The rings FINALLY came in from Germany... just four weeks late. Ingrid (the jeweler) called me on Monday and said she they had been shipped from the artisan and she would track them daily. She was certain they would be here by the end of the week. I took this as a sign that it's "go time" and made plans for everyone involved.
I told Lance that my coworker, another Navy LT at Walter Reed, was getting engaged to his girlfriend and asked Lance to take photos of the proposal.
Looking back, I cannot believe I did not catch on. At this point of the journey, I was super excited to take engagement pictures! (Which I'm still wanting to take... *hint-hint*) I immediately wanted to know details, but Kyle said this was a surprise photo shoot, so there wasn't much to plan.
The only plan was to meet up near the Capitol Building. The cover story was that this is where Joseph was going to propose because... he's into government stuff? I don't know... But the real story for us was that this is one of the first places we took a picture on our first visit to DC when I was interviewing with the Navy at Walter Reed. Also, in designing our Christmas Card for 2013, Lance and I couldn't decide between a greeting of "Barack-in' Around the Christmas Tree" (which was ultimately the decision) and "Happy Holidays with a 'Capitol' H!" Not being one who can let go of anything... I decided this was an opportunity to say, "I love you with a 'Capitol' L!" :)
The majority of the events happened Friday evening into Saturday. Lance had to work all day on Saturday, so I made final arrangements for "Joseph's proposal photo shoot" and then told Lance that everyone was gathering at our place after the event to celebrate. Somehow, I had to explain the mass amounts of food, drinks, and ESPECIALLY the Georgetown Cupcakes.
Okay, I know what you're thinking... REALLY?! How could I have possibly not known?! Kyle told me that the celebration was going to be held at our apartment, and that people brought food while I was away at work. I would never question cupcakes...
Saturday morning was really a blur. I forced myself into working out and yoga to cool the nerves, then ran errands all over town to get things set. It was really hard not to eat the cupcakes when I picked them up... but I resisted! Lance finally got off work at 17:00.
After fighting off an abundance of entitled middle schoolers for "Frappuccino Happy Hour," I was ready to get home so that I could get ready for the surprise photo shoot! I normally call my parents when I'm driving home, so that I can keep them updated on how everything is going. However, since I was running late, covered in an array of Starbuck's syrups, and hitting every red light imaginable, I did not call them. (Lucky me. My mom CANNOT keep a secret!)
While Lance was finishing his hair (looking that good barely takes any time... but it's still an art!), I stowed away a small Bluetooth speaker in his camera bag and hid his phone (making him think he lost it... again) so he couldn't follow the barrage of social media events that would have spoiled the surprise. The speaker was so I could play our song, "A Thousand Years," as we started to approach our group of friends and hopefully he started understanding that Joseph's proposal pictures were actually Lance's proposal pictures.
Finally, we were packed up and headed toward the Capitol building. As the official proposal events was set into motion, a series of small, yet hilarious, mishaps unfolded. First, right when we left the apartment, the speaker started to play our song! I was so nervous he was going to start connecting the dots. When I talked to Lance's mom to tell her that I was planning on asking him to marry me, she said I had better be careful with secrets. Lance could always shake a Christmas present and throw it down, saying, "It's a shirt. With a necklace." Needless to say, I thought my surprise was ruined.
As he seemingly knew nothing, we started heading for the Metro train to take us into the city. If you've never ridden the DC subway system, just know that it's great and fairly efficient... during the week. On the weekends, trains run about every 15 minutes and there are often outages to repair the tracks. As we approached the station, a train pulled in. We would likely just miss it. Not wanting to be late, Lance and I sprinted and just made it in the doors! Right behind us were three people who got caught in the doors and never made it on the the train. Those three people... Lance's coworkers from Starbucks who were supposed to be at the Capitol waiting for us! I freaked, thinking FOR SURE the surprise was ruined.
When we finally got off the train, the third and final, but probably funniest mishap occurred. Kim, the ever-so-important holder-of-the-rings, had been texting me trying to figure out what train we were on because she figured she had boarded the same one and didn't want to run into us, which might have given away the surprise. Sure enough, as soon as Lance and I hopped off the train, there was Kim, Sarah, and her husband, 10 feet in front of us. Both groups did swift about-faces. Lance and I headed for the escalator. Kim and the other two headed for... a dead end. Oh well, I would leave that for them to figure out. I looked at Lance for an expression to tell me he had put it all together, but nope! Nothing. He didn't even see them. Thank God for blindness!
In the words of one of my coworkers, my big eyes are useless! I STILL didn't piece it all together, I thought my coworkers were just hanging out and enjoying a festival that was happening in the Rockville Town Square.
When we finally got off the ever-so-lovely metro, it was pouring rain! No umbrella, no hat for my hair, and we both were wearing white! (We've all been in that situation before, ha!) Luckily, the rain quickly passed and the weather instantly became perfect! The haze from the city was gone, the light was almost golden, and even a rainbow made an appearance at the location of the proposal! The "camera crew" was thoroughly surprised by the rainbow. We, on the other hand, chalked it up to just one of the many "signs" we have seen in the past years that we believe have been God revealing to us His will for us to be together.
Yay for Little Signs :)
Since our friends apparently got on the same train as us, Kyle stalled by taking a quick detour through the city. I kept telling him, "let's hurry and go to the meet-up spot so that I can scout out the location!" (Accompanied by me telling Kyle how perfect the lighting was for photos for about the 1000th time!)
FINALLY, Kim-Sarah-and-crew texted me and told me everyone was ready and waiting at the Capitol. The weather was beautiful, Lance was excited to practice his art, and I was excited to get engaged. It was time!
As Lance made eye contact with my coworkers... and then his coworkers... I think it began to sink in. I started playing the music from his backpack, and grabbed his hand, and we walked up to the monument. I started to tear up, and it's all I could do to turn and hug the man I love, who I look to for strength and security.
When approaching the capital building, I thought that I saw a couple Navy folk, but since Kyle assured me that everyone was going to wear their whites, I did not make the connection. Then, I noticed Kyle had turned on a speaker that he hid in my photography bag. This was the "Ah-ha!" moment that made me realize what was really happening to me and I wouldn't be taking anyone's pictures! (But seriously, if anyone wants some engagement photos done...)
I was so shocked, the only thing I could keep saying was "Aww. You little snake!" Over. And over. And over...
FINALLY the deed was being done, and I couldn't even move. Despite the barrage of flashes, it seemed like the world had stopped turning and it was just Kyle and me. Teary eyes locked, smiling from ear to ear, WE WERE ENGAGED!
Afterwards, we gathered back at our apartment in Rockville to celebrate. Food from our two favorite places on our square, Lebanese Taverna and Bonchon Korean Chicken (we're really multicultural!) fed our hunger, and North Carolina moonshine, Tennessee whiskey, and sailor rum gladdened our hearts. We had a great time with all of our friends, and couldn't imagine being more blessed.
Thank you, everyone, for the love and support. We feel so encouraged.
I love you this much!