Thursday, February 18, 2010

Her Story

Warning: I've been spoiled, and therefore have a tendency to be kind of mushy. If mushiness makes you gag, do not read on.

It all started in London. By the time I was dazed and speechless in Roy’s arms in the Heathrow airport, we both knew this was it. It didn’t take any romantic European atmosphere; poor Roy hadn’t even seen the British sunshine yet. We were in a congested airport with thirty-three different languages loudly blabbering away from all directions. But somehow as soon as he came through those doors and we were in the same room, everything melted away. The only thing that mattered was that we not be apart again.

Too bad we still had two and a half months on separate continents after his visit was over. -_- So we hunted down the one material thing that can almost completely guarantee we won’t be apart ever again: a diamond ring.

I think it was his third day in the UK when we decided to go ring shopping. Well, I actually decided. I planned on surprising him by taking him to Hatton Garden, which is a whole street of nothing but jewelry stores. Just to look. But of course, I got us good and lost on High Holborn first.

After Roy got us out of that mess (we had to ask a pair of bobbies in a sweets shop for directions) we found the street. It was way more perfect than I had anticipated. The narrow cobblestone road was lined with several blocks of expensive jewelry stores. The next few blocks after that were cheaper stores, then antique stores, all the way down to the equivalent of pawnshops. It seemed like if our ring were ever in the UK, it would be somewhere in Hatton Garden.

Roy was impressed and I pretended that I had known from the beginning exactly how brilliant my plan was to come to this impossibly perfect jewelry lane. We spent hours there looking in almost every shop. Ring shopping is way more fun than I ever thought it would be. Finally finding our ring was thrilling, too. A tiny Russian-speaking girl helped us find “the one”. It was petite and elegant. So European! (Or at least that’s what we think.)

We went back after it had been sized and then couldn’t keep our eyes out of the little blue box all day. Part of why we fell in love with it is because it’s seriously the sparkliest thing ever.

While relaxing in a Starbucks we made a pact. No telling anyone about the ring. Oh- except it was a little too late for that. When Roy used his card to buy the ring with his very American money, his bank made a security call. His cell phone didn’t work out of the country, so naturally they called his parent’s house. It was something like three o’clock in the morning when his poor parents were rudely awoken by frantic bankers wanting to know why so much money was being spent at a jewelry store overseas.

Well, Laura and Dennis are pretty smart. They knew exactly why so much money was being spent at a jewelry store overseas. They were able to get the bank nice and calm, but we soon got an email from Dennis that said; “So, you must have got your mom something real nice over there, huh?”

How embarrassing!

So our secret quickly became a well-known fact in Oregon. Now we just had to keep that from happening in Arizona.

I hope I’m not publishing crime here but… Roy totally snuck our ring through customs. He didn’t want to have to deal with the logistics of customs and having purchased something valued over $800. So he stuck it in his pocket and brought it back to the states.

It wasn’t easy to keep that ring a secret in Arizona either, especially since Roy was coming to Tucson for Christmas and all. I just wanted to spill the beans to Alexa, Mom, and Lynn about the ring. Oh well… I decided to wait.

A few days after Christmas, the whole family (including Roy) drove up to the White Mountains for some snowboarding and family bonding. Edmonsons, Reays, and Herberts– nearly everyone was up there at Grandma and Grandpa’s cabin.

After our second day of snowboarding, Roy already had carving down. He’s naturally good at pretty much anything he tries, so I guess it didn’t surprise me so much. It was snowing when Mom came to pick us all up from a long, good day on the slopes. Mason, Alexa, Roy, and I all crammed into the truck and slowly made our way out of the parking lot, nearly getting stuck in a snow bank.

It surprised me when Mom said, “Dad and Zac are checking out the horse ranch so we have to go pick them up.” My immediate reaction was to ask how the heck all seven of us were supposed to fit on five seats. Roy, however, was extremely excited. He wanted to know if we would be able to go check it out too.

“I want to ride a horse!” Alexa nearly screamed she was so excited.

“No, it’s way too cold out,” Mason complained. And it’s true, we were barley creeping along the icy road and snow swirled around the truck. But I could tell Roy wanted to go. Specifically, he wanted to go on a sleigh ride. Still feeling some Christmas spirit, I decided that a one-horse open sleigh would be fun.

When Mom pulled up to the barn with peeling red paint I caught a glimpse of Dad and Zac each riding a small horse. But by the time we convinced Mason to get out of the car and have a good time with us, both Dad and Zac were off of their horses and walking toward the truck.

I was worried that they’d had their fill of horses for the day. But, to my surprise, Dad said we could all take a ride. When they arranged for Roy and I to go on the sleigh and for the rest of my family to be on horseback I didn’t think twice. I figured Roy wanted to cuddle and the rest would rather experience riding horses. But still, when we were climbing into the creaky sleigh Roy asked, “I wonder why no one else wants to ride the sleigh…” Even then I continued to be oblivious.

