward to a CRAAAZZYYY Bachelor party!!!!

Karen said...

What a beautiful moment, I'm so glad you share it. I want you to know I'm sitting here reading this and crying............what a romantic way to propose, so fitting for your relationship.

I had to laugh when you said you were trying to get the ring out without dropping it, remind me to tell you about when my husband proposed and him trying to get the ring out of his pocket.

Congrats again to both of you! I can't wait to meet Melissa next month and to see you again after all these years.

Best of luck always!!!

Jess said...

What a great story! I was at this years Fenway show same night and VIP too What a great time! We were section A row 26