I can’t even really explain how shocked and stunned I was when Cain proposed. I was in this state of utter dumbfoundedness for a good four to five hours after it happened. What also made it harder to focus was all of the sparkling and twinkling coming from the new ring on my hand (and the fact that I have it for the rest of my life)!
The reason why I was so shocked was because I was so wrong when I thought I knew it all … I kind of thought I knew when he would propose, where he would do it, and all that mushy stuff. Boy, was I wrong.
Cain had sometimes subtly mentioned getting engaged, being married, kids and growing old together. Mostly while intoxicated and mostly after I had made a really delicious dinner. Just kidding … sort of. The point is, I kind of knew that he had been thinking about it, but I just never knew when or where it would be. He would joke about doing it on our 2nd year anniversary, since we had a cruise planned around that time period. He would joke that he would do it on the cruise, when we’re out in the middle of nowhere, with the sun setting in the background. It was fun to think about and joke about but I kind of had that picture forming in my head that that was when it was going to happen. Yup … I was wrong.
Looking back at the day, all I remember is happiness! It was a super sunny Friday and we had just gotten off a long day at work (well, for me at least) and we were about to start off a relaxing weekend. I thought I knew in my head, what our plans were gonna be that night: go home, take out the dog, feed him, take him out again, take him home, go to Safeway, get some Stellas that we could enjoy in our new engraved chalice, watch some TV or a movie and fall asleep on the couch.
I was waiting in my office for Cain to call me to come downstairs so that he could pick me up to go home and it was getting a little past the hour. I was a little concerned because he had told me that he was in a meeting and that it might end past 5 (who schedules meetings for Friday afternoon?!) but that he should be out by 5pm. It wasn’t too much past 5pm but it was getting there so I called and he said he was on his way. I didn’t really have any suspicions or anything at this point, and certainly didn’t foresee what he was actually planning.
So he finally picks me up, I’m glad that we get to go home for the day and just relax. Also, I’m anxious to go home because it had only really been a few weeks that we’ve had our puppy and I didn’t want him to have an accident inside of his cage. Cain tells me, that our friend Frank has something for Heineken (our new puppy) and I immediately act like I know exactly what it is.
“I bet it’s like oversized teddy bear clothing that might fit Heineken.”
Background information: Our friend Frank collects and dresses teddy bears. Not kidding. I was really excited because I couldn’t wait to go see what it was and I wanted to dress our puppy. Cue thoughts of cute little shirts and bandannas. Cain also casually mentions that Frank is moving apartments to get more natural light. I think, oh, nice, I want to see how he decorates his new place.
As we walk in the apartment building, (background information: Cain used to live there before we moved in together), I’m flooded with so many happy memories that we made there. We walk inside the elevator and randomly started dancing and making our techno music noises: “pew! pew! pew! pew!” “the system is down, the system is down” “tiki tiki tiki tiki”, hahaha! We finally get to Frank’s new apartment and I hear Broken Bells playing and curtains hanging and a big love sign on a stool with 2 glasses of our favorite dessert moscato (Asti). Thoughts running through my head: Since when does Frank listen to Broken Bells? Wow, curtains, Frank, really? A ”love’ sign? Frank really decorated his new place differently….
It’s still not hitting me that this was all planned for me until I push aside the curtains and walk inside … there are pictures from our relationship all over the living room. It looks like an art gallery with little captions hanging next to each cluster of pictures. It’s still not hitting me that this is an engagement thing … I’m not sure what I thought it was but I didn’t suspect that Cain was going to propose until we actually went out on the balcony.
There had been pictures of where Cain had asked me to be his girlfriend, where we went on our first “official” date, all the trips that we had taken to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Las Vegas, San Diego, Chicago … I hadn’t realized how much we had done together and how many trips we had gone on!
Finally, he leads me to the balcony and there is an empty corkboard with a little note saying that he wants to fill this corkboard with even more memories … it’s finally starting to really hit me … he’s going to propose! But, where’s the ring?!? I don’t see a ring … Cain then pulls out the ring from behind the corkboard (it was definitely NOT in his pants pocket) and starts to open the box. Immediately, it REALLY hits me and I can’t really think but exclaim, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! OH MY GOD!!!”
Then, I was pretty much in happiness-shock for the rest of the night. We went out to celebrate our engagement at Bar Cesar down the street, floating on Cloud 9 the whole way. It seemed so surreal to me since I was caught off guard. Pretty much the most surprising and happiest moment of my life.
I have always known and still know that I am the luckiest girl alive.
“Oh hello there. I’d like you to meet my fiancé.”
