Monday, July 07, 2008

Mystery Solved and Surprise, Surprise, Surprise



Where to begin?

Cape Cod was great. Green, lush and verdant, all hydrangeas and gray, weathered shingled homes and lobsters and sour cream donuts. The night we arrived, a cold front was moving through, so I got to sit outside on the deck and listen to the wind rustling through the trees, which has to be one of my favorite sounds in the world. We heard birds tweat and saw lightning bugs flit by. Even the rain was soft and beautiful.

The Red, White and Blue Riddle was partly solved on my birthday. Not content to just let me try to randomly guess what my birthday gift would be, Nicole decided to give clues that created parameters and confusion. Red white and blue figured prominently. That is apropos, considering I was born on the fourth of July. The first gift, which I opened before we left for the Cape, was the sewing machine, which has me so excited that I almost need to take a sleeping pill to calm my brain down at night. I have about 100 projects that I want to do (unsuccessfully at first, I’m sure). And yet I have no idea how to operate the machine. I have a lot to learn.

The second gift I opened on my birthday. It was early morning and the girls were up. The four of us went into the screened porch. Nicole gave me a birthday card, or, rather, a birthday postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge. This of course doesn’t seem unusual to me because she usually leaves card-buying to the last minute, which means cards don’t get bought, which means she scrambles for something appropriate within reach on her desk. She then pulled out that blue Tiffany box, and I am thinking, riddle solved. It was a snowflake charm for my bracelet. I love it! Yes, I am like a grandmother, excited about my sewing machine and charm bracelet. Next year, I am asking for a crocheted afghan and doilies.

Fast forward to Sunday. We are in Northampton and it’s about 9:00 am and the girls are napping in Auntie Annie and Auntie Nan’s extra bedroom. So Nicole and I go out by ourselves for a little Just Us time. We are out of the house, alone, and on our way into the town of Northampton. On the way, as we are speeding along, I saw a black bear on someone’s property. I was in the middle of a coughing fit so all I managed to get out was “Bear. [cough cough] Bear. [cough] Bear” while Nicole braked, then sped up, then swerved, then braked again and finally pulled over, confused because I offered no other directive other than “bear.” That’s me, under pressure, losing the ability to form sentences and make any sense at all. But she saw him lumber across the street in the rear view. It was so cool! At least, from the vantage of a completely enclosed steel package of a car that can outpace a bear if necessary. Not sure how I would feel if I were out walking. But wow, we saw a bear!

Nicole said we should go to Smith campus because the lighting is good to take pictures (I had my camera with me, as always). I had visions of sitting in the Haymarket drinking coffee and reading the paper, like we used to do. But the lighting was great, so Smith won. We parked and walked over to Paradise Pond, a frequent destination of ours.

We are on the path when Nicole kind of herds me over to a rock overlooking the pond. I stand on the rock and start taking pictures and she asks me if I ever figured out what the red was in the gift riddle. Well, no I didn’t, I admitted, but I didn’t think too much about it because I really thought she just made up random, esoteric clues to throw me off the scent, like she usually does. But I am concentrating on taking pictures now, trying to get the reflection of the trees in the calm pond water, not solving riddles. Then she asks if I thought it was weird that she gave me a postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge as a birthday card. Again, not raising any flags here because she is usually pressed to find a card on the day of whatever occasion and she goes to SF a lot for work and is always picking up postcards to send to little people.

But I turn around (or did she tell me to turn around?) and she is standing there with a little black velvety box and a ring and tears in her eyes and says “Will you marry me?” I am astonished and drop my jaw, but once I regain composure, I confirm that she is crying (“Are you crying?”) and then try to find out more (“Why are you crying?”) and then I am crying too. So we are just two girls crying and hugging in the woods around Paradise Pond on Smith campus. I’m guessing we aren’t the first, or the last.

Of course I said yes. And that is how I became a betrothed woman.

So the red was for the Golden Gate bridge, in California, where we will marry. (Not on the bridge; in California) And the blue is for the Tiffany boxes in part, and also for the sapphires in the ring (it is a diamond and sapphire eternity band). And the white, I go with snowflake and sewing machine. I think I cleaned up well on this here my 36th year.

I get that it is just a piece of paper and I know that people say that marriage doesn’t really change anything, but for me it is a very important piece of paper and it changes everything. And now, for the treacle: I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I am so happy. I feel like I got everything that I didn’t know I wanted, which just goes to show I shouldn’t be upset when my plans don’t go as planned. Something better is waiting around the corner. It’s hard to have faith in that, but I have to say it that consolation has yet to let me down.

And I thought, given the illegal nature of our union, that discussions of marriage would be relegated to dinnertime conversation during which we work out the logistics and paperwork and nightmare that is marrying in a state completely across the country. And though we will still have to do all of that not-fun business, we also got to have that private, special moment to look back on. And there is a place we can go to and someday take our girls to and say “This is where it happened.” I like thinking in this huge world, we have that special spot, and we had that moment that didn’t have to happen at the dining room table.

There are no big, flashy plans, but I really do want to go to one of those bridal stores and just try on a big, poofy dress and take a picture. An ironic photo perhaps. I wonder if you are even allowed to take pictures in those stores? Anyway, it’s not about a dress or a party or any of that. It really is about that piece of paper. And maybe a honeymoon!

Pictured above, the new and improved someday-to-be-sorta-legally married version. And me with my ring and the rock where it all happened.

