As I mentioned earlier, this was the weekend of the Head of the Charles, which we had been planning to go to for, oh, about a year. So this was set in our day. I had just bought Turtle’s ring (and art!) and we had just figured out that we had both been planning to propose on Solstice.
Now we were sitting in the car and sort of giggling and acting nervous and asking each other, carefully, if we could propose today. I mean, why wait? But we had also both liked the idea of big proposals, or at least of something sweet and intentional. At the same time, it seemed like everything was lined up: we knew we wanted to marry each other, we felt like we could tell all our people we were ready to marry each other, and we had the rings! Well, I had a ring – hers (for me) was still hidden somewhere in our apartment.
We sat in the car in the parking lot, giggling and looking at each other. Then I calmed down and got serious. “Turtle McTurtleson?” I said.
Her eyes got big. “Yes?”
“Um.” This was not the place. “Let’s go to the Head of the Charles.”
She glared at me and headed to the train station. In the car, I turned to her. “Turtle McTurtleson?”
“Um, this isn’t it.”
(You may think that she was getting frustrated here… I didn’t notice. I just wanted it to feel *right*! The car was not the place. Apparently I thought there would be some magical place.)
Apparently (I have no memory of this), I nearly asked her again on the T. Then, walking along the path along the river, I got down on one knee. “Turtle?”
“Yes?” Cautious this time.
“I don’t want to be on one knee.” What can I say? I thought it would be a grand gesture but instead it felt silly, and not like us. I felt like I was going through someone else’s motions of how one asks one to marry them; I didn’t feel like myself asking my Turtle.
So we kept walking, and watching the boats go by. Here is a picture of my friend Caitlin rowing, and my friend Liz coxing! Hi Liz and Caitlin!
photo by Nicole Duryea
Nothing was feeling quite right… and then, suddenly, we came upon this little section of river that was set a good ways away from the path, and there was an opening in the trees. I told Turtle I wanted to take her picture. She looked at me very suspiciously, clearly believing that I had ulterior motives. She knows me well, that woman. “You don’t even have your camera,” she said.
“I do! I just have to find it in this bag! Go stand over there.”
So she went and stood in the pretty space between the trees while I dug around in my bag to “find the camera”. To be perfectly honest, I had the camera right away, but I was trying to get the ring box out of the tissue paper and then get the ring out of the box without seeing what I was doing… a challenge! I finally got it and took the picture with the ring in my hand.
Here is the picture, with Turtle looking very skeptical.
And then I walked down to the river, and I said, “Turtle, I love you… something something something.” All the big things that I had wanted to say vanished. I said something about how she was important and I wanted to be with her. I said, “In all the big ways, I love you. Will you marry me?”
She said yes.
We found Caitlin and her friend and I introduced her: “This is Turtle, my fiancee! As of one minute ago!”
We were completely wrapped up in each other for the rest of the day. Rowing? What? There were boats? Did you see the pretty shiny on my lady’s finger?
Waiting for the T: OMG we’re engaged!
After the Head of the Charles, we went to Trader Joe’s to get some food for a potluck at a friend’s house. We were, of course, exhausted from the excitement of the day (ring! art! engagement!) and when we got home we set to work unpacking the groceries. Turtle was putting everything away and I was playing with the dog when she suddenly appeared in the doorway of the living room.
“Bird?” she said, and held the ring out to me. I think she said wonderful things, and they were big and meant so much but all I can really remember was how happy I felt, and how big this felt, and how much I love her.
Here is a picture Turtle drew of us holding onto a giant glowing engagement ring. Or a bag of gold? Not really sure. She’s the one with the curly hair on the left.
After all this, we had a party to go to on both nights! Lots of time to talk about how much we like each other, and how we have big intentions and all that.
There were no scavenger hunts, no boxes within boxes, no songs written for each other, and I thought I might be a little disappointed by that – but our engagement was just so *us*. I love all of it… especially the pre-engagement, which is another 5 posts or so, for another day 🙂
If you’re engaged, was it what you thought it would be? There are some really interesting engagement conversations happening over at A Practical Wedding. After we got engaged, my mom was asking, “Why do they need to ask? Why do they need rings?” and these are questions that I think are really interesting. We wanted to ask because we wanted the gesture. We wanted rings because we wanted to show that we meant it, we wanted to show each other and the world that we belong to us. That, and we like pretty things.