The Proposal

There was so much buildup to this day. Pent-up excitement, anxiety, and nervousness… And it had arrived but I didn’t know it yet. Like any other girl anxiously waiting for their proposal, I had a feeling it might happen. A couple months before, Jason and I decided to go camping for the 4th of July weekend. We usually went with his family to Vashon Island on this holiday but, I was ready to do 4th of July in a different way. Which meant no fireworks. I know, I’m weird! I am scared of fireworks. I don’t mind the sparklers (which ironically, I’ve heard are the most dangerous of all) but, it’s the bigger fireworks that scare me. The ones where the ignitor has to run as fast as they can away from the firework so they don’t get burned. And those are the fireworks my fiance loves. I like fireworks displays from at least 100 yards away and, he loves to light them and stay next to the burning string for a little too long for comfort.

So, after two years of doing 4th of July his way, he suggested we do 4th of July my way: by camping! Did I mention I love camping? I grew up camping with my family and, love my annual summer camping trips. I love everything there is about camping: setting up the campsite, the smell of the campfire, roasting marshmallows, curling up with a book and a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Needless to say, I was excited for my first one-on-one camping trip with my future fiance. We would camp just outside of Mt. Rainier National Park and go hiking through the National Park during the day. Before we left, I was praying this was the weekend he would propose. But, never once did he give me the impression it was happening! In truth, even in my hopeful state, I was so sure he would accidentally make it obvious, that I started to doubt that he had any plans to propose that weekend. I went into the weekend with a constant reminder in my mind to just enjoy our time, no matter what happened.

We left Seattle with our car full of camping gear and us full of excitement for camping so close to Mt. Rainier. The drive from Seattle was long but, worth it. About an hour away from our campsite, we lost cell service and ended up not having reception for the remainder of our trip. I love to make fun of Jason for this little fact; I think he must have known that I would have to spend 24 hours engaged without any ability to make a phone call or text. We finally arrived at our quaint camp site, with a creek running close by and a picnic table as our hub. We set up camp and enjoyed a nice evening of playing cards, drinking beer, and reading by the fire. And of course, roasting s’mores. You can’t forget that part.

The next morning, we started packing up for our trip into the Mt. Rainier National Park. I kept hoping he was going to propose that day. But he never let on! I had assumed if he was about to propose, he would show some signs. I thought he’d reach into his pocket checking for the ring or, looking through his backpack over and over to check if it was still there. But he did none of these things. He packed our backpack with sandwiches, lime-infused wheat thins, a couple of waters (and a ring I didn’t know about yet), and we were off.

It takes about an hour to get to the top of Mt. Rainier. It’s a gorgeous, windy path, with beautiful vista points along the way. We kept on getting closer to the top of Mt. Rainier; it was magnificent and it was an absolutely gorgeous day! When we got to the “summit” of where the road ends, the view was just magnificent. Considering Mt. Rainier has its own weather patterns, we feel really lucky we were there on such a beautiful day. We walked around and then, found a hike to take. Needless to say, it was a snowy hike! And we did not come prepared with waterproof hiking shoes. It was a laughable hike; our feet kept falling through the snowpack. Sometimes we would glimpse the trail beneath melted snow but, mostly we were making the trek across a field of white.

Later that day, Jason told me this hike is when he wanted to propose. But, considering we were trekking through snow the entire hike, he never felt like it was the right time to do it. We headed back to our car about an hour later, with snow-soaked shoes and laughter between our slips and falls.

We decided it was time for lunch and, suddenly I just felt it. He was nervous, and he was looking for the right place for lunch. My heart just started pounding. Was Jason just fooling me with his distaste in so many boring lunch spots? Finally, he found a spot that he did like: a picnic bench overlooking Narada Falls, a beautiful waterfall rushing down the mountain. We ate our lunch and, I remember Jason was really quick to clean up and put everything back in the backpack quickly. I couldn’t believe how fast he was moving. And then, it happened.

He reached into the backpack and pulled out a wooden ring box; how he hid it in there without me noticing is beyond me. As he pulled the ring box out of the backpack, he said to me, “I’ve been waiting a long time for this…” And he got down on one knee, opened up the ring and there it was. “Will you marry me?”

