Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Cat’s out of the Bag, Word on the Street is I said YES!

…actually it was more like “(sniffle, sniffle) of course, yes, of course, I’ll marry you.” Those may have been my exact words. I will try in this space to accurately recall the events of the proposal date beginning with a short set up.

Thursday, December 29th we set off from Fort Worth bound for Amarillo to begin a long weekend of touring West Texas with the intention of introducing David to my grandmothers and privileged aunts. David had been acting strange over his Christmas break which was partly excusable by acquiring a dog and all the energies that go into training an adult dog to adapt to a new home AND keeping his mind off teaching as much as possible except for the two big boxes of “stuff” that he brought home to work on over the break, which as far as I know he hardly touched. Now I must also say that I was aware that he was trying to come up with a memorable way to pop the question to me and I was involved with his picking of the ring, a very involved process because he had something customized after we looked at lots of rings together online and talked with some jewelry experts in Denton at the beginning of his holiday break. Knowing all of this I still honestly thought he wasn’t going to get the ring in time to ask me over the break and he seemed reluctant to the offer to get me a ring-pop for every day until the real ring arrived.

We had an enjoyable visit with the Amarillo family and even got to camp out at Palo Duro Canyon, it was a little cold but I was prepared for that. David had cold feet! Friday evening we made it to Lubbock. I have since learned that shortly after our arriving at my parents’ house David received the package containing the ring. I learned later that he stuffed the packaging in his boot and carried the ring box in his pocket during our dinner with parents and brother. He behaved very unusual during this time trying to conceal the strange shape in his pocket. I was completely unaware. We parted ways that evening with David saying he wasn’t going to go with me to Midland the next day because he had so much school work to prepare for. I was really frustrated with him because I really wanted to introduce him to the family. So I pushed him out the door and said good night. He called as I was falling asleep, several hours later after I had sent a text saying “call at your own risk” simply saying that he would be there in the morning. Yea!!!!!

We had a good visit to Midland with both my dad and David, nothing too out of the ordinary occurred while we were down there. David rode in the back seat both there and back working on school stuff to my delight. My dad pressed the point that he had wanted to head out by 2:30, I think is what he said. I found it a bit unusual for him to plan and execute such an early and short visit to Midland to see his mom and sister, usually I think we would stay and visit until it seemed convenient to leave rather than rush our time together. Oh well. I picked up on that clue and thought it might be linked to some plan David had concocted.

When we got back to Lubbock, we reorganized a bit and David and I went to J & B Coffee House on 19th Street (formerly Daybreak) where both he and his sister had worked after our college days but also the place where David first started taking me to when we were just getting to know each other under the pretense of studying together. The whole time we were there was really strange. David introduced me to the two baristas who were working and seemed to be expecting us. They didn’t charge us for our drinks, which I was able to excuse that away since we don’t get to visit the shop very often. Then David kept walking around the shop and talking with the baristas while I just sat at the front of the store waiting for my Texas Gold tea to cool down enough to drink. I remembered to call a friend who was coming down from Boulder, CO that I wanted to see while we were both in town at the same time. So she came over for about 15 minutes which really seemed to through David off. This was when it all started to fall into place in my mind. So I let my friend know that I suspected something was up and that we should keep our visit brief.

While at the coffee shop one of the baristas said he thought some of the art in the shop was from a friend of ours. He indicated that it was in the back so we went back there and found a painting called “Birds of a Feather.” This seemed like something David had likely had commissioned by this friend of ours and I said it was really cute and that I like it a lot. So he talked with the baristas and brought the painting to me and said it was for my house. Yea! I like sentimental gifts. Then we started reading the “Happy Thoughts Book” that patrons put notes into, it’s a fun concept. The last note I recognized as David’s paper, I wanted to grab it right away and read it but I played along and sat patiently waiting for him to get to it. It was folded like a card with the message on the front saying, “Do you want to take a walk down memory lane?” There was a box to check “yes” or “no” and a drawing underneath that looked like a street sign. One of the signs said Memory Lane the other was Ave Q. Then I knew our next destination would be Ave Q and 21st street, a place where we would often visit, sometimes just the two of us and sometimes with other friends, taking with us muffins and coffee and warm accepting smiles. This was a favorite was for both of us to express our religious convictions, to love God by loving those who are not shown enough love.

