My sister, Kim, was visiting for the weekend; we'd spent all of Saturday marathoning Switched at Birth -- an ABC Family drama that deals with a girl who is deaf, so there is lots of American Sign Language. Kim is studying ASL and hopes to pursue interpreting, so... watching and loving this show makes sense. That was our weekend. Getting up-to-date on the full series while Jon was out of town visiting his folks in Santa Barbara.
At least, that was the plan. I went to bed on Saturday night expecting to wake up and keep going with the show. Apparently, that wasn't the plan at all.
I woke up (foggily) and knew from the various noises I was hearing that Kim had gotten up to take Ennis and her dog, Gretchen, outside so I didn't think too much about the fact that she was up already. Until I noticed that Ennis had something around his neck. I called him up on the bed and saw immediately that it was a message in a bottle, with a bit of sand and everything. I also knew, of course, that it was for me and, through my daze, I started calling for Kim while I fumbled to get it open. In the process and spilled sand on the bed. I screamed for Kim through developing tears, saying that I'd spilled sand all over the bed.
I opened the message.
Aaaaaaand I immediately started crying tears of fear and confusion and happiness. It was a weird mix, and all I could think was that my hair was dirty and my armpits were smelly and how Kim had refused (for some reason) to go and get girly manicures & pedicures the day before. I was physically not prepared for this.
Mentally and emotionally prepared, however? Yeah. I was ready.
So I did what any girl would do who was half asleep and suddenly bombarded by romance: I sat there crying for a while. I dunno, it's a blur.
On the kitchen table was a Starbucks coffee, a wrapped-up breakfast sandwich, and a note.
(I scanned all of the notes for the blog - in addition to the patterns on the backsides - since I couldn't get very good quality photos with my camera. Deal with it.)
At this point it solidified in my brain that I was about to be sent on a scavenger hunt. Since my brain tends to immediately complicate things and I'm basically the worst at puzzles and riddles, I started panicking about where I was about to be sent and whether I could actually figure out these clues.
Kim, seeing my confusion, assured me that it wasn't meant to confuse me; think simply.
"Do I have to go somewhere? I'm dirty," I sniveled.
She told me to shower and take all the time that I needed. I left my coffee, my breakfast sandwich, and my first clue and went to shower. (I also shaved my legs within an inch of their life, in case you were curious. Also, fun fact: before getting into the shower, Kim asked me, "If I hear a thud in there, should I call for help?", obviously teasing me about how disoriented and shakey I was feeling. Not 5 minutes after entering the shower, I slipped and fell. Twice. Ooohhh, good job, body.)
I got out of the shower, dressed, and considered the clue while I drank my coffee and sriracha'd-up (technical term) my sandwich. Obviously the clue was referring to Ennis Del Mar, Heath Ledger's character in Brokeback Mountain (whom I named my boober after), so eventually I determined that -- if I wasn't leaving the house -- the next clue was either in my copy of the screenplay or the BluRay.
I was right. Inside the BluRay for Brokeback Mountain was the next clue:
When I told mah girl, Kait, the story of Jon's proposal, she got this clue in about .75 seconds. Apparently she knows me better than I know myself, because I read this and almost gave up right then and there. I had no idea. And of course, despite Kim telling me not to, I immediately over-complicated it. Here's where my brain went:
"Constellation? So... stars? Like, celebrities? Hollywood?!?!?"
See what I mean? Pathetic.
I put the clue down and went to do my hair, talking a little to Kim to see if I could get any hints or tips from her about what I should be expecting. She was tight-lipped, which I give her credit for, because she is usually a blabbermouth. (Honestly, no idea how she hung out with me all weekend and didn't give this whole shebang away.)
Mid-blow dry, the answer finally came to me and I felt like a fool. I went into my office to our gallery wall, and pulled off my Hubble telescope photo of the Orion Nebula. (I've referred to Orion as my "constellation crush" since I was about 17.)
Tapped behind it, was clue #3:
Kim called to me from the other room, "You know, you can use Google! You're not on lock-down, dude!"
I started to Google and it popped up after just a few letters: Bird's nest fern, which is my dearest and favoritest plant that I haven't managed to kill yet.
On the balcony, nestled in the dirt with my fern, was clue #4:
I must've started to get better at this game, because I figured this one out pretty quickly. My dress from Free People that I bought last year on sale ($69 down from $299) turned out to be way too small for me, but it was too pretty to send back, so I dubbed it my "goal dress" for when I inevitably have my wedding rehearsal dinner.
Inside the dress, paperclipped to the inside of the tag, was clue #5.
Another easy one: my yoga studio, SunSpark.
To give you some perspective, I woke up at around 8:30 AM, and by now it was getting close to 10:15 or so. At this point, I was feeling a lot less queasy about everything, and started to settle into a normal rhythm of nerves and anticipation. I'm an extremely self-conscious person, and generally don't like being looked at for too long, much less being the center of attention, so the thought of going out and maybe interacting with people... was skeery.
