Our Love Story!

A Real Love Story.
Written by Amanda Wright
Dedicated to:
Dan Eberhardt & Alicia Mcminn ♥
He proposed to me on a warm July day near a cute little park called “Treasure Island” in Laguna Beach, California.  Palm Trees, The Pacific Ocean crashing behind us in the horizon, surprise cupcakes spelling out the surprise question in sugar, “Marry Me?”
The ring had 21 diamonds, and reminded me of a chandelier or a tiara.
It was his grandmother’s engagement ring.
Vintage.  Sweet.  Special.  Sparkly.  Part of the romantic history of his family on my finger.
Deeply saturated exotic plants swayed like they were dancing to the music of this moment.
The beautiful mansions on the California hills behind us reflected in his sparkly blue eyes.
His eyes invited me to start a new life with him.
My heart melted.
He was on his knee, looking up at me.  We were on top of a cliff.
How did we get here? It looked like a scene from The Bachelor!
But this was no reality television show.

It had been almost two years ago when I met Dan. 
I was working at Billabong as a junior girls clothing designer.
He was the new cute guy who worked Quality Control.
Dan brought me pre-shipment samples. 
He & I made sure all the details looked okay before the garment was shipped to the retailer.
I got the feeling that sometimes he would pull extra samples as an excuse to walk up to my desk and talk to me. 

He and his friends in the warehouse referred to me as “one of the top two hottest girls at Billabong.” 
His favorite things about me were my green eyes and my long legs.

I referred to him as the mysterious new shy guy who I wanted to know better. His cheekbones entered the room before he did. His blue eyes were bright & sparkly, even under the fluorescent lights of the office.

But he was so nervous around me! It always felt like he wanted to say something. To ask me something. I felt like a high school girl, waiting for my teenage crush to ask me to prom.

I had been living in California for about 5 years when I met him.  I’d dated the jerks-the actors, the models, the guys with the six packs who hung out at the pool all day.  But I was a Wisconsin girl at heart.  I needed something more real than that.

Dan seemed more genuine, different than all those masked actors.
And at the same time I thought he was gorgeous.
His shyness was endearing in comparison to all the egos I had encountered in the previous years.

It was December.  Company Christmas party time.  I dressed up in purple, braved my red lipstick, and danced the night away at our company party. 
Then I saw him.  Dan.  The mysterious new guy standing in the back of the twinkly lit room.
His hair was spikey-messy, he was wearing a suit.  I had never seen a guy look so perfect in a suit except for maybe James Bond. I was a little bit “happy” from a few cocktails, and *so* ready to talk to him.

We said our hellos, and I batted my flirtatious eyes. 
“Where are you from, Dan?”  I asked.

“Chicago.” He responded.

“Oh really? I am from a place really close to Chicago! Wisconsin!” My voice was a little over enthusiastic. (I get that way when I am flirting..and drinking champagne!)

Dan’s face was surprised and he responded,
 “Well actually, I lived in Chicago recently, but am originally from Wisconsin. Outside of Milwaukee.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Here we were, in Orange County, California at a company party, flirting with each other.
But we both grew up in Wisconsin.  This had to mean something.  But I wasn’t thinking too deeply at this very moment.  I just knew why he felt more real to me.  He felt a little like home!

After the Christmas party, and even after the holidays into February, it was back to the whole “shy” thing.  Dan never asked me out.  And I wanted him to so bad!
I was beginning to give up, and actually wondered if he was interested in me at all!

At work I was known to make beautiful and amazing cupcakes (a side business of mine).
Whenever I created a new cupcake masterpiece, I’d invite Dan over e-mail to try my cupcakes!

My friend Alicia who sat next to me 8 hours a day was constantly trying to set us up.
One Friday she showed Dan all these beautiful cupcake pictures on my “myspace” profile page.  Her intent wasn’t really for Dan to see my cupcakes, even if it was worth it to take the time to admire them!  She wanted him to see the name on my profile so if he was shy, he could find my page on “myspace” and ask me out!  Goodness, I can’t believe I was still doing stuff like this as a 29 year old!
I went home that Friday night to my usual single and quiet life, logged onto “myspace”, and staring back at me in my inbox was a little profile picture of a very familiar handsome guy.  It was Dan, asking me out. 

Alicia’s plan had worked.  It was now a week after Valentines Day, and he was asking me if I wanted to have an “Anti-Valentines Day” celebration with him.  We went to go see Friday the 13th together.  I invited him back to my apartment.  We had wine and talked.  And as silly as it sounds, we took out my collection of wigs and tried them on!  He put on my heart shaped sunglasses and wore my Napoleon Dynamite wig.  I put on my red “Jessica Rabbit” wig and we made silly faces together on our cell phone cameras.

Dan now tells me that this very silly “Anti-Valentines Day” moment was when he knew that he could fall in love with me.  To me, this was probably the best “post-Valentines Day” date I had ever experienced!

We were inseparable and spent most days together.  Just like it took Dan a long time to ask me out, it took him several dates to kiss me for the first time. 

My friend Alicia instigated the first kiss.  I gave her Dan’s number and she sent him a mysterious text during one of our dates saying, ”Just Do It. Like Nike.”   
He knew exactly what that “Just Do It” line meant because I am sure he wanted to kiss me! He was nervous and wanted to take things slow, but all night the texts that visited his phone reminded him that he wanted to know what it felt like to kiss me!  By the end of our date, I told him that I was guilty of the “Just Do It. Like Nike” texts.   I laughed and blushed, but it worked.
He kissed me, and we’ve never stopped kissing since then.