I’m going to pause right here to let you in on my little secret. Dreaming of your future proposal and actually experiencing your proposal are completely different. At least for me, it was. I don’t know if I was expecting rainbows and glitter shooting out of the box and romantic music blasting in the background but, instead, it just felt so real and surreal all at the same time. Here was the love of my life, on one knee, asking me to marry him. Finally, here it was! And all I could think was, “Get up right now because all I want to do is hug and kiss you!” In movies, the proposals always seem to go so perfectly and each actor knows their role. In our proposal, all I felt was excitement and shakiness and I’m pretty sure we did none of it correctly. Jason can’t even remember if he spoke my full name before asking! And I can’t either. In fact, he had to ask me twice because as I was thinking in my head I wanted him to stand up, I forgot to say yes. The second time he said it, I of course blurted out the only answer I wanted to say, “YES!” I clobbered him on the way up, grabbing him and kissing him, shaking uncontrollably. I remember blurting out, “Wait, I think you put the ring on me now!” We did nothing right but yet everything right at the same time.

It was the perfect proposal. Because it was our proposal.

And then, we spent 24 hours of engaged bliss with not the possibility of making a phone call or text. In retrospect, it was a perfect 24 hours. We were so giddy and excited. I told anyone and everyone who would listen that we just got engaged. Fellow hikers became our photographers, and once we got back to camp, we made friends with the couple in charge of the campground simply because I couldn’t wait to share the news and show off my gorgeous ring.

We spent the evening playing drinking games while I planned my list of calls and texts for the next day. It was the most perfect evening. And I could not stop staring at my hand! I still can’t stop staring at it. I’m looking at it as I type right now.

The next day, we cleaned up camp and got on the road. We enjoyed our first breakfast as an engaged couple at a diner down the road. An hour later, with cell service fully available, we started making calls. First our parents then our siblings. My brother was actually the first to answer so, he got to hear the news first. It was so real, this was happening, we were engaged.

And then came the question that started it all, “When is the wedding?”

Wait, we have to plan a wedding now?

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The Day Before THE Day

In hindsight, I should have started this blog on July 3rd, 2014. This was the day just 24 hours before my boyfriend proposed, and I said yes. The reason I wish I had started this blog on that day is so that you could truly get the full picture of the journey I have traveled; from scorned, insecure girlfriend, to excited, still insecure fiancé, to future wife. I’ll let you know my wife traits once my journey takes me there.

Today is Sunday, December 21st, 2014 so, we’ve been engaged for about 6 months (I just heard at a party a couple nights ago that a cool fiancé doesn’t count days and, who doesn’t want to be a cool fiancé so I’ve officially stopped counting). Why did I just decide to share my wedding planning experience, in a no-holds, open and honest sort-of-way? Simply because this is the oddest portion of my life journey to date and, I’m hoping by sharing my story, I find a way to connect with others in their own engaged journeys. Although we all have differences in personality traits, opinions and goals, I believe that most people react to life experiences in similar ways. So here it is, fiancé’s unite.

In order to share my engaged journey and thus what has now become an all-hands-on-deck temporary gig in wedding planning, I should probably fill you in on some very important engagement journey activities that I have already got to experience. It’s probably going to take me a few posts in order to catch up with everything we have experienced thus far but, I don’t mind backtracking in order to get to the present moment.

First, of course, comes the journey of how I met my fiancé and how we got to the engaged stage. I’m originally from Sonoma County in California; to be specific, Sebastopol. After graduating from college, I began working for the west coast sales rep agency for The North Face. After joining the team that manages the Nordstrom account, my boss requested that I move to Seattle within two years so that I could be closer to my account. I’ve been drawn to the city of Seattle for years; I didn’t believe all the hype about the rain and every time I visited, it was so green and beautiful. Besides, I like the rain. I moved 3 months later.

To give you a little history of my dating life before I moved to Seattle would be to give you a soap opera-style synopsis of unworthy (and worthy) guys along a 15-year timeline. When I think back on it, I realize that a lot of this drama I created in my own mind. I somehow allowed (yes, allowed) guys to treat me in ways I never actually thought could happen. Over and over, I would meet someone and get my hopes up, only to soon be dashed for countless reasons. I had a couple serious relationships; but, the relationships were flawed, and ultimately, our shared dynamic led to more unhappiness than happiness. Terrible, dramatic breakups ensued and, I was left with a feeling of loneliness and fear for a life of singledom. Ironically, I was also left with a fear of my next relationship and the hopeful but ultimately condescending view of the next guy who would want to date me. The next guy was essentially screwed before he laid eyes on me; I already had made assumptions about who he was, how he would probably cheat on me or break my heart. I honestly didn’t know what or who I wanted to be with but, I always had an idea in my mind that I wanted to be in a relationship. Even when I didn’t trust in the process.