39 comments:

J said...

Congratulations! What a wonderful birthday!

Truck Driver Wife said...

Oh my God I am so unbelievable happy for you two. Congrats! You really had a wonderful birthday!!

Lyn said...

Long time reader just de-lurking to say many congratulations.....
You look like the perfect couple and I'm wishing you all the best.

ann (fchen) said...

congratulations!!! what an exciting 36th birthday for certain; thank you so much for sharing your life with us. :)

K J and the kids said...

You were right....the lighting was perfect :)
Congratulations ! I'm so happy for you.

Miss Kate said...

Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you both. Literally, I was crying at work reading your post. Send everyone my love.

Moira said...

How wonderful! Kudos to Nicole for her riddle, and what a wonderful memory for your birthday. Looking forward to hearing about the planning - how lucky that you have two beautiful daughters to be your flower girls on such a special day (you can certainly put big poofy dresses on them)! As for the pictures, the reflection of the trees in the pond was certainly captured.

nycphoenix said...

YAYAYAYAY! Congratulations!

I was right about the Tiffany boxes.

On another note not to bo so crass and superficial but close up photos of all your presents, particularly the ring? please?

Dee said...

Congratulations!!! Way to go Nicole for keeping it secret! I'm so happy for you.

CCB said...

YAY!! Congratulations!!!! WOOHOO!

tbean said...

Congratulations!
Having gotten that piece of paper myself, let me say that yes, it is just a piece of paper. And no, it is SO MUCH MORE than a piece a paper. I hope you have a beautiful wedding ceremony in CA--can't wait to read all about it.

tbean said...

Congratulations!
Having gotten that piece of paper myself, let me say that yes, it is just a piece of paper. And no, it is SO MUCH MORE than a piece a paper. I hope you have a beautiful wedding ceremony in CA--can't wait to read all about it.

Audra said...

Congratulations!!!

gypsygrrl said...

ohhh man, that was worth waiting for!!! :) congratulations to one of the cutest and sweetest couples ever!

that nicole. she is a keeper.
love and hugs!
xo,
gypsy

Jess said...

Congratulations!!!

Amy B. said...

Just de-lurking to say congratulations! I'm so thrilled for you!

We are going to need a close-up of the ring, though!

Shelli said...

Mazal Tov!

I'm all verklempt!

As a wedding present, I will gladly come and help you learn your sewing machine! ;)

Just let me know when.

xo,
Shelli

Anonymous said...

Wow! Congratulations! How awesome is that? Can we see pictures of the ring please?

Denise said...

YAY CONGRATS!

calliope said...

WOW!!!!
Congrats!!!
That is so so so so wonderful. Go Nicole for surprising you and in such a perfect way.
I had a moment as I was reading wondering if "red" was going to be a "red eye flight"!!
I am so thrilled for you both.

& hell yes we want to see the rock!!

(go Nicole!!)

Melinda said...

Ooooh, that's what I was HOPING the surprise was!

Many, many congratulations!

amy said...

i totally expected this for you after your more recent posts about wanting it so badly. so happy for you both, your pictures are beautiful!

rebecca said...

congratulations!!!

that is super awesome news.

and if you want a fabulous dress, you should totally get one.

Kim said...

Oh my gosh, I am SO happy for you. I totally teared up reading that and I don't even know you. I have been reading since before the girls were here. I didn't know Nicole was such the romantic!

I am lucky enough to live in CA but my "marriage" between my wife and I ended right as it became legal to marry. Ironic. But so happy for the two of you! Congrats!

neeekeee said...

Congratulations!!!

This was such an awesome post to read. Best to you both!

And you should defintely go to one of those stores and try on a poofy dress (or a dozen poofy dresses). It's fun, and they do let you take pictures, or at least they did here in MA.

averyopenbook said...

Wow! I am seriously impressed with Nicole. And so very happy for all four of you.

Essence said...

I am so happy for you stranger friend....So weird, I wish I knew you in a way that doesnt feel so stalkerish just reading aobut your ups and downs. Congrats, Keep it real!
M

psapph0 said...

Diamond and Sapphire.... that's what we have too!

Congrats...when will you be in CA? We'll be there about August 19th - 23rd...should we want to meet up or something :-)

meanmama said...

Wow!!!!!
What a wonderful story - thanks for sharing. You two are very lucky to have each other. Congrats.

Baby B said...

Congrats!!! You should try on as many fancy, poofy dresses as you wish!

Michelle said...

Congratulations!!!

You can always sneak a photo in the bridal shop dressing room if you're in one that forbids photos. Do post one soon, please!

Carol said...

Congratulations for both of you! I had a feeling that was what the blog yesterday was leading to! It's about time the US caught up with us here in Canada....I had to de-lurk to wish you all the best!
Cheers!
Carol

Carey said...

What a great birthday!!
Now uhm... you'll be in our neck of the woods - perhaps we can meet up when you are out here!! :)

tracer123 said...

I think that that is one of the loveliest things that I have ever read. Go Nicole!

Congratulations!

This Mom said...

Congratulations to you both! Hopefully someday my state will catch on and we can do it "for real" too.

starrhillgirl said...

Yay.

Melissa said...

Congratulations!

Malea said...

Congratulations!

I think when you know it's right then it is.About the wedding dress,you can rent them. Even if it's just for a day of photo shoots:)

kate said...

Your news brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations!!