Sometimes life requires you to take a leap of faith. You're pretty sure you're making the right decision, but you also know the whole thing could go disastrously wrong. The night I proposed was one of those times. Not because I was unsure if Aleah was the one, but rather, because she might say no. This was actually a bigger risk than you might think, but I'll get to that in a bit.
The whole story really started the summer before. We'd dated the whole spring semester and when summer came, I stayed in Arkansas and she went home to Washington. Long distance was tough but we figured it out. We only saw each other once that summer. Aleah's college roommate was kind enough to get married that summer. The wedding was in Illinois which was a whole lot closer to Arkansas than Washington state and Aleah was a bridesmaid. We were excited that we were going to be that close to each other (only 6 hours!!!!) and even more so that Aleah got a +1. It was a fun weekend away but more importantly it was that weekend that I realized that my world made a lot more sense when we were together. As soon as she made it back home I started making plans to pop the question.
Fast forward to September. Aleah and I are back at school. I have the ring and her dad's permission. I even managed to find out her ring size on the sly so I could have it sized. As far as I'm concerned it is all systems go and Saturday was the day. I waited all week for Saturday to get here. Once Aleah was safely at work I started putting my plans into place. I planned out an entire scavenger hunt around town with stops at all of our favorite spots. The last spot would be the park. I decorated the heck out of that gazebo and wrote the sappiest note you can possibly imagine. I even enlisted the help of two friends to A) babysit my project while I hid all the clues and B) video the proposal. We were set. This was going to be the best most romantic proposal in the history of marriage!
Just as I was putting the finishing touches on the gazebo and taking note of the final clues that needed to be hidden Aleah called to tell me she was leaving for lunch. Since I wasn't supposed to be busy that day and as far as she knew was just hanging out at the dorm playing video games I agreed to meet her. This is where my whole plan starts to unravel. As we're sitting there in our favorite outdoor courtyard, munching our Subway sandwiches, Aleah looks over at me and says "you're being really weird". Dang! I'm caught! I, thinking fast, tell her about the scavenger hunt but don't mention the end. Her response? "You're not going to propose are you?" Normally I don't condone lying but to keep the surprise I say no. "Good! I don't want to get engaged until after graduation." Since that was still 14 months away I was kinda stuck. Too many people knew that I was proposing that night to stop it. Too much would need to be undone for Aleah not to find out that I was going to propose. I had no choice but to go ahead. Since it was a when question and not an if question I thought there was a chance she might still say yes.
By the time she got off work that evening I was about to have a major come apart. I was so nervous I could barely keep track of what I was doing. I hop in the car and start the 1 mile drive to meet Aleah but 15 minutes later realize I'm totally lost. I'm still not sure how that happened. The park and the Walgreen's where she worked are on the same street. Realizing I have no idea where I am I pull over in front of a duplex (not knowing that this would be our first apartment 7 months later) call Aleah and tell her I'm going to be just a bit late. Another 15 minutes later I had managed to navigate the two blocks from our future apartment to Walgreens.
If I was about to have a come apart before now I'm really about to lose my mind. She asks if the scavenger hunt is still on and I say it is. I fish past the ring in my pocket for one of the two clues. In addition to the ring I had both the first and a copy of the last clue with me. The first to start the hunt and the last in case we went off course and I needed to get us to the park. I hand her the clue. We hop in the car and she starts driving. Two minutes later I realized my mistake. We were at the park. I had given her the wrong clue but It was too late. She could see the gazebo on the other side of the park. On the outside I was playing it cool. We'd missed part of the game but that was okay. Inside I was freaking out! We didn't go to the places. She doesn't feel emotional enough yet! There is no way she is going to say yes now! I quickly contemplate the feasibility of texting my friends, having them run across the street for burgers, and playing the whole thing off as a romantic fast food dinner by candle light while we stroll slowly around the park. The reality of the situation snaps home and we begin our romantic stroll toward my tule draped gallows.
We finally make it across the park and up to the letter I'd written. As she starts reading I find the ring in my pocket, hit one knee, and wait. This is the only time in her entire life that she has ever read something slowly. She read our entire mortgage agreement faster than she read this letter! Eventually she looked up and immediately burst into tears. She cried. I waited. She cried more. She pulled me up to my feet and gave me a kiss, still crying. Well, she hadn't punched me. That was something, but she still hadn't answered my question. So I ask "is that a yes?" and she says that yes of course it is. I've never been so relieved in my entire life and so glad I didn't abandon ship.
You can read more of this series by using the links below.