Most girls dream of the day when the love of their life gets down on one knee, and asks her to marry them. They imagine the person, the setting, the ring…down to every little detail.
The proposal my boyfriend (now husband of 2 years) had planned, was nothing I had ever imagined…and yet it turned out to be absolutely perfect. It’s still one of my favorite stories to tell – just not for the reason you might think.
During the week of Christmas in 2013, we had a romantic weekend trip to the city planned, and I had a slight feeling that he had something up his sleeve. He was being extra secretive, which made me extra suspicious. I had no idea what was going on, but before we left, I might have polished my nails…just in case.
We arrived at our hotel and quickly changed clothes to head back out again. It was unseasonably warm (I’m talking like 75 degrees in December) and by the time we got there, I was worried that we should have planned a trip to visit a water park instead of a Christmas tree. I attempted to do my hair and put a little makeup on (again, just in case) and he kept asking me if I was ready to go yet. If he could have pushed me out the door without pants on, he would have.
Once we were finally out and about, we headed in the direction of Rockefeller Center. We walked several blocks before my little piggies started killing me, so we decided to hail a cab the rest of the way. (Not to mention, we were sweating. God forbid we wore jackets in the dead of winter in NY.) The second we climbed into the car, you could literally see the nervous tension coming off of him. He stopped talking, gave me one word answers, stared out the window…and oddly, kept one hand in his coat pocket the entire time.
When we got there and hopped out of the cab, we instantly became confused when we were thrown into complete and utter mayhem. People were EVERYWHERE. The city is known for its craziness during that time of year, but I had never seen it like this before. Picture the stampede scene in The Lion King, but in slow motion. You couldn’t move, couldn’t walk without bumping into the person next to you. We couldn’t see anything in front of us, and we didn’t understand why we couldn’t get within (what felt like) 10,000 feet of the tree. (We later found out that it was the most popular night of the Saks Fifth Avenue light show, and apparently everyone on the East Coast was in attendance.) After about an hour of mosh-pit style pushing and shoving, my feet had been stepped on one too many times and I was ready to just call it a night and go get some dinner. Shawn insisted that we keep trying, even though I fought him every step of the way. “Why is this such a big deal? We’ll come back tomorrow!” But still, he didn’t quit. He just kept saying “I’m getting you to that tree.” Eventually, we somehow managed to get through the mob scene and were finally standing in front of it. Annoyed, sweating, and out of breath…but we had made it. At that point, we just had to shake our heads and laugh. He turned to me – looked at me with a sly smile, began the speech that would lead to the biggest question I’ve ever been asked, and got down on one knee.
As he did this, the thousands of people around us started looking in our direction, eyes wide open and hands over their mouths. I felt them all slowly back up and form a huge circle around us, like it was straight out of a movie. Later, I’d be able to look back and remember so many of them excitedly saying “Oh my god, look! He’s going to propose!” But in that moment, the rest of the world was blocked out, and all I could see and hear was him. Although I had my suspicions all along, I was in shock and completely speechless. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening! He said a bunch of mushy things that I won’t bore you with, then opened the ring box to reveal something I never saw coming. It was not one of the many rings I had subtly shown him pictures of in the past – it was one I already knew well, and had seen every day of my life. It was my mothers. He went on to tell me that the two of them had decided to let me pick out my dream ring myself, but to use her ring to “pop the question” with. That gesture was so special and meant the world to me, and I wish I could say I started bawling like a baby at that very moment…but I won’t lie to you. I had thousands of people staring at me, waiting to see what would happen next. I could barely keep my heart from beating out of my chest; I had no time to think about tears. I said “YES!“, everyone clapped and cheered while we kissed, and then we did the smartest thing we could think to do next – we raced out of there while everyone was standing around, so we could beat the crowd! We were happily in love, but we weren’t stupid.
As we walked the next few blocks to dinner, tons of random people would walk by and congratulate us…as if we were all old friends, and they had just witnessed their buddies getting engaged. Once we got to the restaurant, I had to call my parents and best friends to give them the big news. Of course, the second I started talking to all of them, the reality hit me…and THEN the water works started. The entire rest of the night was so surreal and wonderful. I’ll never forget it.
For weeks after that, we retold the story countless times for the people who asked to hear it. One day, after telling it yet again, someone asked Shawn why he chose that particular location – something I had never even thought about until that moment. He simply replied with “that was where she always dreamed of it happening, so that’s where I did it.” I was a little confused by the answer, but shrugged it off. It was only until he gave that same answer a few more times, on several different occasions, that I began to really wonder about it. I had to know what on earth he was talking about, so I finally just asked him one day. He reminded me of a conversation we had in the beginning of our relationship, and told me he remembered everything I said and made sure to give me what I wanted – except it wasn’t. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he had completely misunderstood the discussion, and I never had any particular dreams about a proposal in front of the tree.
Eventually, the truth came out and I had to be honest with him. But while he was disappointed, I couldn’t have felt more blessed. I had to remind him that it was things like that – things that seem so small, but are actually quite big – that made me fall in love with him in the first place. While girls were getting proposed to in their dream setting, I was asked to spend the rest of my life with my dream man – the one who listened when I spoke about the future, and did everything in his power to make my dreams come true. That’s the kind of person you spend forever with.
Sometimes, the things you don’t see coming – like the right person, or the perfect moment – are the things you never even knew you wanted.