Almost two months ago I proposed to my girlfriend. And while I was excited to plan this moment for the woman I loved the most, once I realized how much work was ahead of me, I became obsessed with the logistics.
I wanted the ring to feel as unique and special to her as she is to me. I wanted to take her away to a place specific to our relationship, the exact spot to reflect the gravitas of the moment. There were so many details to figure out, in secret, without accidentally ruining the surprise.
It wasn’t until all the moving pieces were locked down, I could even begin to think about what I wanted to say.
Suddenly all of my words felt useless. They sounded trite or inane. How could I encapsulate everything I felt for her and everything she made me feel about myself into a collection of sentences? I aspired repeatedly for Longfellow and kept ending up with “Me love you big much.”
I settled on my disbelief, the emotion I feel most often when I think about the abundance in my life. It carried me through, pulled words from my mind and anchored them to the page. It felt inadequate but at least admirably so.
As the moment came closer I became very aware it would not initiate itself. All the pieces were in place, the work done. I simply had to begin.
I tried to slow down time. To remember what I wanted to say and still be present in the moment. To take note of the weather, the view and the look on her face. Inertia carried me through the four minutes it took to change our lives. It felt surreal. Like some sort of cosmological wormhole where my senses felt inside out.
I took a knee. She said yes. I put the ring on her finger. Everything heightened. Everything expanded. The hours following were flush with love, swollen hearts, and emotions so intense we could only giggle in disbelief. We called family. We dined. We drank. Eventually, we slept.
And the next morning, everything began, very much barely, to make sense to me.
All the planning had felt like I was being pulled through the process. Not aggressively but gently. Rolling down the slightest decline. Never accelerating just approaching with a constant momentum.
The morning after I proposed, however, had no feeling of momentum. It was an immersion that made everything real. Not a date in my calendar or a series of tasks that needed to be checked off. My body and brain began to comprehend the overwhelming nature of what we now were.
Each of the following 4 days we spent alone together were raw and free. Realizations held at bay for many months swallowed me whole repeatedly. Now, seeing my partner as my fiancé, felt infinite.
We began using a new language, telling our story to strangers. To the couple sharing our table at the Bed & Breakfast, to anybody we met at a bar, trying on this new identity of the engaged couple.
It didn’t feel like a mantle we were suddenly parading around under, foreign or detached. I saw this woman, whom I had spent so much time recently considering, in the fullest light.
What became even clearer as we returned back home to celebrate with family and friends, was just how rare the days following our engagement were. People kept mentioning to us how awesome it was we were able to celebrate together, away, by ourselves for even a short time.
Far from home, we were able to just love, laugh, cry, and be whelmed in the company of the only other person who truly understood the moment. Our already expressive love received a hyperbolic injection of emotion. A oneness.
It is a oneness I know will be challenged in the future. Even as we delay discussing our wedding, I am aware of how unwieldy the whole planning process seems. The spectacle. The expense. The stress.
And that disparity makes me love being engaged, and how we got engaged, even more. I did not anticipate how I would feel, but my body still vibrates thinking about it. I do not know when the memory will fade.
I hope it never does.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community.