I may as well start at the very beginning. The condensed version of the "Kim and I" story
goes like this:
Watakushi no kioku ga tashika naraba... (in chairman Kaga's voice: "If memory serves me correctly...") I met Kim in chorus class at Landon Middle back in 1990. Later that school year, chorus practice was on a Thursday, instead of Wednesday for a reason I don't recall. Kim couldn't ever go to chorus practice on Wednsday, also for a reason I don't recall. After practice that day my friend Teddy and I were talking about how that girl Kim "was pretty cute" and about how he was thinking about asking her out. I said, "No way man, I'm going to ask her out first."
Fortunately for a shy person like myself, Kim and I rode the same activity bus (the bus that drops everyone off when they stay after for activities, of course). Waiting around for the bus gave me some time to work up the nerve. So, with a burst of courage and a flick of my 'wavey' gelled bangs, I asked Kim if she'd go out with me. To my dismay she didn't answer right away -- after the winding ride to her stop, she got off the bus, and, as she crossed Emerson, yelled out, "YES!" That was January 10, 1991.
A little over 468 Thursdays later, I was flying up to St. Louis, where Kim had moved with her family in April of 1992. Kim was graduating from UMSL on May 20th, and I wanted to be there to witness her transition and congratulate her achivement.
Of course, I also had a more nefarious reason for going up. At the end of March, Kim had flown down to Jacksonville for a visit, and one night we both had a simultaneous epiphany (at least that's how I see it) that now was the right time. Because of this "paradigm shift" from coping to acting, I prepared the heirloom my mother's mother had handed down. On the Wednsday before I left, I picked it up from the jeweler's shop.
On Thursday evening (May 18, 2000) Kim picked me up from the airport and we hooked up with her friend Cicely. She, Kim, and I went to dinner at King and I, a Thai resturant up the street from Cicely's joint (boy was that stuff spicy!) Later that night we drove back to Kim's side of town to find a place for me to stay, since it was close to two A.M. at this point. I got a room at the Red Roof where they only give you one towel, even if your room has two beds! The next morning when we got up, I checked into a better hotel and then we had breakfast.
While we were planning the day's agenda I suggested we go to the Arch. When we got there we parked on the bank of the river near the Riverboat McDonald's. We walked to the Arch and bought tickets for the tram to the top. While we were waiting for our appointed turn we checked out the museum underneath. After about half an hour of reading about Whitey holding the aboriginal Americans down it was time for our trip to the top.
At the end of the line for the tram, there is a metal detector, just like at the airports. Kim went through in front of me, but when I walked through the box in my pocket set off the alarm. I stepped backwards and while Kim was looking away I swung the box through the metal detector to show the guard what caused it. I held my finger up to my lips and said, "Ssh, It's a ring."
Then the guard said aloud, "Oh. It must be your... keys!"
Kim looked at me in confusion; we both knew I didn't have my keys with me. I thought the jig was up. Kim didn't seem to notice, though, so we rode up the tram to the top. We looked out and I took pictures while Kim pointed out all the buildings. "There's were the Cards play... There's where I was naturalized... There's where graduation will be..."
After a while, Kim asked if I was ready to go. I said, "Not yet. I have a present for you."
I pulled out the jeweler's box, and pulled the little green velvet box from it. While we were laying there on our stomachs in front of the observation window I showed her the ring, gulped, and looked her in the eyes, "Kimberly Ann Niemeyer, will you marry me?"
She said sweetly and quietly, "Yes," and gave me a big kiss.