I had spent three months planning for my elaborate proposition and I recruited the help of my sister Kristine, and her then, fiance, Leo. Without Kristine and Leo, my plans wouldn't have worked out as sweetly. Of course, there were a few glitches, but those glitches added to the drama that is now fond a memory.
The three of us set up an elaborate day of decoy so that my home in Renton could be prepared for my proposal during the evening. The two of us lovebirds started the day with lunch at Cedars, an Indian restaurant that was located in the U-District (though the restaurant has since moved to a new location in Northgate, and renamed Saffron Grill), owned by friends of the Gipaya family. I extended our lunch for as long as possible. Afterwards, I drove extra sluggishly to the University Village, where I pretended to look for "things", including some random Architectural book, disappearing among the aisles and making phone calls, in order to find out how Kristine and Leo were doing with the preparations. At that time, I'd say everything was moving very well, though, rather intentionally ... slowly, on my end. I had managed to stretch out the day. She (My Love) was visibly upset because we were spending her birthday doing my common errands. It was not how she had intended to spend her birthday with me, our first together. My Love was so patient. She never verbally complained. (After my proposal, My Love admitted that she couldn't understand why we had spent so much time shopping, when I had left empty-handed. <giggle giggle>) Little did she know that, during the Christmas Celebration of 1998, at her parents' home, I had privately approached her parents and had asked for their daughter's hand in marriage. Thankfully, they gave me their approval. And, one month prior to My Love's birthday on March 22, 1999, I had designed her wedding band and had it custom made at Ben Bridge Jewelers in Puyallup. Nervously fidgeting within my pocket, pacing through this memorable day, I carefully cradled her beautiful wedding band, designed with a brilliant cut diamond, embraced by a
After feigning the shopping spree, I remember that we were driving south on I-5, adjacent to Boeing Field. En route to my real destination, I made another phone call to Kristine, while My Love was sitting next to me. I had to be vague. In verbal code, I discreetly let my sister know that we were less than 40 minutes away. That's when Kristine told me that Leo was frantically blowing up over 100 balloons manually, since the helium tank that was intended to blow up 144 white balloons (each balloon representing each day that we had been together, between October 30, 1998 and March 22, 1999) had prematurely run out of helium!!! Kristine said that Leo was about to PASS OUT, but she was confident that they would definitely get all 144 balloons inflated, except that most would not have helium. And, as Kristine was hanging up the phone, I had heard her yelling at Leo ... well, you get the picture. Ahem ... So ... I turned to My Love, gently smiled, and calmly said "okay, thanks for letting me know ... I'll talk to you later :)" pretending to finish a conversation that was nonexistent.
All the while, inside, I was praying. My imagination was going
wild, frenzied about the change in the presentation. <Cue the
bubble over my head> I had drawn images of the two of us and had written my heart's words on five heart-shaped pieces of parchment, describing our wonderful relationship. Five blue balloons suspended those five parchment hearts with my writings. Each blue balloon represented one month from the time that we had "officially" started our relationship on October 30, 1998. Lit votive candles, attending the front door, across the carpet, would provide a path to follow. She would stop at each blue balloon and absorb what I had to express about my love for her. The candles would lead her to a closed door where one hundred and forty-four white balloons would be waiting (though most would be on the floor now). Within the sea of white balloons, the last of the five blue balloons would await her eyes, and leave her anticipating ... anticipating what the next few moments would reveal. I would be next to her each step of the way, and, once she had finished reading the last blue balloon, I would take her hand and lead her into the living room where we would sit at the chaise. And, finally, I would ease myself into kneeling position ... to reveal my proposal.
Of course, Kristine and Leo would be with us as my plans unfolded (camera flashing and video camera rolling) in order to help me document this beautiful time for us, for future reflection. That was the plan ...
And so, not knowing at that time, that I would be creating this
wonderful glimpse down memory lane, to commemorate our engagement on YouTube, my rendition of "We've Only Just Begun" provides a heartfelt accompaniment for an exciting time in our lives, captured for posterity. The music video begins with my intention, followed by Kristine's and Leo's preparations, and finally, the realization of all that planning, as My Love and I walk through the front door ... watch and see a few brief moments of that time ... of us.
Happy Mother's Day to all Mommies!!!
"We've Only Just Begun" is a famed signature song for The Carpenters. Although the Carpenters' version was recorded in early 1970, the song is still very much in demand as a wedding anthem.
Originally recorded by Smokey Roberds, a friend of Nichols, under the name Freddie Allen (his Christian names), it was fairly successful in California but had no national impact. Roberds attributed this to promotion and distribution problems.
Written by the team of Roger Nichols (music) and Paul Williams (lyrics), the song originally debuted in a commercial for Crocker National Bank in California, in the late winter of 1970, with Williams providing the vocals. Williams has said that the team left out a direct reference to the bank, in part, to make the song marketable, as well as, because they couldn't conceive of a reasonable rhyme for "Crocker". Richard Carpenter had seen the Crocker Bank commercial late one night, during that winter of 1970, and instantly identified Williams' vocal work. He called Williams and asked if a full-length version of the song was available. At the time, only the two verses heard in the commercial existed. In reality, the bridge had never been composed. As Williams himself admits in the documentary Close to You: Remembering The Carpenters, he and Nichols had had only minor success with some album cuts and B-sides, but no singles. The Carpenters' interest offered a chance at getting a major single recorded by one of the hottest groups of the era. Williams freely admits that he `lied through his teeth' and claimed that there was, in fact, a bridge, as well as, an additional verse, which altogether, formed a complete song. As a result, Nichols and Williams burned the midnight oil for many nights, stalling Carpenter as he waited to hear the complete song. Once it was played for him, Carpenter admits, he saw a `Big Hit' immediately. According to Nichols, the ends justified the deceptive means, since Richard Carpenter selected the composition for the duo's third single, and included it on the LP Close to You, giving the song, and the work of Nichols and Williams, a life. Nichols and Williams were also awarded a contract at A&M Records for which, according to the duo, they were eternally grateful.
Released in the late summer of 1970, the single featured Karen's lead vocals and the overdubbed harmonies of both siblings. Following their hit "(They Long To Be) Close to You" onto the charts, "We've Only Just Begun" crested at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, becoming the pair's second gold single. "We've Only Just Begun" was considered by both, Karen and Richard, to be their signature song. According to The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (6th edition), on the U.S. Adult Contemporary singles chart, "We've Only Just Begun" was the duo's best-performing tune, lasting seven weeks at #1 (besting the six-week stay at the top of "Close To You"). The song helped the duo win two Grammy Awards in 1971. One was for the Best New Artist (The Carpenters), and the other was for Best Contemporary Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus (Close to You).
The song ranked #405 on the
Rolling Stone magazine's list of "the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". In 1998, the recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for recordings of lasting quality of historical significance.