Hallie is hosting a round-up of engagement stories. I think I’ve written a short version of this before. But I felt like writing it out again. Because a good story is worth re-telling don’t you think?
Just so you know. this isn’t the way Dom would tell it. His version is shorter, more succinct. Probably sweeter and more romantic too. What can I say, he’s the passionate romantic Italian. I’m more the cool-headed cerebral type. And long-winded to boot. But this is my story and I have to tell it in my own way. And for whatever reason this is how I tell it in my head. After six years I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the details they’ve been worn away with too much fingering of the story. But you know this is how I tell it to myself and how I will always tell it.
So we’ll begin on a cold winter evening in Salem, Massachusetts. We’re leaving the church (the church where we met for the first time during the sign of peace.) and getting into his car and talking, talking, talking as we do. (Even now we still stay up too late talking talking talking. My definition of love is having someone who I never get tired of talking with. (See, I’m boring and cerebral.))
I was a bit freaked out because I’d just been notified that both of my roommates would be moving out that summer. I was either going to have to find at least two new roommates or find a new place to live. Neither one was a good option. I didn’t know anyone that I could ask to live with me. Didn’t relish the thought of trying to find some stranger. And I couldn’t afford to live alone. Not working part time as an adjunct professor at the local college.
So there I was lamenting loudly when he cuts through my whine. He’s got a solution: why don’t we move in together. No, no, no. He wasn’t suggesting THAT. He was proposing to make an honest woman out of me. Proposing.
Ladies, I ask you does that or does it not sound like a proposal to you?
(Swooning yet? No? Don’t worry. I’ve got something up my sleeve for you romantic types in a bit.)
So I immediately pounced on the idea and batted it around like a cat with a mouse. (Mind you we’re still standing on the sidewalk now waiting to get into the car. At least that’s how I remember it in the drama in my head. It may or may not be the way it really happened.) I found a jillion reasons to shoot down the idea. But we can’t possibly plan a wedding so soon. We need at least six months right? Well, but if you know the pastor, and we did, he’ll be willing to bend the rules. (He was.) And money. Right? How could we afford a wedding. And the more I tried to punch holes in it the more solid the idea sounded. Marriage. Not in some nebulous someday but soon. My heart was fluttering even as I tried to be so very reasonable.
Thus was the seed planted and after that the whole thing grew so quickly taking on a life of its own. But for now it was a little burning thought treasured in my heart. Marriage.
I suppose this story could have started even earlier with his Christmas visit to my family’s home in Texas. There was no way I could have even entertained the thought of marriage until I’d dropped him into that pond to see how he could swim. Of course he did fine and everyone got along swimmingly and then I had to forbid him from asking my dad for my hand in marriage. He would have. He’s that kind of guy. Romantic and old fashioned. But I could hear my dad’s answer: None of my business! Oh I couldn’t bear that. So I made him promise he wouldn’t but he had a little understanding chat with my mom instead and established that we all knew what was coming eventually. (Oh yes, I knew. But I wasn’t ready to really think about it yet.)
So there we were. A very good solution to a housing dilemma. And why not? we both knew that’s where this was headed. Why not just jump in already? But it wasn’t really a proposal. not romantic enough. And in my typical fashion I didn’t really ever say yes. Though in my heart and head I was pretty convinced.
A few nights later we were snuggling and talking it over yet again and he said: do you want me to make it official? I looked him in the eyes. Yes. Yes. So he said it: Will you marry me? And I said yes. And he apologized about the ring, as in there wasn’t one. But I wasn’t sure I really wanted a ring anyway. A silly thing to spend so much money on and do I even really like diamonds? I’m not a jewelry girl.
Not really romantic enough either, is it? No violins and roses. No ring. No getting down on one knee. No. This isn’t the version he tells either.
So how about this… I step outside my back door and as soon as I hear the latch click shut behind me I realize my keys are not in my pocket and I’m locked out of the house. (I might have uttered some swear words here under my breath.) And no one is home upstairs where my landlords live and no one will be back to the house for hours and hours. And I don’t have a phone with me either. (Another swear.) Nor know any of my roommates’ numbers. I take stock of my options and decide my best bet is to walk to the grocery store and hope I’ve remembered right about the pay phone there so I can call him. And hope his ringer is on and he answers. Mass is about to start. He may already be there. Oh please let him answer!
It was on and he did answer. And soon he was on his way to my house and so was I. We met there and we circled the house and determined that the rear window into my roommate’s room was the only one that was unlocked. So he boosted me up into the high narrow window and I squeezed myself through and tumbled onto my roommate’s bed (thus foreshadowing the theme when I had to repeatedly climb into the window at our second apartment where both the front and back doors locked automatically.) Then I went and unlocked the back door to let him in and he followed me into the kitchen.
And there dropped to his knee on the tiles of what would one day be our kitchen and pulled out the ring and proposed for reals. And I said yes and admired my shiny new ring and we kissed and then he told me all about his great plan which I’d ruined.
His plan was that he’d wait until after Mass (we were in the habit of going to daily Mass together) and there in the chapel kneeling before the sacrament he was going to propose and he’d have asked Father Murphy to stay behind in the sacristy so he could come in and give us his blessing right then and there. And me and my scattered ways had ruined his perfectly good plan.
But it’s a good story that we love to tell. Perhaps more interesting and colorful than the plan as written. And about five months later we were married and he moved into my apartment and my roommate problems were solved forever. (He never tells the bits about my roommate problems. I’m not sure why. I guess it isn’t very romantic. But that’s how I am. Practical even in love.)
I suppose that’s what I love about him. His romance. His passionate impulsive intensity. If it had been me, I’d just have waited till the next day and carry out the plan as it was planned. But not Dom. There was absolutely no way he could have waited a whole day with the ring burning in his pocket. Isn’t that so sweet? I need him to prod me out of my practical, cautious ways. And I suppose he needs me to rein in the impulsivity. We suit each other well.
I didn’t blog much back then and I certainly didn’t blog this. But you can read Dom’s blog entry about the proposal here.