If I could go back to March 24th, 2002 and tell my 17-year-old self that I would meet the love of my life in exactly 10 years, I wholeheartedly believe my 20s would have been a completely different story. To be given the freedom to trust in the Universe’s plan would have freed up my 20s to just be satisfied in my beautiful, single life! That said, what I do trust is that I’ve been living in the Universe’s plan all along and, if I had known that Jason was my soul mate 10 years ago, then I probably would have moved to Seattle before it was time. Thus inevitably setting forth a series of events that might very well have led me down a path away from Jason. Fate is nothing to play with. So, therefore thank God I didn’t know. Because I can no longer imagine a life without my love, my babekins, Jason.

With a 27-year-old history of love and loss, I moved to Seattle with only a car-full of my clothes and knickknacks along with some UPS-shipped Base Camp Duffels. The day was Thursday, March 22nd, 2012. I met Jason two days later at our mutual friend Amanda’s birthday party.

The night we met is one story I absolutely love to share. People meet in countless ways but, I’ll have you know that I arrogantly and rightfully view our introduction as the best one. Ever. Amanda was turning 30 (ironically, I just experienced my own 30th birthday this past May). Amanda invited me to her birthday celebration in North Seattle. A few of her best friends and I ate dinner at a delicious pizza joint: Tutta Bella. I love saying that name out loud. Tutta Bella. At dinner, Amanda mentioned to me that she had invited some of her single coworkers. I rolled my eyes. I had just moved to Seattle and the last thing I needed was to fall for a Seattle guy and have it surely be tainted by his future issues. Remember, I feared all guys and relationships at this point.

After dinner, we headed to the Rickshaw restaurant in Lake City. Think of the dingiest bar you’ve ever been to, and that’s what you get with the Rickshaw. Except you also get Chinese food and karaoke. I’m not kidding you. Amanda’s 3 single coworkers showed up and, one of them (teaser: this is THE guy) sat down next to me. He was pretty inebriated which, at the time just made me laugh. We talked for some time and, I remember thinking I liked him; if only as a friend who could introduce me to more friends. When he left with his friends, he asked for my number, which I did input into his phone.

This is the best part of the night. Just minutes after he walked out the door, the waitress grabbed the karaoke microphone and frantically spoke the following words, “Please evacuate the bar. Do not take your drinks or try to close out; the building is on fire.” Have you ever been in an emergency situation and just had no clue how to react? That was us. We looked at each other with open mouths and nervous giggles. It was then that we noticed smoke filtering out above the bar coming from the back area. Adrenaline pumping, it was then that I indeed left my drink and debit card and scooted out the door as quickly as my little legs could take me.

Shaking, I stood outside with Amanda and friends and watch the smoke billowing from the kitchen and front door. Fire trucks arrived with sirens blaring and all we could do was watch. And then I saw Jason. He meandered through the crowd looking at the smoke and beelining for my side. We laughed and talked about what had happen ed in the minutes when he had been gone; how his friend had forgotten his debit card and how his friend was going to have a tough time getting it back. Still reeling from the events of my first night out in Seattle, I decided it was time to head back to my new apartment. Top Ramen and the safety of my new, comfy bed were calling my name. Jason graciously offered to walk me to my car and it was then that we realized that my car was being blocked by, guess what, a fire truck. We must have stood there for an hour together, just talking and enjoying each other’s company. In retrospect, I laugh that for one entire hour, he never once thought that his friends might have left him behind. But they did. When he called to find out where they were, they would tell him that the two cars leaving the Rickshaw with his friends in it had assumed he was in the other car. So after only 2 hours of knowing each other, I offered him a ride that he needed. Amanda reminded me months later that I told him I’d give him a ride like this. “Come on, lover boy.”

