I know nobody’s asked, but I did want to post how Neil proposed – both because it’s adorable and I’d like to have it recorded for blog posterity, and because when I start posting the inevitable adventures in wedding planning, some of the plans will have more context for anyone who’s following along at home.
I’m posting this in two parts, because both are pretty long. Read Part the Second here.
It will probably come as a bit of a surprise to most that we’ve actually been engaged since May 20th (or 21st – depending on which timezone you were in…).
You see, we knew amost from the moment we met that there was something awfully special going on. We were both dancing around the issue, talking about ideal weddings and hypothetical children, leaving the elephant firmly entrenched in the room by not quite saying we wanted those things with eachother. Neil had also flat-out asked how formal a proposal I wanted. We knew. It was only a matter of time.
Fast forward a few weeks, and we found ourselves in Korea, very near the end of our travelling rope.
We’d spent 10 hours in the car – not quite hopelessly lost, but lost enough to just be pointing the car in what we hoped was the right direction, as we barreled through the South Korean countryside, trying to just get to the West Coast already, preferably before sunset.
The highway signs in rural Korea are abysmal. The map we had didn’t agree with them. The laptop containing iTunes and blasting out a soundtrack to at least distract us a little, was dead. And the only person in the car who could read Korean well enough to decipher the signage as we flew past the signs has (sorry Hannah) a serious left/right deficiency, enough to compromise her navigational skills all the way down into useless range.
The inevitable happened: the three of us devolved into screaming obscenities at eachother, and Neil pitched a fit and threw the map out the car window. That did offer Hannah and I an excuse to laugh maniacally at him for a few moments – but ultimately we spent the next couple hours in the car driving in stony silence.
Having long since missed sunset, we arrived at Daechon Beach, pulled into the first hotel we saw, and sulked off to our rooms. After recharging for an hour or so, we emerged and embarked on to what Neil and I still agree was the best night of the trip.
Daechon Beach, like many oceanside towns in South Korea, is lined with seafood tents. Under a huge awning are oil drums surrounded by plastic chairs. Over the drums are giant grates, and inside is a charcoal fire. The thing to do is park yourself at one of these, and the staff bring a bucket seafood from the live shellfish tanks out front, then dump it on the grate. Armed with only a thermal glove, a pair of tongs and some chopsticks, your mission is to wait for the tasty mollusks to sizzle their way to cooked, rip them out of their tiny, shelly homes and devour them – preferably dipped in some sweet-hot chili sauce and chased with lots of soju. It was novel, it was fun, it was DAMN tasty. And we soon put the earlier part of the day out of our heads.
After dinner, the thing to do is head down to the beach, newly stocked up with fresh bottles of soju, and buy fireworks off of one of the many vendors lining the boardwalk to make your own light show. And did we ever! We drank, we shot off geysers of gunpowder, we ran barefoot through the sand and surf. It was a moment of silly, exuberant, unrestrained, energetic fun.
And, in a soju induced haze of bliss as we stumbled back toward the street, I said “If we get married, I want it to be beautiful with the beach and fireworks and fun and love, just like this…”
As if enough sparks hadn’t been lit that night – I started one more.
We got back to our hotel room, drowsy and content, crawled under the covers and snuggled up.
And with the rainbow of neon from the boardwalk shining in and the sparkles of fireworks still going off at the beach outside our window, Neil said “Baby, I don’t know if the timing is right, and I know you want a ring, but I also know I love you so, so much, and can’t hold it in any more – will you marry me?”
And in between all the fireworks going off outside the window, and inside my head and my heart, I managed to get out the words “I absolutely will.”