As of today, I have been engaged for almost 2 months. While my fiancee and I had a great time seeing Seattle, eating its food, and experiencing The International, nothing from our short time in America will prove to be more impactful on our lives than my proposal to Kris. For some men, an engagement is something they meticulously plan down to the minute to give the biggest wow-factor possible. For others, it is a spur-of-the-moment action, forever immortalizing the pure feeling of a moment. For me, it was somewhere in the middle.
Our engagement was, as they say, a long time coming. We had been talking about it casually for years before, and I had a good idea of what I thought Kris would like to have for her engagement story. We had even discussed with her mother, who had offered her ring for me to use in my proposal.
My planning for the engagement began in earnest in April of 2016, a few months before our trip to Seattle. My aunt visited us from South Africa, bearing with her a number of treats that we had missed from home. Unbeknownst to Kristen, she also bore a crucial part of my proposal – her mother’s ring. Whilst she was showering or at work or otherwise indisposed, my aunt gave me the ring, and I hid it away from Kris, hoping to keep it a secret until the time was perfect.
I first hid the ring in a pocket of my laptop bag that I take to work every day. Keeping it on me for most of the time meant that there was no risk that Kris would stumble upon it whilst cleaning or just wandering the house while I wasn’t there. After a few weeks, I began to feel like Frodo, the weight of the ring bearing me down with anxiety. I also thought that I risked losing it myself, so I decided to rather hide it amongst some of the mess in our spare room, buried deep under clothes and bags. And there it lay, biding its time, for months.
Its time would come for certain when, shortly before our holiday, my mother informed me that my brother would be visiting us in Seattle for a weekend. I thought that his presence sealed the deal on an already impressive proposal package: a trip to a new city with many beautiful scenic places to propose, on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, now with a family member present to take photos? I knew that it was a moment the likes of which I would not have again for a long time.
So, I colluded with my brother, telling him of my intentions. His duties were to take photos of the occasion and be his generally charming and bubbly self. He also provided me an excuse for Kris to have to wear a nice dress – my brother is known to suit up on occasion, and I told Kris to bring something fancyish to wear in case he wanted to go somewhere that warranted nicer clothes.
As for the venue, I was not one hundred percent set on the location of the proposal before we arrived in Seattle – I had narrowed it down to a couple of the more accessible and scenic parks, but I hadn’t made up my mind. Luckily for me, this was sorted when Kris was told about a local wine farm at which a friend’s mother worked, and expressed a keen interest to go. I smiled more than I probably should have, and suggested that it be somewhere we take my brother Jamie on his weekend. It was all set.
When the day came, I was perfectly calm. The schedule for the day was simple – we would go on an Underground tour in the morning, and then head to the wine farm in the afternoon. Kris, Jamie and I met up for breakfast at the local corner cafe, ate heartily, and left for the day. As we began the Underground tour, we stopped to take a photo at its start. It was here that we discovered that the memory card for the camera was….not in the camera. A proposal without pictures? That would certainly not go down well. Oh well, the fix was simple – we would head back to the apartment, get the memory card out of the computer (where I had left it after transferring photos from the TI6 press day), and then continue our journeys. Easy.
This was made distinctly less easy when we discovered that we (read: I) had somehow managed to lock the door with the keys still inside, and our host had left to visit his parents for the day. To say that I was freaking out would be akin to saying that sugar might in some way be linked to weight gain. Despite the level of tension within, I couldn’t seem too worried, because at this point, the proposal was still a surprise for Kris. If I completely had a meltdown over not being able to take photos at a seemingly innocuous wine farm, she would think something was up. So, I put on a brave, slightly crazed face, and quickly found a nearby store that sold memory cards. Crisis averted. No need to push the big red button. We got in an Uber and headed to the wine farm.
When we got there, I covertly told my brother to buy some champagne whist we were doing a wine tasting. He had had a rather big night the night before, and wasn’t exactly on speaking terms with alcohol quite yet. So, whilst we were listening to the nice wine hostess tell us about each wine before I nervously gulped it down with little pretense of appreciating it, he did. We finished our tasting, and left the main building. I suggested we take a walk around the grounds – it seemed quite pretty, and I wanted to enjoy greenery before we headed back to the cement forests of Korea. Kris obliged. My hands began to shake noticeably.
We wandered for a while before I spotted a small lake with some beautiful, leafy trees surrounding them. This was the place. There was no better spot on the wine farm. I told Jamie to get the camera out, and ask that Kris take off the bangle from the Underground tour – it wouldn’t look so good in photos, I said. She looked puzzled, but did so. We walked together to the edge of the lake. I breathed in. After a moment of complete and utter terror, I breathed out, looked Kris in the eye, and started a short, impromptu speech. I told her how much I loved her. I told her how happy she made me, in every possible way. I told her how she had helped me find and more readily express who I really am. I told her how she made me want to be a better person – to be more than just a person who forgets the memory card and house keys in the apartment. I may have sworn once out of nervousness. Then, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. She said yes. We drank champagne. We took photos. It was just as I had hoped.
In truth, I knew she would say yes. I knew I wanted to ask her from when I first got to know her, and she for some reason knew that she would say yes from the moment she got to know me. I was nervous because I wanted to give her a story that she would proudly tell whenever she would get asked ‘Well dear, how did he propose?’. And, in talks since then, she said I gave her a wonderful story. I could not have planned a better moment. That makes me proud. I could not have asked for a better person to spend my life with, and if I managed to give her what she dreamed of, there is no greater honour in the world.