Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a snowy proposal story

I obsess over beginnings. If someone’s telling me a story, I want to know how it all started. Where they were and how they were feeling. What they were wearing and what they were thinking about. I want to be in their head, to figure out every detail that made it whatever it was. 

And so when I first thought about how I would post this story, I thought back to the beginning of “me and John” and realized that on Saturday, it happened in much the same way. That is to say, while I knew it would happen one day—first meeting John and later, getting engaged—the way it all fell into place was so simple and felt so easy. Like it was always meant to be this way.

Back on a Saturday in 2005, I went to a bar that I never really went to, on a night that I probably shouldn’t have gone out. It was raining and I worked late. My friend and I had made plans to hang out, and after I picked her up, we contemplated going back home and then, once on the road, going to a restaurant instead of out for drinks. But we didn’t. At the bar, we met a friend we knew. We started talking. His friend walked over. I looked out at the crowd for a second and when I turned back to the table, there was John. He was standing in front of me, his hands in the pocket of the red jacket he was wearing. I think he said hello. He might have shaken my hand.

Fast-forward four years later, to another Saturday. He and I weren’t supposed to hang out that day, or at the very least, not until later that night. But I was stressing before I even woke up. In that time between sleeping and being fully awake, I lay in bed, mentally running through a checklist of things I had to do. Wrap Christmas presents. Finish a blog post. Take my cousin’s shopping. Drop them off at my grandmother’s. Later that morning, I called John. I vented. He offered to come down and pick me up so I could get out of the house for an hour, before my cousin’s woke and up and before it started snowing. We were set to have some foot of snow later that night.

At first, I said no. It’s not worth it. Don’t worry about it. I feel guilty leaving my cousin’s here. He didn’t listen and an hour later, we were in his car. I assumed we’d go to lunch. Instead, he said his heat broke in his apartment and we need to go there to fix it. Broken heat? And you want me to go there? No way. He kept driving and for once in my life, I stopped complaining.

We arrived at the apartment and I saw the bottle of champagne on the table. I walked in and when I turned my head toward the living room, there was the Christmas tree in the corner. It was covered in white lights and there were red roses underneath. Beside it, were three red wine glasses and inside each was a round, red ornament. Later, I realized it wasn’t cold in there at all.

We sat near the tree and he started talking about us, our relationship, why he thought the apartment was the best place to propose. He handed me one of the ornaments, on which he had written the date, 12.19.09. He talked about the past four years, everything that had happened. The next ornament said “Us.” He told me the ornaments were shatterproof. On the final one was written “Love,” and when I looked back at him, after putting it on the tree, he had gotten on one knee. Tearily, he asked me. Crying, I said yes.

The next few hours were a blur of champagne and pictures. We drove to John’s parents house, and, thanks to the impending snowstorm, everyone was home. There were tears and cookies and toasts. We went to my house. My mom, who always knows everything before anything actually happens, already knew. Little did I know she had gone with John a few weeks earlier to look at the ring. Around the same time, John had asked my dad’s permission. He said yes. He was crying and congratulating us all at the same time. It was exactly as I’d imagined it.

I had always told John that I didn’t want to get engaged while on vacation. I wanted to be able to tell everyone in person, right after it happened. We’re both so close to our families, that they’re part of what makes us what we are to each other. I wanted them to celebrate that with us. And so thus began our little "engagement caravan." At every house, came more congratulations and excitement, more toasts and tears. One of my grandmothers’s actually said she was happy because she got to be alive. We all yelled at her for this. It made me happier than anything, though.

Later, a bunch of us got snowed in at my house. We ordered food. Karen made cookies. We watched Love Actually.

I was in a daze through most of it, remembering all the things that happened over the past four years. I felt lighter somehow. Not in an “ Everything is easier now” kind of way but more in a “Yes, right, perfect” kind of way. Because without knowing or realizing it back at the beginning, it turned out that the boy in the bar that Saturday would be the boy that many Saturdays later, knew exactly what made me, me. Exactly what made us, us.  

p.s. special thanks to my new fiance for sending me these pics at 6am! 


  1. If I wasn't at work right now this post would've evoked some tears :) I am so crazy happy/excited for you two. I couldn't imagine a better pair. It really was such a special day and I'm so privileged and touched I was able to experience it with you. There are no words to describe how excited I am for the wedding :):)
    P.S. You are an amazing writer! I wish every post you had was twice as long I enjoy reading them that much.

  2. beautifully written, as usual Marisa- it's as if i was there. like i've mentioned numerous times before you'll have to help me write my book or story when the day comes..hehe.

    Congrats to the both of you. i'm so happy and honored to know you and have seen your relationship blossom over the past four years.

    best wishes

  3. Maris -

    You have brought tears to my eyes. Your words are so beautifully written that I can totally picture your expressions throughout the day!

    Its been amazing to have been there through these four years and see you get swept away ;) Words cant express my happiness for both of you!

    Love you

  4. :)!!! I've been staring at this screen trying to figure out something to say for some time now. I really can't even place all the words I'm thinking and emotions I'm feeling together in a legible sentence. Thank you for making this the best weekend I've ever experienced and you have no idea how happy I am for the two of you! I love you more than you know!

  5. Marisa! I cried! (really)

    Such a beautiful engagement story—and recounted with every ounce of sentiment and reflection and detail that such a moment in your lives deserves. You and John are both such wonderful people and I love how perfectly-tailored the story of your new beginning is to not only as each of you as individuals, but both of you as a couple. Congrats again—I'm smiling every time I say it.

    I am so excited for the next chapter and all the rest to follow!

    Lots of love :)

  6. OK...I cried...I love it..So sweet..So happy for you two. xoxo