I still think that’s a little weird. These past couple of years I’ve gotten used to introducing Joyce as my friend, then my date, then my girlfriend. But fiancé? That’s going to take some getting used to.
I won’t lie, though. Every time I hear myself say that word, I get some butterflies in my stomach and think, “THIS IS REAL! THIS HAPPENED! THIS REALLY HAPPENED!”
So wait … how did it happen? That’s a good story.
T-MINUS 40 DAYS
It hits me. I know I want to spend the rest of my life with this woman. I do the first thing I can think of when I’m struck by this sudden realization: I call my mom.
T-MINUS 30 DAYS
I begin to realize that it is practically impossible to do any engagement ring research when you live with your significant other. I’d do it on my laptop, but I’m paranoid that I’ll be careless and leave a page open, leave a clue in the browser’s search box, etc. I end up browsing the interwebz while on my lunch breaks at work.
I know that I’ll be flying down to Los Angeles in about10 days to attend my good friend Ozzie’s bachelor party. I also know that I want his advice on this whole engagement ring process (seeing as how he’s already been through it), because quite frankly, I don’t know a damned thing. So I call him up and ask if it would be okay for us to take an hour or two to go get a ring. Of course he says yes. Perfect! I’ll be away from home and she won’t suspect a thing…
…but how the hell do I find out what her ring size is?
Well, you wait until she’s in the shower, that’s how. Then you scramble around the bedroom looking for any of her rings. Interestingly enough, I find her grandmother’s engagement ring. Hrmm, what now?
I hear the shower turn off. Crap. In full freakout mode, I decide to put the ring on. It gets about 3/4 of the way up my pinky. Okay, good enough for me. I put it back where I found it, jump into bed, and pretend I’m sleeping. She buys it.
T-Minus 20 DAYS
I’m down in LA and riding with Ozzie to go ring hunting. Ozzie’s first piece of advice could honestly have not been any better in calming my nerves:
“Girls think they know everything about engagement rings. They don’t, so forget anything they ever told you.”
I needed to hear that. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t like the idea of shopping together for a ring. She might as well pick it out, have you pay for it, hand it to you and say, “Okay now give it back to me.” No, for me, I wanted to pick it out myself and surprise her with something that was truly from ME.
We end up at a great little family-owned shop in Downtown LA called Icing on the Ring. I stand around for a good hour or so browsing their selection of rings until I finally see the one I want. Yes! That feeling is pretty awesome. The owner’s daughter, Ani, was incredibly helpful in the process and made it about as pressure-free as possible. She asks me if I know her ring size. I look down at my pinky.
“This big,” I say, pointing to the spot the ring reached. We decide to make it half a size larger, just in case. I at least want to be able to slip the ring on.
She tells me that they’ll begin working on it in a day or two, and that I can expect delivery in about 3 weeks. Sounds good to me!
I walked out of the store, a few hours after entering, in a daze. Wow. I actually did this. Wow. Did I actually do this? :: looks at receipt :: Yes, yes I did do this. Insane.
But I also have to thank Ozzie here — he was patient enough to not slap me and say, “Hurry the f*%$ up!”
So yeah, thanks for not slapping me, Ozzie.
T-MINUS 14 DAYS
I decide how I want to propose. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to make this all happen. My idea is to convert our apartment to an art gallery / timeline of our relationship. Candles, wine, the whole feel of walking into a venue with hardwood floors, white walls and nothing but framed pictures on the walls.
Yeah, I think I can make that happen.
T-MINUS 10 DAYS
As soon as the clock hits 12, I rush out of work.
I head to Marshalls, because we all know they have tons of nicely-priced (read: cheap) frames. I end up buying about 25 or so frames. As I walk to the register with my shopping cart full of goodies, one of their employees stops and says, “I hope you’re opening an art gallery!”
“Sorta….” I respond.
Realizing that I can’t keep any of this crap at home, I call my buddy Frank to see if he can store some stuff for me. I head over to his place, drop it off, then head back to work, having effectively done all this during my lunch break with Joyce having no idea what I’ve been up to.
T-MINUS 8 DAYS
After dropping Joyce off at work, I head out to various places on campus to take some pictures for the gallery. We met at UC Berkeley, so I figure there should be some campus shots.
I remember that our first official date was at a movie theater not too far from where I’m standing, so I rush over and take a few pictures there. I hop back in the car and head to work, waiting anxiously for the lunch break.
It’s lunch time, so I hop into the car and drive down to Downtown Oakland. I officially asked her out at a Broken Bells concert at the Fox Theater, so I really wanted some pictures of that venue. Click clack, done, and I’m back at work with her none the wiser.
