When adventure finds you - Joel Hall

There was a great philosopher who once said that people don't start living until they start making decisions. Over the past weekend, I made the decision to get engaged.

Last Sunday, under the glow of the Dairy Queen sign on North Main Street in Jonesboro, I proposed to my girlfriend of three years.

I never imagined that a Dairy Queen, in the heart of Clayton County, is where I would be making one of the biggest decisions of my life. I always imagined I'd be in some exotic, foreign place, and get engaged somewhere like -- in front of the Vienna Rathaus, on top of South Africa's Table Mountain, under a cherry blossom tree in Tokyo's Hibiya Park, or some other beautiful place I've been.

However, I decided to propose at a Dairy Queen in Clayton County, a place to which my life has been undeniably tied for nearly three-and-a-half years. It wasn't the beautiful place I imagined, but somehow, overtime, it became a beautiful place, nonetheless.

Just a couple of blocks south of the Dairy Queen is the Cuban Cafe, where I took my then-romantic-interest-now-fiance on our first official date.

It was pretty awkward, because I didn't know a lick of Spanish and the wait staff there had very limited English. By accident, I ordered perhaps the largest fish ever caught on the East Coast.

It was embarrassing, but all I knew was that my fiance, who wasn't my fiance yet, had taken Spanish for eight years and I was going to do something to impress her.

The Dairy Queen on North Main Street is where our first date ended. Being that I was still new in the county and unfamiliar with the surrounding area, it seemed to make sense to go there because Dairy Queen is the only place on North Main Street open at that time of night.

I can't remember if we got ice cream, or not. All I remember is the slightly-longer-than-normal hug that let me know that this relationship might be going somewhere.

When I first came to Clayton County, I didn't think I'd be staying here this long, certainly not long enough to develop a relationship and find a potential wife. I thought that by now, I would be gallivanting in another foreign country or a big city somewhere else, going on some new kind of adventure.

Since that time, however, Clayton County has been where the seeds of my relationship have developed. Being separated by several states, due to my job here and my girlfriend's legal studies in Michigan, I made every effort to learn Clayton County, up and down, backward and forward, so when she came to town, our time together would be as memorable as possible.

In the process of trying to impress my girlfriend, I've discovered strange and interesting restaurants, Buddhist monasteries, park trails, fishing holes, and a lot of other things that go unnoticed, despite the fact they are right in the county.

I have always been on the lookout for adventure. Throughout my entire experience in Clayton County, I have often daydreamed about being somewhere else, and sometimes, have felt like I was missing out because I wasn't on a plane to some place where I needed a passport.

Clayton County, however, has become my new big adventure, all because I have somebody to share it with. After a lifetime of looking for excitement, the adventure has finally found me.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.