Dan’s doorstep entrance that I adored: Beads of sweat dripping down his forehead from slaving over a dinner that he cooked for me. Oh, I never knew I could love beads of sweat.  But his beads of sweat were more sweet than salty.  It's an unusual thing to see a man running to my doorstep with a pot of steamy dinner, panting hard from running because he is impatient to see me, and anxious that I'd be waiting too long. Everything about his little sweat beads were alluring and unusual to me.

Dan was becoming my best friend,  and we both fell in love...fast.
Months into our relationship, we both daydreamed of the day we were together longer than a few months, so that it wouldn’t be so crazy to idealize spending our whole lives together.

We had picnics under the California sun, walked on the beach, enjoyed the ever so famous California “Taco Tuesdays” at a local restaurant in Huntington Beach.  We went to church together.  He made me happy. One of my favorite memories with him was when he came up to me, and twirled me around in circles in the air spontaneously.

In the next year and a half we faced a lot more together than just “new love.”
Our “new love” was tested.

Dan was laid off from his job at Billabong, and was left to find a new one in the midst of one of the worst job markets ever.  I had to help build up his self esteem after he lost this job.  It had been his dream to work for a surf company, and eventually grow into a designer position there.  When he lost his job with Billabong, he felt like he had to start all over again.  It was hard for me to work there after this too.  Sometimes I would get tears in my eyes expecting Dan to come over to my desk with samples. But he wasn’t there.
My dad was hospitalized with a serious illness during Christmas vacation.
Dan was there with me in the hospital while we were unsure if my dad would survive.
The doctors had even told my mom that they were “baffled.”
After a few months of agony and different procedures, my dad did survive his unusual illness.
But while my family and I were afraid, Dan sat with me.  He spent time with me.
Honestly, this moment made me fall in love with Dan more than anything.
He was the only guy I’ve ever known to sit with me and not run away during a time of great weakness.

If that wasn’t bad enough, my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s right after my dad’s battle to survive.  I sat with her on the phone while she questioned how she would deal with this new  and unexpected challenge in her life. 

Then it was me.  I got sick with a mystery illness, for almost an entire year of my life.
I was stuck in my bed and kept coming down with different illnesses non-stop.
I was seeing doctor after doctor after doctor and although there were a few tests that came back funny, nobody could give me an answer as to what was wrong with my body.

I lost my job because I couldn’t work full time, and my life seemed to be falling to pieces.
I felt too young to be filing for disability.

Through all of this, Dan spent every night with me. I would cry out in pain.  When I felt ugly, Dan told me how beautiful I was.  We watched endless amounts of DVDs because all I could do was lay in bed.
He took me to the doctor, and even to the emergency room a few times when the pain was unrelenting.

He brought me gladiolas, made me dinner, and would still insist that I was beautiful.

The doctors thought I had a life threatening disease called Wegener’s but they couldn’t find a way to finally diagnose it since all of my body organs were luckily still very strong.  I still felt sick all the time and every time I was stressed out, I would come down with something. I was so weak. Dan was the only person who was there with me through all of this.

I was terrified, and thousands of miles away from my family in Wisconsin.

This is when Dan & I decided to move back home to Wisconsin for awhile-to be near our families.
I could heal and have the quiet time away from the chaos.
I could treasure time with my mom & dad.
Dan could find a job.
We could save up money, and figure out what to do next in our lives.
Dan & I had endured so many trials together and were still passionate for each other.

A few weeks before our decision to move back home to Wisconsin, Dan told me to get dressed up .
I put on a red dress that had been collecting dust in my closet.
I sort of felt pretty in this red dress, even if I was still battling a sickness.
Dan wanted to take me out somewhere nice.

This someplace “nice” was Laguna Beach.
His proposal to me.
After two years of being my boyfriend, Dan wanted to be my husband.

"Amanda, I don't know if you noticed but the name of this park is called Treasure Island.  The reason I brought you here is because you are a treasure to me, such a special gem.  I love you so much. You are my best friend and you are so beautiful. I want you to be my wife, I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

Somewhere in between the time that we sat down and he started telling me all these wonderful things a girl can only dream of, he had placed a white box in my hands. 

He asked me to open the white box.

I am not the kind of girl who cries, screams or "freaks out" externally. 
But I hated to hope that this was a proposal and be wrong. I would be so disappointed if it wasn't. At the same time, I loved to think that this was a proposal and how it would be my dream come true!  So I sat there for awhile, frozen like a statue, unable to open the white box. I was completely silent, but every once in awhile the mystery and uneasiness of it all I blurted out to Dan,

"Should I really open the box now?"
"Are you sure I should open it right now?"

He laughed at me and insisted I open the box.
Open the box Amanda. Just do it. Open the box.

Hands shaking, a second later, the box was open.
Inside the box, one of my many loves!

I loved what they said more than anything else!
The frosting was white, and tiny little red roses framed the most important letters I've seen on a cupcake:  Marry  Me?

I remembered a time when I used to cry from past heartbreaks.
I used to tell my mom that I deserved to find a man who loved me the same way I loved him.
I actually would tell her that I was a "treasure" and I deserved a man who treated me this way. 

This is the moment when he opened up the ring box to ask me to marry him.

I smiled, and my eyes gleamed as bright as the 21 diamonds in the ring he was now sliding on my finger.
I had replied with a Yes and suddenly all of the beautiful houses in Laguna Beach seemed a possibility.
Our whole life together was a beautiful novel waiting to be written.  Starting here.

I even envisioned us as an old couple, coming back to Laguna Beach, our wrinkly hands clasped together. Still in mad love. Like the "cute" old couples that hold hands on the street and give us hope that love lasts forever and ever.

One of the pictures I have of Me, Alicia and Dan together.
I dedicated this story to her as well since she was our matchmaker!!!!!