Sunday, October 21, 2007

Eight Years In The Making

Years ago, when Heather and I first talked about marriage, she noted, "Whenever you propose, you won't surprise me. I'll know it's coming." That put a lot of pressure on me. I made a promise that I would figure out a way, I just couldn't figure it out for the longest time.

A few months ago, we began ring shopping. Finally, about a month ago, we picked out a ring and a diamond downtown at Rondels, a fantastic store in the Jewelery District downtown. We were both thrilled. I made the wise decision of kicking Heather out of the store as I discussed a time table with them. She was clueless as to when it would be ready.

For the next few weeks, Heather kept prodding, "Do you know how you're going to propose? When's the ring ready? It has to be ready by now? Maybe you can just show it to me before you propose because I'm so excited." I kept her at bay, telling her, "No, I don't know how I'm going to propose, and besides, I have plenty of time. The ring won't be ready until Thanksgiving." Hell, she even went snooping into a couple of my drawers hoping to find it.

Well aware of her excitement, I left the ring at the jewelery store until I was ready to propose. I had a plan in my head for months, but only truly settled on it a few weeks ago. When I ran it by a couple of people and I saw their reaction, I knew I had it right. I aimed to do it on Thursday, October 18th for a number of reasons:
  1. Heather knew the ring was coming. If I were doing a "BIG" proposal, she'd get suspicious at the first sign of something out of the ordinary.
  2. It's a Thursday. Most people get engaged on a weekend or a vacation. Not a Thursday.
  3. Heather has an acting class every Thursday night. She usually goes right from work to class, then gets home around 10pm. It's a busy day for her and it would give me plenty of time to get ready.
  4. Heather was going back home to NY on Saturday, and I know she couldn't wait for her friends to see the ring at Christmas time.
So, on Thursday morning, I went downtown to pick up the ring. I left work early in the afternoon to pick up all the last second bits and pieces I needed, as well as clean the apartment. I wasn't nervous about pulling it off, but was FREAKED OUT that Heather would skip her class and get home about 3 hours earlier than planned. Luckily, she went to class.

I cleared out our living room and on the floor, I made a "runway" of tea light candles on the ground. In between, I dropped a whole bunch of rose pedals. It lead to our dining room table, where I put a bouquet of flowers, our candle chandelier, a bottle of champagne, a few framed photos, and a photo book I made on iPhoto.

Here's how the apartment looked:
The table:
The view from behind the table to the front door:
I had everything ready by 8:30. I expected Heather home at 10 or 10:30. So, I paced and kept re-lighting and changing out tea lights. I wanted it to be absolutely perfect. At 9:30, an hour earlier than expected, I heard the jangling of Heather's keys as she unlocked the door. I rushed to the table and sat down, waiting for her to enter.

She opened the door. Her arms were full: she was carrying a backpack, a massive purse, a re-usable lunch bag, a water bottle, and a bag and soda from McDonald's. The door swung open and she stood there for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only about 15-20 seconds. Clearly stunned, she looked at me and asked, "What's going on here?" I smiled, "Hi, come on in."

She walked into the room, almost punch drunk, and right away, she stepped on one of the tea lights. I yelled at her to stop and had to direct her towards me, much as someone working at the airport would direct a plane towards the gate. I grabbed the bags from her arms and put them aside.

"What do I do now?" she asked. I told her to take a seat and to look at the photo book I made for her. The book started with a brief introduction about our first eight years together. I took some my favorite photos of the two of us and put them throughout the book. Here's Heather reading the intro to the book:
At the very end of the book, I wrote a short paragraph:

"I hope you've enjoyed all these pictures from our first eight years together. From the first date at Mexicali, it's been a whirlwind. We've had a wonderful time together as "boyfriend and girlfriend," but, I think we're ready for the next step. So, I have a question for you..."

At that point, I got down on my knee in front of her, and I asked her, through my tears, to marry me. And as expected, she said, "Yes!"
It was such a great night, probably the best of my life. Heather admitted moments later, "You completely surprised me," which made me happy for so many reasons. We were both punch drunk for the entire night. I don't think Heather ever really got over the shock that hit her when she first walked into that door.

Heather and I are still giddy a couple of days later. We're still calling each other "fiance" and giggling like kids who've just gotten away with something. It's pretty awesome.

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who helped along the way in making the proposal happen: to Erin and Evan for the recommendation to Rondels, to Patry for listening to me vent as I waited impatiently for the photo book to arrive, as well as stopping by and picking up a lighter at the very last second to light the tea lights, and to my sister, who listened to my plans and kept me calm as I pulled all of it together.

Now, the wedding planning begins...


PVision said...

Congrats you guys!

Me said...

Oh. So good! Congratulations.

Lisa said...

awwwww, as i wipe my own tears!
congrats to you both!!!
little man sends you some special wishes ;-)

Euphman said...

I'm so excited for you both!!!! Mazel-Tov!

Blake said...

Congrats to the both of you!

But, was it really wise to set up all those candles? We all know your track record with indoor flame in that apartment.

Rotten said...

The shocking part is the best. You guys will be on cloud 9 for a while. CONGRATS!!!

kyle said...

Congratulations! That's awesome news!

Ben said...

I thought you were gay!

Oh, wait. That's just what it said on the COSTCO application.

Congrats. Nothing like Mexicali love. It will always be Lima Time there.

head cleared said...

Don't worry when I stepped on the candle my boot put it out.

Matt said...

Dude. Seriously. That was awesome. Truly. high fives and congratulations!! This calls for a bottle of Blue Label!!!!!


Lee said...

Ok, now that I'm done LOL-ing at Blake's comment...

Congrats to you guys. 8 years, huh... is that really long enough to get to know someone? Well, whatever - you two like to live on the edge.

Love to both you guys - see you soon!

- Lee

jenna said...

yeah!!! congrats you guys! let me know if you want help planning...that's like, one of my many jobs and talents! well done, brian, on the proposal!

annie said...

my boyfriend beat me to the fire joke! but congratulations you guys! beautiful ring!

Dave said...

Congrats to you and HX!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!!! Way to suprise her.


Michael said...

McCarthy you romantic mush mush you.

Congrats to the both of you!!!

soupenvy said...

Welcome to the family! We're all Met fans over here.

Terri said...

Congratulations! Enjoy the planning of the wedding. It's actually pretty fun if you don't let it stress you out.
PS - Nice proposal. I'm impressed.