It was early September 2007, I was 25, working as an entertainment reporter at a racetrack and I was dating a huge creep. The day I gave this guy the ol’ heave-ho, I made my way to Union Park Bar (sadly, it no longer exists) in the West Loop to tell my best friend, Lisa, about this bizarre, yet hilarious “break up” story. She was working as a server at the time, so I took a seat at the bar and pieced together the story between her taking orders and dropping them off at tables.
At some point, Lisa said, “oh my God, Anthony Ciancio is here. I’m introducing you to him!”
If you ask Anthony, he’ll tell you I knew he was at the bar before I arrived. I can’t be certain I did, but of course, he would say that. In any case, Lisa knew him from “the neighborhood” and I graduated high school with Vinny Ciancio, his younger brother, (I know, this is all so g-ball) so I already knew about this cute older brother that existed. I had heard all about him since high school, but we never got the chance to meet, that is, until this moment. Lisa and I walked over to their table for introductions where I met some guys named Tommy (who would later stand up in our wedding), Mitch and then this Anthony fellow. We shook some hands, nice to meet you blah blah blah, and I went back to where I was hanging out prior to meeting them. While I was standing near the bar, reading CNN on my Blackberry, this Anthony dude came up to me and poked fun at me for reading the news in a bar.
To myself, I wondered if he ever had read the news in general.
He kindly bought me a Miller Lite and we stood there chatting for basically the rest of the night. Near the end of our conversation, he asked if he could call me sometime so I gave him my number. He walked me to my car but I didn’t offer to drive him home, a.) because I was going in the opposite direction b.) I just got rid of one creep and I wasn’t up for another one so soon. To play it safe, I let him hail a cab. Remember those days before Uber existed when you could run to the corner, flail your arms and a cab would come to a screeching halt and swoop your ass up? Miss them. Anyways, I hopped on 290 and headed back to the burbs. And that, my friends, was the very start of our six-year long story before we married in 2013.
A week after we met he called me and asked, are you going out tonight? See, I’m of the mind that when you call on a lady you ask her out to dinner or coffee/wine. It appeared Anthony was just curious if I was “going out” that evening, perhaps to meet up at some point. Insert eye roll. I did not meet up with him that night, but I did the following weekend. And the next. And the next. And again the next. This meeting up business went on until my other best friend, Courtney, hollered at Anthony from inside a cab that he needs “to take my best friend on a proper date!”.
The following week he called and asked me on a proper date.
Leave it up to a good Irish, Catholic girl to set things straight. We met at his place in Bucktown. I remember exactly what I wore – green sunglasses, a white t-shirt, jeans, and purple sneakers. I don’t know, I was trying to look low key but different. It was different alright. After a couple beers on the outside patio at Pint on Milwaukee Ave. we walked to Club Lucky on a whim for dinner where we drank some red wine and limoncello. A man after my own heart, although I think he was a bit surprised that, first date or not, I was going to eat about a million cloves of garlic (I ordered the linguine with clams). Is that bad? Don’t care. He was easy on the eyes and funny. So far so good, I thought. And then I realized that he was actually interesting too and that we had a ton in common. Talking about things like travel, music, food, and culture kept us both from shutting up for hours. The date ended and I headed home again, only this time I left and I was liking. Great.
We continued to date on and off for a pretty long time. Like, I mean, a pretty damn long time.
There was lots of going back and forth. Lots of woo-ing me with mix CDs. He must have made me 75. Sometimes we dated other people, sometimes I only wanted to date Anthony. Oh, then there was that one time he suggested we be “just friends”. We still joke about that because I honestly couldn’t believe he actually considered that a viable option. My dad always told me that no guy wants to “just be friends” so that clearly wasn’t going to happen. There were times I really liked Anthony and times when he really pissed me off. And then there were times that this was me:
Eventually, the ding dong did realize I was the one and we started going to more weddings together and traveling together.
It turned out that traveling was our jam. We were good at it and we were having a blast seeing as much of the world as we could – it was what we were meant to do. Traveling together turned into living together. About a year after cohabiting happily, I walked into the condo where, to my surprise, Anthony’s parents, my dad and a few of our siblings were gathered. Don’t get me wrong, it was totally random, but it was my birthday that day so I figured it was some sort of surprise family brunch that didn’t have food or mimosas…? Then came a knock at the door. When I opened the door, two women I had never seen in my life were standing there. I thought to myself, who the hell are you? Is this some sort of strange intervention? Do I have a problem? Then, one handed me a cute little, blue basket. I put it gently on the floor and opened it.
It was freaking Egon. A very miniature Egon. As cute as that little fur ball was, I was certain there must be an engagement ring attached somewhere on a collar device or something so I stealthily searched high and lo. Alas, there was no ring.
Shit. On the upside, we officially had our first fur baby together so that was a plus! I’d patiently wait another year for a proposal. That day came on a beautiful fall day (my favorite kind of day) in a pumpkin patch in 2012. We were with some family when Anthony, that guy I met in a bar six years prior, knelt down out of nowhere on a big ass pumpkin and asked me to marry him. I said yes and we married that following year. We surprised our families at Spacca Napoli in Chicago on November 30, 2013, and were married by our cousin/Judge and ate the best GD Neapolitan pizza on this side of the pond for dinner. The next month our friends and family took the celebration to Mexico. It was magic and one hell of a party.
This week we will be celebrating our freaking fifth year of marriage together. Holy shit. We may not have been that good at the dating thing, but I can say we are certainly doing a much better job at the married thing. Sometimes we joke that we’re obsessed with one another because well, I think maybe we really are.
We may not be the perfect love story, but it’s our love story and I love it. I love us.
I once read that you should always greet your partner with a smooch. Among many things we do to keep our relationship thriving, we do that. What makes my heart happy is that it’s not so much a “should” – it really is the first thing I want to do when I walk in the door. I’m so excited to see what the new year of marriage brings us and proud of us for keeping it real and making us last. I’m definitely happy I didn’t agree to his stupid “just friends” idea – I prefer him better as my husband AND friend.
A special thank you to my best friend Lisa for introducing us. We are because of you, girl. Love you. xo
For more on our Mexican vows, go here.
Thank you for stopping by, xoxo