At the beginning of June, David and I were up in the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez area for our friend Monica & Jeff’s 40th Birthday celebration. Early Saturday morning, we drove up the coast to the Bacara Resort where we boarded a shuttle that took us around wine country for the day. In my opinion, David was acting strange. I didn’t know why but he just seemed jumpy and he would disappear and walk off with people. I was perplexed, wondering what this was about. I never ever even for a minute suspected that he was excited and showing my engagement ring to 16 people one by one and telling them of his plan to propose that afternoon.
I was getting more and more tired as the day and wine wore on. The food at lunch was great, but filling. All I wanted when we got back to the Bacara was to take a nap. I was counting every minute I’d have between our wine tasting adventure and the dinner reservation, calculating how much sleep and how much shower/prep time I could fit in.
David, of course, had other plans for our afternoon. He kept asking me to go for a walk, and I kept refusing him explaining that a nap was my first priority. We had been using our Fitbit pedometers and trying to walk a lot each day, so I thought that this was simply a request to get a workout in before dinner. I wasn’t interested and with each time he asked to go for a walk, no matter how creative his approach, I shut him down. It went something like this:
David: “Hey honey, when we get back to the hotel, I’d love for us to take a walk on the beach.”
Me: “No, I don’t want to. I want to take a nap. I’m so tired.”
David: “Just 10 minutes on the beach? Come on honey, it’d mean a lot to me.”
Me: “Why don’t you go for a walk. I’m going to take a nap. I don’t mind if you without me.”
David: “No, I want you to come with me.”
Me: “Seriously, what is the deal!? I really want to take a nap. I’m going to melt down if I don’t rest and I only have an hour to recharge.”
David: “Okay, fine.”
Poor guy. Here we are in a beautiful spot right on the water and his simple and sweet request to go for a walk was last thing that I was willing to do. Not to mention, he’s now announced his plan to propose on the beach to 12 people who are expecting to celebrate with us over dinner (In case you’re wondering, he had asked our birthday friends a week prior if they thought it would be okay and they were thrilled to share the weekend with our engagement.)
I took a nap. I took a long shower. David texted with my friend for help trying to get me out of the room, who texted me about coming downstairs for a “group photo.” I ignored my phone and all texts coming in. I wasn’t going to let anything get between me and my nap.
As we walked across the parking lot on our way to meet the group for dinner, David said “Kristie, we need to go look at the sunset over this beach. I heard that it’s one of the best sunset spots in the area.”
Reluctant, afraid we’d be late, I gave in and followed him. He’d been so insistent about looking at the beach, I was tired of fighting against him. I walked out, looked at the beach, and said something like “cool” and “there’s the beach, babe! Pretty.” (not one of my proudest moments)
When I turned around, David was on his knee. I gasped, covered my hands over my open and gaping mouth. I said, “Oh honey, WHAT!!? Seriously!!? OH no!! I’m sorry!!! The walk…”
David said, “Kristie will you marry me?”
I kept apolgizing and saying “Is this happening!!? How did you get the ring so fast?? I’m so confused…”
He said, “Just say ‘yes’!”
Happily, tearfully, joyfully, wholeheartedly I said “yes.”
Within moments, we were standing in the hotel lobby and I was amidst 12 squealing people, taking pictures. I couldn’t grasp in my post-nap-groggy-head what had just happened. We went back and celebrated with our friends over a beautiful dinner in Santa Barbara at Bouchon. I tried to let it sink in, “I was engaged…” I was so extremely tired that I felt out of my body. I was overwhelmed by the crowd and knew that my tears didn’t look happy, even though getting engaged to David was absolutely what I wanted and had been waiting for for a few months. For a few reasons, I just didn’t think that it was happening this particular weekend.
I was tired and moody. I had imagined a quieter moment. Here I was with my friends, my man, my favorite place, at a gorgeous resort on the beach…it should have been perfect, but I needed a nap. I’m kinda glad the story is imperfect, because it is funnier and more authentic to our lives. Don’t get me wrong, if we could both rewind that day, I would have cheerfully gone for a walk as David requested. If David could rewind it, he would have waited for another time when I was less tired. We’ve concluded this: it’s about being engaged, not getting engaged. In our prom princess culture, we’ve built up impractical ideas that romance is always flawless and perfect. There are flawless and perfect moments, but I find they’re usually the ones that come to us unplanned. Some engagement stories go off perfectly like the movies, others simply don’t. As I’ve shared honestly our story with some of my friends I’ve heard the real version of their engagements too. In the past I’d heard the polished up version, “on the beach at sunset!” which in one story translated to, “I had heels on and did not want to walk on the beach, there were kids and people everywhere, it was awkward and he had been fighting because he was acting strange all day…we weren’t in sync and I didn’t realize he was just super anxious…” as one friend candidly shared.
Love isn’t tidy, it isn’t easy, and it isn’t perfect…it’s real, deep and wonderful. We’re becoming new versions of ourselves and also accepting who we already are. If I told you the story in person you’d laugh at me for not going on a walk and you’d cheer for David, feeling the angst of his frustration and persistence as he longed to coach me away from a nap and onto the beach. We’d roll our eyes at how stubborn we can be and you’d probably tell me about a time you regretted not “going with the flow.” That’s how the conversation has gone with so many of my friends in the last few months.
The next day, in a quiet moment, David re-propsed to me. He told me all the reasons that he loves me and is grateful that we’ve found each other. It was beautiful and teary and just between us. That was the moment when I really felt engaged. While I liked sharing the news with our friends, doing so right away caused me to feel super overwhelmed. We’re learning about ourselves and learning about each other, just as love does. Love is made perfect when it’s combined with a deep and abiding grace.