Proposing During A Pandemic
Why I couldn’t wait for “perfect” any longer.
It’s an unspoken rule that we should conduct the perfect proposal, especially when we know it’ll get blasted out and amplified by social media. Whether it’s the music, movies, or just a billboard down the road, there’s no escaping those seemingly flawless moments when thinking through how you’re going to pull it off. Grandiose but still ‘gramable’, it has to put your friends to shame while still somehow making them fawn over how ‘totally you’ the whole thing was. This concept kept ruminating in my head up until the night before I decided to propose… in the thick of a global disaster.
“For better or worse”, that’s the line right? This year kept throwing us for a loop despite all our best planning, not least of which were my efforts to pop the question and find that quintessential moment in the midst of so many things gone totally awry. My fiancé (spoilers) was turning thirty this year and her parents offered to take us on an incredible European trip through Dublin, Edinburgh, and London. Their generosity also meant the ability to start saving and planning for a beautiful, totally custom designed ring could finally be realized! This stoked my already growing idea that both timing and circumstances alike were aligning to help push our relationship to the next level. Pair that with the fact that we were going to attend about five weddings and I started laying the groundwork. I’d say, “babe, it’s gonna be our summer of luuuuv” with about as much subtlety as a car back firing. All that mattered though was that we couldn’t wait to enjoy ourselves and celebrate what we’d someday do ourselves.
It started with this shifting internal dialogue where rather than saying things like “maybe” or “if”, I caught myself speaking in definitive and certain terms like “when I ask”. Anyone who knows me can attest that I’m a bit of an obsessive planner too, especially on the research front. So, I dove into everything from female bride-written articles on what not to do, to gemological grading scales, and just about anything else I could find. I tore through dozens of articles on how best to prepare so as not to completely hose things at the moment it matters most. I studied up on romantic locales throughout Europe, finally settling on Calton Hill (which overlooked Edinburgh). It was all coming together quite nicely.
“It was difficult to justify asking for more, or honestly even being truly happy when there was so much suffering around us.”
Cut to September and we’d not only seen plans cancelled, but serious pain and suffering in place of what was supposed to be the year for so many people. It was difficult to justify asking for more, or even being truly happy when there was so much suffering around us. When I thought about hiding my intentions from someone who I had been so painfully honest with, I became physically ill as if the last eight months were metastasizing in my gut. Finally, one night as I lay awake in bed thinking to myself how many times that perfect moment slipped away, I thought about watching people lose their loved ones in isolation and without much notice. I couldn’t stand to let this beautiful, funny, powerful force of nature not know the full extent of how much I absolutely adored her. I decided to commit at that point, telling myself “Tomorrow we’re doing this!” and “To hell with perfect!” It wasn’t that I wouldn’t make it worthwhile, but that I couldn’t stand to fumble around with details any longer. I needed to show her just how much I loved her before we found ourselves further damaged by this insane year like so many others.
The following day I took her to a distanced, patio dinner at a little Italian restaurant I knew she loved. Nervously I laughed and stuffed my face full of food, all the while clutching the very distinctly box-shaped bulge in my right pocket. We moved on from dinner to the botanic gardens in town, slowly moving around through the various sections. I’m sure trying to balance my efforts to get her alone while not ruining her view of the flower beds made me come off a little spastic, but the fact that I didn’t throw us both into the bushes at some point was a win in my book. Eventually we passed by the aptly named “Birds and Bees” walk, complete with a bench and some high hedges that would tuck us away from some terrible tweens posting selfies in front of the ponds. We sat at the bench talking about how heavy this year had been, and where in the UK we’d be right now if we were on that epic cancelled birthday trip. I told her that there was supposed to be a romantic walk up Calton Hill, a scenic camping trip above the tree-line (when that hadn’t worked out), and several other attempts that crashed but that I couldn’t keep waiting around for that impossible moment. I knelt down telling her I loved her and asked if she would be my wife while pulling out the ring. Before I knew it we’d went through an emphatic “yes”, hugging and tears, and of course me asking her to clarify; “hold up… you do know I just asked to marry you, right? Are you sure?!” She laughed and reiterated that “yes I know, and yes I will”. Casually and quietly she mentioned to me that “This was perfect”.