"Mahna mahna." After Tyler proposed to me four days later, he said, "Well, I'm glad you didn't say mahna-mahna." I laughed out loud. I should have said it.
After twenty days, I finally sat down to write a detailed account of how Tyler proposed. It's lengthy with probably too many details, so skip to the last few paragraphs if you get bored. Here is the story for those of you who are curious...
On Thursday, December 29 we piled ourselves and our bags into the car to start our twelve-hour drive to San Francisco for New Year's with friends. The drive went really smoothly. We stopped in a place called Highland once we were in California to get some Del Taco and Tyler was nervous about being too far from our car. At the time I thought it was because he was worried about the laptop, but in reality my engagement ring was the real precious cargo. We didn't stop very many times (only as often as we had to fill up the tank) so that we could get to our friends' apartment at a reasonable hour.
|On our way out of the desert|
|Obligatory self-taken road trip shot|
Our first full day back in the Bay Area was spent in Berkeley. None of our other friends had arrived from out of town yet, so it was the perfect day to visit all of our favorite places. First we went to Cafe Roma. Tyler had his project proposal to work on and I wanted to keep reading The Bell Jar, and we could park there for around an hour. I ordered a pain au chocolat, but wasn't sure how to go about ordering it in English. What would I call it? Chocolate bread? I ended up just mumbling and pointing to which the barista asked, "You want a chocolate croissant?" I came very close to correcting her (clearly pain au chocolat is not the same as a croissant), but just ended up nodding "yeah."
Tyler was able to make some progress and I became completely engrossed in my book when it was time to leave. We drove closer to campus and took a few pictures with Sather Gate in the background.
The official bookstore was closed and when we opened the glass door to exit the main building, an alarm went off and we speed-walked our way across the street as fast as we could. Searching for a Cal hoodie for Tyler, we went to a few other Cal stores without any luck, but did coo over the adorable baby clothes. Cal onesies and booties and bibs and little cheerleader outfits – so adorable! Next we went to Rasputin to pick up some records. We had bought a record player for ourselves for Christmas and already found a few records at Saver’s. Most of the old records I want are extremely cheap. At Rasputin I found some Gershwin, The Music Man, and something else that I can’t remember now. We also went to Moe’s bookstore, mostly just to browse because we already both have a lot of books to read. I did end up buying a copy of Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses Man of the Mountain. I have a hard time leaving any bookstore empty-handed.
We started feeling hungry and decided to get Cheeseboard pizza and save La Med for another day. The pizza was delicious and super filling. I got an IBC root beer and Tyler had a beer (Anderson Valley). It was the first time we’d sat inside the restaurant. Normally we sit on the median outside.
After that Tyler started to act a little funny. We’re always indecisive when it comes to making plans on vacation, but he kept making funny little suggestions. First he said that we should take a hike. I told him I didn’t have the right clothes for hiking. Then he suggested the marina which was also silly because it’s not really a special place we’d been to before plus the weather was super foggy. I thought we should just head back to San Francisco for the day to see our friends.
We drove back to the house and people were busy, so we went for a walk in Golden Gate Park. We weren’t sure what direction we felt like heading. It didn’t really matter to me, but of course Tyler was searching for the perfect spot to propose. I get a little giddy just thinking back on how sweet he was and of how nervous he must have been.
There was a directory shortly after we entered the park around 3:30 and we made our way to Stow Lake. We passed an amphitheater of sorts that neither of us had ever seen before and then walked up a hill where there were five or six squirrels chasing each other around while about a dozen people watched, oohing and aahing over their cuteness. I took pictures and video and couldn’t help but be reminded of the squirrel scene from The Sword in the Stone when the girl squirrel won’t leave squirrel Arthur alone. Maybe there’s an apt analogy to be made in there somewhere.
Anyway, I’m certain Tyler was going a little crazy trying to get to the lake so he could make his move. He coaxed me along to put the camera away and just in time because then a fluffy, black dog the same size as the squirrels showed up and that would have made for at least ten more pictures before we could have moved on.
