On Sunday night, my friend Erica invited me and Nathan to see her give a reading at a nearby tattoo shop/art gallery that occasionally hosts events. We were both really tired - we'd stayed up too late on Saturday night, I had a slight hangover and a bad day at work, and we mostly just wanted to go to bed as soon as possible. Alas, we had promised Erica, and so off we went, crossing our fingers that the reading would be short and we could support and clap and then go right back home.
When we walked through the doors, we were greeted - not by a reading - but by a group of twenty of our best MFA friends, grinning and laughing and yelling surprise.
Once the shock wore off, we learned that Erica had been planning a surprise engagement party for us since the summer, that somehow everyone in our tight knit community had managed to keep it a complete secret, and that I am enrolled in the number one greatest MFA program in the world. Hands down.
Not only was there delicious vegetarian and vegan food, tons of wine, champagne, and beer, and an adorable guest book, but there were also speeches. Yes, speeches. Erica had instructed everyone to come prepared with something to say about Nathan and me as a couple, and one by one, they took to the small stage and spoke. There was laughter. There were tears. There were the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful things shared that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life. It was, in a word, absolutely amazing. Part of me still thinks the whole thing was a dream, that friends this wonderful don't really exist. But then I realize they do, and I'm the luckiest person in the world, and I feel grateful and honored all over again.
I said something to this effect on Facebook the next day, but I will say it again here. When I came to Wilmington, I assumed I would find a community of talented writers and readers who will make me a better writer. I was right. What I didn't expect to find was a community of dear friends, whose love, support, and generosity would make me a better person. As we count down the days to our wedding (17!) I'm feeling less nervous and more excited. I'm looking forward to being married, because I love Nathan and want to spend my life with him, but also because I know that we have the support of our community behind us, holding us up, wishing us the best, and promising they'll be there for us when we need them.
Thanks, friends. For the great party, for the great times, and for all the great things still to come. <3