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On Friday night, like many other nights, it took me forever to fall asleep. I meant to wake up at a respectable hour the next morning, but shockingly, that plan went awry. Keith, of course, had no trouble falling asleep on Friday night and thus, was ready to face the day before 7 am. Which is just wrong. But I digress. By the time I finally awoke, with a delightful case of morning breath, hair that was matted on one side, two feet wide on the other, bouffant-style on top (secured by falling-out barrette) and knotted in the back, it was roughly 10. Fine. It was 10:15. FINE. It was pushing 10:30.  Alright?! Jeez Louise.

I felt bad that Keith had been up for so long and assumed he was ravenous, so I told him I’d throw on clothes and we could partake of the late morning meal at the diner of his choice.  He told me he’d had some Lucky Charms, wasn’t that hungry and had a few more articles to read in the paper, so why didn’t I just relax and join him on the couch? That seemed reasonable, so I made the bed, called Jan, poured some coffee, and finally picked up the front section of the New York Times about 15 minutes later.

There were quite a few fascinating articles, and I read them all, including the Op-Eds and columns on the last page. Some, in fact, were so fascinating that I felt compelled to enhance my understanding of them by doing related Google searches. These searches took me to Wikipedia pages, which led me to yet more Wikipedia pages, which led me to ask Keith a number of probing philosophical questions. As I read, I noticed him looking over at me from time to time.

Awww.  He thinks it’s cute that I’m taking an interest in current affairs!

“Anything interesting in the news?” Keith asked me.

As a matter of fact, yes! I was just reading about ‘recess coaches’ and how childhood has evolved and all this over-scheduling has greatly hindered the creativity and social skill developm …”

“Intriguing,” Keith replied. “But what about that article on Page 3?”

“OH! That piece about the conditions in the homeless shelter. Awful. There are just so many problems in society today. I don’t know where to begin. I mean, Jane Addams and Hull Ho…”

Keith seemed slightly on edge when he cut me off.

Fine. Be that way.

He grabbed the paper, turned to the third page and pointed to something.

“What about … THIS article?”

The “article” in question was actually a handwritten note that seemed to have been glued onto the page by someone other than the Times’ editorial staff.  WTF? Was this a ransom note? Had someone kidnapped Milty, the stuffed moose?! Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be  a wedding announcement of some sort. What the hell was it doing outside of the “Sunday Styles?”

Um … OMFG.  It  actually seemed to be OUR theoretical wedding announcement.

[Insert Stewie Griffin voice] What the DEUCE?!

I looked up in a moment of total retardation, and then … wait for it … wait for it … KEITH WAS ON ONE KNEE, ASKING ME TO MARRY HIM (and holding a RIDONCULOUSLY GORGEOUS RING)!!!!!

After about an hour of unintelligible screaming, the story of how Keith had been able to pull this off so flawlessly and a nice conversation with Keith’s mom, I began calling everyone I knew. Lew was at a conference, so I didn’t bother him. Jan was at the museum, and even though I tried about 100 times, I could not get her to pick up. Jamie, however, and miraculously, answered her phone and was incredibly happy and supportive.

Loren was very excited to hear the news as well and told her three-year-old daughter Alex, “Keith and Traci are getting married!”

I could tell Alex was ecstatic, because she said, “Mommy put more water in my gwass.”

Karen, as she does almost every time we speak, immediately asked me if I was engaged yet.  I’m not sure she knew I was serious when I told her, “Yes I am!”

After a haircut for Keith and lunch at the diner, I met Kiki for a manicure. I had purposely waited to tell her, knowing I’d see her in a few hours. She was super nice and very cutely suggested I not go with “You Don’t Know Jacques,” a trendy taupe polish, because “People are going to be looking at your hands. You need more of a statement.”

Newly painted with the OPI classic “Lincoln Park After Dark,” Keith and I met Jamie and her gentleman friend (GF) for drinks at the Empire Hotel, where we’d gone on our first date – exactly 18 years and two months after we graduated from Spiffy High (scotch for Keith, Lillet for me, tequila for GF and wine for Jamie). Whilst Jamie was trying on my ring, I asked her to be my maid of honor (hereby referred to as MOH). This will be a VERY important job, given that when the big day arrives, she will have to help me navigate a ginormous crowd of about 16 people and adjust the invisible train on what I hope will be a lovely white cotton Ella Moss or Splendid sundress valued at approximately $100.

Keith and I then dined at Picholine, where we literally had one of the best meals in the history of meals, including foie gras shabu-shabu, wild mushroom risotto, monk fish, daube of beef, French cheese, and an amuse bouche. I enjoy anything that involves an amuse bouche.

 We sat next to two funny couples from New Orleans. One couple still lived there and one now lived in New York. The male half of the New Orleans-based couple had come to the Big Apple to interview for a fellowship on a liver transplant team and reminded me of Kenneth on “30 Rock.” They were quite nice and when I got up to use the restroom, offered Keith some of their hard-to-find and delicious wine.

At the end of the evening, we returned to our apartment and attempted to watch this week’s episode of “Modern Family,” but Keith had now been up for almost 24 hours, and couldn’t keep his eyes open. So I watched a little bit of the “SNL” rerun featuring a handsome but not-that-funny Jon Hamm (he is best served with Don Draper) and then went to sleep.

I am a nostalgic but not sappy person. I am also completely and utterly uncomfortable and unsure of what to do with joy, calmness, peace of mind, and the absence of emotional turmoil.  Those were always just completely foreign feelings to me, and it is incredibly difficult for me to acknowledge – even for a nanosecond – that I am not in crisis. I am used to relationships marked by conflict and eggshell-walking. I’m also a skilled magical thinker, and I will almost never utter a positive statement for fear of jinxing. But I must say that Saturday was simply the happiest day of my life.

Keith is the kindest, most wonderful person I have ever met.  He has inspired me to strive to be a better person, let go of very, very long-held and destructive thought patterns, and saved me in many ways. I’m not sure I’m worthy, frankly, and I continue to think he will wake up one day and realize this.  It never, in almost 38 years, occurred to me that a relationship could be this good, and that I could be this [insert positive adjective … I can’t do it!]

As a great perk, I am also getting Keith’s parents, Keith’s mother’s Le Mutt, twin brother, older brother, two sister-in-laws, sister-in-law’s sister, two nieces, two nephews, aunt and uncle. I am blessed and I remember that every day.

For almost two decades now – ever since leaving the comfort of my mauve bedroom in New Jersey – I have dreamed of feeling at home again. With Keith, I am home.

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