As of May 17, 2014, I am officially engaged! Her name is Jennifer (she prefers "Jen" though), and she is the most amazing woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing! She's autistic, just like me, and it's actually how we met -- there's a forum for those of us with autism, and I saw a post of hers a year ago, noticed she wasn't too far away, so I got in touch with her, and from there we developed a wonderful relationship! If I could change one thing, it would be to have done all of this way, way sooner, but (and the agnostics out there may want to skip a couple paragraphs down now) I had God's blessing in timing and in knowing her. It just took me this long before he gave me a tongue-lashing (figuratively speaking, of course) basically saying to stop being like the disciple Peter, trying to re-write God's plan instead of just going with what God had in mind. Once I embraced this plan, life got so much better. In a completely "neurotypicals wouldn't understand" kind of way, it just made logical sense to go for it, knowing how I feel about her. Once I knew God wanted me to be with her, it was basically a no-brainer to just make it as official as is reasonable in today's society. I felt it, God knew it, and while my parents thought it was too early, I knew better.
After I got engaged, I took Jen out to lunch, and we talked about what we wanted. I tried not to overwhelm her, while still getting useful information with regards to what she wanted. We set the date for Spring 2015, between March and May (well, she did, but as long as it's not "road salt" season, I'm for whatever date she wants). So now we have an entire year to figure out the logistics, finances, family situation (i.e. kids), moving, etc., but now that I'm officially going to spend the rest of my life with her (I know God will smite me if we ever, you know, the "d" word... yeah not doing that considering he wants us together forever), I feel like the happiest man alive. To commemorate the occasion, I asked her Mom to take a picture of the two of us, and it turned out very well! Take a look:
(click for full-size)
Normally I have issues touching any organic object not covered in fur (so pets, clothes, etc. are fine, but bare skin? Not so much), to the point where I usually have to wipe my hands because the feeling lingers long after the touch is done with, and it doesn't feel good. I always knew that "the one" for me wouldn't bother me in that regard no matter what we did, and when we went for a walk after our lunch, we held hands the entire way, and I didn't wipe it off once! It was like holding hands with an angel, my angel, and yet one thing I always remember now is that she's God's daughter too. If you've ever seen the show "Monk", where he wipes his hands after every time he touches something, that's basically me, except with anti-bacterial pants instead of wipes (long story, not a misprint either), and you can imagine how wonderful it is to find someone that doesn't require a wipe after every touch. The best part? The "lingering" I describe is there as I type this, and it feels magical! That's the first time in the entirety of my life that touching someone else's bare skin actually feels good. As in really, really damn good. I love it!
And just for posterity, the way I approached it was both clever, subtle, and let me know she would say "yes" before I actually popped the question. The first thing I asked was "So, what do you see as the next step in this relationship?" She misunderstood the question, so I continued with "Okay, well, what about in terms of long-term commitment? Like, say, marriage?" She then said "Yeah some day I would like to get married". I asked "So if I were to propose, you would say 'yes'?" She said "Yeah, probably". Then I made it official: "Then I guess I'm proposing to you!" Her eyes got real wide, with the biggest smile on her face, and she said "For real?!", and I was like "Yes!", and she said "Of course!" We hugged very tightly, and history was made!
And that is the story of how Shep went from Lone Wolf to Happily Engaged!