(Read part three.)
It was a Friday, shortly before my birthday. We were having dinner, and a pitcher of margaritas, at a Mexican restaurant.
“You’re not getting a ring for your birthday,” he warned. “I just don’t want you to be disappointed.”
I had figured he wouldn’t do something so obvious, but my heart fell a bit as I tried to be flippant about it.
We had been talking for months about getting married eventually. We both knew we were heading in that direction — he’d even asked me once what sort of ring I liked, and a helpful girlfriend sent him photos of a ring I thought was beautiful. And while I theoretically knew I didn’t need to be engaged to reassure me of the solidity of our relationship, without that sign, a tiny part of me still doubted. I didn’t want to pressure or rush him, though, and tried not to bring it up as often as I thought about it. He had a plan, he said. I just needed to trust the plan.
Saturday evening, he had promised to take me out for a special birthday dinner. “Are you up for an hour drive to dinner?” he asked. “Sure!” I said, expecting something special and spectacular. He said it was a steakhouse he’d never been to but had heard great things about. I wore a darling outfit — a black and white skirt, a black T, and strappy heels … and let’s say I was overdressed by a magnitude of about 1,000 at the restaurant. Which had Wild West murals painted on the wall. And antler light fixtures. And taxidermy. LOTS of it. I texted a girlfriend from the bathroom to relay my disappointment, trying to hide it from Jason. “I bet the food will be really amazing,” she replied. My steak was really good … right up till the point where I realized the center was still raw. At that point, I lost my appetite and sat silently at the table, trying not to tear up. No ring. No fancy restaurant. Not even a properly cooked steak.
I texted my girlfriend from the car on the way home. She wrote back. “If he has that ring he may want to cough it up about now! Screw the plan. Abort! Abort!” It was sound advice that I didn’t relay to him.
On Sunday, with my kids at their dad’s house and Chandler sleeping in, we slept late too and lounged in bed, having a silly “I love you more” argument. “I love you more because if I were the one to propose, we’d be engaged already!” I told him triumphantly. A few minutes later, he got up, while I curled up on my side, half snoozing. He got back shortly and lay down behind me. “Alexis Victoria,” he said, “will you marry me?”
I flipped over and started to cry. “Are you only asking me this because of what I said?!”
“No,” he laughed. “I’ve had the ring for three months.” He was holding a box.
I started to cry again. Eventually I composed myself enough to say, “OK, now I want to see my ring!!!” It was beautiful. Beyond perfect. Beyond sparkly. Everything I wanted. More tears.
“Was that the plan?” I asked.
He laughed. “No. I’ve had a lot of plans. None of them really worked out.”
And yet, here we are. With a lot of plans for our lives that didn’t work out quite how we planned or expected … and that’s okay. Better than okay. Amazing.