Joel & Sara's courtship

August 14, 2003 (adapted from an email written to a friend)

Joel is going to be a third year grad student in philosophy here at UW-Madison in fall. He's from western Iowa, and majored in history and philosophy as an undergrad. Two falls ago was his first semester here as a grad student, when I was starting my senior year as an undergrad. We ended up taking a class together - a graduate seminar. Since I was still a lowly undergrad, I hardly talked in class at all, and had hardly any reason at all to talk in class. Then second semester, we were again in the same class, but this one was a grad seminar taught by my favorite professor in a subject I'm interested in and know a little bit about (philosophy of math/logic). So I talked some. And one February day he and I and another grad student, who had been an undergrad here and I'd had some classes with so I knew, walked out together, and then when the other guy split to head home Joel and I walked part way home together, and talked some.

Then in March he started walking me home after that class (which met once a week). We mostly talked about class things, but I noticed that we started walking slower and slower each time so that we could have longer to talk, and then would stand out in front of my building for awhile talking more. Finally he said one week "we should have lunch together sometime."

So during spring break we met for lunch one afternoon, at noon, and I remember that I thought to myself "If I don't get home until after 2, it'll have been a successful afternoon." I didn't get home until nearly 3:30. We lingered over lunch, then went to a coffeehouse, and then he walked me home.

But that was it, for a few more weeks, until the middle of April or so. He walked me home after class, and that was it.

All that semester I'd been waiting to hear back from grad schools, to find out if I was going to grad school in fall. I'd gotten rejection letters from all except here, and I really wanted to stay here. I'd been on the wait list for about two months, and then one morning I got an email saying that I had, unfortunately, been turned down. I had been checking my email on the computer lab right below the philosophy dept., and so as I was walking back up, I ran into Joel in the stair wells, and he was like "Hey, how's it going," and I said "I just got rejected from grad school here." and his face just fell. He said he felt really bad for me.

Later on that night then, around 9:30, suddenly my phone rings, and it was him, and he said "I just made a thermos of tea and thought you might need a shoulder to cry on. Would you like me to come over?" Up till that point I'd been busy enough to not cry yet (I was REALLY disappointed), but when he said that I completely melted. He came over, and didn't leave until nearly 1:00am.

And then the next day I got an email back from the dept. here saying "Actually, one of the people who'd said she was coming wrote us yesterday and said she wasn't, which means we can accept you as a student for fall." Quite happy. Two days later Joel caught me in the hall and asked if I wanted to come over for supper on Saturday, he'd cook to celebrate. So I went over after work (got off around 10pm), and was there until around 2:30am. :)

So this is towards the end of April. Between April and the end of the semester we went out on a few walks together, and saw each other around classes, and then it was finals week and we were really busy, and I graduated (he came to my graduation party, so my parents got to meet him then), and then what with one thing or another, we didn't see each other much for awhile, and I was really peeved at him because he didn't call or email or anything, and then finally one day after I hadn't seen him for a few days, I finally bit the bullet and called him, because I hadn't been feeling well and I was going to see if he could take my shift at work for me (we both work at one of the libraries). He was real apologetic, but, no, he couldn't he had other plans for the afternoon.

But I talked to my supervisor and he said I could go home early, and while I was there there's a knock on my door, and Joel was there, with a thermos of hot tea. He couldn't stay because he had someplace else to be, but when he heard I was sick he wanted to drop something off for me to feel better.

And it did.

So I invited him over for lunch on Memorial day, and after that we saw each other pretty regularly, went on walks, went to the farmer's market, cooked together, etc, all through June and into the beginning of July. And all this time I'm in agony, because I'm going back and forth "does he like me? are we just friends? does he like me? are we just friends?" and of course I didn't know how to bring up the subject and find out, and he never seemed to make any romantic approaches...until right at the beginning of July we were suddenly spending most of the day together, and he finally invited me out to a movie. Then I was gone the 4th and the 5th, and one of our fellow philosophers was getting married on the 6th. Joel was there, as were two other people, Madeleine and Michael, and my favorite professor and his wife. So all six of us sat together during the wedding and the reception, and it was fun and all, and then the DJ called for "all couples to come out to the floor" for a dance. Joel looks and me and asks "Do you want to dance?" And I look him back and say "Are we a couple?" He said "We could be." So we danced and figured out that yes, we could be, and after that night we were.

