When the moment came, it wasn't like in the movies. And that is a good thing. Because life is real, while movies, well, are not.
I didn't cry, and he wasn't nervous. At least, if he was, he hid it extremely well.
I drove up as usual after work on a Friday evening, New Year's Eve-eve. Better known as my parents' wedding anniversary. I asked CJ that evening if there were any particular plans for the weekend. He said no, not really, just maybe we could go downtown on Saturday or Sunday. I was relieved. As much as I enjoy doing fun things (upscale restaurants, museums, shows, etc.), the fact is that I didn't want NYE weekend to become a Big Deal. I didn't expect it to be. Being in a long distance relationship, it's nice to just be together. We don't need to DO stuff all the time. The vast majority of our relationship has been spent just hanging out at his place or mine, watching movies, taking walks, eating at restaurants where if you wear anything fancier than jeans you're overdressed. That kind of thing.
It's not as if we haven't done anything fancy - we've been to a brewery (my hometown), ballparks (both), live theater (his area, three separate times), dinner cruise (his), exceptionally nice restaurant (his place - the last three were all done in one weekend. That was to celebrate a significant birthday of mine and our one-year anniversary. At the spectacular restaurant, which crowned the evening, he memorably leaned across the candlelit table and said, "I'm not proposing to you tonight." To which I replied, "I know. It's too obvious." (Not to mention the nearest people were sitting only a few feet away.)
On New Year's Eve, we got up late, skipped having breakfast, and went downtown. For this time of year, it was a pleasant day - that is, not either blinded with snow or frozen to the sidewalk (frozen was NYE 2010). We were both happy the weather cooperated. I was happy because it meant we could walk around with Starbucks for at least half an hour outside in the sunshine. He was happy because it meant he could propose in a romantic setting. Namely, a semi-graffitied park bench. (Yes, CJ, it was romantic! Well done! You should have insisted we sit on the totally-covered-in-graffiti bench right next to it. But no matter.:))
We sat down on the bench, surveying the skyscrapers and quicking drinking Starbucks. The wind was a bit chilly. I pulled my favorite hat out of my purse and put it on. It's shaped like a baseball cap, but there's no logo on it. Whether it's a coincidence or not, I bought it on NYE 2009 in Malibu. And yes, parents, this is the same hat that I thought I lost in Independence, MO a couple of years ago and insisted we drive back to the restaurant to find it. Was it a premonition? Hmmm....
CJ and I sat on the bench, talking. I have no recollection of this conversation. Then it was quiet for a while. Then CJ started talking again. I was a little surprised at this. For one, whatever we were talking about before previously had nothing to do with what he was saying then. For another, I usually start a conversation.
At one point he said to me, "Do you remember last month when I said I couldn't come down because I had a basketball tournament?"
"Well, I didn't go to any basketball games."
"Oh.....kay." (Um, where is he going with this?"
"I got on a plane and flew to Kansas City...
(Gears were clicking madly.)
"....picked up my rental car, and drove a couple of hours south."
(Everything clicked.) I smiled. "I wonder where you went!"
He smiled back. "I visited your parents."
At this point, I knew. I wanted to say something, many things, everything, but I let him talk. It was his time, and he said it brilliantly. And then at the appropriate moment, he slid off the bench, got on one knee, and pulled the ring out of his pocket.
And I said yes.
And then we talked some more, laughed, got up and started walking again. And called our parents. Who already knew everything. Naturally. :)
Even in retrospect, it feels perfect. Just him and me, a park bench, and a ring.
2 weeks ago