Oct 20, 2013




*Ha!  Most of the ringshots are at the end!

Well, well, well... here we are.  We did it!  I managed to wait it out, and he managed to pull it off without completely falling apart at the seams.  I'll start at the "beginning":

About a month ago, I realized that baseball season would soon be over.  Huge Giants fan that I am, I got the idea to have a group of friends from all over go to a game (partially to hook up two of my friends who are geographically separated, but that's someone else's engagement story [crosses fingers].  I pored over the Giants schedule, and started proposing various dates to all of my friends.  It seemed that September 3 was the best date for everyone.  Incidentally, this is my BFF's birthday AND Nick and my anniversary.  Knowing Nick is a huge fan too, I figured this was fine since this is year 6 for us and we've already had five of these things and it would be nice to include friends for once.  I wrote on my BFF's Facebook wall to get her approval.  She quickly gave the thumbs up and we had a drawn-out "conversation" about it in the comments.

Later, I told Nick about our plans.  He got kind of whiny and said that he didn't want to do it on our anniversary.  "It'll be fun," I told him.  "We have the whole weekend for just us."  A week later, a friend of mine asked me if we had solidified plans for the game.  I went on to bug BFF, again on Facebook, to which she responded that she'll get back to me soon.  I updated Nick on this, and he said, "We can't go to the game on Saturday.  I have something planned in the city.  It's a surprise." 

For whatever reason, this set off a rollercoaster of proposal anxiety.  I had whittled it down to two reasons he could possibly be so adamant about having the surprise on that day and that day only:

  1. He got an awesomely perfect reservation at some Gary Danko-type place and they are completely immovable.
  2. He is going to propose.

Thus, a series of clues from our interactions made me think, will he, or won't he?  This includes:

  • He's being very sercretive about our anniversary :)
  • He's very busy at work and it seems to be consuming him completely :(
  • He's acting differently, could it mean... :)
  • He doesn't seem nervous or shifty in any way the way he would be if... :(
  • He let me sit around all of Friday night to watch wedding shows and he actually watched with me! :)
  • Did I mention he doesn't seem nervous at all?  He is Mr. Quivering in My Boots while testifying in hearings and Mr. OMG I Can't Think of an Excuse on the Spot and They're Still on the Line Waiting for Me to Say Somethinguhhhhhhh... IJUSTCAN'TBYE--AAAAAAAAH!! :(

So, September 3 finally rolls around, and I'm still 50/50 on a proposal happening.  I have deduced that we are going somewhere fancy for dinner.  The first plan for the day: brunch.  We went to a restaurant in the Mission District called Slow Club.  It's typical New American Mission District eatery.  I think my food is great, he just thinks his is good.  I am happy anyway.  We jaunt through the Mission and get coffee, browse through shops, soak in the neighborhood while the sun is trying to break through the clouds to really bring the crowds out.  We happened upon an alley completely covered in beautiful murals.  We walk through, carefully studying each one; the next thing we knew, we had gone from bougey Valencia Street to the heart of it all, Mission Street. 

We decided to keep walking, and we happened upon Commonwealth, THE restaurant the SF Chronicle has been lauding as the future of SF dining.  I had been bugging Nick to take me there practically since it opened.  "This is where Commonwealth is?"  I asked; Mission Street is so bustling and gritty.  "I guess so," he said.  "This is where we are having dinner."  I completely wig out.

I then suggested that we go to Dynamo Donut, the place featured on the Food Network for selling a maple bacon apple donut.  It spite of a filling brunch, the espresso inside me was like, "Rawrrr, feed me!"  We sat on their patio overflowing with climbing flower vines tumbling over its neighboring fences.  As we gleefully talked and ate donuts.

We decided to head back to his parents' house to get dressed for dinner.  I had only brought a cocktail dress, thinking we were going somewhere old, like Gary Danko or Michael Mina.  However, newer restaurants have more casual dress codes.  In the first truly angsty moment of the day, I start freaking out.  Rather than frantically running to the store to find a dress, I throw my peacoat on and hope for the best.