I spend some time at home that day picking out some more photos I’d like to frame. I order prints online for pickup the next day. I’m starting to get excited seeing everything come together.
T-MINUS 4 DAYS
Ani emails me to give me an update: the ring is expected to arrive ahead of schedule. I’ll be receiving it on Friday, June 8th.
I realize that I can totally make this happen on that day.
T-MINUS 2 DAY
I’ve bought all the frames I need and I’ve printed out most of the pictures. I start talking to Frank about how we’ll be transporting all this stuff to my apartment. He tells me that he actually has an empty apartment in the complex he manages.
“Yeah,” he says, “it’s clean, it’s bright, it’s perfect. Plus all your stuff is already here.”
I decide that I’ll do it in the empty apartment. Top floor, nice view. It just makes sense. I get this feeling that things are just falling into place for all the right reasons.
T-MINUS 1 DAY
I’m nervous as s!#$. I check and re-check my plans. I pray to God that the ring delivery is on time.
It’s about 1 pm and I hear a coworker tell me that I have a package. The butterflies I had in my stomach make babies and double in count.
I grab the package, thank my coworker, and lock myself in my office. I open it slowly.
I quickly call Frank and let him know I’m going to grab some things and head over. I drive to the store and pick up some index cards and mailing labels to use as the captions for the frames. I pick up the last set of prints I need to frame.
I get to the apartment and realize the weather could not be better. There’s the perfect amount of sunlight shining into the empty apartment. I quickly begin hanging up all the frames and captions, and Frank helps by hanging up some curtains I bought to really give the space an art gallery feel. After about 2 hours of work, we’re done. I stand back and take a deep breath … well, here we go.
I rush out and pick up some wine and flowers, and drop those off in the apartment. It’s about 4:55 pm, and I call Joyce letting her know I’m ready to pick her up from work. After I hang up, I give Frank my iPod and have him hook it up to his speakers.
“Here, let me have you play this Broken Bells playlist. Just leave it on so there’s music playing as we walk in.”
I run downstairs and jump in the car. As I roll up to her building, I see her standing outside. I still remember her smiling at me, and I couldn’t help but laugh on the inside. She’s so cute and so clueless to what’s about to happen.
“Hey, so Frank says he has some things for our dog,” I tell her, knowing she’d immediately want to go see what those things were.
As we pull up to the apartment, I realize how quickly my heart is beating. I hope to myself that it’s not obvious how nervous I am. I ring the doorbell to the empty apartment and explain to Joyce that Frank is working in there. Frank answers and tells us to come on up. We make our way up the stairs and, before I know it, we’re standing right outside the apartment. I slowly open the door.
Joyce takes a slow step inside with me right behind her. The living room is blocked off by a curtain, creating a nice entrance space. There’s a stool sitting there, with two glasses of wine and a woodblock sign that says LOVE on top. Broken Bells is playing softly in the background.
“Whoa,” she says. I’m feeling a little stupid at the moment, and the smartest thing I can think to say is, “Whoa, well, what is thiiiis?” Haha, I feel stupid after.
We grab our glasses and walk together into the living room. I look at her face and can see her look of complete shock and excitement. I put one hand on her back and lead her to the first set of pictures.
“Read the captions, baby. They tell a story!”
Together, we move from one set of frames to another, reliving the many memories we’ve had together.
“Hey, remember when we went on this hike?”
“Wow, wasn’t our trip to Europe so amazing!”
“Oh my God, that day was so much fun!”
As we get through the last set of frames in the living room, I tell her I have one last surprise. We walk out to the balcony where a huge, framed cork board is laying against the wall with roses strewn about. There’s a small caption pinned in the middle, and we both kneel down to take a look. She reads it out loud:
“And here lies the future.
One he can’t wait to enjoy, with his love at his side.
To live happily ever after.”
She turns to me, not having noticed that I had pulled out the engagement ring box while she read the last caption. She sees it, and it hits her.
“Oh my God…oh my God! Oh my God…oh…oh my God!”
I say some words (I’d love to share, but these will always be between her and me) and finally ask…
“Will you marry me?”
I place the ring on the finger, realizing that it fits PERFECTLY. I stand up and she gives me the biggest hug I’ve ever gotten from her. I realize I was so nervous and in a daze that I look at her again and ask,”Wait … did you say yes? Like for realsies?”
“YES! OF COURSE, BABY!”
We head back inside and hear one of our favorite Broken Bells song playing. We start slow-dancing, not really caring if we were on beat.
And it hits me: holy crap, I’m dancing with my fiancé!