Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Worth Waiting For

Have you ever had one of those weeks? The one where absolutely everything goes.... RIGHT? I had a week like that once. It was back in September of 2002.

It started with my car breaking down. Other than the fact that it broke down in rush-hour traffic heading into downtown, this was actually a good thing. You see, I'd been driving that old red Mercury Tracer for about nine years, and I had vowed to drive it until the wheels fell off. My brother Rick accused me of being eccentric--even though he once kept a Dodge Shadow until it literally started falling apart. My car was in awful shape: it had a hole in the back bumper, it pulled violently to the right when you let go of the wheel, and there was some brake problem that made a constant racket that could only be drowned out by turning up the radio to full volume. Still, no matter how awful it got, the appeal of a new car just couldn't compete with the joy of having no payments.

So it broke down one afternoon, and that gave me a reason to buy a new car at last. Bill and I went car shopping together, which felt significant, and we found a silver Nissan Sentra that had all those extras I'd been doing without, like a CD player (!), electric locks and windows, and cruise control. We got it for a great price, and it's been a really good car--we're still driving it after seven years, and I will probably keep driving it until the wheels fall off.

A couple of days after the car broke down, Bill and I headed to Chicago for a programming class (in Basic, if you can believe that). Of course, the first thing that came to my mind was that this would be a great place for Bill to propose since Chicago was where we'd met and fallen in love. When I was packing, I called Bill and asked, "Do you think I need to bring a nice outfit with me?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Why?"

Trying to keep my tone perfectly nonchalant, I stammered, "Well, I know we aren't staying over the weekend, but do you think we'll be able to get out in the evening for a date while we're there?"

"We might."

"So should I bring something fancy?"

"If you want to," he said with barely restrained laughter in his voice. I heaved a big sigh and said goodbye. Then I packed my lucky blue sundress--even though it hadn't proved all that lucky on our trip to Alabama five months before.

The next big event of the week happened while we were in class. I found out I was getting a big promotion to the next level of the tech support group I was with at the time. I'd tested on a whim, never guessing I'd have a shot at the job. It came with a generous raise, just in time to make the new car payments!

The class was also pretty fun. It was very challenging and mentally stimulating, and I took to programming like I was made for it. I loved putting my head together with Bill and troubleshooting each other's programs. We still do that sometimes now when one of us needs to solve a tricky problem at work, and I always find it exciting to team up that way. But I digress....

It wasn't looking too promising in the proposal department, though. I couldn't find the chance to break into Bill's hotel room and search his suitcase for dress clothes, so I still didn't know if he was planning a big date. The first four days passed without anything remotely romantic happening, and I was starting to lose hope.

On Thursday, our last night there, Bill asked what I thought about going to Long Grove for dinner. This was the little tourist town we'd visited on the Chicago trip when we'd had our first date. It was a fair drive from our hotel in Schaumburg, so I figured he must have something special planned if we were going so far on a work night.

I took extra care with my hair and makeup, and of course I donned the lucky dress.

Me and the Lucky Dress in Long Grove, July 2000

I knew as soon as we arrived that this was going to be the big night. Bill was clearly nervous, and even I was tongue tied (which almost NEVER happens). We browsed through several shops and pretty much retraced our steps from the previous trip. We finally ended up at the gazebo in the center of town, the one where we had kissed and kissed and then laughed ourselves silly as we set up the camera on a timer and took pictures of ourselves smooching.

One of Those Pictures

There wasn't much smooching on this trip because Bill had a terrible cold, and also swarms of mosquitoes were terrorizing us. Plus, there was a pesky family having a picnic, and they seemed blind to the fact that they were encroaching on the most romantic moment of my life!

When it became obvious that the family wasn't going anywhere, Bill turned his back to them and forged on resolutely. He gave me a hug, and I could feel his heart pounding in rhythm with mine. For a moment I felt tempted to deliver him from his nervousness and shout, "Yes! I will marry you!", but I forced myself to keep quiet.

Taking my trembling hand in his own sweaty one, he knelt on one knee and looked into my eyes. He told me loved me very, very much and hoped I would be his wife. I cried a little when I said yes, and then I gave him a little kiss which ended when his nose dripped. He pulled a Kleenex out of his pocket and blew his nose, and then he tried to slip a ring onto my finger. I had to help force it over my knuckle, which was enlarged from decades of knuckle popping.

I tried not to be too eager as I brought the ring up to inspect it. It was gorgeous! It had a white gold band and seven brilliant diamonds. "I LOVE IT!" I breathed, as relief washed over me. Even though I'd been excited about the idea of a surprise proposal, I'd been a little concerned about not having any input on the ring. What if he picked out something ugly? What if the diamond was microscopic, or so big it was tacky (not likely, but you never know)? Or worse yet, what if he didn't buy a ring at all since he knew I wasn't much of a jewelry person? Obviously, I needn't have worried.

We decided to walk over the restaurant then, at which point the picnicking family finally packed up their basket. They'd probably been watching the whole show, but that couldn't spoil my joy. I hooked my right arm through Bill's and held my left hand out in front of me, where it caught the last rays of the setting sun.

We discussed wedding plans over our barbecue. We agreed to get married in about six months, in March. We also decided we wanted a very small "destination" wedding, maybe with just the two of us.

Picture Taken at Same Restaurant on First Long Grove Trip (2000)

While we were eating, we saw an older couple dancing cheek to cheek. "Isn't that romantic!" I exclaimed. "Do you think we'll still be in love at that age?"

"Probably," Bill replied mildly.

For all we knew, the couple could be on their first date, but of course I imagined a whole 50-year marriage in my head.

It's been seven years now, and we're still in love. But I never had another week like that one.



Victor S E Moubarak said...

Great post Sarah. Thank you.

I have responded to your comment on my Blog about the seesaw; and included two Links you may wish to pursue.

God bless.

Sarah said...

Thank you for posting the links, Victor. I look forward to reading more.

Jenny from the Block said...

Love this story! My proposal happened during Valentine's Day but I really had no idea it was coming :)

Gentle said...

I was wearing sweat pants and ready for a movie evening at my apartment. Out of the blue, Sean gets on his knees and is holding one of those big candy rings and starts to tell me how much he loves me. He gives me a strange look as I looked confused...was this a joke? "Maybe you will like this ring better." He was holding my ring between his thumb and pointer finger. He spills his heart and I don't remember anything he said! I was in total shock...we had only been dating for six months. He had already gone to my parents a few weeks before and asked permission and celebrated with champagne...all without me not knowing. It was a quirky proposal...just like Sean...with just the right amount of romance(the ring and getting on his knee), consideration(asking my folks), leadership (quoted a bible verse), and perfect timing (not making me wait too long..ha!). Six years later....I am still having a slumber party with my best friend...it's great:)

Sarah said...

Gentle - Thank you for sharing your proposal story. How romantic and quirky, as you said! I love it. But to think you were in SWEAT PANTS! I was so glad to be wearing my lucky sundress for my big moment. Actually, your sweat pants were perfect; I'm sure they went with the candy ring just fine. Real love isn't about fancy clothes, is it? I'm always inspired by the stories you share about your love story with Sean.


Related Posts with Thumbnails