|The Valentine's hat I made for Bean.|
However, since that year, we've sort of boycotted Valentine's Day because it's easier to ignore it than to try to come up with an innovative way to celebrate it each year. (And for those of you who know me personally, you know that I don't like obligatory gifts like the type that often accompany Valentine's Day.)
So what do we celebrate in February if not Valentine's Day? The anniversary of our engagement. Yep, we got engaged on Friday, February 8th, 2008. One of the best decisions we've ever made. Here's the story:
We'd been dating for six years, long distance for five of those years. I was living in Toronto at the time, and he in St. Catharines, each with our best friends. I was sharing a grad student office with a friend of similar age who was married and had been talking a lot about marriage with her. Husband and I were serious and had talked plenty about marriage and children, but I had told him that I wanted to be finished school before we tied the knot.
Suddenly I found myself ready to "make the leap" though, and I couldn't explain what it was that had changed in me. I was just ready. I wanted to take that next step and I wanted to do it soon. The only problem? That stupid time I told him that I wanted to wait till I was done school (all 6 years of it!!!). Here's what I did:
Step One: Tell Husband's best friend that I'm ready to be engaged. Like now.
Poor guy, I still remember this moment - we were standing in the Bulk Barn parking lot across from the Pen Centre. He was like "UMMMMM ... okay ...hahaha."
I quickly followed up by admitting how ridiculous it was for me to give him that message. After all, what was he supposed to do? Tell Husband to get it together because I said the word?
Step Two: Consider taking matters into my own hands.
After that awkward conversation with Husband's best friend, I started to wonder if I should just "man up" and ask Husband myself. No, not ask him to propose - I mean propose to him myself. I spent a weekend in Guelph with my university roommate discussing the matter with her and looking at rings.
Step Three: Survey the masses.
Ok, well, not the masses, but I did ask my big brother as well as a stranger on the bus home from Guelph. Stranger was a young guy who had just joined the Armed Forces and was quite traditional in his views (read: he thought it was a horrible idea). Brother thought it was intriguing, but worried that I might be "stealing" Husband's moment. That's fair.
Step Four: Weigh my options.
Become the girl that is bitter every time she hears of someone getting engaged, having a bridal shower or getting married because I wish it were me? Or, risk embarrassing (future) Husband by proposing to him instead of waiting for him to ask?
Step Five: Make a plan.
I spent a couple hours with my journal - a journal that Husband had given me for our six-month anniversary, in which I often wrote "to" him during our long distance years. I poured my heart out about how much I loved him and all that we had been through. Then I started to plan the evening of the proposal. He would drive to Toronto and I would meet him downstairs (I lived in an apartment). We would go out for dinner, and when we got back, I'd come up with an excuse for me to run up on my own while he parked the car. Roommate/best friend would be out for the evening, so I would throw rose petals around the apartment, light some candles, and get ready to propose to my man.
Step Six: Freak out.
I barely slept that week. Not because I was scared he would reject me - no. Because I wanted it to be perfect and I wanted him to be happy about it, not disappointed. I still remember going to pottery class that Wednesday night with my sister-in-law. Our teacher offered for me to try to use the wheel that night - HA! I couldn't even center my piece! That week I also went out for lunch with a fellow grad student and told her about my plan. Pretty sure she and my best friend were the only ones I told about the big plan. Thank goodness they were supportive.
Step Seven: Do it.
Wonderful (future) husband that he was, Husband showed up EARLY at my apartment, knocking on my door an hour before he was supposed to arrive! He came bearing gifts, too: a big bouquet of flowers that he picked up to cover his butt in case I reneged on our decision not to celebrate Valentine's Day the next week. (Oh, and he bought them from the same florist where I had purchased a bouquet and bag of rose petals just an hour before...). The living room was already set with flowers, pictures, candles, journal, etc., so I had to usher him into my bedroom and convince him to stay in my room while I put the bouquet he gave me in water.
It was still light out, so the candles wouldn't look right, so I needed to stall him. But could I get us out the door without him seeing the living room? Or would I have to move up the proposal to before dinner? (This is the only time in my life that I've been dissatisfied with the increased daylight hours in February!)
Now that he was there, there was no way I could wait till after dinner to propose! I'd be so nervous that I wouldn't be able to choke down a single bite. Ok, it's go time then.
So I told him I had set up a bunch of my pottery creations in the living room and that I wanted him to follow me out there with closed eyes. Well, he did. I sat him down on the couch, and he opened his eyes to a scene of flowers, candles, pictures of us, our journal, and me. I was shaking with nerves and had watery eyes as I knelt down and told him how much I loved him and how I couldn't imagine a better way to show him than to ask him to be my husband.
He asked me if it was for real and I told him it was ... unless he didn't want it ... haha! He said yes, and the rest is history, I guess. Five years of history so far.
So, to all of the ladies out there who are waiting for their boyfriends/girlfriends to propose, I say this:
If your desire to get engaged is affecting your relationship negatively because you are growing impatient, consider taking matters into your own hands. It doesn't make you less of a woman and it's not tacky. It's practical and reasonable and it can be beautiful! Just go for it.
For the curious: the next day we went ring shopping. We both got rings and we wore them on our right hands until our wedding day until we switched them to our left hands.