In the beginning, there was the Patricia M. Sitar Center for the Arts, a nonprofit arts center for primarily low-income children in Adams Morgan and surrounding Washington, DC neighborhoods. Josh joined the board of directors in November 2001, and Sara joined the staff as director of development in January 2003.
At a picnic prior to a Summer 2003 Sitar Center outing to an outdoor production of "Hamlet," Sara and Josh met. The topic of their first discussion--mayonnaise. Sara thought she was building board/staff relations. Josh thought...wow! At a Sitar board retreat soon thereafter, Josh asked Sitar founder Rhonda Buckley if it would be OK if he asked Sara out, just to make sure there wouldn’t be any conflict of interest since Josh was on the Board of Directors. Rhonda said yes, Josh asked Sara out...and she gave the dreaded "just friends" speech. Sara and Josh did go out a couple of times as "just friends," including the following April, where Josh told Sara about his then-current girlfriend, and Sara...was jealous.
The New Beginning
In true deja vu fashion, at a picnic prior to a Summer 2004 Sitar Center outing to an outdoor production of "Much Ado About Nothing," Sara and Josh chatted/flirted and Josh realized his feelings hadn't changed a year later. And once again, at a Sitar board retreat soon thereafter, Josh asked Rhonda if it would be OK if he asked Sara out. But this time, still ginger from the previous year's "just friends" debacle, he enlisted Rhonda to gauge Sara's availability and interest. Rhonda in turn involved Saraís Sitar colleague and friend Maureen Dwyer in the process. Unbeknownst to Josh, Maureen had been lobbying Sara incessantly on his behalf since the summer of 2003, favorably comparing Josh to others Sara was dating. Sara and Josh's first dates were supposed to be discussions of community fundraising for the Sitar Center. Strangely, the topic of community fundraising never came up in any of these meetings.
The Sure Thing
Over the next year, successful date followed successful date. Josh met Sara's friends, and they approved, which was one major sign of good things to come. Sara met Josh's friends, and they were thrilled to find out she really did exist. The respective soon-to-be in-laws were supportive. And, as virtually anyone (friends, family, neighborhood activists, the mailman, cashiers at Safeway, etc.) who talked to Josh in the months leading up to the summer of 2005 knew, "the question" would be popped...in Paris. Fortunately, a wedding brought Josh and Sara to Chesterton just before the Paris trip, so after a night of drinking scotch and watching Bill Maher, Josh was able to ask Sara's dad for his blessing.
Josh ordered the ring (designed by Tacori, later found out to be the official ring provider for "The Bachelor", which in a social low point, Sara had been somewhat obsessed about for several seasons) months in advance, but the order was lost, and almost all hope along with it. Fortunately, the ring was cast just two days before the Paris trip, was Fed Ex'ed to the jeweler on the morning of the trip, had the diamond dropped in, and was picked up in Baltimore by Josh just two hours before the couple was to leave for the airport. Josh then almost decided to pack the ring in his checked luggage (in case his backpack was stolen), but fortunately didn't, since the checked luggage was lost by the airline for several days.
Josh had hoped to propose (and told his mother to expect a call) the first night in Paris. But with the stress and confusion of the lost luggage, things just didn't seem right. The following night, after hours of walking and a romantic dinner at the medieval Coupe-Chou, Josh was still unclear on which of his two potential proposal sites he'd choose. As Sara and Josh's post-dinner stroll brought them to the first possiblity, the pedestrian Pont des Arts bridge, they discovered it was entirely packed with seated and drunken revelers. So, it appeared Josh's other (but not second-place!) choice would be the final choice. As Sara and Josh strolled along the marvelously illuminated Seine's banks and bridges, Sara started to complain about sore feet (Josh's pedometer showed 12 miles of walking so far that day) and the late hour (nearly 1AM). Knowing her mood would soon change, Josh smirked...until all the Seine's romantic lights simultaneously went out. (Unbeknownst to Josh, the lights go out at 1AM.) As they crossed the bridges behind Notre Dame, Josh asked Sara to pause as he took a picture of the rear of the cathedral. Sara, who wanted to make Josh happy his first full day in Paris but who was nearly at her wits' end with walking and sleep fatigue, didnít even really ask why this guy wanted to take a picture in the pitch black, turned her back and took a couple of deep breaths knowing that soon enough she would be able to sit down. Meanwhile, Josh opened his camera bag, popped open the film container where he had hidden the ring, dropped to one knee, and called Sara's name. She turned back around, and the rest is history.