Anish’s story — the finale…
The first order of business on Tuesday was a leisurely morning by the pool. And while Tay read a book while tanning (I come pre-baked, so I don’t really get the point), I took turns swimming in the pool and going off “exploring” so I could make calls to confirm that everything I needed was ready and waiting for me to pick it up.
The morning ticked away slowly and I had calculated that by the afternoon I would need to do a few things. I would need a few hours apart from Tay. Making sure she was completely relaxed for the evening with her nails done (like I knew she would want) would be a few additional nice things to have. It sounded like the perfect excuse to plan an afternoon at the spa.
When we got out of our couple’s massage we decided to part ways. I claimed to want to spend time in the sauna/steam room (too hot for me!), so we parted ways leaving Tay with an hour before the nail appointment I had booked her.
The second she was out of sight I kicked into hyper drive. I scrambled to put on my clothes, and then sprinted across the resort to our room to grab my wallet and rush down to the valet.
I had just under two hours to be back in the room.
It was a mad dash to hit the six different places I needed to. Her favourite wine, beach mats, rose petals, cutlery, an ice bucket, a bottle opener and a bunch of other things were ready and waiting at each stop. 90 minutes later, I was in car heading back to the hotel, feeling pretty happy about how seamlessly everything had gone. I just needed to make one more phone call.
“Hey, yea, everything is still on schedule. We’ll get there at 5pm. Yes, I’ll park on the far end. Just make sure you wait till we’ve walked far enough away from the car before you come out of hiding. See you soon.”
Back at the hotel, I jumped out of the car, and the valet and I began chatting. I explained what was going on and we strategized next steps together. Before I knew it, he had offered to leave the car parked right in front of the main door (instead of taking it to the lot) till we left and would even open the trunk for the man delivering the picnic basket. Seriously, how awesome was this guy?
I stepped into the room with ten minutes to spare, mentally checking through my list. All the pieces were starting to fall into place.
Tay wasn’t back yet so I decided to pull out the box from the suitcase and grabbed the ring out of the safe. I united the two for the first time in days, knelt down over the bed and started trying tp tie the ribbon around the box…
Shit! She’s back. Early!
Without thinking I grabbed everything on the bed with one sweep of my hand and threw it under the bed, stood up and turned around just as her beaming face peaked through the door.
“Hi love, how was the spa?”
After she jumped into the shower, I crawled under the bed, grabbed everything and started tying the bow again.
Really! Are you kidding me? Am I really this challenged at tying a simple ribbon? I was starting to get a little frustrated. Maybe I could find someone else to do it? But how do I get away from Tay again?
“Anish, I’m really hungry. Do you think we could call room service for a little snack before we leave?” She shouted out from the shower.
Well well, isn’t that just perfect. Thank you universe (and Tay’s appetite!
“Why don’t I just go downstairs and grab us something, love?”
I ran back downstairs walking around the hotel trying to figure out where I could get some help, when I saw a jewelry store, right in the hotel! (Do people really buy jewelry, in a hotel, while on vacation?) Universe, thou art pre-tty cool.
There were four ladies in the store – all staff – huddled around each other chatting away. I walked in and up to the group sheepishly. They paused when they noticed me.
“How may I help you sir?”
“This is a strange question but would any of you be able to help me tie a bow?” I said, as I pulled out the little blue box and white ribbon from my camera bag.
“Of course, sir.”
Instantly they had a whole bunch of tools on the counter. Wow. Tying bows was a full-on art form. Who knew?
Amidst the small talk one of them asked what the special occasion was, so I mentioned that I was on my way to propose to my girlfriend.
“WHAT!?” they exclaimed and started clapping and screaming. Not figuratively. Literally.
And not quietly either. This was a full on celebration – people walking by and through the main hotel lobby even stopped and peered in. One of the ladies even put on celebratory music as they all peppered me with sweet questions and encouragement as they continued to clap and exclaim.
I stood there in a semi-state of shock with a big grin on my face. I had absolutely no clue what on Earth was going on! This was easily one of the most ridiculous scenarios I had been in.
They handed me the beautifully tied box and walked me to the entrance wishing me luck. As I walked through the expansive courtyard towards the elevator bank, I looked back over my shoulder to see the four sweet, motherly ladies all standing next to each other at the entrance waving to me.
What a strange and amazing place, this Aloha state!
“Don’t ask, just get in,” I smiled and said in response to the the puzzled expression on Tay’s face when she saw the car parked in the hotel driveway, doors open, waiting for us. The valet winked at me and gave me a thumbs up.
So far, so good. We were right on schedule. I typed out a quick text and hit send: Leaving now. GPS says 60 minutes.
We settled in for an hour-long beachside drive to our destination hand-in-hand with the top down and soothing Hawaiian music playing. We chatted incessantly the entire way until she suddenly paused and looked over at me with a big grin.
“You aren’t proposing today… are you?”
I probably lost a good year of my life with all of the heart-stopping close calls over the past few days. But none quite like this one! My heart sank. I thought I had thrown her completely off the scent — why is she asking me this? Hopefully my sunglasses hid the momentary panic.
“Wait, actually Tay, I just realized we aren’t going to see your Dad in person soon. You know… before our December trip? Do you think I should do it over FaceTime?” I quickly replied.
We had had many conversations about how important it was to both of us to ask for his blessing in person. Not having done that yet would certainly be a deal breaker and squash any possibility that I was going to propose on this trip. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth. I had not only asked her dad but even her brother when I was in Georgia months earlier.