Finally we got to the lake. I remembered walking around one of the lakes years ago on my visit when Tyler had to take a few summer courses. It was just as foggy then as it was this time, with the same swans and ducks swimming their laps. I remembered how much I'd loved it on my very first visit to the park and how we'd taken pictures of each other. Naturally this called for more picture-taking. We took some shots with a gazebo building in the background and then with a fallen tree that I was tempted to walk along tightrope style.
|Tyler at Spreckels Lake circa 2006|
|Me at Spreckels Lake circa 2006|
|Me this time at Stow Lake, in the most mismatched outfit to ever be proposed to in. Still wearing a red jacket.|
We kept walking and all of a sudden I noticed that we weren't really having a real conversation, but not in a bad way. We would just walk along and Tyler would casually (or at least it seemed casual at the time) mention how beautiful I was and how much he loved me. I'd say I love you too, squeeze his hand, and keep walking, oblivious to what he was trying to do. Ironically, my mind wandered to how badly I wanted him to propose to me and nearly asked him outright if he was going to propose during the trip.
I looked up at him and confessed, "I want to ask you something, but then I don't." He gave me a smile. I proceeded to ramble about how I was just going to keep my mouth shut. Don't ask don't tell. It's always when I talk too much and overthink things that I ruin surprises. It's been known to happen. I squeezed his hand and he squeezed mine back.
Not a minute later, Tyler stopped walking, turned me toward him with a pull of his hand, and got down on one knee. I don't remember his exact words, but somewhere in there he asked me to marry him and I said yes. Even though I'd been thinking about him proposing to me just moments before, I couldn't believe it. It was unreal. I'd had so many dreams of Tyler proposing that I had to tell myself that I was awake and that this moment was real.
I teared up and put on the beautiful antique ring that he'd picked out weeks before -- my heart swelled I was so proud of him. We kissed and I was shaking. I asked a million questions. I wanted to know everything. When did he decide to buy the ring? Where did he go to pick it out? How many rings did he look at? How hard was it to choose? Where had he been hiding the ring since I'd been home? Did my family know? Did our friends know?
Tyler had gone to E.D. Marshall in Scottsdale a few weeks before I came home. He asked to see their vintage and vintage-style engagement rings. Of all of the rings he saw, mine was the one that best fit what I'd hinted at wanting over the years and especially the past couple of months. He asked them to hold the ring for him. My friend came back with him later to confirm that I would love it. He bought it, a European-cut diamond ring with a platinum setting, estimated to be about sixty years old. They held my ring there for him until he finally picked it up the day before we left for San Francisco. Some of his friends knew about it and he'd called my parents before we'd left for Berkeley earlier that day. My mom had been at Peter Piper Pizza with my aunts and cousins when he asked for her and Dad's blessing. I laughed to myself because later on I had texted my mom about our yummy Cheeseboard pizza. I'm sure she was expecting something a bit more exciting when my name flashed onto the screen.
We sat on the bench for a good ten or fifteen minutes talking. I didn't want to get up. I wanted the moment to stay between us for as long as possible. People would walk by and we'd stop talking and look at each other. It was our secret for now. I wasn't ready to get up and start the phone calls and facebook updates and answer the big question on everyone's lips -- "So, when's the big day?"
Eventually we stood up of course. I tried to memorize the plaque on the bench so that we could find it again someday, but I forgot. It was getting dark and we needed to go back to the apartment. When we got back, we took about twenty pictures on our phones and cameras trying to get the best shot. I called my parents and siblings and then we had to catch the Muni to get to dinner and drinks with our friends downtown. We saved our fancy engagement dinner for when we got back to Arizona.
Even though the ring was a size 5 1/4 (just a bit larger than my high school class ring), it was still much too large for my finger. The jeweler had told Tyler that we could wrap a bit of tape around the band to fill in the space and secure it, but I knew I wanted to get it resized in Arizona so that it was all taken care of before my return to France. E.D. Marshall is the greatest. We took the ring in at noon the day after we drove back home and it was resized and cleaned in just three hours, no extra charge. They were amazing.
Now that I'm back in France it's been a little hard to bring myself to work on lesson planning instead of wedding planning, but I have plenty of free time to browse pinterest and all of the wedding blogs I've scoped in the past. I just need to remind myself to make the most of my last four months here. To travel and to meet people and to eat well and to celebrate that Tyler and I will be back in the same zipcode soon.
If you read this far, way to go champ!