Thursday, June 16, 2011
I Got Engaged Yesterday!! On the Sanford Stadium 50 Yard Line!!
How did I pull this off??
It was not very easy, my friends. I obtained the ring I wanted to give my little Georgia Peach about a week ago. I wanted to pop the question in a place that was special to us. That place happens to be Sanford Stadium, where we frequented for the entire 2009 season, right after we met. I originally planned to walk her through campus, and pause on the Sanford Bridge, overlooking the greatest sight on earth, and do the deed. But I began having larger thoughts, and decided I would do whatever I had to do to get us in the stadium. Between the hedges. On the grass. Smack dab in the middle of the 92,746 seat chapel which only worships on six or seven Saturdays every fall. But how?
On Monday, after my morning summer-semester U.S. History class in Atlanta, I told my lovely lady that I needed to go help my father with a few things around his house. It was a lie. I drove out to Athens with the lone goal of obtaining permission to access the field of Sanford Stadium to propose. I began my search at the stadium itself, at the student entrance under the Sanford Bridge. After about 30 mins of standing around and looking lost, a member of the grounds crew finally appeared. I flagged her over, and as my luck would have it, it was Kelly Baxter; head of Sanford Stadium facilities management. I explained to her what I wanted to do, and like an angel, she seemed as giddy as I was about the idea. But she informed me that she couldn't do anything without the permission from higher ups at Butts Mehre. I was so close, yet so far away.
Charles Whittemore, Athletics Director of Facilities. All of a sudden I find myself in his office, discussing my visions of the greatest engagement a Georgia boy could give a sweet Georgia girl. He was more than happy to grant me permission, and made sure Kelly Baxter back at Sanford knew that I had the go ahead! The plan was on!!!
I am in summer school in the mornings, and my now fiance' is a kindergarten teacher. So we have plenty of free time in the afternoons right now. I arranged with Kelly Baxter that I would meet her under the Sanford Bridge at 1:30pm on Wednesday, act like we were old friends, and she would tell my lady and I to come in and check out the field if we wish. So all I have to do is convince my lady to go spend an afternoon in Athens with me. I tell her we are going to have lunch with one of my brothers who is in town and staying in Athens (this is a total ploy). She agrees, and we are off.
I am so nervous, with ring in pocket, that I ask her to drive. She is oblivious to the fact that the entire butterfly house at Calloway Gardens has taken up residence in my stomach. Had I driven, I am pretty sure I would have just dazed out and run multiple red lights on Highway 316. However, this plan almost backfired on me. In my nervousness, I somehow told her we needed to be in Athens at 2pm, when I was suppose to say 1pm. So when we arrive in Athens at 1pm, I am feeling great about the perfect timing. Well, she decides on her own, that since we are there early, she wanted to go to the Athens Zoo, over off Milledge Ave, to kill a little time since we are so early..... NO!!!!! I don't know what to say, as my plan was to park downtown, and suggest we kill time while we wait by strolling North Campus and walk over to look at the stadium. The only thing I can think of is to fake receiving a text message from my so called-brother who is supposedly suppose to meet us, telling me he is early and almost there. It works!! She gets us back in the car and we head downtown to park.
Now, when we park, I need to come up with some way to delay the supposed brother from meeting us for lunch. I then fake a phone call with him, where I pretend he tells me he left something in Winder, and had to turn around, and will be in Athens in 30 mins. He is SO, SO sorry for the inconvenience he has caused us! My plan is looking better. I convince her to stroll the beautiful North Campus. I then randomly tell her: "I recently saw on facebook, an old friend works on the grounds crew at Sanford Stadium, and she said to come by if I am ever in Athens and she will try and let us on the field." She perks up (as do I at the thought of stepping foot on the hallowed grass), and I call Kelly Baxter (who I just met on Monday) and talk like old friends happy to hear each others voices, and ask if we can come see her. Of course, my BEST FRIEND of 2 days obliges, and we head to the entrance under the bridge to see her.
Once there, Kelly greets me with a hug. I introduce her to my girlfriend, and she welcomes us in. She shows us the field and tells us to go on out and explore. Like two kids in a candy shop, we try and pick up our dropped jaws as we stroll out onto the field of play. We were literally walking while spinning circles, looking at the intimidating number of seats surrounding us. Nostalgia for the history that had taken place on the hallowed sod which graced the bottom of our shoes was easy to feel and respect. I took her by the hand and walked out to the patch of grass in the middle of the field where the beautiful, elongated "G" would be painted if the leaves on the surrounding trees were a different color. I look her in the eye and tell her "I lied to you". Puzzled, she looks back me. I tell her "we are not here to meet my brother." I then reach into my pocket and pull out a small black box. She instantly tears up, and I choke as I fall to one knee. I think I said something to the tune of "I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me", but those details are a bit fuzzy with the endorphin rush that had taken my body over during this moment. I do remember her saying "YES!!" as she grabbed for the ring. I slid it on her finger, and all of a sudden we hear cheers from a few of the groundskeepers in the distance, as well as a couple of construction workers improving the jumbo-tron.
I did not want to leave. I was prepared to wait with my new fiance' right there at mid-field for the next 87 days until the crowds arrived. But we had to go. Kelly Baxter was nice enough to come over and take a few pictures for us, ad we left the stadium giddy, tearful, happy, and 100% in love! It excites me beyond belief that we can watch and attend football games at Sanford Stadium for the rest of our lives, and always look at that beautiful "G" in the middle, and know that that is now "our spot".
THANK YOU to Kelly Baxter, and Charles Whittemore for your help and approval to make a memory for my fiance' and I. She loved it, as did I!!
80 days til' kickoff!!