During the Summer of 1997, I knew.
I knew she was who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I knew I wanted to get lost in her eyes. I knew. I just knew.
She was The One.
I knew she knew ,too. We had already looked at rings. We had already started talking about what we did and didn’t think our wedding could be like.
What she didn’t know, however, was that I had been making payments on the ring she had chosen during one of our engagement ring window shopping strolls through the mall. I think maybe five people knew that I had the ring in my possession. And most of those people were out of town.
Once I had the actual ring in my hand, it was time to do some planning. This had to be the perfect moment at the perfect time with the perfect setting. So I watched, waited, and tried to plan.
It was a beautiful fall afternoon. The leaves had turned and they were almost at their peak. If you’ve ever been in Upper East Tennessee during this season, then you know it’s one of the most spectacular sights you’ll ever see. I was supposed to meet Christy after lunch for an afternoon of shopping for items so she could make an Advent wreath. I was also going to learn how to drive her Saturn, since the last time I’d driven a stick shift was when I was 16.
I knew the driving lesson wasn’t going to happen. I had other plans. But first, I had to find the perfect package for this symbol of my undying love and commitment.
Dark chocolate Dove Promises were a favorite of Christy’s. Earlier that morning, I had an epiphany. “What a perfect way to give this ring to her!” I could find the perfect Promise wrapper with the perfect saying and it would be the perfect way to give her the ring.
Of course, it didn’t quite happen like that.
One would assume that with it being Halloween season, stores would have tons of Dove Chocolates available along with all the other Halloween candies. One would be wrong. I drove around Johnson City for an hour, hitting all the big box stores, trying to find a bag of Promises. No luck. There were aisles upon aisles of Twix and Snickers and bubble gum, but no Dove Promises.
Remember – this was the days before everyone and their brother had a mobile device. If you did have a mobile device, it wasn’t much smaller than Zach Morris’s phone. So I had no way of calling Christy to tell her that I was going to be a little bit late. I was already late, actually. But this was the perfect day with the perfect weather and I couldn’t pass on this opportunity. I had to propose today.
I finally gave up on the Dove Promises and chose the next-best thing: Hershey’s Kisses. I quickly bought a loaf of bread and a bag of the chocolates. I took out a Kiss, and wrapped the ring in the foil, trying my best to make it look like a real Hershey’s Kiss. I shoved the rest of the back in my jacket pocket and kept the newly-wrapped ring in my other pocket. Then I might or might not have sped as fast as I could to Christy’s apartment.
She opened the door. I held out the loaf of bread and said, “Let’s go feed the ducks. It’s such a perfect day.”
She was still more than a little annoyed that I was so late. But I guess she was kind of OK with the idea. “OK,” she said. “But first, we’re going shopping.”
The next few hours felt like an eternity to me. I had the ring in my pocket the entire time we were walking through the craft sections. I was so worried that I would lose the ring. There were a couple of times that I’d freak out and think I couldn’t feel it in my pocket, so I’d quickly stuff my hands in my pockets, trying to make sure the ring hadn’t fallen out. In my effort to make sure the ring hadn’t disappeared, the foil kind of lost its shape. It no longer looked like a Kiss, but a ring made out of foil.
I also made sure to pop a Kiss in my mouth every so often, trying to be conspicuous yet inconspicuous at the same time. I found out later that I was failing miserably, but that’s OK.
After spending an eternity shopping for materials for Christy’s Advent wreath, we were finally free to go to the Covered Bridge in Elizabethton – the site of our first date. We stood on the bank of the river…at the same spot where we sat and talked for hours on that first date. I pulled out the bread and we fed the ducks (shhh…don’t tell anyone. I’m pretty sure it’s still against the rules). I also kept popping Kisses in my mouth, trying to be sly about it, yet desperately hoping she’d finally ask for one.
I don’t remember if I said it, but in my mind, I asked her, “You’re sure about this?”
I reached my hand in my pocket, pulled out the ring that looked like it had been made out of foil, and put it in her open palm.
“It’s going to take me a lifetime to show you how much I love you. I ask that you give me that lifetime….Will you marry me?”
SHE SAID YES!
I took the ring, got down on one knee to put it on her finger…
…and almost dropped the ring into the Doe River.
Fortunately, disaster was averted. It merely landed on the bank. I picked it up with my shaking hands and managed to place it on her finger this time.
That was 15 years ago tomorrow. It’s a day I’ll never forget.
It might not have been as elaborate as the lip-dub proposal guy’s, but it’s our special story. And I love to tell it.
I’m Matt Todd and I approve this message.