I am twenty-one and fresh off the plane from Martha’s Vineyard where I spent a full term away from SPU at a music consortium program, testing my little wings in a music-artist community and planning out my path to stardom as a recording and touring musician. It is December 2004, and I am ready to be home in the northwest and figuring out what I will really be doing with my life going forward. I like to sing, but I’m clearly not cut out for the music business. Maybe I have the talent, but I no longer have the heart, and the dream I’ve held close for twelve years makes an exit. There is something new around the bend.
My boyfriend picks me up at the airport looking like a grizzly mountain man, with a wild beard that deliberately hasn’t been groomed since my departure three months ago, in protest of my absence. I feel genuinely caught off guard when he hugs me and tugs the luggage out of my hands, tossing it in the back of his car right after he opens the door for me. He always opens the door for me. He looks nothing like the clean-shaven guy I left when I took off from Seattle. He promises to shave away his protest when we get back to campus so I will quit looking at him weird.
We board a travel bus to Spokane for a Christmas holiday with his family. While I was away, he wrote me a letter literally every day (hello sappy romantic) and we also talked on the phone nearly every day…for hours. It was ridiculous. I could have probably saved a fair bit of money and heartache by skipping the far-away adventure, but it was a fun wrinkle in our story, and truthfully, it is one of those things I just needed to do.
We sit close in the same bus seat and awkwardly hold hands because it has been so long since we’ve had a long conversation that wasn’t over the telephone. The bus bumbles along and we talk. I tease him, telling him that he should ask me to marry him now that I’m not going to be a rock star. I honestly don’t know that he has the ring in his pocket and plans to ask when the moment is right.
His mom picks us up at the bus station and we head straight for what I’m told will be a spectacular display of christmas lights that I simply must see. The gate is closed and there are no lights, so the plans change and we head to downtown Spokane. I’m oblivious to everything, and all my usual powers of observation are completely absent. Of course.
We park and pile out of the car (his mom and brother and sister) and there is some shuffle and scuffle about where to go next. He wants me to go see the carousel with him across the street in the park, but it is super cold out, and I say maybe we can go inside a store or coffee shop where it is warmer?
He insists we go, so we break off from the group to head for the carousel. I start sensing the clues. My hand is slipped into his coat pocket for him to keep it warm and he’s starting to rub my ring finger with his thumb while we walk. He is also walking awkwardly, looking nervously everywhere except the carousel in front of us. Later he tells me he was looking for a place to kneel where there wasn’t goose poop on the ground. He drops to his knee, holds up a dainty little sparkle, and asks me the question. Will I marry him?
I feel instantly everything at once and I just cry. I fall into him and cry hard. He holds my shoulders searches my face and waits for an answer that doesn’t come until he asks out loud, is that a yes? I nod because I can’t say anything, and he breathes out the biggest sigh of relief. Yes. I said yes.
Ten years ago this month. I said yes.
Then: Taken the day after he proposed to me. December 2004
Now: One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 49/52 This is (most of) us in pajamas.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
491. ten years of yes, 492. new recycling can on the way, 493. a child’s generous heart, 494. elderly folks we visited who smiled and sang along to our carols, 495. sewing project happiness, 496. late night conversations, 497. tucking in sweet children, 498. voices that inspire and challenge, 499. peace that surprises me, every day, 500. kids singing along to songs on commercials