As we were driving down to Butler, he put a new mix CD he'd made in the player. He said it was a mix he'd made just because he was happy--which I attributed to the fact that he'd just finished the bulk of his finals. I noticed a lot of our favorite, lovey songs on the CD. Usually he puts more new songs than old on mix CDs, just to give me lots of new stuff to listen to. I figured he was just that happy.
As we got closer to Butler, he asked if we should park on the lake drive. I asked why. He said, because the party was at the big fountain by the lake. I asked if he was sure. He said, pretty sure. We parked by the lake. We let the song on the CD end, because it is the song we used to sing to each other over the phone.
We got out of the car and walked down around the lake. It became clear that there was no party. There were a few people on benches and a few families walking their dogs. Mike asked if we could go to the top of the steps anyway. I said, sure. By this time I was nervous and suspicious and babbling about how I was so excited for the grape juice party, and how my mom had told me to be sure not to drink any wine.
We climbed to the top of the steps and stood under the carillon tower. Mike turned me around to see the whole lake and the fountain below. He hugged me tight and handed me a bundle of envelopes. They were nested, one inside the other, and had drawings of us as stick figures--holding each other, talking together on a couch. He wrote on each envelope the reasons he loved me. He wrote how much he respected me, how much he loved to be with me, how much he wanted to always be someone I could love and admire. On the last envelope he drew a stick figure of me reading the envelopes, and a stick figure of him on one knee. The envelope told me to turn around. The real Mike was on one knee.
This is my ring.
I said, yes. And cried. And got really happy. And cried again. And so on.
Mike revealed that the conversation he'd forwarded was fabricated, that he'd created a fake e-mail address for the guy who wrote the play and made up the part about the party. He'd called Katie after I called her and asked her not to come. He'd brought his laptop so I wouldn't see the ring box hiding in his pocket. He'd made reservations for Naked Tchopsticks, a sushi and Chinese restaurant that we love but never manage to go to. We spent the rest of the evening having a lovely dinner complete with plum wine (sorry Mom) and a run to the grocery store for dessert (an amazing chocolate silk pie). We cuddled in the car and listened to our favorite songs on the CD he'd made, along with some new ones that we'd like to play at our wedding (next summer, most likely).
It was honestly perfect. I wouldn't have wanted anything more. It was simple and surprising and thoughtful and an adventure. And if I seem to overplay the particulars of how it happened and how loved I felt, it's because I want everyone to know how special every day is with him. In some ways, it wasn't necessarily that different from any other day we'd spend together. He was as thoughtful and genuine and kind as ever. This time just had a proposal attached to it, a promise that what I've already seen of him will be mine for a lifetime.
I feel so lucky every day. I want him to know it and I want people to see how honored and excited I am to share my life with him.
Sorry for the love-fest. :) Thanks for reading.