Six years ago this week, my husband proposed. This is our story (with hardly any artistic license taken at all. Like less than 5% ;) )
Summer had begun to fade into autumn as Labor Day slipped by. I had just started my Junior year of school. And there was this boy. I’d written to him all summer.
He’d made eyes at me for the last two years before that. He’d practically stalked me. Always sitting at my table in the cafeteria, stopping by my study table to chat—for hours. Watching me with binoculars from the tree he climbed. (Yes, this did happen.)
I’d been avoiding him for the last two years, studiously avoiding him—a difficult feat on a campus of 300 students. I’d walk an extra quarter mile on the sidewalk just to avoid crossing paths with him.
He hadn’t got the message. At all. In fact, I think my steady rejections encouraged him.
These last few months had been different though. I’d never realized what a fascinating conversationalist he was. And he had the most handsome dark hair and brown eyes. Too bad the military made him cut the hair all off this summer. My first act as his girlfriend was going to have been to touch that hair.
Yes, girlfriend. I’d decided I was going to finally encourage him. If rejecting him for two years had made him practically stalk me, encouraging him would certainly secure me a date in a matter of weeks.
I wasn’t wrong. I was sitting at an abandoned cafeteria table, school papers spread out. He walked in and pulled up a chair beside me.
So this was it. Finally! He was at least four weeks behind schedule.
“I need to talk to you.”
“Ok.” I was blushing.
“Ever since I first saw you in 8 am logic class the first day of Freshman year, I’ve been in love with you. I thought you looked like a fairy tale princess that day.” He went on for probably twenty minutes saying all the things he loved, adored, and worshipped about me. He’d even renamed a praise song after me, Beautiful One by Jeremy Camp: Beautiful one I love, beautiful one I adore, beautiful one my heart must sing.
How romantic! Tears almost came to my eyes.
“Will you be in a serious relationship with me?” he asked.
He must be so nervous. And so unsure about my answer. After all, I’d rejected him for two years. How brave of him to even approach a girl he practically worshipped.
I smiled at him. I told him I liked him. In a few days, the relationship was cemented into official boyfriend, girlfriend.
A week later, I told him how happy I was to be with him. That I loved him too.
“I knew you’d say yes. God told me you were going to marry me,” he said.
My jaw dropped. So much for worrying about his nervousness when he declared his feelings. He’d probably never felt nervous in his life!
A year went by. We went to dances, spent hours talking about our hopes and dreams, competed in Ultimate Frisbee, and started food fights in the cafeteria. Yeah, we were that couple. One couple friend told us that they prayed for us daily. I think they saw our attention-seeking behavior as a lack of maturity. What? Shakespeare wrote great English literature and he said, “all life’s a stage.”
But now the crisp autumn scents of apples, cinnamon, and pumpkins had come back around for our Senior year. The college stage was quickly slipping away. And my boyfriend had yet to propose.
This was becoming an issue. How do you have happily ever after without a ring? I dropped hints. I chafed. I dropped more hints. A full five months had slipped by since I first started making subtle suggestions. It was time to take life by the fetlocks.
“Do you see us going our separate ways after graduation,” I asked my boyfriend. “You go to Army school, me move back to Maryland, get a teaching job?”
“Maybe you should think about proposing then. It takes a year to plan a wedding.” My hands sweated as I said it. But seriously, why should women let men control the narrative? I was just as much a part of this relationship as my guy.
He bristled. “I couldn’t possibly propose to you. You have a lot of flaws. I don’t know if I even want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
My eyes narrowed. A ridiculous excuse. He’d been dying to spend the rest of his life with me ever since he first set eyes upon me in logic class. “If you say so, honey.”
Where would he plan the proposal? A romantic Italian restaurant. The waiters could break into song as he got down on one knee.
There’s something particularly romantic about the Italians, but I wasn’t picky. We were both broke college students, so date night usually involved long walks in the park. There was only one place I knew I didn’t want to be proposed to at. In the rain, outdoors, like Darcy and Lizzy Bennet. Books say that rain is romantic, but actually it’s cold and depressing. Cloudy days are gross too. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I made chlorophyll like a plant—I need sunshine to survive.
A week passed. “Want to go for a drive,” my boyfriend asked.
This was it; I could feel it. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that my mom had called me the day before and told me that my boyfriend had called my dad and asked for his permission to marry me.)
Rain clouds gathered over head. My boyfriend pointed to a worn trail. It was a long one. We walked up, and up, and up. It was going to rain any second and still we climbed.
At last, we reached the clearing on top.
He dropped to one knee.
Even though I’d been expecting it, I jumped. I should have brought my camera. This was going to me a memory I’d keep with me all my life.
He pointed to a clump of rocks. The words “marry me” were spelled out in pebbles. Not “will you marry me?” not “I wish you would marry me?” not “you’d make me the happiest of men.”
Even on his knees, he was smiling, confident. He hadn’t doubted if he wanted to marry me! He hadn’t even doubted if I wanted to marry him. Everything was unfolding just like his predetermined plan where he said I had to marry him because God told him so.
Well, I so didn’t have to marry him. I didn’t! And he should at least have the grace to sweat a little over my choice.
“Will you marry me?” That confident voice again.
I crossed my arms. “We need to talk first. For example, why would I want to have your bratty kids?”
His face was priceless, really priceless. And then it started to pour.
“I hate getting wet!” I pulled my insufficient tanktop closer around my body.
“It’s supposed to be romantic.” My boyfriend was up off his knees now.
“Lies. All lies from trumped up romance novels. Rain is cold, not romantic.”
“Would you like to see the ring anyway?” he held the ring box forward.
“No!” Only mercenary girls look at the ring before they’ve decided to say yes. As if the quality of a ring would determine one’s choice. How unliberated!
I chewed my lip. “How many of your bratty kids do you want me to have anyway?”
I nodded slowly. “Five sounds good. Much smaller than ten, the number I used to want.”
“We’re very compatible,” he said.
“We really are.” I took his hand. “All right I’ll marry you. I hope you know how lucky you are though.”
He smiled and kissed me.
“Were you nervous I’d say 'no'?”
“Naw. You were just dragging it out. You might be able to resist God’s will for a few minutes, but not much longer than that.”
Ok, he didn’t say that, his eyes did.
I shrugged. There were worse things in life than confident men. “May I have my ring now, please?”
It really was gorgeous. And he had asked a friend to place two big bouquets of flowers in my dorm room while we were gone too.
Now I just had to figure out a way to plan a wedding and still earn the valedictorian award. Could I pull it off? Probably not. Oh well, one does need to make some sacrifices for love.