This might be an awkward transition from part one (about when we met) and part two (the first time Joel told me he loved me), but let’s jump a couple of years ahead, to last September when we got engaged. You might know this story already, but I’ve only written two sentences about it here on my blog, so it’s time to change that.
Over the couple of years that we’d been together, we’d talked about marriage. We were both on the same page that we wanted to get married, and more importantly, we wanted to marry each other. But we weren’t in a hurry.
So on Saturday morning of the first weekend in September, when we loaded up the car and set off for Portland, I was completely oblivious to what was coming. We had to stop at my parent’s house on the way to leave keys with my sister, who was going to take care of our cats for the weekend. Joel had forgotten to pack a memory card for his camera, so he borrowed one from Allegra.
Because it was a holiday weekend, traffic sucked. I think it took us four and a half hours total to make what should be a three hour drive. Two times on the drive, Joel asked out of the blue “do you really want to be with me for the rest of your life?” I answered both times “yes, honey.”
I didn’t really think much of it (but in retrospect, it’s pretty obvious what was happening, right? DUH, JENNIE. There was also the fact that we’d planned to pack for the trip together on Friday but when I came home from work that night, he said “I’m done, I packed before you came home.”)
When we finally pulled into the hotel parking lot in Portland, we had to leave the car with the valets – I wasn’t expecting this, so I quickly collected the things that were scattered about the car (including the memory card Joel borrowed) and shoved them in my purse. We checked in, put our things down in the room, and headed out for some gluten-free fish and chips.
We made the first of several trips to Powell’s books, and wandered around the neighborhood a little bit, and then headed back to the hotel. On the way back, I realized that the memory card wasn’t in my car anymore and I didn’t remember that I’d already picked it up. I was worried that one of the valets had picked it up, or that I’d dropped it – I know it’s a little silly and irrational, but you never know.
So once we arrived back to the hotel, I headed straight to the room to upend my purse and look for the memory card. I wanted to find the card right then, while I was thinking about it.
Here’s the scene: I’m sitting on the couch in the hotel, pulling things out of my purse and sifting through the debris on the coffee table. Joel’s kneeling on the floor next to the couch pawing at my arms to get my attention, and saying repeatedly “do that later, come talk to me.” (When Joel tells this story, he adds more of me saying “NO!” in an angry voice. I maintain that I did nothing of the sort.)
Finally, he stopped and said “Jennie, will you marry me?”
“Yes, dear,” I said.
“No, I mean it.”
Again I said “yes,” because, really, it didn’t change my answer.
Then, he stood up and walked across the room to his bag and said “I have a ring for you.”
And only then did I realize that he was really proposing.
It annoys the tar out of me when couples say “that’s so us!” but seriously. Our proposal story is so us. We’re goofy and awkward and not especially romantic. I lose things in the car and get impatient. Joel wants me to drop everything to pay attention to him. I’m saying this in a very roundabout way, but what I love about our proposal story is that it wasn’t like anything you’d see on TV. It was a special and important moment in our real lives.
And then we spent the rest of our weekend in Portland grinning at each other like two goofballs in love.