Tuesday, April 17, 2012

our engagement story

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the day Jacob got down on his knee and asked me to be his wife. And, of course, the day I said “yes” to this proposal, and have since worn a ring on my left hand that I’ll continue to wear for the rest of my life.  
Yesterday we reminisced about the events of the day: the excitement, the emotions, the memories. And doing so, I realized that I have never written about our engagement story. It is something that I have put off again and again; however, a year-and-a-day later—I have decided to tackle it. If anything, this is mostly for myself and posterity. If you’re not in the mood for a really long, mushy engagement story, I don't blame you. Skip this post. Or just look at the pictures.
Now where to begin?  Let's take the time machine back to April 16, 2011. 

Well, I guess the first thing I could say is that I knew it was coming. Besides the fact that Jacob had told me to keep that Friday open because he had a “special date” planned, I could just feel it. And Jacob isn’t really one to take his time in matters of love. 
That said, I was incredibly nervous. I knew it was coming, but not the precise moment. I knew what my answer was going to be, but was I going to be emotionally prepared for that monumental question? Like any girl, I guess I wanted it to be everything I had dreamed of.  I wanted to feel ecstatically happy—perhaps, so happy that I could cry (which I wasn’t sure I was capable of). Most of all, I wanted to say “yes” with all my heart. 
I was constantly on guard throughout the day. Watching for signs. Calculating Jacob’s every move. His intentions. And though my thoughts and emotions were racking my brain in preparation for (then) the biggest moment of my life, I had to act cool, calm, collected, and oblivious. Still, the day managed to go smoothly.
This wasn’t part of the “special date” that Jacob had planned for the night, but earlier in the day we had a picnic by the duck pond and strolled the new garden paths on campus. It was a lovely spring day. The trees were filled with pink blossoms. And the ducks were going absolutely nuts. 
Seriously. We knew it had to be mating season because all of the ducks were running amuck—the males fighting each other and then pairing off with their female friends until there were several “duck couples” waddling around the park together. How appropriate, right? I knew we would be joining the dance soon. Mating season, indeed!

Later in the afternoon, Jacob picked me up for our date and we began driving further and further into the country. I had no idea where we were going, but with all the ranches and stables along the drive, I was starting to get a clue.  And I guess he had told me in advance to dress like a cowgirl. Finally, Jacob smiled at me and asked, “So when’s the last time you rode a horse?”
Being the horse-lover that I have always been, I couldn’t have been more pleased to hear those words and watch us pull up to a little place called “Rocky Mountain Outfitters.”

Soon Jacob was fitted with “Poncho,” his trusty steed, and I was paired with “Duchess,” the shaggy pony.  The woman working there told us that she assigned us those horses because they were friends, which warmed my heart.

Our horses took us up a gorgeous trail overlooking the mountains and countryside. Very romantic scenery—the horses, the mountains…a little too romantic. I found myself thinking, Is this going to be it? Will he propose on horseback? Will he do it in front of other people?? I really had no idea what kind of proposal Jacob had in mind and I hadn’t given him much instruction on the matter, except a warning not to do anything embarrassing.

By the end of the ride, I had become pretty attached to ol’ Duchess, and was sad to go. However, the date was not over yet. Next step was our favorite little Mexican restaurant in town, Maria Bonita’s. This place is a little gem, by the way.  Right when you walk through her doors, Maria (the owner of the restaurant) runs and throws her arms around you, and to the women says “Mi Princess!” and to the men, “Mi Champión!”
Naturally, Jacob and I enjoy being referred to as “Princess” and “Champion,” which is perhaps why he like to eat there so often. But the food is quite good too. I ordered the enchilada Aculpulco, with no idea that I was ordering the most insane enchilada of my life and the biggest plate on the menu. It was HUGE and delicious. With a horchata on the side, we left with full bellies and happy hearts.
And now this is where Jacob attempts to psych me out, and mostly fails. He thought he was being sooo sly and sneaky with this move! On the way home, he turns and asks, “Do you wanna stop and look at rings one more time?”
You'll now find this photo on the wall of Maria Bonita's.
I probably shot him a glance that said, Are you seriously being serious right now?! I mean, we hadn’t been ring shopping for a few weeks. I definitely wanted to believe this was a trick. It looked like one. It smelled like one. But it’s not like I could just call him a LIAR, so I went along with it. Luckily, there were no jewelry stores at the Riverwoods so that was the end of the bluff. We headed home.
Again, Jacob tries to act cool and casual to trick me. (The poor guy was determined to make this a surprise) We hang at my house with some friends. We briefly crash a birthday party. We jump on the trampoline. Things are starting to seem pretty normal. And then he suggests we ride our bikes over to Kiwanis Park.  
Bingo! People get engaged in parks. I’m no fool. Something is up.
We find “our spot” at the park on the big boulder near the playground. Jacob tells me he has something for me and reaches into his jacket pocket.
At this moment, my heart nearly drops to the floor. IS THIS THE MOMENT? THE BIGGEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE?! AM I READY FOR THIS RIGHT NOW?! AHHH!
And then he pulls out large wad of paper and hands it to me. My reaction: a swift sigh of relief followed by a swift Huhh? 
 Not ring. Large wad of papers. Okay.
We perch ourselves on the boulder as I begin to examine the document in my hands. It was a journal. One that Jacob kept for two months, each day writing something that he loved about me. Just at realizing what it was, I began to get a bit teary-eyed and had to restrain the emotions as we sat and read each page together. It was probably the sweetest, most thoughtful thing he’s ever done.
At the conclusion of reading the journal, of course we exchanged lots of hugs n kisses. But I was largely speechless—half in awe of what I had just read, half wondering NOW? IS IT COMING NOW?! IT HAS TO BE!!
Not quite yet.
Jacob helps me off the boulder and guides me to a more secluded area of the park (there were some people near us playing on the playground at this point). After an eventful night, we were finally alone.
My heart was pounding out of my chest. Now? NOW?! HOLY CRAP THERE IS SO MUCH BUILD-UP TO THIS THING!!
Jacob took out his phone and started playing “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding. 

"May I have this dance?" he asks.

One night when all my roommates were gone and the house was empty, we shared our first slow dance to that song, swaying right in the middle of my living room. We had a special fondness for the tune ever since. I guess you could say it was “our song.” Not to mention, it is probably the best slow dance song ever invented.
So there we were, slow dancing in the park in tender embrace.
I knew it was coming now! There was no mistaking it. IT WAS SO SO CLOSE.
As the song concluded, Jacob took my hands and looked me right in the eyes. He began telling me all the things a girl ever wanted to hear. I’m sure there was an “I love you so much,” “You’re my best friend,” an “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” But my head was swimming, heart pounding, and eyes so filling with tears that I really don’t remember anything he said—
Until he dropped on one knee, holding the ring in his hand, and asked, “Holli, will you marry me?”
I lost it—my composure, my sense, my everything. I was all tears and joy. It literally took everything I had to cry out my “yes” because I was bawling like a baby. Without even looking at the ring, I threw my arms around him and we embraced and kissed and laughed and cried until I realized—WAIT. I HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN THE RING!
Jokingly, I made him get back on his knee and put the ring on my finger like he was supposed to. And wow. It was perfect. A gorgeous oval-cut stone set in rose gold. Just breathtaking. 

As we both stared in awe at the lovely ring on my finger, he began to say something.
“Just so you know, it isn’t a real diamond, but someday—”
“I don’t care! It doesn’t matter. I love it," I said.
I still love it. I love the memory. I love my Jacob. 
And I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world, like I did that night. 
A year later, and I still say “Yes!”

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