I knew the proposal was coming. I didn’t know how it would happen or the exact date, but I knew it was coming. We casually window-shopped for rings I adored. I gave him ideas (more like strong suggestions) and let him do his thing. Soon after, the proposal unfolded over a few months by way of puzzles I had to complete to reveal a message, picture collages, and walls covered in sticky notes with memories written on them. Each month would roll by leaving me excited for the next piece of our proposal. We were a few months away from finishing our respective programs and I suspected the last part of the proposal would happen after graduation. I was eager to make it official but had no idea how unprepared I was for the feelings I would experience after it happened.
We were in Louisiana with his parents, sister, and friend for his licensure exam and even though I would only be there for a day I was excited to spend time with him and his family. We went out to eat after the first day of testing and I figured his weird mood was due to fatigue and hunger. In reality he was nervous about his test and a looming proposal. We made our way back to the hotel and he quietly gathered our group into my room while I freshened up in the bathroom. I found him kneeling on the ground, a simple box in his hand with that sly smile that turns me into mush.
I can’t remember what he said to me. There was only so much I could focus on in that moment. He wasn’t on the ground long before I said that I would marry him. Hugs were exchanged, pictures were taken, and then phone calls were made. My parents were the first people I knew I should call. They shared their congratulatory remarks and showered us with prayers. Before I knew it, the room began to clear out. Chris needed to get rest before the next half of his exam and his parents followed him out of the room I shared with his sister. Sensing my disappointment in not being able to spend the night celebrating she graciously tried to keep me entertained. We watched The Tonight Show and shared jokes until we grew tired. I toyed with my ring wondering why I felt so calm. Shouldn’t I be running through the halls screaming that I was getting hitched or at least shed happy tears? I became engaged without the fanfare and felt surprised by how normal the whole ordeal played out.
The feeling of normalcy vanished by morning. I nervously packed my suitcase in preparation for my flight back to Houston. I ate breakfast with the group stealing glances at the foreign object on my finger and sharing lingering smiles with Chris. I had so much I wanted to say to him. So many questions I wanted to bombard him with. How did he feel? How long had he planned this? What do we plan for next? The words escaped me and I sat anxiously secretly pining for a private moment with him. He went over final details of his test and we said our goodbyes as I left for the airport. In hindsight, I never noticed how often I unpack my feelings until after the fact. It’s difficult for me to process life changing moments in real-time plus I knew that Chris had an exam to pass. I kept my emotions at bay until I couldn’t hold it in any longer and shared them with his friend on our flight. I shared my thoughts on what I thought it meant to be betrothed. I questioned what would change, if anything. I wondered aloud what would be expected of me now that we were engaged. Though he didn’t have all of the answers he offered a bit wisdom that stuck with me.
He reminded me that staying true to myself was paramount. Sure, I was one step closer to becoming married but I was still an individual with my own thoughts, dreams, and desires. He encouraged me to pursue them, to remain fulfilled so that I could give Chris the very best of me. I didn’t mention it then but I felt relieved after our conversation. I later shared this in greater detail with Chris and spent a lot of time writing about how I felt about the impending changes. It was therapeutic for me to sort through my feelings for the first month of our engagement. Our immediate family and closest friends knew about our engagement, of course, but it was important for us to keep our change in status off of social media as we figured out what our relationship would look like moving forward. Apart from that, it was so nice to enjoy each other before the pressure of wedding planning began.
Simply put, our proposal and my reaction to it caught me off guard despite knowing it was coming. It was intimate, beautiful, and represented who we are as a couple. Thoughtful, reflective, and slightly awkward (lol). Most importantly, though, it opened the door for conversations that needed to happen in order for us to grow individually and as a couple.
The journey continues next week as I dish on our experience with pre-marital counseling. Oh, what an experience that was!
New to the series? Catch up here.
– photos taken by Harbor Grace Photography –