It broke my heart to see her face fall in disappointment as the words left my mouth. ‘But it wouldn’t be for very much longer,’ I rationalized it to myself.
It seemed like the middle of nowhere, with woods to the right of us and a beach somewhere behind all of it. I saw slight movement in the trees up ahead of us. Thankfully Tay didn’t notice and after it had stopped, I drove towards it and pulled over.
“Here we are!” I chuckled, knowing all the confused thoughts likely going through her head. ‘But wait, he said nice dinner. What did he mean by nice dinner? There’s nothing around here for miles? Where are we going to get food?’
Facing the ocean, we were parked on the left side where the woods ended at the lava rocks. There was a small path through the woods on the opposite end, so we slowly walked down the road heading towards the path.
About 15 steps away from the car, the keys in my hand, I found the button to open the trunk and gently pressed it. Now if all goes according to plan, it will pop open just a bit and we would be in business.
Both our heads shot around as the car gave out a loud single beep with the tail lights flashing.
Well… that certainly didn’t happen when I had practiced this many times earlier.
I left Tay on the side over the road as I ran over to shut the trunk. I was still going to need to get it open without her realizing. Time for Plan B… but there was no Plan B.
I shut it and ran back to Tay and continued our walk to the path. The car was no longer in sight (or within remote distance) and my mind was racing trying to figure out how to get the trunk – with everything packed neatly inside it – open. By the time we got to the path, I had formulated a plan. Back to my new favourite toy.
“Gah! I left my GoPro remote in the car. Stay here. I’ll run over and grab it – we’re going to need it to get those sunset pictures.”
I saw two silhouettes standing by the car as I got back there — the photographer and her daughter — my secret team of helper elves. “Hey guys! Sorry, I had to improvise. Everything should be in here.”
“Fantastic. We’ll set it up just like the sketch you sent us. In the same spot we agreed on, right?” She asked. “I’m going to stay on the beach for a little while so we can get a few shots of the two of you from a distance – I’ll be pretending to take pictures of Sarah – before we head back into the trees. Don’t worry, we’ll be out of earshot and neither of you will see or know where we are.”
This had to be one of the most breathtaking beaches I have ever been on.
My beautiful girlfriend and fiancé to be.
We were close. So close. All of the build up and all of the planning had lead to this moment. And every little hiccup along the way made it just a little more perfect and a lot more ours.
With my pants rolled up and her hand in mine, we walked through the shallow surf towards the other end of the beach. And as we turned the corner, there it was up on the sand, in plain site.
Laid out on the beach was a white linen blanket covered in rose petals with a picnic basket, bottles of wine in an ice bucket, and two glasses.
It was time.
Time seemed to speed up as we sat there talking and taking in the spectacular sunset. Tay was finally unwinding and enjoying the evening, no longer plagued with ridiculous uncertainty of ‘where will we eat dinner?’
I grabbed a bottle of wine and reached into the bucket for the wine bottle opener. It wasn’t there. It must be in the picnic basket. Nope. In my pockets? Nope. I searched everywhere and I became uncharacteristically frantic. All the while, Tay looked at me quite puzzled.
See, everything had gone perfectly so far. Sure there had been minor heart stoppers but I expected those. But I knew I packed that wine opener. And I’m sure we can all attest to the magical power of a little wine in a big moment. If wine were RedBull, I was looking for my wings.
I’m not one to panic very often but something about this situation had me flustered in a way I had never been before. My chaotic and urgent movements were clearly making Taylor suspicious. Half way through using the car keys to try and jimmy the cork out, Tay put a calming hand on my leg, instantly flashing me back to what was really important. I took a deep breath and let it go.
We snuggled back together, settling in for the sunset. It feels like we talked about everything, though my mind struggles to remember the specifics. What I did know, was the overwhelming sense of happiness being in that place, with that lady.
As the sun made its final descent towards the horizon I contemplated timing. We were losing daylight and quickly. Tay hadn’t shown the slightest inclination of getting up since she first sat down. Getting her to stand up was going to be quite a challenge. Tay’s the kind of person who, when you ask her to stand up, her first response won’t be “Okay!” It will inevitably be, “Why?” There wasn’t going to be a suave way to do this, so I jumped up and asked her if she wanted to get some food — a direct question would ensure she’d do it — I hoped.
In hindsight, I realize it was a rather peculiar question given that the picnic basket was about two feet away. She sat there with a strange look on her face carefully studying me as I stood there waiting.
“Do you want me to stand up?” she asked tentatively.
I smiled. She knew.
I had done the hard part. The months of planning leading up to that moment.
Tay and I had known we would marry each other for what felt like forever now. And with that came the preparation of knowing what I would say. It came with the comfort of knowing what the answer would be.
There was no uncertainty in my mind. I wasn’t scared of hearing no. This was a sweet formality for which I was well prepared. I had played out the scene in my mind hundreds of times over the last few months.
Up until that point, this had all been an incredibly exciting and happy adventure to create a moment we would treasure for the rest of our lives. A gesture to show the lady who held my heart that I would go to every extent to be with her for the rest of my life.
But in that single moment, as I knelt down in front of her, all of my preparation seemed to dissolve into nothing. The floor of excitement gave way beneath my feet as I moved into a freefall of unbridled emotion.
The world grew hazy through my teary eyes. And the words in my mind, all of the sweet words, so carefully prepared and rehearsed, no longer sounded coherent.
There was just her. And me. Nothing else really mattered anymore.
“Taylor Emily Merck, will you marry me?”
Come back on Tuesday to see the pictures!