I was only going to get one shot at this (I hoped). Everything had to be perfect. She certainly was.
The ring box was burning a hole in my carry-on luggage and my mind for the entire trip there. I was so worried that they would open it up during security screening and my surprise would be spoiled. That was silly, I knew. Why would they need to bring attention to it? They’ve seen this kind of thing a million times and know better than to mess up my big moment. This was just jitters.
It was more likely that she knew it was coming already. I’m not great at hiding things, though I had given it my best effort. The meetings with the jeweler were conducted clandestinely during work hours, as we carefully designed a ring that I would be proud to present and that she would be proud to wear. The sizing happened at night while she was in one of her deep slumbers, slipping each of her own rings onto her finger until I found one that fit like a secret glass slipper. I told the jeweler my firm budget and then spent twice that. I went with an asscher-cut solitaire sandwiched between two trapezoidal stones to make sure it mesmerized. They told me the stone was internally flawless and I knew it was hers.
Once finalized, the gorgeous ring was stashed away: in a box, in a bag, in another bag, in the back of the closet. It was unlikely that she would discover it accidentally and almost as unlikely that she’d find it if she went searching. Still, I checked on it almost daily. I didn’t like sitting on such an expensive item. Secrets weighed heavily on my heart.
I thought for sure she would know it was coming when I asked her to go on a trip out of the country. Such a telegraphed move, but what else could I do? Life had been so difficult lately, with the business obviously failing and the stresses of life piling up with the bills. I told her we needed to get away and she agreed.
The ring was a special sort of problem, as I had to carry the bulky box on my person at all times. I certainly wasn’t about to let it out of my sight or leave it in anyone else’s care. It would be a miracle if she didn’t ask me what the heck I had in my pocket. I resigned myself to carry out the plan and hope she at least acted surprised when the time came. She’s nice enough to do that.
We boarded the cruise ship and discovered that they had booked us in a room with bunk beds. This was not part of the plan. Was the mistake mine or theirs? It definitely didn’t sound like a mistake I would have made…I’m a notorious triple-checker and this was important to me. I asked kindly if they could move us, but it was impossible. We would be sleeping in bunk beds for the trip. So be it. The plan still moves forward.
Once we were all settled and the only thing left to do was relax, I started to panic. This was as far as I’d gotten in the planning. Where would I pop the question? What would I say? What would SHE say? I insisted on bringing my backpack with me when we arrived at our first port: Key West. She asked why I needed it and I snapped off some feeble excuse and changed the subject. She had to know. It was time to put an end to all the secrecy. As we wandered around Key West, I searched for the perfect spot. Near the dock, in front of the gift shop, at the bar? Nothing seemed romantic enough so I decided to wait until later.
We took a boat out onto the water for tandem parasailing. Raised up above the world, everything got quiet. The ring was in the bulky box, in the unnecessary backpack, in the boat with the strangers, way down there with the rest of the world. Only she and I existed up here, smiling in the sunlight and wind and enjoying the still moment. I forgot about the ring and the plan and everything. And I remembered- only she mattered.
After we came back down to let another couple have a turn in the sky, I looked around at the beautiful world and realized that this was it. This was the perfect moment. I gave the boat crew a heads up so they would take some pictures and I got down on my knee. I told my beautiful girlfriend that I couldn’t imagine living my life without her and I showed her the ring.
She was surprised. She was speechless. She didn’t know which finger to put the ring on. She would be my wife and I knew that everything would be perfect from that moment forward. And it is.