Two Native Americans ran the little place. One was a short, broad, younger woman. She made sure we were comfortable with a few blankets to keep warm under. She also introduced us to our driver, who was very tall with wrinkles and a cowboy hat that covered his greasy white hair. His name was Bobo.

While Bobo stepped onto the front of the sleigh in one giant stride, Roy was all but freaking out. I mean, I thought sleighs were cool too, but he was so giddy and excited that it was just ridiculous. Bobo whistled and muttered some words in the Navajo language and the wooden sleigh jerked forward with a groan.

I remember thinking it was cool how easily the sleigh slid over the powdery ground as we headed into the heavily wooded forest. Roy was holding my hands tightly in his. The pine trees were all white and more fat snowflakes were falling silently from the sky. At first my family rode closely behind us, their skinny little ponies knee deep in snow at some parts. But, gradually, they began to fall back. It looked like the short, round lady (who was breaking her little pony’s back) was stopping them occasionally to give them some kind of instruction or tour. Bobo, on the other hand, pressed us forward in was silence.

Roy and I were silent ourselves for a few minutes while we observed how beautiful it was in the woods. Well… I was observing. At the time I thought he was too, but who knows what he was running through his mind. It still blows my mind how silent it is when it snows. I caught snowflakes on my tongue and watched my family disappear behind us while listening to the sleigh bells and Bobo’s occasional Navajo commands.

Roy and I started talking about something… something that now I cannot recall. I was in mid-sentence when I saw a large white banner with red letters strung up between two pine trees. I let my words drop dead in my mouth when I realized what the banner said: “Elliot, Will You Marry Me?”

My mind was swimming; I didn’t even notice the sleigh stop moving. I barley comprehended Roy’s huge smile and then it hit me fully. Roy was proposing… even though he told me he wasn’t going to propose until February…

I watched him jump down from the sleigh into the deep snow and run toward the banner. I couldn’t stop staring at it. It even blurred for a moment and I realized I was teary-eyed. Weird.

I was laughing by the time Roy was scooting his was back to the sleigh through the snow. He had a dozen red roses tied with a ribbon in one hand and he was swinging it through the air while he tried not to fall. I was standing, clutching the blankets in one hand, by the time Roy reached the sleigh. He handed me the flowers and told me how much he loved me. Then he dropped down onto one knee, sinking into the fluffy snow, and pulled out the little blue London box that I hadn’t seen in two months.

“Elliot, will you be mine and marry me?”

I jumped out of the sleigh and wrapped my arms around his neck. I said yes somewhere between laughing and hugging. When we were done celebrating I looked up to see a sudden gust of wind rip my name right off of the banner. It freaked out the horses, and the sleigh almost took off without us. I was glad the thing stayed up long enough for me to see it.

My family came around the corner on the other horses just then and I could see my siblings looking a mixture of awkward and happy. Ah, I’m the oldest. No one knows how we are supposed to approach this engagement thing. Wow- engaged! I kept looking at the beautifully petite ring on my purple finger. Yes, I needed to get my hands warm.

Roy made sure I got some gloves, but they didn’t stay on long. I had to show Mom and everyone as soon as we were all snug in the truck. Now the last thing on my mind was the fact that there were seven of us squished onto five seats.

When we got back to the cabin the driveway was alight with sparklers. My cousins had gathered outside, sparklers in hand and cheering for us when we got out of the car. Everyone wanted to hear exactly how it went down. We went inside where it was warm and played catch-phrase beneath our “congratulations” banner. There was even a toast for us with sparkling cider. We ended the night with family pictures. Roy was in them. Weird… but perfect. It was such an awesome surprise engagement party! I love my family.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

His Story

Recently I built up the nerve to ask my sweetheart Elliot to marry me- She said Yes! Now we are happily engaged and working our way towards what I hope will be a party-of-a-wedding, and you all are invited. (party details on main page J)

Elliot and I share a lot of interests and hobbies but we have a lot of differences. Just look at our backgrounds and where we came from. Elliot is from the dry, hot, almost unbearable Arizona desert, where the teams have mascots like The Sundevils. I hail from the green paradise known as the Oregon coast. GO BEAVS! We like to celebrate our differences and rejoice in our similarities, we pretty much just like to party.

I love Elliot.

We first talked about getting married while under the starlit skies of Lake Powell last summer. We were both caught up in the setting. I can still remember watching the boats speed by as the sun set behind the red cliffs along the lakeshore. We were joking about what our life “could” be like “if” something happened. It might have been a little pre-mature but the topic just kept popping up during those picturesque sunsets.