When we got there a slight glitch occurred. Right behind us two police cars rolled in pulling over another vehicle and blocking us in. We did our best to ignore the arrest that was taking place and go on about our business. We walked around to the sidewalk where we so often stood and I found a birdhouse up beside one of the buildings. Inside of the birdhouse was a note, a very strange note that I could not make heads or tails of. It said something about doing something three times that would evoke a curse we would want to have put on us. We walked around and talked about it waiting for the police to move their cruisers then drove off for the Lubbock Christian University Campus.

Apparently the saying went, “swing three times and a ring by spring.” I remember the part “…and a ring by spring” but I thought it was preceded by something else. Oh well. Maybe some of my other LCU friends can help jog my memory. So we sent to swing on some of the benches on campus. When we got to the third one there was a note taped under it saying something about a place where we ran but never got far enough. There was also a statue with a tree and a couple birds sitting in it. The place the note was referring to was Higginbotham Park, where David trained for his first marathon and I have also spent countless hours both with him and on my own running. Back in our poor college days before Garmin GPS or other devices he assumed the trail was a mile and therefore didn’t train far enough for his race and it really cost him.

We walked around the park then went to the pavilion with a heart statue in the middle. It had a couple birds in the heart that I had never noticed before. I had a hard time finding the gift that was left at that place but eventually I did. It was a bird cage with a candle in the middle. The bird was sitting on top of the cage instead of inside. He said this was to be our centerpiece for dinner and we would be going to a place where I had previously taken him on a date to, Olive Garden. Yum.

We got a lot of attention by bringing in our own centerpiece which was fun. Some people asked if we were on our anniversary and that sort of thing. It was very romantic and the service was exceptional. I highly recommend bringing something to restaurants with you on special occasions to make sure your dinner is regarded as special by the servers, works like a charm. After dinner I asked “where to next?” David said he was thinking about going up to Lake Ransom Canyon but didn’t exactly remember how to get there. So I gave him directions and off we went.

He parked along the path to the chapel and took with him my head light, a light he was carrying, and the painting. He gave me the headlight and I remember noticing that he light was blue, I thought that was fun. We walked along the path to the chapel and sat by the bird fountain near the St. Francis statue on a park bench. He had me look for the signature on the picture since I hadn’t seen one when we took it from the coffee shop. With my headlight I began to see some words in the top part. I had a pretty good idea about what I was supposed to be seeing. So I started to say it out loud, “will you…does this say” then he cut me off, handed me his black light flash light, got down on his knee and said it with me, “Will you marry me?”

Yup, and like I said at the beginning, through intermittent happy tears I was able to blabber an affirmative. Yea! He hugged me, I cried on the picture. Glad it was well framed with glass so I wasn’t going to smear it. And as we walked back to the car he explained everything. About how he was having the ring sent to my dad, how he had gotten it and had to conceal it from me. He explained why he wasn’t going to go to Midland so he could set everything up but that our wonderful friend, Bonnie (the artist), place the items around town so that he could. The painting was made entirely by David with disappearing ink for the writing that he happened to find while we were in Denton checking out rings. He told me about when and where he had to go during his holiday break to make sure everything was ready and flawless. He also admitted to having some backup ideas that he would keep secret and maybe I will get to experience versions of those at another time.

So that’s my story. We went back to my parents’ place and made our announcement to them before going to Fox and Hound for a game of Shuffle Board. Then we sat together making calls and texts to lots of people. We finished up our calls in time to rejoin the party for a celebratory midnight champagne toast, because this was after all New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year! I think 2012 will be a good one for us. No word yet on when the wedding will be. I expect it will be very small. Details will be announced as they are determined on a need to know basis. Thanks for reading friends! Check back for pictures of the gifts, the card, and close ups of the ring.