Monday, November 23, 2009

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

I knew there was something going on in my household.

It all started so innocently. Scott was texting a friend out in AZ, and I asked what he was typing so much about (it sounded like paragraph after paragraph from the clicks). He gave me a wry smile and a "none of your business" response. I was not going to take that kind of talk lying down (though we were in bed at the time, so I guess I did kinda). He elaborated only that it was "about me" and that it was "all good." I was perturbed, but at least it didn't sound BAD.

The next hint was a week or so later, when Scott's mother took us upstairs to look at her mother's jewelry. Into his hands she pushed several diamond laden rings and necklaces, giving him knowing looks and smiling alot (though she smiles alot anyway, so maybe that didn't mean anything).

At this point, I knew Something Was Up.

"Okay." I thought. "He's gearing up to give me some kind of fancy jewelry for Christmas." Nevermind that I don't wear alot of jewelry and never really expressed any interest in the stuff, but whatever. It's the thought that counts right?

But it could be for something else...something more permanent. My mind started racing in circles like a little rat wheel. Is he going to go for it? After all this time, is this it? Around and around, for days I thought, living in anticipation of the moment he might spring.

For me, being in control of everything in my life is not a huge deal. I'm easy, mostly able to go with the flow. Is everyone happy and comfortable? Then so am I. However, I do make a point to be "in the know" when it comes to what's going to happen in the near future. Are we going to a new movie this weekend? I want to be informed. Are we throwing a surprise party for a friend? Please don't tell me this a day before the event. Being able to plan and maximize everyone's enjoyment is something I really like, nay, need.

So after a couple of days, the suspense was figuratively killing me. What is he going to do? When is this thing happening? Where? I wanted to look nice, to know what to say, how to say it. But you can't plan something that's supposed to be a surprise to YOU. So I stewed.

There was one thing I wanted, and that was for it to not be a big deal. In fact, if it could be just us, that would be perfect. None of this flashy "you're on the jumbo-tron!" crap. And every time I thought about it, one place came to mind.

The Assabet NWR, a beautiful piece of conserved land. Back during WWII, it was owned by Fort Devens and used to store ammunition. Because of this, the land not only has sprawling marshes teeming with wild life, but also massive bunkers built into the landscape. The bunkers are huge, but they are so overgrown with moss, grass, and trees that you could walk within 10 feet of one and not know it. There's other evidence of human activity spotted around, and even though we've crossed the property several times, we always find something new.

I love this place. And I feel close to Scott when we're there. The best parts of him come out. His patience, his love of nature, his stillness. The place is quiet and few come there, especially during this time of year.

So I started suggesting that we go, that we see what the changing of the seasons and recent rain activity had uncovered, that I loved going there with him. So he said we'll go on Saturday.

I wasn't expecting anything to happen. I thought it was a nice place to be with him, just us. And I thought maybe, in the future, he would remember it was that way and take me back there. So I dressed as I always would, in a dumpy sweatshirt and crap-pants in case I fell in some mud (as I was wont to do).

It was morning and the place was cool, and we walked the trail down to the marsh area. It was partly flooded and we had to step gingerly around the new little rivers that were forming. There were hawks and ducks and mergansers and geese in the marshes. We walked while they fussed quietly and the day heated up. Eventually we began walking between the paths, stepping in areas that had not felt human feet for months. After a while, we came upon a new bunker, almost missing its dark and silent frame. It had no number, and the most interesting thing was the tree next to it that had absorbed a bittersweet vine, making the trunk look like a corkscrew. Pushing on, we came to a different smaller trail, and an official notice saying certain parts of the conserve were closed to hikers while they constructed a new visitors center. No problem, we weren't really near those areas, but it was Scott who spotted something strange in the trees beyond.

At first I thought it was some discarded bit of construction equipment, but a closer look showed it to be the scaffolding for some tower, only incomplete and fallen over from rot at its base. Despite the obvious age, it was still bright red like it had been painted yesterday.

“It’s probably something they forgot to clean up from when this was a base.” Scott said, switching out his far sighted lens for the short one.

“That is so cool.” I love seeing old structures overgrown by nature, thus my fascination with the bunkers. Scott snapped a few pics while I inspected the remains. The metal on the legs connecting it to the ground was rusted completely over and cracking. It was short, only 5 feet or so, and looked like there was more at one point, but it had decomposed. It was amazing to see, to wonder who had built it and why, fifty odd years ago, they never came back for it.

I stepped back next to him, smiling, happy with our find. Happy in this quiet place, bare branches above our heads, brown leaves below under our feet.

His hand moved fast. Before I could comprehend it, there was a white box open in front of me, and a diamond ring glinting in the soft light. I couldn't believe it, everything that I had thought about and had been building inside me for so long, my mind shut down from the shock of staring at it. But I was looking at him when he asked me.

There were a few seconds where I was having trouble understanding his words. Agonizing for him, but my brain needed to hard reboot. Finally I took the box and croaked out “With all my heart.” I then burst into tears.

I'm ecstatic. My journey with him has been such a fairy-tale, from being highschool sweethearts to finding each other again at the end of college. But rather than seeing this as my Happily-Ever-After, I'd rather it be my "Once upon a time..."

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