I got to share my engagement story with someone pretty special last Friday.
In the midst of an insane work week, Pat called me and said the President was coming to PA—Hatfield, of all places. He said he could get me into the event at the K’NEX factory and that I could even possibly get the chance to meet the President and take a picture with him.
Whoa! I know we’re just coming out of an extremely intense, ultra-partisan election year, and feelings toward President Obama vary greatly within the country. But you have to admit that the chance to meet the President of the United States—whether it be Bill Clinton, George Bush, or Barack Obama—is irrefutably awesome.
I tried not to get my hopes up and get ahead of myself, so I didn’t really go to the event thinking I was going to meet him—though I may have thrown around a few scenarios in my head! As excited as I was to potentially see and meet the President, I was also really excited to see Pat in action.
Pat’s been working for the administration for almost three years now. As a press assistant, he traveled with the President all over the country during the campaign—well, to Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia, mainly: a constant swing-state cycle. The idea of it is kind of mesmerizing to me; to be near the most powerful man in the world every day, and to be a part of something so inherently meaningful and important.
Being away from it all, still working here in Philly, I haven’t really had the chance to experience what he does on a daily basis. I ask a whole lot of questions, and prior to Friday, had a vision in my mind of how it all played out. But last week, I got to see it in person.
I was seated in the audience, anxiously waiting for the event to start. The oh-so-familiar campaign music that played at every rally had ceased, and there was an eerie silence that really built up the anticipation. I knew that when I saw Pat, the event would get started.
He strolled in, directing a handful of photographers to crouch below the barricades just in front of the podium. He was wearing one those coiled ear-piece microphone thingies (I’ve always wanted to be cool enough to wear one of them!) and looked so strikingly handsome in his black suit and purple tie—and so important. I was frankly overwhelmed. I felt so proud of him at that moment, and so lucky to have him.
One of the photographers he was crouching beside popped up over the barriers, waved to me, and mouthed, “We love him,” with his finger pointed down at Pat. I felt more proud, more lucky.
Then the silence ceased, “Hail to the Chief” began blasting, and in walked the President. And man, does he have a cool walk. His speech was excellent. And he’s looking so rejuvenated post-election.
Since the point of this blog is not politics, I’ll get onto the good stuff. A sizeable group of us were ushered back to an area of the K’NEX warehouse, where we would wait in line for our chance to get a picture with the President. It felt like prom, with each of us patiently waiting our turn to get in front of the camera.
As I got closer and closer, I got absurdly nervous. I was desperately hoping to say something coherent, and for that matter, speak at all. I was terrified I was going to get up there with wide eyes, fully incapable of uttering a single word. It was right around that moment that Pat arrived. I was so excited and relieved to see him, and I begged him to be in the picture with me.
We made it to the front of the line, and Pat’s mom went first. Two of Pat’s coworkers running the whole photo operation went out of their way and made a big deal of introducing Pat’s mom and fiancé. So outrageously nice.
Pat jumped in on the photo with his mom and the President, and they’re laughing and joking, and I’m solely and simply nervous. I’m staring at him and thinking, “Wow, he’s really good-looking in person.”
Then, it was my turn. I walked a few steps—my heart beating out of my chest—put my hand out, and said, “Hi. It’s so nice to meet you.” Mess up number one. I was hoping for something more like: “Hello Mr. President. It’s an honor to meet you.”
I’m almost positive that as I walked up to him, introduced as Pat’s fiancé, he said, “Well, she’s pretty,” to Pat. It’s quite possible I imagined it, but I think I’m just going to keep it that way in my head.
Pat stepped in for the picture, and as he did, his coworkers told the President, “They’ve been dating since the 7th grade.” Outrageously nice coworker gesture number two. And they really set me up to say what I had hoped I would be capable of blurting out.
I turned to the President and said, “We actually got engaged in the Rose Garden. I don’t think you were there at the time, but I just wanted to thank you for letting us use the backyard.”
I did it! I said something! It was coherent and very mildly funny!
I walked out of the room absolutely giddy. I just met the President of the United States! And to add to an already perfect day, I got to meet a few more of Pat’s coworkers, as well the reporters and photographers he spent so much time with on the campaign trail. Every single one of them couldn’t have been any nicer, and it was clear they really enjoy working with Pat.
And to cap it all off, I watched Pat make his exit via helicopter. Pretty incredible.
In summation, I got to tell the President of the United States about how I got engaged, and I couldn’t be more proud of my fiancé. Definitely a day I won’t forget anytime soon.