I gave him a ride home to Alki Beach that night. He directed me over the West Seattle Bride and, along Harbor Drive for the view. The excitement still was not over. As we were passing the famous Salty’s restaurant, flashing lights from a police car sped up behind me. As I’m pulling over, I’m thinking to myself sarcastically, “Awesome. I’ve been in Seattle for 48 hours and I’m getting pulled over.” But it wasn’t me they were after. In fact, right after the police car(s!) passed us, they whipped their cars horizontally, blocking the street ahead of us, and leapt out of their cars holding their guns toward the grassy lawn across the street. Jason seeing all of this, assured me the best idea was to pass by through the Salty’s parking lot. Obliging, we escaped by the police barricade.

You think I’m making this story up; I’m not. We made it to his place and, my phone had run out of battery. He invited me in to meet his roommate’s dog, Jabroni. I graciously declined. I literally had no idea how to get home from there so, luckily he gave me perfect directions to memorize that took me straight home. Right before he got out of the car, I vividly remember him looking at me and, I blurted out, “I’m so glad I met you tonight.” It’s hard to say if I was just excited I was going to make it home in one piece or, if I had some instinctual fleeting moment of foreshadow. That was it; that was the story of how I met Jason, my future fiancé.

One week later, we went out on our first date. We got a lot of things out of the way on our first date; first happy hour, first dinner, first dance, first kiss. Thinking back, maybe it was just that we were both ready for more. And the quickest way to get to more was to get all the first’s out of our way quickly. We fell for each other very quickly after that.

There was excitement and bliss. He asked me to be his girlfriend within weeks. It all happened so fast, and I was so excited. But at the same time, it wasn’t like all my fears disappeared. I still had them, very much so. And after about 3 months of bliss, the insecurities arose. And, I started pushing.

I picked fight after fight. I pushed him away. I just couldn’t believe that he was a good guy. Even with all of his friends telling me what a great guy he was, I refused to believe it. I didn’t want to get hurt. I kept thinking about how everything in Seattle reminded me of him. What would I do if we broke up? If he cheated on me? Broke up with me? It was a turbulent time.

But here’s the difference. No matter what happened between us, his response was always this: unconditional love. Even when he fought back, even when I pushed him away or pulled too hard, he showed up. Simple, but apparently very effective. Over the next year, our arguments lessened. They became more about what we were going to have for dinner rather than whether or not he cheated on me last Saturday (which, I now know he never did).

I subtly noticed in me a different outlook. Not just in love but, in life. There is something so uplifting and unique in knowing that your partner in life simply loves you, for you. And no matter how hard you try to (ahem) fuck it up, he stays to keep it going. And along the journey in this particular relationship, I had this realization: After every previous breakup, I had tried to pinpoint what I did wrong that ended the relationship. And I would always find something that I knew made the guy end things with me. But here’s the realization… with the right one, with a truly good man, I didn’t have to pinpoint my wrongs, because he stays to make it work. And slowly, the wrongs that I had taught myself to believe would fuck it all up, naturally disappeared. Because I didn’t need to be insecure with him. He loved me, for me.

And that gave me the freedom to fall in love with him. And that I did. What a wonderful man, person, and friend. For 2 ½ years, every day I learned something new about him. His likes, dislikes, his favorite activities and hobbies, his emotions and desires. We grew and evolved over the course of our relationship. It wasn’t all good, but there was certainly a ton of good. Our relationship wouldn’t be as strong today if it weren’t for the journey we’ve shared together. I’m proud of our journey, even with the turbulence.

And then the talks of marriage and a proposal began. And I think I became a broken record. This is the part of the story that I’m really opening and sharing in the hopes that plenty of women out there will admit to feeling and doing the same thing. I started to really want to get proposed to. I mean, I’d been hoping for this moment my whole life and, it felt like it could very well be right around the corner. So, what did I do? I got impatient. And wait, what was this again? Insecure. Damnit. Through all it though, there was a part of me that knew it was coming. So I waited impatiently. And dropped hints. I showed him my secret Ring Pinterest page.

And then my 30th birthday came along and I completely thought it was going to happen! So, I invited everyone to a wine tasting weekend and Sunday BBQ at my brother’s place in San Francisco. Luckily, I found out a week before the big weekend that it wasn’t going to happen. My friend dropped the hint. So, we got the inevitable fight out of the way and we ended up having a super fun weekend. He said it would happen but, he couldn’t tell me when because it would ruin the surprise. It seems like all guys just want it to be a surprised.

And so it was. All of the above 30 years of history led us to July 3rd, 2014. The day before THE day. And then the day arrived. But I’ll save that for the next chapter.