Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Thomas Jefferson Changed My Life

Maybe you read that title and thought "Wait, what?" What does Thomas Jefferson have to do with anything. Now you're racking your memory-- "I know her husband's from Virginia... she was a history major..." So what's the connection?

On October 9, 2011, Thomas Jefferson changed my life forever. Well, to be honest, he just presided over the event. Or rather, a very large statue of Thomas Jefferson presided over the event. The man who changed my life forever is pictured below. A handsome blue-eyed Virginian who strolled into my life with his "yes ma'ams" and meat-and-potatoes palate and avid obsession with all things outdoors. He strolled right in and made me fall right head-over-heels in love with him. 

On that mild October day four years ago, Mark proposed to me at the Jefferson Memorial. But he didn't just propose. He orchestrated an entire romantic event that concluded at Thomas Jefferson's stone-clad feet. 

I was halfway through my senior year at Piedmont College, a liberal arts college in Northeast Georgia, while Mark had just begun his first "real job" as a construction foreman for a framing company in Washington, D.C. He invited me to his new apartment for my fall break. Casually, he remarked that I should "pack a nice dress" since he wanted to celebrate. My mind immediately assumed he wanted to celebrate his new job and new life in D.C. Little did I know that he and my father had had a serious conversation just a few weeks prior. "A nice dress... like church nice or fancier?" I asked. "Fancier," was the reply. 


That evening, Mark lead me into Charlie Palmer Steak DC, one of the nicest restaurants I had ever visited. A reserved table for two waited by the window with a breathtaking view of the National Mall and the US Capitol building. Steak, prawns, sweet potato soup, risotto, creme brulee, and then finally the check. I started to thank my boyfriend for such an amazing meal when he grinned and remarked that the evening wasn't over yet. 

Taking my hand, he lead me a block away to the Hyatt. Perplexed, I laughingly asked why we were standing outside of a luxury hotel only to be interrupted by the jingle of bells. A white carriage drawn by a beautiful grey horse suddenly appeared. It pulled in front of us and its tophat wearing driver smiled and asked us to climb on. My heart beat instantly sped up; clearly this was more than a fancy date night. 

After a tour of the National Mall by carriage, the driver took us to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, where Mark proposed on the bank of the Potomac. I was so excited that I just kissed him and for a moment utterly forgot to say yes. People cheered and whistled when they saw him get on one knee. I have to say-- I love our proposal story. If there was a day I could relive-- that day would be the one I pick. 

For our anniversary weekend, we decided to take a moment and revisit the Jefferson Memorial. After all, last time we were there, I wasn't paying much attention to the fine architecture or to President Jefferson. We took a picture at our proposal spot and then enjoyed the memorial itself. Of course, countless tour busloads teemed around the site, but a somber air presided over the memorial itself. Yet I couldn't help but smile. Even though I know that the huge monument belongs to all American citizens and represents a huge piece of our national history, I can't help but feel like the place is somehow mine. 

So, yes. I guess you could say that Thomas Jefferson changed my life. 


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