We drive back out to the city from the Peninsula, me uncomfortably shifting in my cocktail dress.  When the hostess seats us, and immediately sit down and commit to keeping the dress on the entire dinner.  Having reservations at the opening for the night, people started trickling into the empty restaurant in their casual wear, and I grew more and more self concious.  I was barely able to order, barely able to talk.  Suddenly, after ordering and somewhat getting rigid, the prospect of getting amazing food and realizing that Nick had had a permanent smile all day finally snapped me out of my funk.  It had been such a wonderful day, right down to finding incredible parking everywhere I went.  I really didn't want to ruin it.  We went on to eat some of the most unbelievable food I'd ever had.

Summer squash (chilled soup, raw shaved salad, crispy blossom, salsa verde, vadouvan oil)

Slow-cooked farm egg (with padron peppers, pickled chanterelles, basil, hato mugi)

Sea urchin (with toasted brioche, tapioca, kimchee, caulifflower, and wild greens)

Grilled sardines (with french beans, marcona almond, grapes, bread emulsion, and lovage)

Crispy young hen (with carrots cooked in hay, marble potatoes, dill, buttermilk mousse)

peanut butter semifreddo in chocolate ganache with frozen "popcorn" and caramel

Toward the end of dinner, Nick says, "Just so you know, we're having dessert somewhere else.  We can have dessert here, but we're going somewhere else too and there will be dessert."  Foodie fiends that we are, when the waiter slip dessert menus in front of us, we can't resist.

"I'm going to tell you where we're going now," Nick said.  "Guess."  This produced nothing from me.  He went on: "Where have I wanted to go back for dessert for six years?" 

I thought back to our first date, that which I had referred to many times over to friends as "THE BEST FIRST DATE EVER."  Because of a late start, young Nick and Karen had forgone dinner and had smoked hookah (my first time) at a Mediterrean restaurant, drove to Fisherman's Wharf and visited Ripley's Believe it or Not and Rainforest Cafe completely on a whim.  We then walked on the side of Pier 39 and watched the sea lions bark at each other.  It was great, touristy fun, but without the tourists, because it was pretty late.  The whole night, we just talked.  No matter the venue, we just always had something to share, and it was easy.  No nervousness, no awkward silences, nothing.  Just us.

"Uh, Rainforest Cafe?" I said, laughing.

"Yeah, actually," he said, laughing too.

"I almost said 'Ripley's Believe it or Not,'" I said, still laughing.

"We're going there too."


"We're going to do our first date.  All of it.  Is that OK?"

What kind of question is that?

We finished dessert part one at Commonwealth and headed to Fisherman's Wharf.  We hadn't really been back since we first started dating because it is a tourist trap nightmare.  By 9:45 pm, it's a wacky but manageable playground, all the while maintaining its cheesiness.  We found another great parking space and headed to Ripley's. 

On our first date, I told him that I am afraid of fake people--you know, lifelike, museum-grade mannequins.  Ripley's has a LOT of them.  I would get a little awkward, avoiding the fake people without looking like I was scared.  This played out again on our second visit.  These things scared the bejeezus out of me.  We walked through awkwardly, more and more sure that he's going to propose.

Rainforest Cafe, the trappiest of tourist traps, was next.  We saw a photobooth in the gift shop.  He insisted that we take some pictures.  We do, they look terrible, and my suspicions grows.

We are seated, and we look at the dessert menu.  On our first date, we only had strawberry shortcake.  With no strawberry shortcake in sight this time around, we were underwhelmed with the dessert selection.  We agreed on the cheesecake, ordering it just for the sake of ordering it.  We were getting tired, but I was determined to power through because I wanted everything to be perfect, for his sake.  Even if he didn't propose, he had wanted to recreate this night since our first anniversary.

By the time we get out of dinner, Rainforest Cafe is closing.  We headed out to the pier.  Cold sea wind started nipping at our fingers and the lights we dispersing through the sky in the gauzy mist.  In four-inch heels, my right big toe was killing me.  In vain, I consider suggesting that we turn back.  I couldn't let myself.  As we're walking across the planks, the sea lions converse in earshot and a group of people are hanging out by the benches.  We stand against the rail and watch the wildlife.  A young couple comes from around the corner and lingers nearby. 

