Friday, June 26, 2009

The Cosmic Salad Bowl of Love

SOB and I have been together practically forever. I've known him since middle school, we started dating in high school and we moved in together after my freshman year in college. While none of our parents were super-duper happy about our living arrangements, money talks. SOB had to get an apartment when he came to Philly for school, so it was likely we would end up unofficially co-habituating while my parents paid for an empty dorm room. Thus, apartment 1004 at The Iroquois became our first little love nest.


After a year in a one bedroom on the 10th floor we moved a few blocks away to a two bedroom in a basement. A few weeks after we moved in hurricane Floyd hit and our little basement paradise flooded. We had to toss a few hand-me-down rugs and an old Ikea chair, but it could have been worse. We were in love, after all.

This was all taking place during SOB's first two years of medical school, which meant he was kee-razy busy studying. He received a small loan stipend for living expenses, but it barely covered our rent. In order to do things like eat and drive I had to work. Luckily, I have always been a great multi-tasker. I baby sat, waited tables and ultimately ended up working as a tech in an environmental lab. Starting at $9 per hour, we though we hit the jackpot. Remember this was in 1998. Three months after I started working there, the two other employees quit, making me the de facto boss of the lab. I parlayed this into a raise and a part time position for SOB, who would frequently come in with me on the weekends to help.

Despite our sweet jobs, we were still broke. Not 'getting evicted' broke, but 'occasionally not having enough money for laundry' broke. The early stages of our relationship had moved along quickly, and while we always talked about getting married, getting engaged was going to be a tough considering our lack of funds.

Unbeknownst to me, SOB had been researching some odd jobs. Namely, he had been looking into signing up for medical research. Having two years of med school under his belt, he knew better than to sign up for drug trials or anything else that might have had serious side effects. Luckily, he found a nice, safe study on light and melatonin. Every Wednesday night he would drive into center city around midnight, get a little vial of blood drawn, sit in a dark room for two hours, get a little more blood drawn, then he would sit and stare into a bowl of light. He called it the cosmic salad bowl, and each week the color of the light was different. After two hours and another blood draw he was finished. He got paid $20 each night, but if he completed the entire 12 week study he got a bonus that brought his total to about $1,200.

I bet you can see where this is going. When the researchers decided to do a second round, SOB volunteered again. And then again for the third round. Some of the money had to go towards books, bills and keeping us housed but he managed to squirrel away enough to buy me a ring after three sessions at the cosmic salad bowl. It wasn't huge or flashy, but it was perfect. He proposed on New Year's Eve, 1999, which was very out of character for him. He had always said he was going to propose to me on a random Tuesday in November or something, so I was quite surprised to find him down on one knee. We were already having a party that night, so we were able to celebrate and share the news with friends. It was a magical evening.

Years later I still wear that same ring. Some people I know have upgraded their engagement diamond or gotten a new ring all together, but I would never dream of such a thing. After all, it was paid for by the cosmic salad bowl of love, and that you can't put a price on.

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6 comments:

Christina said...

That was a fun trip down memory lane ... we all LOVED the Iroquois apartment as well as the basement pad. You were the cool kids who had moved off campus, and with your boyfriend! Even cooler. Wonderful story ... and that party was such a fun night of celebration! Christ, that was 10 years ago!!!! I love the photo, particularly the scrunchie, huge cordless phone, and film canister on the table. Very 90s indeed. :)

susan said...

I always find myself humming this when reading your love story posts. What a beautiful life the two of you have and are building!

super des said...

awww I love this story. :)

Arizaphale said...

So did they eventually market the Cosmic Salad Bowl as a cure-all for Seasonally Affected Depression????
Sounds like they should have!!!

ModernMom said...

Just stumbled across your blog and had to comment, this is one of the cutest stories..ever!

Linda said...

So funny that I just read this...Leo and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary and we went to the jewelry store in hopes to "upgrade" the ring he bought me ten years ago, but when I started to try on other rings I got all sentimental and could not give up the little ring that I have worn for the past ten years. I love the ring and all that it stands for and would never give it up!!! I loved reading this post!