I suspect the cat’s already out of the bag but regardless, I felt it appropriate and necessary to share that something kind of big just happened. There’s a curious new piece of jewelry on my left ring finger…!
The weekend before last, Jay and I loaded the car to head to Asheville to see my mom and stepdad. It took me about 15 minutes in to realize we were on I-40 East (and if you’re familiar with Asheville you know that’s in the opposite direction). After I said something, he pulled out a card he had made with photos of us from four years and four months ago on our first trip (to the Outer Banks). There was a really sweet poem on the back. Even after this surprise I still had no idea, though I jokingly asked, “what are we eloping or something?”
During the drive, passing through Plymouth, we saw this incredible abandoned old home on the side of the road. It was completely dilapidated and overgrown as if it were being swallowed by the earth. It seemed so stoic sitting there against the bleak grey sky, like a dismal Andrew Wyeth painting. I urged Jay to turn around so we could go explore and he was reluctant but for reasons I didn’t yet know about. (Can we just get there already, so I can ask you?!) But he obliged. There was a lone chair sitting on the front porch, as if it had been placed there for one of us to sit in.
I found spotted a lady bug in the grass by the house—a good luck omen. It stayed on my arm as I wandered through the house. It was exhilarating and I felt like a little kid on an adventure, letting my curiosity enrapture me as I explored each room. There were kitchen cabinets still open, items still in the dish drying rack and a drinking glass still on the counter. A few items still in the refrigerator. Some pamphlets from a 1980s women’s spring ministry convention lay on the floor, along with some old bottles and other odd ephemera. A couple pieces of furniture remained; torn curtains and a An old pair of women’s shoes, half buried in dirt and leaves were particularly eerie. Jay kept worrying the floor was going to fall beneath me. Much of the roof and floor were already missing. I felt strange about disturbing too much of anything in the house. I think about who might have lived there before and how the house came to be left and forgotten and why some things were left behind. I wonder how many people drive by this house that used to be a home every day and don’t even see it.
Shortly after we left the house, we happened upon fields among fields of the most gorgeous yellow flowers. (We pulled over again). I stood amid them and they came up to my waist. It reminded me of when my mom and I (by total happenstance) discovered endless fields of lavender at the top of a hill in Provence.
When we arrived in Kill Devil Hills, we sought out to find this pretty little bench not far from the beach that we found on our last trip. We found it under the same cool tree, with just a little less paint and a little more weather than before. A grey tabby cat greeted us and kept us company. Jay had me sit on the bench so he could take some photos like from before. Next thing I knew he was in front of me, down on one knee. The rest is a secret but of course I said yes.
It had rained on our way to the Outer Banks it rained and the weather forecast called for clouds and rain the whole weekend. But once we got there the rain stopped and it didn’t come back until the moment we left.
I love this man with all my heart. I like and love so many things about him…his sentimentality, his corny sense of humor (which compliments my corny sense of humor) and his ability to always pull out a new joke at the most opportune time. His affectation for accents and impersonations, his love, his patience, his smile, his intelligence, the way he smells, how strangely particular he is about his coffee mugs. The way he loves me just as I am and makes me feel like I can always be my true self. There are so many things. And the longer I know him the clearer it is we just go together. I’m excited to plan this big old party with him because that’s exactly what we want our wedding to be. A big old party with all of the people who matter most to us, all together, us celebrating them, celebrating us. Sometimes we jokingly refer to the old man and old lady version of ourselves as Henry and Mildred and so I told him, I look forward to growing into the Mildred to his Henry.