Thus begins some of the most disjointed conversation of our lives.  We are completely stumbling over each other, interrupting each other's sentences, me trying to play it cool.  I said, "Remember?  This is where you should have kissed me, not awkwardly in front of your parents' house."  I then scrambled to say random things like, "I just read something about that restaurant over there in the newspaper" and "What is that ship over there?"  I also try really hard to say things that would spring up naturally, reminiscing about our first date.    I said, "Remember when we were here, and we were talking?  You were telling me so many things about yourself.  We shared so many things."

That first night, Nick told me something he had never told anyone.  He confessed to a pointless, destructive act he did which led to him getting kicked out of middle school; he was so ashamed, he didn't tell anyone, even his sister.  Yet, on our first date, out on that pier, he told me.  After he finished his story, he expressed how guilty it made him feel.  "You probably think this is horrible," he said.  For some reason, I understood.  "Some people just do things like that sometimes," I said.  I was unfazed by his action, but I was blown away by the fact that it didn't bother me; I just totally understood him.

Suddenly, Nick turned conversation toward that topic.  "I felt like I could tell you anything, and it was our first date."

I noticed that the couple was gone and looked behind him and saw the group of people walking away too.

After this, I'm not really sure what he said.  He got down on one knee as I sat there on the bench, and I held him by his sleeves and pulled myself closer to him.  Everything he was saying was so wonderful, but all I remember is the feeling.  He sounded exactly the way he does when he has been crying.  I burst into tears as he tried to talk and fumbled with the box in his coat pocket at the same time.  I was so happy and tearful and I wanted to hold him so much, but I just touched his face and started kissing him between words.  I finally looked right at him through all the tears and was able to hear him say, "I want to grow old with you.  Will you spend the rest of your life with me?"  It was so dark that I looked down at the ring and I had no idea what was going on down there through all of my tears.  I saw tiny flecks of light reflect through the facets, but I didn't even really care.  I nodded.  I just wanted to kiss him and kept saying, "I love you." 

We walked back to land in such giddy tears that I couldn't even feel my feet and I wasn't cold at all.  We sat under a light for a while and talked about the ring.  I finally got a good look at it; it's the EXACT ring I wanted (see the below post, "Guessing Game")  I had stored a bunch of pictures of rings I liked on our computer and he did a search of images on the hard drive, saved them, and had a jeweler custom-make the one he liked the best.  He didn't know about my PW profile, so he never looked for it!

On the walk and drive back, he revealed he whole scheme, how plans fell through, how he made them work, how he asked my parents, conspired with my sister to get the ring, made secret trips to San Francisco from Sacramento to shop around and get it made, etc.  I said, "I knew it--I knew this would be exactly like the end of a Scooby Doo episode!"

We got home at around 1 am.  We had already spent much of the car ride deciding how to tell everyone.  His parents are in Europe, so we are alone in their house.  He hadn't told them that he would do this on this date, so it kind of messed up his plan to tell them afterward.  We called them on Skype and shared the news.  With all this excitement, we talked about everything for another hour and a half before falling asleep.  I woke up at 5:30 am, my mind racing.  I finally decided to turn the computer on and have the TV on in the background.  Now, I'm on PW writing about my engagement with Say Yes to the Dress in the background!

Morning-after shot:

All this time, he had told me he wanted to surprise me.  What surprised me most was how little the hype and "surprise" really mattered to me.  I knew exactly how it would happen, because we just know each other.  We finish each other's sentences, we predict each other's actions, we always know what kind of food the other is in the mood for--we just know.  He knew exactly which ring I wanted, and I knew exactly how he would propose.  We know each other; that is how it has been from the very beginning.

Now for the good part... the bling!

(15) Comments

Love your story! Congrats on your engagement!!

This story is just amazing and I loved it! Congratulations my dear and happy planning!!!!

What an awesome story and your ring is beautiful!!! Hoping your planning is going well!

I love your appreciation of food, it all looks delicious! And of course, the ring is beautiful, and looks even more beautiful on you!