Well, if you haven’t heard the news… My mother clearly doesn’t have your phone number.
Thus far, I can report that Engaged Life is just like Girlfriend Life, except with a little more sparkle.
James went above and beyond to ensure that the proposal was a special one. He and I actually met in the dark room, so I should have seen this coming when he mentioned the dark room earlier in the week.
I worked 82 hours over the past two weeks, and that’s before taking two sick days (which boosted me up to a whopping 98 hours in two weeks). NINETY EIGHT. I can’t even count that high at this point.
James and I had all sorts of plans to get together and reinstate Date Night. Monday’s plans turned into a 9-hour shift at work. Friday’s plans turned into a 10-hour “half day.” James has been very understanding of my career aspirations and the additional strings attached to me now that I’m Store Manager. So when I called him to tell him that I needed to go in Saturday morning at 8am to receive emergency replenishment, and I caught a bit of attitude from him, I was pretty shocked. He never gets frustrated. He’s my perfect boyfriend!
To be fair, he canceled our first date three times. (2.75, officially… He showed up the third time.) I should have known when he seemed frustrated at me, that something was up. I finally managed to show up to the dark room, half-frazzled and windblown. To his merit, James can always tell when my nerves are about to reach critical mass– spending a day making prints and hanging out with Professor Sayre really would have been the ideal decompression after the weeks we’d had.
I made one print of Very Pregnant Kristin. It came out lovely. I was working on James’ favorite shot of Moose when he threw a blank piece of photo paper at me and asked that I put it in the developer. “What?,” I snorted. “You can’t walk all the way over to the developer?”
I tossed them both in, my photo on top. Moose’s contrast stripes were developing nicely, so I flipped the photos over to see what James was working on. At first, I thought it was a photo of James’ hands holding one of my own Blackberry phones. Then the photo developed a little further, and I realized what was in the image.
I turned around in time to catch a shy smile on James’ face, and he got down on one knee. He popped open the ring box, which was illuminated from the interior. When I tell you that the only thing missing were the voices of angels singing as that little light lit up the entire dark room, I am not exaggerating. “So whattya say?… Will you marry me?” I was wearing sweatpants, we were both in Tretorn rain boots… All the haze and the blur from the preceding days cleared, in that one perfect moment.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Absolutely. And I’ll give you a list of reasons why.
1. Elephant. You’re right. My pudgy kitten would be devastated if I turned down the person who keeps her favorite pillow warm at night. To that, I say, “Yes.”
2. You got Kyran Pittman involved. In my book, the only thing that could have topped that would have been enlisting Baby Jesus himself, and, to be frank, I’m glad you went with Kyran on this one. One of the things I love most about you is your ability to appreciate respect– the respect I have for you, our families, the people we mutually admire. I respect Kyran and her talent and moxie, and I love you for seeing that and incorporating it into one of the most meaningful gestures our relationship has seen. To that, I say, “Yes.”
3. If I have a superpower, you’re it. You’re my gravity when I’m off the map. You’re my crutches when life beats me up. You’re the sun on my face in the middle of winter. You’re the wind when I can’t seem to catch a breeze. … Mountains aren’t an issue if you have the ability to soar. I do believe that, working in tandem, there’s precious little the two of us can’t conquer. To that, I say, “Yes.”
4. You don’t make me change the zoom lens. The day we shot the castle in the park, it never occurred to us to switch your lens onto my camera. You didn’t think twice before handing over the whole camera to me, so I could get close ups of the squirrel drinking from the hole in the middle of the ice. It was seamless. Before you came along, I was a fiercely independent person. In what looks like a whirlwind from the outside, you came along, sidled up next to me, and we’ve been together step for step ever since. People who knew me Before You ask, What changed? I tell them, Nothing. And that’s exactly it. There was nothing about me you pushed in one direction, or tried to pull in another. Nothing had to be toned down, reigned in, amped up, smoothed over or pressed out. How do you tame a girl like me? … You don’t. I wake up with you and every day, I just get to be Me, no questions asked or strings attached. And that’s why I love you so completely, with all of my heart. To that, I say, “Yes.”
5. “… But here’s the thing…” I can start a story, get distracted, and pick the story up two days later and you never need clarification. It’s like your brain is a rolodex for all the half-finished conversations we’re always in the process of having. You can read my whole day with one look at me, you know exactly how to hug the bad stuff away and exactly when to let me charge forward on my own, ready to be there when I remember what it was I was telling you that one time when we were on our way to the place. You know, where we had that delicious cake. To that, I say, “Yes.”
6. You could teach a goldfish to play violin. Not because you’re a master violinist. Because you’re that patient. I can’t even sync my iPhone without there being a dramatic episode (it ate ALL MY APS!) and you’re so great at standing there, in the middle of the chaos, saying things like, “I understand that you’re frustrated, but smashing the phone against the desk might not solve all your problems.” Whether it’s Moose eating a shoelace or Elephant setting up camp in the closet or my perpetual battle against technology, you’re the calm in the storm. To that, I say, “Yes.”
7. You say, “No.” I love you because you give me everything I could ever ask for. Stability. Room to breathe. Snuggles. But what sets you apart is your gentle ability to relate to me, even when I’m over-sensitive, irrational and unreasonable. You never react, you always tend to… intercept. And you never deny me anything I’m pursuing unless you have damn good reason. I know when I’m about to cross a line, because you don’t lay boundaries in our relationship simply for the sake of maintaining a pattern. You voice discontent only when you see us heading down a path that would take us away from our mutual goals and common value systems. I love you because when I lose sight, hope, sanity… You’re right there, a gentle beacon of light. Never aggressive. Never forceful, or condescending, or entitled. You, in your every action toward me, are an advocate toward our beautiful life together. When you say, “Yes,” you keep your promises. And when you say, “No,” I know I never have to question you. I trust and respect you with my whole heart. To that, I say, “Yes.”
The date is set. The families are excited. The cats aren’t sure what’s going on, only that Mommy gets REAL ANGRY when you attack that new shiny thing on her hand. Fish is as ecstatic as I’ve ever seen him.
James and I are putting together a website specifically for the wedding, where all the information on dates, vendors, the wedding party, etc. can be found. In the meantime, another huge Thank-You goes out to Kyran and Professor Sayre, whose contributions made the proposal such a special moment for us both.
Holy shit, ya’ll. I told you I was going to marry this boy one day. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.