Life goes on along well for about three weeks until I suddenly (and still don't know exactly how) slipped a disc in my lower back. IMMENSE pain. He and a friend took me to an emergency room, got me drugs, and then I spent the next week and a half in bed - in his, at his house, because my bed is lofted and there's no way I could've stayed alone. He had to wait on me hand and foot basically, and I was so drugged up I was not a happy camper. But he was unfailing patient and wonderful and after that, I figured he'd be good for anything.

So by about Christmas I was pretty sure that he was The One. I started setting deadlines. "If he hasn't asked me by DATE, I'm going to ask him to marry me." Of course that date would come and go and I'd tell myself "but I really want HIM to ask ME." I'll admit, I started dropping hints, around Marchish or so - and they weren't unwarranted because even HE had started the "when we get married, I'd like X" or whatever type things, so I knew I wasn't the only one with the idea on my mind. We had our whole life planned out basically, and he STILL hadn't asked me to marry him. And this is amidst three weddings of close friends this summer - one wedding which he was in, one which I was going to in. Finally it'd reached our 1 year anniversary, and I was REALLY REALLY HOPING he'd ask me then, as were all my friends. :) I worked until 4pm, he worked until 3pm, but he picked me up around 6:30 and we went out to a nice restaurant, and then went to his place for awhile, and then went out on a walk, down to one of the parks we use to walk in alot, but hadn't yet been to this year. We're sitting on one of the benches, and I remember something funny from the weddng we'd been at last weekend, and I joked "If they do that at our wedding, I'm not marrying you." He looks and me and asks "Well, will you?" And I'm still on the "not marrying him" train of thought and ask "Will I what?" He says "Marry me." I start laughing. I think he's joking. My mind translated it as another hypothetical - "If I were to ask you, would you marry me? But I'm not really asking you." So he asked me AGAIN, and I realized he was serious and started crying and said Of course.

And then he pulled a little ring out of his pocket; just a promisory, because he'd decided long ago that he wanted to shop for the real ring with me, and he didn't want to spoil the surprise by going shopping before he asked me. So that's the ring I have now, since the one we picked out two weekends later won't come in for another two weeks at the minimum! :(

But the ring we picked out is beautiful. We went to a jewelry store that two of my friends recommended highly, and we went knowing pretty much what we wanted. We both prefer silver over gold, we both wanted something that's not too big or extravagent, because I have very small hands and anything big would look bad, we both like a sort of delicate "filigree" look, and I knew I wanted an amethyst, for a number of reasons: I've never been all that partial to diamonds, and diamonds with silver are kind of boring looking. I've always loved amethysts, too. I would've been happy with just an amethyst in a pretty silver setting, but he told me he really wanted the ring to have some diamond in it; he said he wanted it to look like an engagement ring, and be something that we'd both be proud of (even though he knew I wouldn't have minded, he didn't want it to look like he was scrimping and couldn't afford to buy me diamonds). So the only thing we weren't sure of really was whether we wanted an amethyst between two diamonds or a diamond between two amethysts. I'd been leaning towards the former and he the latter. We found a beautiful platinum setting, the example piece which was set with three diamonds, and so in order for us to know how we wanted the amethysts arranged, the jeweler took a purple magic marker and started coloring in the diamonds! I'm glad he did, because it was immediately clear that the amethyst between two diamonds was the way to go - so we picked out the diamonds, and ordered the setting and the amethyst, and those will take 6-10 weeks to come in. The earliest I can expect it to arrive is thus the 30th of August. I'm getting impatient, though, I can't wait until I get it! It's so pretty. :)