December 7, 2007
A friend and I were walking down 14th Street in Washington, D.C., after leaving a nightclub called Cada Vez. At the same time, Ray was walking toward Cada Vez. I noticed a twinkle in his eyes as we moved closer, and he noticed the shimmer in mine too. We remained cool, however, and continued walking. Soon, my friend and I realized we were walking the wrong way to my car. With a heavenly force guiding us, we turned around and headed back in the opposite direction. Mysteriously, the forced turned Ray around too. “I can’t let you walk by me twice without saying something,” he said. “May I have your phone number?” I wasn’t interested in a relationship at that time, so I said, “No.” “Well, can I at least have your email address?” he persisted. My immediate thought was: Who asks for someone’s email address on a street corner? But I gave it to him anyway. Sure enough, the next day Ray sent me one of many emails to come. We sporadically kept in touch for a few days, but I abruptly stopped responding. Our messages were becoming too comfortable. I enjoyed him already, but I wasn’t interested in a relationship! A few months later, I sent a mass email to friends and family announcing the purchase of my first home. I wanted everyone – including Ray – to share in my excitement. I closed the purchase on Nov. 30, 2005. A few days later, I got a response from Ray: “You’ll never guess. I closed on my first home on Nov. 30 too.” It was all too crazy. Ray and I hadn’t spoken to each other for a while, and we never had any conversations about buying houses. We emailed several times to share our house-buying experiences, but still nothing came of our “friendship/relationship.” The months rolled by with many welcome changes, and on Presidents’ Day, I decided to call Ray. I knew Ray would have the day off because he was a government employee. I called around 9 a.m. and woke him up, but he didn’t seem to mind. I invited him out for a lunch date, and we met at 1 p.m. at Busboys and Poets, a cute bookstore and restaurant located on the same block of 14th street we had met almost a year earlier. The hours zipped by as we talked and laughed, and from that day on, we were inseparable. On Friday, Dec. 7, 2007, Ray and I took the afternoon off. I was very excited about being able to spend some quality time with him since I had been very busy juggling work and school. Ray offered to take me to lunch at Busboys and Poets at 1 p.m., and I picked him up from work and parked on the corner of 14th and U. Before we went to Busboys and Poets, he mentioned that Cada Vez had recently turned into a restaurant and asked me if I wanted to check it out. Even though it was raining and I had on high-heeled boots, I agreed. When we got there, Cada Vez was closed, so it was back to Busboys and Poets. After only a few steps back down the street, Ray stopped and looked at me. As he was getting on one knee — in the rain — he said, “Melissa, you mean so much to me, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Suddenly, out of nowhere, we were nearly pushed over by a woman rushing down the sidewalk. She apologized with a sheepish look when she realized she had just interrupted Ray’s proposal. We turned back to each other, and before I could say anything, a dump truck with two big men noticed Ray proposing and started cheering him on, clapping and yelling, “Yeah! That’s how you do it!” Ray looked and me and reminded me that I still hadn’t responded. So I quickly exclaimed, “Yes! Yes, of course I’ll marry you!” He slipped a beautiful ring on my finger and pointed out that we were standing in the very spot where we met. We stood there for a while, staring into each other’s eyes. Then, somewhat abruptly, he said, “I have a confession.” He had the most serious look in his eyes, and I braced myself to hear what it was. After all, I had just agreed to marry him! He said, “I lied. Yesterday when I said I was going to Philadelphia with my boss, I didn’t. I actually flew to North Carolina to meet your dad and ask him permission for your hand in marriage.”
As told by Melissa Williamson. Edited for space and clarity.
Melissa and Ray were married on June 21, 2009.