I thought for a while whether or not I wanted our story to make its way to the internet. We had a very personal, beautiful moment when Bill proposed and I wasn't sure if we wanted that bannered across the web. But then I realized I'm not Gwyneth Paltrow and no one reads this blog so I said f*ck it.
Actually, what I really decided was that I wanted the story to be written down some place before I forgot what happened with my twenty-something Alzheimer's.
So here's most of what I remember:
This really should be a two-part story. Bill should tell you his end, the 6 months or so of planning and having to keep a big, juicy secret from the person he lives with. But here is my side of the story - which was a total of like 2 hours.
The weekend before we went away for the holiday, Bill and I decided to have a couple dates. I would plan a date for Friday night, with our good friend April (who was apparently in the know the whole time!), and Bill would plan something for Saturday. I planned a good outing for Friday and he said he had his night planned as well, though he was going to make it a surprise. I didn't really think anything of that. Bill is a good date planner and romantic so he making it a surprise isn't out of the ordinary. Plus he was really casual about the whole thing. The day of he didn't make a big deal out of it, almost like we could go or not, it didn't matter. The only thing he told me was that the event was late and that we should go out for a few drinks before.
So we do. Its like 9:30 (way later than I would normally start a night out because I'm that old now) and we start to get ready to go out to a nearby bar. We have a couple of drinks. I'm a bitch about how the place doesn't have ambiance. He still decides to propose later that night somehow.
Then we head to Bryn Mawr, where its completely dead and no bars are open. I begin to guess that we are going to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute - a little boutique art theater that holds film discussions and film theory classes to stuck up snobs like ourselves. I figure they are having a one-night midnight showing of something fun, like a Christmas classic. I'm excited for that, but don't put much stock into and just enjoy our evening. Then we park outside the theater, we start walking towards it and Bill says, "Ok, we are seeing a midnight showing. That's the surprise!" Perfect. Just like I thought. Plus I get to have popcorn after my two dark and stormies. Ideal.
We walk in and its dead. There is one young man at the concessions counter. He greets us and Bill says he wants two for the midnight showing. The guy says sure, and then casually mentions that no one else is there, that's its probably going to be a quiet night because of the holiday. I don't think anything of it - makes perfect sense. Then he says that their ticket machine is down so he has to give us old-school, blue raffle tickets. They had just undergone a major renovation of the theater and just reopened so I still don't think anything of it. I hug Bill's arm and ask if I can get popcorn. We order a big thing of popcorn and walk into the theater. No one is there.
I think this is really fun. I run to the bathroom, smile at the concession guy, and go to my seat. Bill and I make some jokes about being the only ones there, about how we can talk during the movie and be on our cell phones. I begin to munch away on the giant tub of buttery goodness.
The usual before ad-titles are playing on the screen: advertisements for local car dealerships and the like. They played a few "coming soon" scrolls for the theater, one of which was for White Christmas. I'm sure that's what we are seeing and even say so. Then they play the "turn off your cell phones" bit. Then its movie time.
But instead of Irving Berlin's WWII opener coming on, our piano, in black and white, is huge on the screen. I'm confused. I recognize it, but it doesn't click. Probably those two dark and stormies. Then Bill comes on, stage right. And I realize what's happening. He's going to propose. After I realized that, I mostly was just giggles and overwhelmed. I said in retrospect that I was so overwhelmed that it was hard to pay attention to what was actually happening. Luckily, Bill made the video on the big screen himself, so we've had time to review it since.
Not to go into detail about the video, but Bill started with a piano song, after which he wrote on the screen a few lyrics to "our" song. Then, the video stopped and in the dark theater, Bill got down on one knee in front of me and asked me to marry him (the exact phrase is one I'll keep for myself). I think I just squeaked instead of saying yes, but some place in there was an affirmative, then a hug, and then a very sparkly something slid onto my finger. Then Bill sat next to me again and the film started back up. It was a collection of images from our life - the things that brought us to that moment and made us partners. I made little squeaks and fanned my face like I was in Steel Magnolias the entire time. Then it ended and we hugged again, and snuggled. Then I immediately said he was crazy for letting me give into by two biggest vices, booze and popcorn, before such a major event.
Then the great actor who was the concession worker came in with a picnic basket and a camera. Bill opened the picnic basket, which had a bottle of champagne and a couple of glasses and the nice young man took a picture of us, me still giggling and being overwhelmed. Bill was pretty much relieved (not for me saying yes, but for the whole thing finally being over) at this point and cool as a cucumber. We then popped the bottle, filled our glasses and I started staring at the sparkle on my hand. Bill tells me he designed it himself, with the help of a jeweler friend of ours. I'm even more overwhelmed. And he did a great job - it looks antique but its super strong and has much more meaning to it.
Then one of our favorite movies starts playing, Moonrise Kingdom (which is what we named our "grande estate", by the way). We sip our champagne as some of our favorite scenes come onto the screen. I don't want to moment to end. Bill is happy its done. He tells me how much he wanted to tell me every day what he was doing, the newest development, how it was coming together, my opinion on the ring. Such a big thing and he couldn't tell his best friend. I'm glad we get to finally share again too.
It really was the perfect proposal, regardless of the popcorn, booze or the being so overwhelmed I barely knew what was happening. But I'm so glad it did happen and it feels so good to look down at this ring on my hand and think about that night and all the nights we have coming to us.