I will always remember February 24. I’m writing this on February 25. I don’t know when I will actually post this, but I want to make sure I capture it while it’s most fresh in mind.
Though I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
I was getting ready for bed and Dave still had some work to do for a presentation. As I was clearing off the bed, putting some laundry away, Dave called from the hallway and asked if I wanted to see what he had gotten for his birthday, which was just the day before.
Confused, I walked out, thinking he was going to pull out some chocolate for us to share. I have no idea why I thought that was what he wanted for his birthday, but that’s what I was expecting.
As I walked up to him, he pulled me to him so we were both facing the jig-saw puzzle mirror in the hall.
“I got you. For my birthday. Forever.”
Puzzled, I looked at him at the mirror, and then just assumed he was being sweet; he would often tell me how much he loved me for going on this crazy, back-to-school adventure with him. Lately we’d had a helluva time dealing with the (ever-changing) timeframe of his program in Italy and how the Italian professors seemingly couldn’t get on the same page. I knew he was ready to be done with school and get on with our “adult lives,” as we called it.
So I just assumed he was being sweet.
But then I turned around to look at him face to face, and he pulled out a paper box and told me he couldn’t imagine spending his life with anyone else…
Truthfully, the rest is a bit blurry. I heard the words, “will you marry me” through his sure-yet-nervous voice (as if he didn’t know the answer-ha!), and his voice telling something about me saying yes would be his birthday present, as he lifted the lid of a folded paper box and inside was a perfect paper ring.
I was still in a bit of shock (I still am, as I write this), so he took it out of the box for me and handed it to me so I could slip it on my finger.
It fit perfectly.
Then he told me that, because we’re a team, he wanted us to pick out a real ring together. But he did, however, want the proposal to be a surprise. I just kept hugging him tightly in the hallway and kissing him between bouts of crying happy tears.
He said he’d planned to ask me on the night of his actual birthday, the day before, and how he’d cooked up this plan before we’d even arrived in Italy, but on Sunday…his actual birthday, our evening was interrupted by police activity on our street. And since there is nothing romantic about dead bodies outside your balcony (talk about a buzz kill), he’d held off.
Then he told me he’d been working on that paper ring and box for weeks, until he got it just how he wanted. It had been hidden in some cabinets in our apartment and I never even knew! He’d work on it in the early mornings before school, while I was still asleep…watching YouTube videos on origami and making different versions to get both the ring and the box just right.
Since I couldn’t seem to stop the tears from streaming down my face, he got me a box of tissues and we sat down on the couch so he could show me his ring research and what he had in mind for me, but had wanted me to see to ensure it was something I would love.
We agreed to hold off on telling our families, because unbeknownst to us, my brother was also planning a February proposal and it was just the week before. With everyone still celebrating that, and since my parents would be coming in April, it would give us plenty of time to find a (non-paper) ring.
But I still love my original ring.
I love that he bought colored markers to try and color it in and that he searched all over Udine for nicer paper (to no avail, because he learned that “paper stores” are more like toy stores. Weird.)
I love that he thought up this plan for over two months.
I love the whole story.
I love that it’s perfectly us.
I’m going to go practice doodling my name with his last name now. Because I can. Because that will be my name now. And I can tell our kids what a sweet and perfect proposal their dad and I had…when we lived in Italy, without a lot of money, the day after his birthday, in 2014.