The side effect of growing up with Disney princess movies and reading heavily your entire life is pie-in-the-sky expectations for love. I dated some lovely people, all the while making peace with the idea of never marrying. This sounds like cynicism, but it was just my realization that The Great Romance might not happen to everyone (meaning me).
I found contentment. I would date and hope, but if it never happened, I would still manage a happy life. Close to this time, I met Kevin at a bar. Dating in Los Angeles is no different than eyeing a pile of beautifully wrapped presents hoping for that BB gun, but getting several pink bunny pajamas instead. Or socks.
Kevin is handsome and an actor. In L.A., that’s two strikes. My expectations were leveled to the ground and I tried to ignore him, but our paths kept crossing. We spent a Saturday afternoon at the beach with his dog, and mid-nap on the sand I knew that he could be love. We’ve been together since.
He spent the next three and a half years blocking sticks and stones from coming near me; forgiving first and fast after every fight; vowing to find me even in dreams; and quelling my fears by accepting every wild bit of my real self. His fantasies for the future seem borrowed from mine. It is all so good that I wake up feeling filthy rich with love; the lottery won, the prince mine. Miracles happen. That’s all I can deduce.
Last Tuesday we took a breathtaking drive up the California coast to Big Sur. Highway 1 skirts the edge of a cliff over the Pacific. Enough said.
The cloudy sunset burst such an explosion of celestial pastels that my nerd self kept screaming, “It’s like Rivendell!”
We stayed two nights in a treehouse and watched gray whales spout.
The food was delicious; filet mignon and pasta with artichokes & wild mushrooms for dinner, homemade granola, yogurt, waffles, and eggs for breakfast. The onsite organic garden helped.
He told me to wait at the restaurant while he walked back to the treehouse to heat it. After an awfully long wait, he returned breathless, complaining about getting lost several times and ending up in someone’s backyard. (I should have known something was up. This man does not get lost, even in the middle of the woods).
We walked back to the treehouse. There were rose petals strewn on the suspended bridge and small red candles everywhere. Placed on the small table was champagne and S’more strawberries (marshmallow in the center, dipped in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs). Kenny Rogers’s “Lady” was playing.
He knelt and pulled out the ring. I could make out a white blur through tears. He said, “I had a whole speech ready, but I can’t remember a word.”
I had never looked at engagement rings, never imagined which one would be mine. I now understand why; I was meant for this one. It belonged to his great grandmother. She was married in 1912, making it the 100th anniversary of the ring. Entirely handmade, there is nothing like it.
The fireplace kept the treehouse cozy for December. We ate chocolate and watched old movies. Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood.
We hiked and obnoxiously addressed each other only as Fiance. A cold creek through a lush redwood forest led to a waterfall. The earth smelled of rich soil and mossy roots. I met Mr. Banana Slug.
We dizzied ourselves standing at the edge of a cliff on a carpet of succulents. We dodged the surf to comb the tide pools for treasures.
Here is a classic Kevin pose, unchanged since childhood.
We threw rose petals to sea ceremoniously with solemn grins.
We stopped at a restaurant after hiking and took advantage of the cell reception to call parents. There were tears and screams. In fact, I have never heard my father make such a high-pitched holler in all my life. You’d have thought the proposal was for him.
Was I expecting it? Looking back, Kevin was pale and cold to the touch for a good three days before our trip—contemplating the actual proposal or a lifetime with me…I’m sure it was the former. I felt like something was up, but I knew that he wouldn’t propose unless he felt the moment was perfect. And it was. It was all very us; hiking boots, fishing poles, a treehouse. As I said, miracles happen, and in ways so perfect they’re beyond imagining.
I’m keeping a blind faith from here on out.