"Will you marry me?"
Four small words, yet with amazing power to change the course of two lives forever...
And for my children, who right now in life love to sit at the dinner table and ask Ian and I to tell them stories. Stories of when we were younger, stories of when we first met, stories of when we got married, stories of when we met them...here is the story of our proposal.
We met in the summer of 1996 as camp counselors for Carolina Cross Connection. What began as a cordial friendship developed into something more and at the end of the summer, before he headed off to his engineering job up in Maryland and I stayed at my teaching job in NC, he stayed local for a week so we could go on a few "trial dates."
The first of those dates, on August 8, 2006, was to road trip back up near camp, grab burgers and chocolate malts, go visit one of the delightful older gentlemen we had worked for that summer, and then catch the sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway...specifically the Grandview Overlook of the parkway.
Fast forward two years. After faithfully visiting each other at least twice a month (and accruing enough frequent flier miles through US Airways e-savers program to for both of us to fly first class on our honeymoon) and paying more in phone bills than I may have for food, the weekend of our second anniversary of dating arrived.
Ian had come down to see me and on that day ~ a Saturday ~ he decided we should recreate most of our first date. So back to the parkway we headed. After burgers and malts, we started the rest of the drive to find the overlook.
Shortly before we got onto the parkway, we passed a little wedding chapel on the side of the road. Oblivious to all he had planned that day, I jokingly said, "Hey, with today being our two year anniversary, we should just pull in there and get married. Wouldn't that surprise a lot of our family?" In the moment, his white knuckled reaction seemed a little odd, but looking back and realizing he thought I had figured out his surprise, it all makes sense.
Then just as we began to pull onto the exit for the parkway, it began to rain. Realizing that visibility would be down if the clouds stayed and not really wanting to get wet, I suggested that we bail on the end of the day and just head back. But my eternal optimist had confidence that the rain would quickly blow over and politely. but firmly, indicated that we'd be continuing on.
Sure enough the rain did slow, and after driving the wrong way for several miles we eventually found Grandview Overlook, our overlook. Thoughtful as ever, Ian had a bottle of our favorite chianti, two wine glasses and some snacks and so we sat on a picnic blanket to enjoy the moment together.
We had been the only two at the overlook for nearly an hour, but just as he was putting everything back into the car...and taking forever fiddling with something...two more cars pulled up. Again, looking back it makes total sense, but in the moment I couldn't quite figure out why my "nobody is a stranger" boyfriend seemed so distressed that other people had arrived at our overlook just before we left.
And then he took both of my hands, looked me in the eye and began to tell me how much our relationship meant to him. Next, in slow motion I'm quite sure, he dropped to one knee and asked me those four little words..."Will you marry me?"
I think I knew it was coming, but I really didn't expect it that day. We had discussed that he'd move to NC and we'd date like normal people for a few months before he ever popped the question. But there he was, still living in Maryland yet down on one knee, and I was in disbelief that the moment was really here.
So I gave the "classy" response of "Is this real?," meaning of course was the moment real but Ian heard an entirely different question and responded, "It cost a pretty penny, I sure hope it's real."
That snapped me out of my daydream state and I gushed out that yes, of course I'd marry him. Thankfully he has a sense of humor and decided to let the "real" question go...well, to overlook it, not so much to forget it. It's something we still laugh about today.
And those cars that pulled up just before the big moment? Turns out we're glad they were there. Because they came over, congratulated us and offered to take our picture if Ian wanted to recreate the moment. And so we have this...
taken just moments after he said, "will you?" and I said "Yes!"