It was Friday June 23, 2000. Doug and I were just leaving an event at church to head to dinner at our favorite sushi spot. I had never eaten sushi prior to meeting Doug and at first I wasn’t so fond of it. But after a few visits I really enjoyed it and then began to crave it. It was 6:30 pm and we had reservations at 7 pm. Doug was acting rather strange and excitable, then out of the blue he asked me if I’d like to stop by his friend Paul’s restaurant in downtown Safety Harbor. It hadn’t opened yet, but was almost done and he wanted me to see it. Why would I want to do that, I thought……I’m hungry and just want to get to sushi, but I agreed. We pulled into the back alley behind the little bungalow converted into restaurant. For some reason Doug had the keys to the locked up restaurant that sat awaiting its big debut, which would be 2 weeks later. We walked into the old wood framed 1920’s bungalow that sat on 3rd Ave. It had been given the name “Green Springs”. We entered through the kitchen then walked to the main dining room. A few paint cans lined the wall but most of the place had been painted already and was almost ready for opening day. I turned the corner to check out the bar and there in front of the bar stood a table set with white linen, white plates, silverware, wine glasses and candles. Along side the table stood tall candle stands presenting white candles atop. The bar held many candles as well. There were candles everywhere! Doug took my hand and led me to my chair where I sat in astonishment. I had not one word. He lit the candles, picked up a remote control that turned beautiful jazz music on, and asked if I still wanted sushi. Before I could answer, a chef appeared in front of us, almost like magic and I was further confused. Where did he come from? Later I discovered that he came from the little bistro Blue Gardenia, that used to operate right across the street. He took our orders then appeared back promptly with appetizers. I kept saying, ” this is beautiful” and “oh my goodness, I have no words” and ” I can’t believe this” and “thank you so much”. I really wish I could recall what I ate,but I can’t and I’m pretty certain Doug can’t either. However, I do remember the creme brûlée and the white linen napkins that had the date embroidered on the corner of them. That was my first clue, that perhaps, this was the special night. I was so overwhelmed and maybe I cried as I ate .
Near the end of the meal, Doug quickly arose from his chair and made his way to mine. He knelt down on one knee and at that moment I remember thinking, “oh my goodness, oh my goodness, he’s gonna ask me to marry him”, and he did just that! He spoke the most perfect words. They were words for that moment because neither one of us can remember them now. But I know they were perfect. He asked me to be his wife and I said yes! He opened a beautiful white box that lit up upon being opened and presented me with the most beautiful ring.
Then he took me by the hand and guided me to the center of the restaurant, still void of tables and chairs. We danced to the beat of jazz music, just the two of us, in the adorable little restaurant that stood in the heart of Safety Harbor, the place where we’d someday live and raise our kids. It was a perfect night, one of the best nights of my life.
Thirteen years later, I love him even more then the day I said “I do”! Happy engagement anniversary babe! I love you so much!
Oh, and Green Springs still sits in the heart of Safety Harbor. We’ve had many wonderful nights there since. Its one the best restaurants in town. Whenever we visit, we watch lovers enjoy their wine and food and remember that we were the first lovers to enjoy wine and food there; no one could possibly enjoy a night as good as the one we enjoyed there 13 years prior. It’s our place.