June 2, 2006

Taking the next step: Off the quads and down the aisle

As the class of 2006 prepares to say goodbye to the place they have called home for the last four years, there are some getting ready for a different stage: marriage.

Fourth-years Kathleen Rubenstein and Hays Golden met while living in Burton Judson’s Chamberlin House their first year. They have been dating for 16 months and engaged for four.

“Hays proposed,” Rubenstein said. “It wasn’t a surprise because we had talked about it and also been ring-shopping together. He just proposed in his room while we were hanging out. He had cleaned it at least.”

Golden’s mother wasn’t surprised when he told his parents he and Rubenstein were dating.

“My mother turned to my father and said, ‘I told you so!’ She told me later that when Kathleen had visited the summer before, she kept thinking what a great couple we made,” Golden said. “Needless to say, neither of my parents were too surprised when we got engaged a year later.”

Chamberlin House wanted to join in on the revelry.

“Our house has offered to throw us bachelor and bachelorette parties. We declined,” Rubenstein said.

Another relationship that grew out of the University’s housing system hails from Maclean House. Fourth-year Matt Smetts and second-year Emily Small met at a party during reading period of autumn quarter 2004 and started dating at the beginning of winter quarter 2005.

“I did AIM stalk her once,” Smetts said. “Seeing that she was at Ratner working out, I went to the gym after I had already had crew practice, just to see her. I can’t really say it was any moment where we fell in love, we just spent every moment we could with each other once we got back from winter break. We were so happy and comfortable with each other right away; it just seemed right.”

Small anticipates the engagement to last for at least a couple of years.

“I’d like to be solidly supporting myself financially,” she said. “Also, I just turned 20 and quite frankly I don’t want to be one of those people [who] can’t legally drink at their own wedding!”

She also is giving her family more time to come around to the idea of her engagement.

“I want more happiness for us as a couple than mutterings about how we have ‘no freakin’ clue’ as to what we’re doing,” she said. “I will say that most people don’t have any ‘freakin’ clue,’ and I figure having found someone whom I love and look forward to living out my life with is a pretty awesome situation that I shouldn’t overlook just because I’m only two decades into it all.”

Smetts has expanded the campus myth that claims a couple will become engaged if they kiss on the bridge of Botany Pond on main campus: “I asked her to marry me on the Michigan Avenue bridge over the river downtown, where I kissed her on our first date.”

Also seemingly typical to the University of Chicago, fourth-year Jasmine Kwong and fourth year Divinity School Ph.D. student Thomas Zebrowski met at a bookstore—the Borders on 53rd Street.

Kwong had picked up some magazines and had taken them to read in the cafe with her hot chocolate and lemon biscuits. The place was packed, and her first two tries at finding a table with another patron were unsuccessful. But the third time was the charm for Kwong.

“Thomas was at the third table, so happy to receive me,” she said. “Instantly, I was taken by his bright smile.”

Kwong and Zebrowski talked to each other at Borders, and after exchanging contact information, he offered to walk her home. A block and a half away from Borders, he asked if she would like a drink.

“It was 7 p.m., so I wasn’t up for a drink, but said I’d be interested in dinner. He said we could go to a restaurant, but I had planned to cook at home, so I actually invited him. I surprised myself. We actually went grocery shopping and cooked dinner that first night we met. Romantic candlelit dinner on day one,” Kwong said with a smile.

Being engaged has meant some extra work for Kwong.

“It’s beginning to sink in that it’s real. Overwhelming!” she joked. “Now I have an excuse not to be studying hard for finals.”