Is this for real?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Word of advice for future brides [who want a surprise engagement]: if you go to pick out your ring, for Heaven’s sake, don’t let the jeweler say the date the ring will be ready in front of you. From that date onward, you’ll be thinking about your “surprise” engagement every weekend, every special dinner, every out-of-the-ordinary thing.

When January 1st rolled around, I knew the ring was ready. As a person who is usually ambivalent about surprises, I found myself very stressed knowing that the proposal was coming, I just didn’t know when or where or how.

After many a conversation with George, I finally decided to let it go. We’d already made the commitment to spend the rest of our lives together, so I told myself to calm down about the proposal.

Even though I had calmed down significantly, that didn’t mean I wasn’t still aware of potential opportunities for surprises. As such, the weekend after our anniversary when I was getting ready for our date to the Garfield Park Conservatory, I put on waterproof mascara [just in case].

We had planned an anniversary date to the Garfield Park Conservatory (where we had our first Chicago date), lunch at Inspiration Kitchen, a quick trip to pick up a belated birthday present from my friend Hallie, and then conveyor belt sushi.

We went to lunch first and then went across the street to the Conservatory. We had looked on their website beforehand and knew there was a spring floral show; however, when we got inside we wandered around for a while looking at the ferns and air plants and fish in the pond, yet we couldn’t find the spring floral show. Eventually we realized we were on the wrong side of the conservatory, so we walked over to the other side. I saw a group of people gathered around a pond and said to George, “I wonder if there are fish in this one too!” As we walked up, I saw an elaborate “R” written in coins in the pond and immediately I turned to George and said “Is this for real?” He explained that yes, it was for real, as we got the full view of the coins spelling out, “R, Will you marry me? G.” I started welling up as he nervously said some words I can’t remember, but ended with him getting down on one knee. Of course I said yes, and our little audience of unsuspecting conservatory-goers gave us a minute to celebrate alone before they started coming to congratulate us.


We spent the next hour or so in an a love-struck daze, taking pictures, and telling the story over and over to curious guests. After that, we quickly headed home to Skype with all of our parents.

I knew we were on a tight schedule because we had to stop by Hallie’s to pick up my birthday present and then George revealed that we weren’t really going to conveyor belt sushi, but to another surprise in Evanston, which is close to Hallie’s house. So, as we started driving to Hallie’s, I texted my best friend Torey asking if we could FaceTime once we got to Hallie’s. I wanted to share the news with both of them together! She responded that she could FaceTime in about 30-45 minutes.

When we got to Hallie & Matt’s I immediately spilled the beans and she excitedly jumped up and down with hugs all around. George then said, “I’ve been lying to you all day,” and from the other room in walked Torey and our great friend Sam! That’s when I was really thankful for the waterproof mascara because I started crying. Like really crying.


The rest of the night was a blur of best friends and champagne and tacos. A more perfect day than I could have dreamed, and it taught me, once again, not to try to anticipate George’s surprises. He’ll pull one over on me every time.