19 April 2011

51 Weeks [in which the ring makes its appearance]

This is the part of the story everybody wants to hear. So. How We Got Engaged.

By the end of September, Jared had a full-time job and I would have bet my boots that he was going to propose. Eventually. In the meantime I was delighted to stay as I was: completely twitterpated. I was dating the best man in the whole world and couldn't imagine anybody more fortunate than I. Oh my. How wonderful to finally know how I felt, and to be confident (as much as possible without verbal confirmation) that Jared felt the same way.

Realistically, I figured that Jared probably wouldn't ask for a while. He had a lot on his plate with work. I knew the question was coming, though, and I knew what my answer would be.

On the night of October 1st, 2010, just before I went to bed, my mom asked me how I felt about my relationship with Jared. Of course, she was well aware of the fact that I had fallen in love-- I doubt that was a mystery to anyone at that point. But she wanted to hear my thoughts on the future.

I told her, "I am sure Jared's going to ask me, but I don't think it will be for a while. Probably the end of November, at the earliest. I'm not expecting anything." Famous last words.

The next morning, I was watching Jared's two young nieces (I must admit that by then, I thought of them as my nieces too) at their house. My plan was to be there all day. We had spent the morning playing silly games and reading books, and around 12:00, were just finishing up lunch. Then I heard a knock at the front door. Who would that be? I walked over and peeked through the window. There was Jared, with a rather sheepish grin on his face. What in the world? He's supposed to be at work.

Suppressing my confusion, I opened the door and let my boyfriend in. Our nieces were of course very pleased to see him, and demanded that he read them a book before naptime. Once I had put the youngest one to bed, Jared announced, "I'm taking you on a date."

"Hold on! What about the girls?" This was ridiculous.

"I've got a replacement coming."

"Oookay." Sure enough, Jared's oldest brother Matt showed up, and off we went.

I had been too befuddled by Jared's sudden appearance to reflect, but once in the car, my curiosity kicked in. Having convinced myself that he would under no circumstances propose until late November, that possibility figured only briefly in my speculations. I didn't want to hope when the chance was so miniscule.

Besides, Jared liked surprising me. An elaborate plot such as this would not be unheard of.

Before long I had figured out that we were going to Longwood Gardens. This excited me, since I love the place. Jared had never been there, but we had been talking about going for a while; I was delighted to realize that he had gone ahead and planned a trip. Of course he was not going to propose there, no way, even though it would be the perfect place to do it so this was just going to be a really special date.

Really. Special.

I honestly don't know how I sustained this self-deception and refrained from collapsing under the weight of the obvious. But I did. We arrived at Longwood and I was still morally certain that there would be no ring that day.

As we got out of the car, Jared grabbed his backpack. Finding this extremely odd, I asked why he was bringing it. "Sweatshirt," he mumbled. "And a water bottle." I rolled my eyes and dropped the subject. I was determined to enjoy our visit and show Jared all of my favorite places. Serendipitously, we headed toward the Italian Water Gardens, a very pretty section; not so serendipitously, the fountains were under construction. Oh well. We turned to wander through the Beech Woods for a while, then walked up towards the meadow. There's a nice view and a bench just before the treeline. I stood there looking out at the golden, grassy expanse, with Jared right behind me.

"Ah, do you want to sit down a while?"

Oh. My. Word. It finally hit me.


There was a letter. There was a poem. And then, courtesy of the backpack, there were nine red roses, one for each month we'd been together. "Remember when I picked you up for our first date?" he asked. "I brought you a white rose. That was for purity and friendship. Well, now I'm giving you red ones, because I love you. Here's one for January, here's one for February, here's one for March . . ."

By the time he had given me all nine, I felt dizzy. Trying to savor every word, trying to understand the fullness of the joy sweeping through my heart. I don't know what I looked like, but I felt radiant; it was the first time Jared had told me that he loved me, and those words had incredible power. (They still do.)

"I don't have a rose for October." He reached deep inside his backpack, pulled out a tiny velvet box, and grinned. "But I do have this."

So he asked. I took a long, happy breath and looked into his eyes. I said yes.

October 2, 2009. It was a pretty good day.


{This picture was taken at my parents' house that evening. We wandered about Longwood all afternoon in a satisfied sort of haze, then went back home for a celebratory dinner with both our families. Oh happy times.}