Most girls, I'm certain, dream about getting engaged: the ring, the proposal, the guy. I think everyone probably has their own opinion of what's most important to them in terms of making that moment memorable-- having photos of it, having family around, being on top of a mountain or in some other crazy romantic place. For me, I just really wanted to be surprised. Having been together for so long before getting engaged, and living together, I just thought that there was no way Les was going to be able to pull something off without me knowing. And I think he knew that. His solution? Keep it simple, and make it perfect.
I think he knew that if he started to plan a trip or get other of people involved, I'd be on to him. So instead, he waited for the most obvious day of the year (hah!) but he did it... he manged to catch me completely off-guard.
Let me set the scene... Valentine's Day. Our EIGHTH one together. We agreed on no gifts, only cards. If you read my post on Nestlie, you know that February 14th is also her birthday. Because I wanted to spend time with Nestlie, and because I'm a major homebody, I asked Les if we could have lunch together instead of going out to dinner that night. We work only a few miles apart, so we met up for lunch at a little seaside cafe. Now, I have to admit that when we got to lunch, something seemed up. Les was really smiley and just seemed excited overall. I tried to keep my cool, and after a little while it became clear that there wasn't really anything going on. We enjoyed our lunch (+ dessert, pictured below in what turned out to be the last picture I would take of Les as my boyfriend!!), I walked with Les back to his office, and then headed back to mine. I figured if I was going to get engaged that day, it would have been during our lunch date, so I didn't give it another thought.
After work, I went to the grocery store to buy some fresh American cheese for Nestlie (we take her birthday very seriously), and I remember smiling so widely at all the men swarming the floral section. It was pretty cute. I got back to the apartment, and walked in to two dozen red roses on our kitchen counter, one of Les's favorite Valentine's Day traditions. I asked if he wanted to do cards and give Nestlie her present, but he wanted to do it all after dinner. So I cooked while he studied (he's working on a professional certification), and then we settled in on to the couch to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. That's us. That's our routine.
I should note that before cooking, I changed out of my work clothes--- a cute red skirt and Les's favorite sweater of mine with puppies on it (do I sound like a twelve year old or what)-- that I wore specifically for Valentine's Day and I put on yoga pants and a sweatshirt.
We finished dinner and I said "let's do cards!" I always get a kick out of the cards Les picks out-- usually they have a dog on them which I love, and this year was no different. He turned off the tv (which I thought was really thoughtful) and retreated into his office to get his card. On his way back I asked him to grab mine, and the Girl Scout cookies... romantic, I know.
As he was walking back into the living room, he had his hand behind his back, and I couldn't help but peer around him to see... a little. blue. box. My heart started racing and I thought IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?! Again... I tried to keep my cool as we both opened and read each other's cards. It turns out that neither one of us really absorbed what the other one wrote, at all, because we were both so nervous and excited. After what seemed like ages, Les said "So, I know we said no presents, but I got you something." He pulled out a little blue Tiffany box (not a ring box, just a tiny box), handed it to me, and said, "It's not what you think it is."
As soon as he said that, I calmed right down. I thought, "Oh ok! It's a charm or something." I can honestly say that as I took the lid off the box, I was certain I would find a really sweet gift, and maybe his way of offering a sort of placeholder until we got engaged. I opened the box, and it was empty.
What an emotional roller coaster.
All of a sudden, Les pulled out the actual ring box, that would have been in the other tiny box, got down on one knee, and said "Actually, it's exactly what you think it is. Will you marry me?"
I. Was. Shocked. He pulled off what I really didn't think was possible-- he completely surprised me. And, little did I know, he had bought the ring a month earlier, asked for my dad's blessing, and told my mom, my sister, and his parents that he planned to propose. We called all of our immediate family and some friends that night, and as we told the story over and over again I kept saying "and I'm just in yoga pants and a sweatshirt!!!!" After the third or fourth time of me telling someone that, poor Les apologized thinking that he had somehow messed up proposing in less-than-glam conditions. Not. At. All. The only reason I kept emphasizing it was because that's how surprised I was. Had I been clued into the proposal at all, you can better believe I would have been at least somewhat dolled up, and my nails would have been in much better shape, hah!
Truthfully though, Les's proposal really was perfect. It was so us. We were in our favorite place, home together on the couch watching our shows. As a bonus, it was a Thursday night before a long weekend which meant that going into work the next day, on a Friday, allowed for the girls in my office and I to basicallyyyyy take the day off (albeit, still in our office), celebrate, and gush over the details and the ring (sorry HR, if you're reading this). AND as another bonus, Les and I already had plans to go up and see my parents at their house in Maine for the weekend to help them with their kitchen remodel. Little did I know, we would also get to celebrate our engagement. My mom took me out the next day to get my hair and nails done, and we took some great photos to mark the occasion.
We also got to stop in to see my sister and her fiancé on our way home from Maine to celebrate with them. All smiles and all engaged!
I mentioned before that neither Les or I were able to absorb what the other person's Valentine's card said because we were both so nervous and excited. It wasn't until we settled back in together that night after calling our families that we went back and re-read our cards, and Les pointed out why he picked the card he did. In addition to the heartfelt note he wrote himself, it said: I would rather do nothing with you than something with anyone else. It's exactly what we were doing that night-- just hanging out at home together, our favorite place to be. Les told me later that it's how he always pictured proposing to me, and as much as I might have imagined being in a public place, with a photographer and random people cheering us on, he always wanted it to be a private moment. In the end I'm really glad he stayed true to himself, especially because as we've talked about plans for our wedding, Les has made it clear that he wants me to have the day I've always dreamed of. As normal as our Valentine's night started out, Les's proposal was entirely unexpected, and it was perfect.