Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Modest Proposal

This time last year I was drafting a story – found here – that began by describing our first kiss, and ended in asking Liz’s father for permission to ask for her hand in marriage. Considering that I finally asked Liz for her hand several weeks ago, the card from her parents (pictured above) is quite fitting.In envisioning the proposal I had seen a photo booth, a photographer, a romantic view, and a group of friends. As Liz succinctly put it after the fact, “He would have had a parade if he could”. While the proposal didn’t end up being the big to-do that I previously envisioned, I couldn’t have asked for a better moment.
So, it was her late grandmother’s ring. I put it in a pocket of my suitcase that would make its way to Michigan for the holidays. And then in another pocket. And then in another. Each consecutive pocket more secure than the one prior. I wasn’t certain when I would propose, but I wanted to be prepared should the right moment arise. 

The day after we arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we wanted to get out and explore the snow-covered beach. It was so different than we has seen it six months before. Then, we were kayaking and taking in the sun. Now, I was putting on snow pants over two already placed layers. I put the ring in a pocket of my jacket. And then in another pocket. And then in another. I thought how ridiculous I was being, and how my “safe” pocket options were running out. 

We ventured out into the balmy 20-ish degree weather. Lake Superior was freezing. The beach was covered in a thick layer of snow. The surrounding landscape was beautiful, peaceful, and nearly silent. The only sounds were our crunching footsteps backed by the subtle crackling of water gently moving ice, yet my mind raced. Did she see me touch my pocket? Did I touch my pocket? I don’t remember touching the ring in my pocket for the 24th time. Did I lose it already? Be cool Micah. BE. Cool. Should I do it here? What about here? Not here. I couldn’t imagine going back to “the place where he proposed”, and it being some random person’s beach-front lot. It is amazing how a seemingly simple question can temporarily transform an easy-going guy into a neurotic mess. 

I took off my right hand glove to reach into a pocket for my phone. Not long after the phone met the bone chilling temperatures, the previously full battery went dead. No more photos for me, which was unfortunate. However, it was an acceptable casualty because it was then that I had the chance to pull the ring from my coat pocket, slip it on my own finger, and put my glove on over it.  Easy access. No digging in pockets if the opportunity arose, only an unveiling of sorts.

Our snowy hike took us back to the beach in front of the cabin. One of Liz’s favorite places. She had been on that beach every summer since she was born. Would a proposal there contribute to or alter meaning of that place? The question ran through my head as I unknowingly paced.

Liz was snapping pictures of me while I paced. Not knowing what was going through my head she said, “I want to take a selfie”. I’m not sure that I have ever heard those words from her. Nonetheless, it was an opportunity to capture the moment even though my phone had died. She asked me to take it of the two of us. I grabbed her phone, and began to reach out with my right hand before I saw the ring bulging from the thin black glove. “Wait. Switch me spots”. With my now left hand holding the phone I caught the moment, evidenced in a half-smile-smirk, that I knew that I was going to ask her that three-word question on that beach.

On the beach… in the snow… in front of the cabin… Liz asked the natural question, “What do you want to do next?” “I want to spend the rest of my life with you”, I said as I settled in with a snow-covered knee. “Yes”, she said as tears began running down her face, and she joined me kneeling in the snow.

After a few seconds I was surprised to find us both on our knees. We got to our feet, and were taking in the gravity of the moment before we heard BANG, BANG, BANG. We turned to the cabin to see Liz’s mom in the window with a camera. We smiled and waved thinking that she had seen it all. We found out later that she didn’t even know I had proposed, but did a great job of capturing the moments after, including me wiping a tear from Liz’s cheek. We composed ourselves before marching inside, and toasting to our collective future with a bit of Catdaddy, a North Carolina moonshine.

Come to find out, an intimate moment has the potential to be more fulfilling than one with much pomp and circumstance. As Liz pointed out, it was a moment that was shared by just the two of us.

For Liz's perspective, see her post here