From Mizzou to St. Louis: How a little lady stole my heart at a Dave Matthews Band concert

I thought I lost my girlfriend before I could ask her to be my wife. Please allow me to explain.

But first, I’ll preface this personal dose by making a confession: I’m a hopeless romantic. A trait that I picked up during middle school while downloading romantic comedies and being raised right by two great parents, I have always had my eyes set on finding a woman and ending the search for love at an early age.

As inviting as it sounds off the tongue, bachelorhood is a tiring and lonely practice that I have witnessed over the years with many friends. Staying single for long was never on my to-do list, but I also didn’t see myself getting engaged at 20 years of age-and then I met Rachel Imperiale. 

I remember walking into her dorm room to find myself comforted instantly by two things: she didn’t mind piledriving a Hostess Cupcake and she liked the Dave Matthews Band. I like a woman that likes to eat and doesn’t feel like a Bran muffin is sufficient enough to torture herself for looking skinny. I prefer women with curves, attitude, a need to laugh, and a smartness that carried sassy appeal. One night checked all the boxes with Rachel.

Our initial relationship was anything but conventional. After flirting on an elevator and outdoor field, I withheld asking her out. Call it fear or just pure laziness, but when I came home from a weekend of working the games at Busch Stadium to find a blunt note on my door from Rachel, I knew I had to cut the shit. So I went down to her dorm room, and there were fireworks.

To make a long story kind of shorter, Rachel and I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment quickly. Courtyard Apartments on Stadium Drive did the trick, and after 3.5 months of being together, we decided to head back to Maryland Heights for a DMB concert.

August 27, 2002 was the date I would become engaged to Rachel, but it didn’t happen before a weird incident that drove me halfway nuts.

We arrived at the Amphitheater formerly known as Riverport, and found our seats. It was a decently warm evening, and the two of us were excited. This was the first time I was seeing the band live, so I was working out a setlist in my head as the show start crept closer.

Then, Rachel said she was going to use the restroom. Now, when your man or woman uses the restroom these days, it’s a chance to take in some quality smartphone social media time. But this was 2002, and there was no Twitter or Facebook. So, I was sitting there waiting for her to come back to the seats. I waited a little…and waited some more.

She didn’t come back for a bit. I started to freak out. Due to an immersive experience in the world of make-believe, my mind drifted to the worst possible scenario. My wife was kidnapped by a Phish or Pearl Jam fan attending the concert undercover. Or maybe she was drugged and thrown into a van by a DMB fanatic. This is where my mind went.

Finally, she returned with a present: a DMB shirt that would become a mainstay in my wardrobe. Due to the long lines, her absence stretched to nearly 30 minutes, but it seemed like 30 hours.

The show kicked off in fine style, and the setlist didn’t disappoint. Matthews and company like to mix in the oldies along with their new tunes, with a cover or two thrown in for good measure.

As “All Along The Watchtower” turned into “Where Are You Going,” I decided to make my move. As the puff clouds of marijuana smoke fell on top of us, I dropped to a knee and popped the question. She knew it was coming, but was still delighted that I was doing it. For weeks, we had been thinking about in our own individual ways. The two of us had downloaded each of the best and worse things about each other, so it was only a matter of time.

I know what you are thinking. Did I really plan it or was it spontaneous? Neither answer truly fit, but if I had to lean in a direction, I’d chose the latter. The thing about being wildly in love is you don’t have a plan. Romance doesn’t allow for a method, series of events, or procedure. It’s the two minute warning decision-making process stage of your life that proves to be a vital aspect of how happy you are.

That was 16 years ago. There have been countless apartments, a duplex, two houses, ups and downs, a kid, and plenty of excitement since that fateful night at a concert.

A good marriage is like a television series that never ends. There’s always fresh stories to tell, new challenges, and a fair mix of struggle and hardships. It’s all worth it if you chose the right person to dance with and work hard on your marriage.

Is marriage hard work? You bet your ass it is. The ones who it because it feels remedial and is the byproduct of your family tree are the cases where marriage fails. You can’t marry someone because it SHOULD be done. You just know.

When I proposed to Rachel, I wrote the final chapter of my book. It was that easy. I’ve watched countless friends and strangers try and fail, and in return become less invested in the happily-ever-after idea. It becomes far-fetched when you go for it and lose. That’s why when I say I’m lucky and outkicked my coverage with Rachel, I’m not lying.

I’m far from perfect, but I think I picked the perfect woman to marry.

Thanks for reading,

DLB

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