We had come a long way since that first email over 3 years ago. It was actually pretty hard to believe… we had survived 5,000 miles of long distance, 6 months of not seeing each other, moving in together way sooner than most ever would, graduate school, Visa issues, multiple moves, getting a puppy, changes in jobs, and being away from friends and family nearby to lean on. I remember thinking that if we could do all of this (plus much I’m sure I’m forgetting about), then what can’t we do.
I was becoming more skilled at the art of “inception”, and decided to let everyone else think that it would be fun forour two families to meet up for vacation at Amber’s and my childhood summer place away from home – Black Butte Ranch, in Oregon. From the very beginning, I knew this would be where I would ask Amberto marry me, but I didn’t want her to suspect anything. More importantly, I needed to get a ring.
VERY early in our relationship – as in the 3rd time hanging out together over Christmas in 2009… Amber’s Grandmother (aka “Grammie”) pulled me aside, to let me know about a diamond ring that had been in the family for generations, and how she would like Amber to have it someday. Naturally, I freaked out at the suggestion considering we barely knew each others’ middle names yet… But I never did forget about the ring, and I knew it was time to enquire. I sent Grammie an email, asking her if it was still something she wanted me to use, and I told her about my proposal plans in Black Butte – swearing her to complete secrecy, which was difficult for her to say the least :) The trick was, I wanted to customize the ring myself, prior to arriving in Black Butte… which meant Grammie had to somehow get the ring to me in London well beforehand, so I could get it made. We went through numerous options, and eventually – Grammie took yet another huge leap of faith… and arranged for the ring to come to London via Fedex. I was pretty nervous, as the UK is well known for losing mail – but sure enough, it arrived within 2 days… which eliminated any excuse I could make for not turning it into our engagement ring.
I went to a local London jeweler with a design in mind, and it turned out better than I could have imagined.
We packed our bags, and ended up in Black Butte. All that was left (aside from me asking her), was getting her Dad alone – which proved to be very difficult with 3 different families all together at all times. I had her Brother step in with the assist, and we got her Dad to agree to drive us into town – yet I admittedly had zero idea what to do when we got there. We parked the car, and her Dad started walking into a shop, when I said “hold on a minute…” – and he knew something was up. “How about you and I head down and find a spot to grab a drink” I said, to which he looked at Brad… looked at me…. and with a somewhat stunned face replied “No… I’m not ready for this!” We nervously walked down the street, and I couldn’t find a place I liked.. until we stumbled upon Bronco Billy’s Ranch Grill and Saloon… “Perfect!” I thought, and we went in the swinging double doors, straight out of an old Western Movie. Long story short… I said my thing, I asked, he gave me a hard time and diverted the question… and finally agreed. The two of us shared a drink, talked about marriage, life, etc., and a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Now this was officially happening for real.
The plan was for all those interested, to hike up to the top of Black Butte the next morning… and naturally, Amber woke up and decided she didn’t feel like it. Seriously!!? After all of this she doesn’t want to go!? No chance. I got her up, fed her coffee, and we headed to the mountain.
I was pretty quiet during the hike up… partially because I was thinking so much about what to say… and mostly because the hike was hard and I was out of shape. We got to the top, and off in the distance saw the house for the fire marshal, which I always pretended to live in as a kid. I told Amber about this, and asked if she wanted to come check it out. (PS – she had NO IDEA what was about to happen). We went behind the house, and found a log to sit on and rest (note we could clearly see seven different mountains from that one spot)… and then I started talking. Right then she knew, so without hesitation, I got on a knee – and asked her to marry me. She started crying and gave me a hug, but didn’t actually answer the question (gulp). “So is that a yes?” I said.. to which she said “YES! Of course!!!” We sat there and enjoyed the moment, and then climbed back up the rocks to meet everyone else.
My brother had carried up champagne and glasses for everyone – so we had a toast up at the top. It was done.
This was my plan from probably the 2nd time we ever hung out… and finally – it came true.
So… after over 30 years on the earth.. and despite the many, many……. MANY many times I’ve tried to prove otherwise…
My parents were right.
Part One // Part Two // Part Three // Part Four (his side) // Part Four (her side) // Part Five // Part Six