Sunday, May 17, 2015

how to surprise a girl who pays attention to everything

Step 1: Talk about marriage and kids, but never give any specific timeline.
Step 2: Go ring shopping. Identify Jaclyn’s favorite ring, but then remind her not to get too attached to one ring.
Step 3: Don’t bring up rings again for a long time. If Jaclyn brings them up, say you haven’t had time to look into it. She knows how thorough you like your research to be.
Step 4: When Jaclyn brings up getting engaged, don’t reply with any specific details.
Step 5: Send Jaclyn to a jeweler and let her keep ring shopping.
Step 6: All the while, be making plans and buy Jaclyn’s favorite ring. Wait for over seven weeks for the perfect diamond to be cut in India, sent to Hawaii for initial inspection, then appraised in New York, be sent back to Hawaii to finally make the ring, and pick it up in California.
Step 7: Ask Jaclyn’s dad without Jaclyn catching on that you are going to see him.
Step 8: Ask Jaclyn if she wants to go to lunch in Carmel and plan to tour Robinson Jeffers’ house.
Step 9: Keep Jaclyn from leaning against your coat pocket and from noticing that silly tour guide winking so often at you.
Step 10: Ask that once-in-a-lifetime question and watch Jaclyn make that face that apparently all girls make when they are being proposed to. 

"Will you marry me?"

This story doesn’t really end with the question of “Will you marry me?” – instead that feels like the beginning, the beginning of an adventure that I have dreamed of for a very long time. But for the sake of containing this in one entry, let’s back up just a little bit….

Seth and I were on our way down to San Luis Obispo for a quick weekend trip to watch my friend Maria run a marathon. Maria and I have run half marathons together over the past few years, and while I had no intention of joining her in twice the insanity, we wanted to cheer her on as she took on the infamous 26.2 miles in one of our favorite places. Seth asked a couple weeks before we were supposed to go down to SLO if I would like to get lunch in Carmel on the way down.  Of course the answer was yes, and since we had stopped off in Carmel on previous trips down the coast, I didn’t think anything of it.

Seth had picked out this adorable French bakery called Lafayette. We ate simple baguette sandwiches that had just a little ham and butter on them. We sampled delicious French pastries, bought a few extra things for the road, and were on our way. As we were driving through Carmel, I noticed Seth’s’ GPS was set for a local destination. Surprised since I thought we were getting back on our way to San Luis, I asked him where we were going. “Oh, did I not tell you?” he says. “We’re going to tour Tor House.” Grinning hugely, he apologized and said that things had been so busy at work he had forgotten to tell me and that we didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to (what if I had said I didn’t want to? J). I naturally said that we could do that. He had planted the idea of the house weeks before, and since my sweetheart is an architect, and we both love Carmel, touring a nice home in the area seemed like a fun excursion.

We pulled up to Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House on the edge of Scenic Drive overlooking the ocean, and my first comment was that it looked like England. Seth had chosen the location for exactly that reason, and he was inwardly thrilled that the house delighted me without even going in. Seth also chose the house because the Jeffers owned a beautiful Steinway piano that famous musicians like George and Ira Gershwin played and also because Jeffers is a famous American poet…that ironically I had never heard of. Still the effort and attention to detail was not lost on me. That said, as we started touring the home and beautiful grounds overlooking the crashing waves, I was still blithely unaware of why we were there.

The real reason this property is so well known is a 40+-foot tower that sits beside the Jeffers’ home. Jeffers’ wife loved the towers she had seen in the British Isles, and so Jeffers built her one, painstakingly placing each stone himself. There were two top levels that people on the tour could climb to. I suggested we let a few of the other tour members go ahead of us not knowing how large the topmost lookout would be. We clambered up after them clinging a bit too tightly to the precarious stones and chain "railing". The second we got up there I took out my phone and hurriedly took pictures of the grounds below and pulled Seth in for a quick photo, since we were expressly told that we were not allowed to take photos on the tour. The view was breathtaking. It was hard to imagine that the Jeffers family had once owned, not just the two parcels of land that their home now sits on, but thirty-two parcels of the stunning Carmel coastline.

When we came back down, the tour guide asked, “anything special up there?” Again, completely unaware, I replied, “Yes – so beautiful.” I thought her comment was a little bit strange, but didn’t think of it again (clearly she was aware of why we were there). She finished her short commentary on the tower and the home, and then Seth asked if we could go back up for a minute. I thought he wanted to take another picture since our first attempt wasn’t great. When we got to the top, we stood there a moment looking out over the view. Seth with his arm around me looked at me and said some really sweet things, the most important of which included a heartfelt “I love you”, and gave me one of those kisses that makes you inwardly sigh because you’re just so happy.

And then my sweet Mr. Mann knelt down, pulled out and opened a ring box, and said, “I have another question for you.” He hadn’t asked a first question, but I finally saw where this was going. I said, “Are you kidding me?” not so much because I thought it was a joke, but because I was so surprised. Seth said he’d like to spend time and eternity with me. I said yes before he’d even gotten to the question. I repeated that yes, when Seth asked, “Will you marry me?” And I will continue saying yes every day forever.
April 25, 2015