May 21st, 2010.
5:00pm. Daniel arrives at my house to pick me up for date night. Lets himself in. I'm still putting makeup on. He enters my room, one arm behind his back. Smiles, looks at me, pauses, "I love you.", kiss on the forehead, hands me a dozen red roses.
He's waited until he was in love to ever give a girl a dozen roses. I should have known something was up. Instead, in this moment, the stress of my day, my week, simply dissolves. I suspect nothing.
5:17ish. Depart from my house. The air, fresh. The day, hot. But in a happy kind of way. The mood, care free. Stop at the dry cleaners. In the car, smooth music, "how was your day?", hand holding, lots of loving glimpses. His shirt, a casual button down. My hair, in a bun off my face.
5:33ish. Cornish Pasty, table for two. Classic Rock playing in the background. Black and White photographs on the walls. Tiny little restaurant. Waitress with beautiful long curly hair. Me, cider; Daniel, beer. We decide to order the The Pilgrim with extra cranberries, same thing we ate the last time we were here, a little symbolic. Tenderly holding hands across the table. The sun is sneaking in through the window at the front of the bar.
The last time we had been here was our fifth date. It had been the first night that we (mainly me) opened up -- trusted -- became vulnerable -- let my guard down and felt safe. Previously treading water in a sea of fear and uncertainty, I found that night that Daniel had been sent out with a paddle and a rowboat for two to take us back to the shore together; I just needed to be ready to get in the boat with him. Patient... he was so patient...
Anyway, over dinner Daniel reflectively compares our current emotional location to that of our last visit to this restaurant. Before: undefined, unsure, afraid. Now: so much in love. He knows me, really knows me. We're so connected, so committed, so happy. We talk about this and about our blessings. Between bites we're grinning at each other with uninterruptible eye contact. As he's looking at me chewing my cranberries and turkey, his eyes well up with tears. He excuses himself from the table to step outside for a second. He comes back and apologizes, "I almost lost it, I just needed to get it together for a sec." I should have known something was up. Instead, in this moment, I think to myself how sweet and dear my boyfriend is and how lucky I am to have found him. I suspect nothing.
6:41. Back in the Jeep, we're off to Tempe Town Lake. We're going to re-visit Site 2 of our fifth date. I just told him a week or so ago that I really want to go back to Tempe Town Lake with him soon because I feel like it's "our spot". It's where we continued our deep conversation that would later represent a turning point in our relationship, it's where we sat on our bench under the bridge and relaxed and talked some more, it's where he gently put his arm around me for the first time as we walked back to the car from our bench. His arm around my waist felt so good, so perfect. It's where I finally allowed myself to surrender and start to fall in love with him.
6:54ish. We arrive at Tempe Town Lake. The sky is amazing. I've got my camera in my purse, and I feel inspired to take some pictures. Out-stretched arm, self picture. OK now I'll kiss you on the cheek. OK now you kiss me on the cheek. OK now I'm gonna take one of the sun. Toss the camera and my purse in the car. Ditch the high-heels and put on my flip flops. It's about 96 degrees out but it doesn't feel hot. The breeze was perfect. We're walking along Tempe Town Lake. Daniel keeps looking at his phone to see what time it is, I notice, but I don't think anything of it.
The sun is creeping down towards the western horizon.
Me to Daniel: "it seems late for how bright it is, I wonder what time the sun sets this time of year?".
Daniel, immediately: "7:22."
Me: "Really. How would you even know that. I don't believe you."
Daniel: "It's at 7:22. You'll see."
I should have known something was up. But it's not unusual for Daniel to know random things off the top of his head so I suspect nothing.
We're walking. I'm practically skipping. Holding hands. We are so ridiculously cute. In the best mood. So in love and so happy to be there. If I had to describe the mood I would say grounded and peaceful with a touch of playfullness. It was the perfect evening.
7:22. Sure enough. Sun set. Daniel is holding my hand and says "let's step over here and watch the sun set." How romantic, I think. A few steps off the side walk, we're in the gravel towards the lake. We've got our arms around each other's waists. The sun sneaks behind the city of Phoenix and gradually a bump becomes a crescent and the crescent becomes a sliver and the sliver becomes a speck and the speck melts. Daniel kisses me. No one is around. We're kissing. And we're kissing. And we're standing there kissing. It's a real good kiss - resembles our first kiss, overflowing with genuine emotion and chemistry and tenderness. Between kisses Daniel is whispering sweet things to me. We're face to face. Just us.
Daniel (whispers): "I love you."
Me (playfully): "I love you too."'
Daniel (seriously): "I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
Me (still playfully): "I want to spend the rest of my life with you too."
Kiss. He smells so good. He feels so good. Everything feels so perfect.
Daniel gently moves his left hand from my cheek to his pocket. He reaches into his pocket and before I know it he's down on one knee. At this point it hits me that he wasn't just whispering sweet things to me, he was proposing.
"Julie, will you marry me?"
I see that there's a little wooden box. I register that there's a ring in it. He just asked me to marry him. Is this really happening?
I pull him up from kneeling on the gravel and hug him. Lots of cheek kisses and wreckless face-grabs and more cheek kisses. I'm excitedly flustered, "Is this really happening?" "Did you just say that?" "Right now, this is happening right now?" He's steadily smiling and just saying "yes, it's really happening, yes it's happening right now." and accepting my cheek kisses.
A minute or two goes by. I'm still holding the box in my hand.
I am ridiculously excited. I'm jumping up and down.
"Well, do you want to put it on?"
Oh right, the ring!
I put on the ring. Oh it's so beautiful. And oh it fits. And oh it's so beautiful and perfect.
More hugging, more cheek kisses, more flustered excitedness.
An old man and his basset hound walk by leisurely on the side walk.
"WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!!!" I yell at him.
Poor man. Startled, he mutters "well, congratulations."
Once I get it together, the wheels start turning in my head. I should have known something was up all night.
I uncover that Daniel had spent an hour with my parents that very afternoon discussing his intentions with them and asking for their blessing. Quite a handful of people in his family also knew that he had plans to propose to me that night. Also, of course my thoughtful and meticulous now-fiance had champagne on ice waiting for us in a cooler in the trunk of the car.
After we finished our special moment at Tempe Town Lake, the shock and excitement turned to celebration and sharing throughout the whole remainder of the evening. A handful of phone calls to our closest loved ones. "We're getting married!". Champagne with my parents and sister. We were able to Skype with Daniel's mama and crew so they could share in the excitement. My dad even busted out Dean Martin's greatest hits record on the phonograph that I didn't even know he had.
Probably forty times I said to Daniel that night the words "We're getting married." Every time the words left my mouth they became more and more real, and thus more and more exciting. He would (and still does) just look back at me lovingly, "Yep, we're getting married."
We're getting married.
So there it is.