This past weekend, one of my dearest friends got engaged to Matt, one of the kindest and most awesome guys ever. To say I am excited is an understatement.
Matt, her now fiance, is from the Chicago 'burbs too. They are in the same parish, although it was more through their parents matchmaking that they got to know each other. He surprised Julia on her way to confession on late Saturday afternoon. Then they went to 5 p.m. mass together and after mass, they prayed for a while until everyone was gone from the church. Then he proposed to her in the aisle. I can't think of a more perfect place for Julia to have been proposed at, or by a better guy. Maybe in Italy or at the Vatican, but that seems a little over the top. He said he felt bad crashing our Hillsdale weekend together, but I say, the more the merrier! Especially when fantastic engagements are afoot.
Julia and I met at mass too, our sophomore year. We had both been invited to Sigma Chi's formal and of the entire formal group, but only four of us went to mass the next morning. I didn't know her before that (she is a Pi Phi and I'm a Kappa), but we became friends in Birzer's Civil War class the following semester and besties after going to Notre Dame for research purposes.
When I called my family last night on my drive home, I told my 12-year-old brother the news, and he asked, "Is he Italian? Because nothing less will do!" I laughed and said no, even better-- he's Irish! Just like us. He said that would do too. So now Matt has Julia's parents approval, my approval and my 12-year-old brother's approval. Oh, and Julia's too, which I suppose is important.
My weekend at Hillsdale was short, but really wonderful. I saw more people than I planned; it was nice that so many people were excited to see me. I have a couple friends doing an extra semester, and am pretty close with a decent number of underclassmen and Kappas, as well as former professors and their families.
I especially loved the time I spent with my former advisor's family. I went to the five-year-old's soccer game in the morning, had dinner at their house that night and sat with them at mass in the morning. I am especially popular with the 3 and 5-year old, whom I carried and held hands with going up to communion. They rotated climbing into my lap and having me hold them during mass. It was really adorable. One of the funniest parts was after mass, though, happened when I was walking with the whole family to their van and the 3-year-old wouldn't get in the car.
"If you don't get in the car," said my advisor, "Julie is going to take you back to Ohio with her."
"Okay!" he said, and wrapped his body around my leg.
The ducklings (my collective nickname for my advisor's five kids) treat me like a human jungle gym, so I am surprised my body isn't sore today from having them climb all over me. Their favorite thing to do is flips (I hold their hands and bend my knees a bit for balance, and then they "climb" up my legs toward my torso and then flip over! They love it). I also found out that my siblings taught the kids how to play Mafia at my graduation night dinner and now they're teaching their cousins how to play. Glad we've been such a good influence on them! I owe the ducklings a round of hide and seek the next time I come in town. And let me tell you: ducklings never forget promises like that.
Today I am going to finish working on my grant proposal because, once I am done, my boss says I can go. It's nice and weird at the same time. I'm really leaving. The family is coming up till this weekend to get the last of my stuff/ furniture, so I am looking forward to getting my affairs in order, writing letters to people based on who will appreciate my Sunday Funnies stamps, sleeping [more] and reading. So I am essentially receiving a short but paid vacation.
Oh, and I'm going to start writing a speech about Julia for next October, when I will be a bridesmaid in her wedding. I think I'll start by telling the story about the night before we left for the March For Life junior year, and the two bottles of wine we consumed, even though we had to be at the bus by 4:30 a.m. Or when we used to make our bananas into bananaphones. Or champagne nights in the Arb. Or our retreat in Ann Arbor with the amazing Dominican Mary, Mother of the Eucharist nuns. Or the night Bear and I met Matt for the first time in Chicago at the Elephant and Castle, and teased him the entire time. Or our epic quest for a hotdog in D.C. Or--well, I shan't spoil the all surprises. After all, what are besties for?