It's all I have to bring today –This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
Emily Dickinson, #26
"Are you awake?" Gregg whispered.
"Mmm," I mumbled.
"Wanna go see the sunrise?"
"Okay." I looked at the clock: 5:15 am. I rolled out of bed, twisted my hair up in a clip, pulled on my favorite pink Patagonia shirt, and grabbed my glasses, camera, and phone.
By 5:30, we were driving the two minute route down to sunburn beach (called so in memory of our fourth date when we got lost in conversation and forgot to reapply sunscreen). The light was dim, an almost colorless pastel, with blue-grey clouds popping over the lake.
"I think it's going to be good," Gregg said, an undercurrent of doubt in his words.
"It won't rise until 5:45, according to the weather channel," I added, ever optimistic.
We waited, cameras poised, until we saw a hot pink ball slip slowly above the horizon, huge and magnificent. It plied its way through the low lying clouds and ascended, turning golden the higher it rose.
I sat on a big white boulder, wrapped in a beach towel from Gregg's car. I was half asleep, waiting to go home and snuggle back into bed and delicious sleep.
Gregg reached for my hand and pulled me up. We walked along the shore, and then he led me into the water. It was right on the edge of chilly and warm, still, lapping our calves.
"In light of our conversation last night..." Gregg started and I looked confused, as he began to lower one knee into the water. (last night's conversation about weddings and marriage and such was provoked by the film Sweet Home Alabama, which I love, and which was on cable TV).
I looked at him with some degree of disbelief, which I come by naturally, readers, since he has assumed this position at least twice before to ask me questions as awesome as "Will you write a monthly food column with me?" and as mundane as "will you go to the movies with me?"
He reached in his pocket, and suddenly he was holding a shiny, shimmery, sparkly ring that looked an awful lot like the one I tried on in Douglas, Michigan a few weeks ago.
Neither of us can remember his exact words, filled with love and the desire to share the rest of our lifetimes together, but we both remember the all important question: will you marry me?
"Yes, of course!" I replied, stunned and utterly surprised and all of the sudden waking up from my half-sleep. This is really happening! I can't believe this is really happening!
Gregg slid the ring on my finger and I gazed at him in wonder as I giggled and said silly things like "We're engaged!" and "You're my fiancé!"
We reveled in the moment, alone on the beach, feeling that our lives were both different and the same all at once. We drove home and waited a little while to call our parents. I brewed coffee, which Gregg actually drank (he has a policy that he generally only drinks straight-up coffee on holidays. I noted that this was definitely a special day, if not technically a holiday).
As we woke up, we decided to treat ourselves to a lovely, long brunch at the American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, something we've also put in the "special occasion only" category. On our drive to the restaurant, I called more family and friends to share the news. "I'm engaged!" "We're engaged!" The words formed in my mouth as they took shape in my head. I stared at my finger, at this gorgeous, sparkly vintage 1920's ring from the town where I was born, and loved the symbolism on so many layers. What an amazing gift from my best friend, who I now call fiancé and will (relatively) soon call husband (we're working on dates and plans).
I don't have a ring to offer him (though an engagement gift is in the works), so for today I offer up the Emily Dickinson poem that starts this post. I share myself, I share the world, I share forever. I love you, Gregg.