Kim and I leashed up our dogs and went on our way, walking the half-mile to my yoga studio. I was relieved to see that it was Ernie sitting at the front desk (the part-owner of the studio and a super nice guy), and when I walked in, he gave me a knowing and friendly smile.
"I think you have something for me," I said.
He pulled out a clue which matched the others and handed it over.
"How's your morning been so far?" he asked.
"Oh, you know. It's been a morning." Awkward.
"Did you suspect anything at all?"
I thanked him, blushing like a fool, and went out towards the obvious destination: Chapman's Leatherby Library.
It was a gorgeous day. Walking with Kim and the dogs felt pretty great, and even though I was still shakey and anxious, my excitement started to build the longer we walked.
Outside Leatherby, Kim told me to go in alone and find the book I was instructed to get, and bring it out with me. Apparently, it had already been checked out!
Being the idiot that I am (and bad college student that I was), I had a bit of trouble deciphering the library code, but eventually found my way to the Literature section.
Then eventually to a copy of my favorite modern romance: The Time Traveler's Wife. Inside, the next clue:
This meant we were about to turn around and head back towards home. This couldn't be anything other than The Filling Station, our favorite place to get brunch and salads in Old Towne Orange.
So with that, we started back the way we came, all the while shaking out my hands and trying to stop my heart from beating so intensely in them. By now I wasn't so much nervous or anxious, but anticipatory. I wanted to see Jon, and I wanted this to be over, with a ring on my finger. Get 'er done.
A few blocks away, surrounded by the brunch crowd that keep Old Towne bustling on Sundays, I walked up to the hostess stationed outside and gave her my name. I wasn't sure if I needed to get food, or whether she was the right person to talk to; she looked a little confused. She called over another hostess who instantly told me to come inside. She walked around the counter and pulled out a card just like the previous ones.
She smiled, adding, "Congratulations."
"Thanks," I squeaked.
Glancing at the last card, the air in my chest immediately floated to my head.
As you can probably imagine, this one is my favorite clue. It makes me happy every time I see it.
I walked home, hardly saying anything, doing my best imitation of Lamaze breathing to keep myself from falling over. The nerves were back, the anxiousness was all-encompassing. Kim broke the silence with some helpful reassurance, letting me know I would be alright. Just keep breathing.
Kim left me just beyond the gate in the building walkway, right at the bottom of the stairs leading up to our apartment. She took the dogs and had me go up alone.
The door was unlocked, the apartment was dark (as dark as it could be on a somewhat-sunny day), and Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat's "Lucky" was playing quietly from the kitchen. Several vases of flowers covered the coffee table, as well as a dozen or so candles.
A bit apprehensively -- as though I were anticipating someone to jump out of the closet and scare me -- I called Jon's name. After a few times he came out of the back room, dressed to the nines, with a rose that coincidentally matched the dress I was wearing. (Very much a perfect accident.)
Aaaaaaand then I cried. Somehow, though, Jon managed to keep it together. I kissed him as he handed me the rose, and we hugged for a long time. He had me sit down in one of our lounge chairs, which he'd moved to the center of the room.
He knelt down on one knee, then... I forget. I'm sorry, everyone. Honest to God... I barely remember a word that he said.
I know. Not really what you were expecting considering I've been telling you this long story and you were probably hoping for a detailed climax, but... The truth is, I was so happy, weepy, and excited that everything about these few minutes were a blur. All I can remember is that what he said was sweet, personal, and summed up the fact that we are two best friends who took a chance, fell in love, and it's all led up to this moment.
He pulled out the ring. He opened the box. He asked me to marry him.
Obviously, I said "yes," because hello, look at that thing! ;-)
Okay, okay, Jon is also the best guy I could ever hope to spend my life with. A bit more important than a perfect and stunning ring.
But the ring certainly doesn't hurt, either.
We hugged and kissed and held each other for a while, and it was then that I felt everything that had weighed me down all morning, week, month, year drift away from me. I was utterly relaxed and impossibly blissful.
Then we celebrated!
Jon pulled out the bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne that we'd been "saving for a special occasion" since we got it in September 2010. He popped the cork and we celebrated with the tastiest champagne I've ever had, both of us admiring the ring. He admitted that he'd had the ring for almost a month and was so relieved to see it on me and that it fit. He definitely went out of the balcony to admire it in the sunlight!
He also told me that my friend Shannon Gomes was there as well, and she had helped him set up the flowers and get everything in place around town that morning. I was so excited that another friend could be there to celebrate with us!
After snapping a few pictures, we invited Kim and Shannon back upstairs to share our champagne, and thank them for all that they did to help Jon plan such an amazing and personal proposal. (It's no secret that Kim had a pretty heavy hand in the idea!)
It's now been over a month since Jon proposed, and I've been in full-on wedding mode. Venue options, decor ideas, wedding date... it's all on constant rotation in my head -- and my internet searches!
I simply cannot wait to plan this wedding, and really get things rolling. Our families couldn't be happier or more supportive; we're so fortunate and blessed.
But more than that, I can't wait to marry my best friend and perfect match.