I thought he’d never ask.
I was desperately in love with him. If I had my druthers, I’d spend every second of every day with him. I was more truly myself when I was with him than I was with anyone else. I was completely comfortable, could say anything that came into my head and he always knew exactly what I meant. Kindred spirits, Anne of Green Gables style. He had the uncanny knack of saying exactly what I needed to hear. Even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
Yep, I was definitely in love. I’d known I was falling in love two months into our dating. I’d thought I would probably marry him.
And then there were 18 months of waiting. The horror! I am an impulsive person. I’m passionate, I know what I think and what I want and if I see an opportunity I jump for it. He, on the other hand, wanted to make sure everything was right. He wanted to be able to provide for me, to be financially comfortable, yada yada yada. And, of course, everybody agreed with him! Except me. For heaven's sake, it's romantic to be poor and in love!
We literally spent every free moment of every day together. Not only together, but in beautiful places, like forest reservations, gardens, parks, or coffee shops and fun hipster shop rows. He showed me different music, took me out to restaurants from spicy countries, opened my eyes to a whole new part of culture. It fed my exploration instinct.
Heck, my inkblot is Curiosity.
He loved books too. But not in a super-duper brainy way that made my concentration falter. He loved the spirit in books, he caught the meaning in them immediately. Which is what I do too. I feel things. I don’t think about them. One of our best dates was going downtown to a used bookshop and snuggling in a corner of the top back room while he read poetry to me. But he also liked to geek out over John Mayer’s Continuum. Which is why I liked him so much.
So anyway, he’d been teasing me for a while. He didn’t mean to either, which was pure frustration to me. At least if he’d known he was teasing me I’d have felt flattered. But no, when he talked about us living in Hillsboro Village one day, or when he asked me what kind of ring I wanted, it wasn’t because he had planned everything out and was choosing his words wisely, it was just because he was saying the first thing that came into his head.
I notice everything. I see the implications of everything I say. I’m extremely aware of myself. Which is probably why he was my very first boyfriend because I was so implacably awkward around the opposite sex.
You should hear all of the ‘cold as ice’ stories he has about me from his three-year-long trying-to-get-me-alone-so-I-would-talk-to-him period.
Yeah. I was not the friendliest of women. When he finally got me alone and asked me out for the first time, I was freaked out and my parents were like, “Good grief, Camille, he’s a nice guy! Go out with him. Going out for coffee is not a big deal!” I got in the car with him and he started talking all friendly casual, and I literally felt the ice, the stiffness, the awkwardness, all melt away from me and I opened up like I was talking about my latest crush with my best girl friend in the public restroom at summer camp.
So anyway. Then one day, he kissed me goodnight at the door for the umpteenth time, and suddenly he said, “I’m taking your parents out for breakfast Saturday.”
Yes. It’s really happening!!
Oh, the happiness. Oh, the jitter-bugs in my stomach as Saturday morning the three most important people in my life meet to decide my future. Oh, the joy at the Yes and that lovely wild drive through the countryside with my boyfriend where we just talked and talked and talked and talked and talked for three hours about how much we love each other and why. He wanted to set a date. I laughingly said he had to actually ask me first, you know, trying to keep some semblance of feminine mystique…
We set the date. I got a gorgeous wedding dress like I’d always dreamed - no lace, just pure silk satin that gleamed like a pearl. The Bishop said he’d marry us. All my dreams were coming true…
And no ring!
A long month went by. Of course, it didn’t help that the ring I wanted was a lovely elven ring with leaves on the band, and that it was made by a free-lance jeweler in Israel that was currently being bombed by Al Qaeda.
But he got the ring in the mail. I know, because I hacked into his email. Yes, I know, it’s awful. Curiosity again…
I expected the proposal any moment…we were walking down 12th Avenue South in the lovely sun and there were flowers everywhere…he wants to take me out to a nice restaurant and dress up (then he cancelled for no apparent reason)…we went searching for apartments together…he wanted to take me out bicycling on a beautiful river-side trail the next morning.
This was it. Yes, it was. It had to be it. He had a nervousness about the way he was talking about it. Told me not to dress up. Why would he specify that on a bicycling trip where of course I wouldn’t dress up? But of course I did choose my very cutest exercise clothes and I did put on makeup. Cuz heck, there’s going to be a picture!!
It’s a perfect day. Wind blowing over wheat fields, whispering in summer leaves, sun sparkling on the river as he stops on the bridge, all alone, gets off his bike and just stands there, not knowing what to say, shifting from one foot to the other. There’s a big boxy thing in his pocket.
How do you act when somebody’s about to propose to you? Stare out into the sunlight, wind in your hair, waiting…
“You wanna keep on going? Man, I wish I didn’t have my wallet in my pocket. Should have left it in the car.”
And because I have self-respect, I pretend like I haven’t just been crushed body and soul and get back on the bike and ignore him in an effected, absent-minded way for the rest of the trail. And then back in the car I start crying because maybe he’s changed his mind about me…
The next day is Wednesday when we both teach all day at the same music school. He wants to take me salsa dancing that night. Maybe? Probably not. I’m not in the most hopeful mood about my future. He’ll probably never ask me. Oh doom!
We leap in the car and dash to the nearest coffee shop for some liquid restoration on our lunch break. We are exhausted and harried. He parks in the parking garage. He starts to kiss me. Whoa, he’s really kissing me. It's distractingly steamy. His arms are around me. One arm leaves me. He fumbles in the cupholder. He breaks away and voila! there’s the beautiful elven moonlight ring.
Talk about a surprise engagement. He proceeds to ask me to marry him, I say yes, and he prays with me. Then we get out of a car and he remembers that a guy is supposed to kneel down when he proposes to a girl. So he kneels down outside on the pavement and asks me again. Haha. Then we run inside and get a coffee and rush back to lessons while he entertains me with all of the impossibly complex cheesy proposals he planned out and abandoned until he just couldn’t wait any longer.
There’s something irrational and romantic about the whole thing. In fact, it’s really the perfect proposal for me because I’ve never ever ever heard of anybody proposing in a parking garage before.
And I’m engaged.