This post will be a departure from my ordinary pick-me-ups, courtesy of A Luminous Life. It is an edited excerpt from my personal daily writings, and it is posted here as per a suggestion from my mentor (his blog can be found here).
August 21, 2009 (Friday)
Earlier in the week Terry suggested that we go have a picnic on the beach. We’d been talking about how, since our moving day will creep up on us we’re sure, we should start enjoying the things that we’ll miss after they aren’t available anymore. The biggest one? The beach, of course.
Yesterday was a rough and tumble day at work, but a good one because I won’t be going to that building for a week because of my ITP doctoral seminar next week. T called me in the afternoon and said that, in order to get all of the things done last night that we needed to, we should go to the beach first, relax and enjoy it (considering that beaches will be a memory in a scant few months from now), then come back and get to work packing and doing other “need to’s”.
When I got home my mostly unused wicker picnic basket was sitting open on the dining table, already holding wine, olive oil, and some chocolate-covered blueberries. Bread was warming in the oven, and as it did, Terry finished filling the basket and M and I chatted at the table about some of her career thoughts and planning. She doesn’t know what she wants to do, but she’s seen as one of the employees with the most potential by her superiors in the company. Naturally it’s a complicated situation for her. I got a little worried because I knew that this was a conversation that had the potential to go all night and I’d really been looking forward to the beach, but during a moment where she’d left the room T assured me (in a quiet, subtle way) that once everything was ready, we’d go.
Eventually, we did go. We loaded up the car and drove down to the beach. We couldn’t decide where to park – did we want a nice walk, or the convenience of being close? There was also an issue of whether there would even be any parking spots near the beach. It’s a no-go on the weekends, but a Thursday evening might have been okay. We ended up taking a chance and voting for convenience – and we found a great spot just a couple of blocks away from the shoreline.
As we strolled down to the sand and started across, I thought about the maybe as I tried to stay above the dunes (I’m at my most clumsy on sand).
I thought that now would be a good time for him to propose, then as soon as the thought appeared in my mind I nipped it right in the bud.
“Charis, don’t think about that. How much of an ass will you feel like if he doesn’t do it? Then you will have spoiled an amazing night. And if he does, you’ll have ruined the surprise! So quit it.” And I did, sort of.
We sat on a deserted stretch that T decided upon and cracked open our wine. We sipped it out of red plastic cups while we watched the water and other beach-goers. There was a big group running in one direction, then back swimming in the other. Lifeguard training perhaps? Those guys have to be really strong, we agreed as we exchanged stories of lifeguards we’d known – me a friend in graduate school, him a college summer’s girlfriend. We saw a great big pelican torpedo into the water, and talked about the possible evolution of fish and amphibians.
It was windy and getting chillier by the moment. As a response to my nearly uncontrollable shivering (I didn’t mind, I’m used to it), T suggested that I sit with my back to him and we pull a blanket up over our laps. We had finished eating by then so I happily obliged, and as I cuddled back against his chest, enjoying the gorgeous almost-sunset view and cozily protected from the winds, I thought that this was one of those “perfect moments.” I was simply and perfectly happy, and perfectly calm. Sadly, I don’t feel like that all too often these days, what with moving and planning and new-business-starting-stresses, so when I do feel that tranquility it’s all the more precious. I told T about it and he said he was glad. I felt his voice rumbling against my cheek.
The sun was still awhile from touching the surface of the water, but T suggested that we stay until sunset. “We might as well.” I agreed.
I again thought, maybe? and then shushed myself. Ok, maybe. It does seem like that (especially the second time he said, with a twinkle in his eye, that we should stay until sunset), but again, don’t spoil it either way. Just go with it.
So we chatted and I relaxed and he asked me if I wanted to go to a David Gray concert, which he texted B about a couple of times. A few minutes after a text from B came in, saying that the tickets go on sale Sunday, I was still relaxing against T’s chest, both of us gazing out over the water.
I heard music.
Was it Terry’s phone?
But it was coming from behind and to the left. I went to turn around, but found that T was holding me and keeping me from turning. I could barely see the top of our buddy James’ head behind T.
Then Terry started to sing, and everyone walked forward. Brian was playing the guitar, James was videotaping, and M was snapping pictures.
Terry was singing this to me:
What if I’d been born fifty years before you
In a house on a street where you lived?
Maybe I’d be outside as you passed on your bike
Would I know?
And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know
I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you
Next door there’s an old man who lived to his nineties
And one day passed away in his sleep
And his wife; she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away
I’m sorry, I know that’s a strange way to tell you that I know we belong
That I know
That I am
The song is by Ben Folds, and I’d never heard it before. My mind was screaming. It was happening! Oh shit! Right now, it was actually happening! Focus! Quit thinking about it and experience it, you’ll miss it! What is he saying? Oh that’s so sweet. (starting to cry) (Terry starts to cry, misses a line, we both laugh) Is this real? It is real and I can’t believe it, but it’s happening. He’s asking me, right now.
During the last lines of the song he pushed me up onto my knees and he rested on one of his. He pulled a black box out of a pocket and opened it, whispering “will you marry me?”
I nodded. I always see people in movies and on TV speechless at this moment and think how silly it is, and how they should have something better to say, but all I came out with was a soft “of course,” and an ear-to-ear smile. I guess I’m one of those silly people now.
So he put it on my finger and we stood up and hugged and spun around in circles and I screamed and we popped champagne then all came back to the house and celebrated.
And this morning I couldn’t sleep so I was up for an hour before I got out of bed, which was still before I’m awake on other days. And the gleaming and twinkling from my finger keeps catching my eye, and I’m truly happy. This is somewhere I’ve never been before, and I like it. I love it. And I’m the luckiest.