Lake Powell was our heaven and after the trip we were swiftly thrown back down to earth and were forced to date long distance for 5 months. Elliot left first. London was her destination and she embarked on her study abroad in late August. My adventures lied on an internship in our nation’s capital a month later. We had months to practice our communication skills. We talked on the phone, Skyped, wrote emails, and passed letters back and forth. I still have, saved on my computer, hundreds of these memories. We figured that if we could spend so long on separate continents and still be in love, we had something substantial.

During the first few months I had flirted with the idea of visiting her. I had, time and time again, weighed the advantages of going to London vs. the disadvantages. The decision turned out to be entirely about money and an uninterrupted five months apart seemed to be our fate… But two things changed my mind.

One, I had always told Elliot I wanted my life to be adventurous, kind of like one of my heroes, Grandpa Meldrum. Grandpa fought in wars and hopped trains when he was my age. Now he’s almost ninety and loves to tell those stories. I want to have stories to tell! I want to take the road less traveled! And two, on the 14th of October I woke up in the middle of the night and a voice from high above said, “Cross the sea and be happy with Elli!” JK, there was no voice, but Elliot was free from classes for a week, which would be an opportunity too good to pass up.

With a desire to go I began crunching the numbers, without any source of income in DC I had to make the trip within my budget. After doing some math magic, I discovered if I didn’t eat for the last two months of my internship, and watched my pennies, I would be able to have a dream week with Ell and walk away from DC with six dollars in my pocket. Knowing I would be in the black gave me a great deal of confidence so I bought the ticket.

Funny story. The night I told Ell that I had bought a plane ticket, she in her exuberance posted on her facebook status something like this: “My boyfriend is coming to London!” I woke up the next morning to read a comment under the post that read, “No he’s not! Tell him to save his money and to come to Tucson in December- Love Dad.” How quickly I got on the naughty list of my future father-in-law!

Elliot wrote more about my vacation to London on her blog. Check it out if you want! But what she didn’t tell you is that we bought an engagement ring while we were there! Here is a little about how the engagement story went down.

I had asked Elliot’s Dad for her hand in marriage on Christmas Eve, I figured it would be less likely for him to say no with so much Christmas cheer around. The talk turned out to be less terrifying than I thought and by the end of the evening I was all but engaged.

So when we were heading up the white mountains for a weekend of snowboarding all I had left was to pop the question to her. HOW WAS I GOING TO DO IT? It was a stressful time in my life. I had her fooled into thinking it wasn’t going to be until February, but I wanted to do it soon.

I saw them on the way up to the lifts on the first day. The Clysdales came storming around the corner of the old barn stirring up a cloud of snow and neighing as the sleigh effortlessly glided through the snow behind them. Upon closer inspection it turned out that my majestic Clydesdales were fairly unfortunate looking ponies no taller me, but don’t worry its still the most romantic proposal ever!

It was that night behind Elliot’s back that I revealed to Alexa and Elliot’s mom my vision of a sleigh ride, winter wonderland setting. They were encouraging and said they would look into it for me. We had the whole thing planned by the third day, the trap was set, and Elliot was completely oblivious.

I have to be honest, Elliot’s parents did the real work setting up the whole production, and I was merely the architect. Ell and I had been attached at the hip throughout the week and she might have grown suspicious if I kept disappearing. But to set the scene, we had just finished boarding and it had been snowing all day. There was a fresh layer of pure white covering the ground and the skies didn’t show any signs of stopping. I actually think the flakes were getting bigger.

Susan, Elliot’s mom, picked us up and asked if we all wanted to go on a sleigh ride that was offered to guests just down the road. I, of course, was extra excited and made it known that I really wanted to go. Elliot seemed happy enough to come along and when we had worked out the details Elliot and I were in a sleigh and the rest of her family was following on horseback.

Our guide, BoBo, was a three hundred pound Indian and was privileged to share our special moment with us. We rode in the perfect stillness of the forest chatting and taking in the beauty of it all for about ten minutes. I was facing Elliot and knew my time had come when her eyes lit up, her jaw dropped and the sleigh stopped. I turned to see the banner that was planted there earlier in the day. It read, Elliot will you marry me?

I jumped out of the sleigh and tromped 50 feet through the knee-deep snow to gather up the dozen roses waiting behind the sign. As I made my way back to Elliot I could tell she was in shock by the way her mouth was covered and her eyes were tearing up. Her family had dropped behind and were out of site around the last corner.

It was just me Elliot… and BoBo.

I kneeled down in the snow and presented the ring to her. I asked asked her if she would be mine. She didn’t say anything for about 3 minutes but I wasn’t worried because she had her arms so tightly wrapped around my neck I thought that she would never let go.

Then she said yes.

That was one of the best moments of my life. I love Elliot.