Fly Away Proposal

Ian&Steph-engagement-2How We Met; Stephanie’s Story

Ian and I met… wait for it…cue laughter in 3, 2, 1…Plenty of Fish! I was on there as a dare from a friend, and I’m sure Ian found his way there from playful prodding of his friends. His name on the site was “trappedwoodsman” – sounds promising eh?! He was nice… and he added me on Facebook.

Facebook profile pictures don’t do a person justice, and sometimes if you don’t know the person or the context of a photo, it can put someone off. Ian’s profile picture was a full on portrait in a red spandex shirt with a fake mustache and black shades hiding his eyes. My first impression, “he’s weird”. Long story short I ignored him for an entire year, aside from small comments on each others photos here and there throughout the year. UNTIL December 2011.

I had been at Tim Hortons with my family on a late night Coldstone run. As I stood at the counter I looked around at other patrons in the midst of coffee and conversation. I saw him…. There sat a face I’d seen before, but I couldn’t place… or could I? The stranger noticed me too, but where did I know him from?

“Ian?” I hesitated.

Sure enough there sat the man I ignored for so long because of a silly facebook profile picture in red spandex. This man was handsome, piercing blue eyes, dusty blonde hair, and a killer smile. But he was out for coffee with a girl. And instantly my heart fell. What if she was on a date with him, what if I had missed my chance?

Later I sent him a facebook message. It was a date. And it didn’t go that well, especially after he saw me (or so I like to think). After lots of messages back and forth and a fever that prevented our first “date”. Ian and I finally had a break in our holiday’s to finally meet properly.

December 25th 2011. Ian drove all around Chilliwack to find the only Tim Hortons open and we met at 11pm. Now here is my favorite part, first sight (with new/open eyes towards him). As I walked into the 24 hour Timmy’s, a tall blonde broad-shouldered man stood at the counter, as he turned those killer blue eyes smiled at me before his lips could follow. I came closer and realized the height difference between the two of us, a good 4 to 5 inches or more. He gave me a big bear hug, and man oh man ladies, there is nothing quite like a 6 foot something man wrap his big arms around you in a tight hug.

We talked from 11pm to 2:30am in that Tim Hortons. And the rest as they say is history.

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How He Asked; Ian’s Story

Our engagement story starts about 36 hours before I actually popped the question. Home on break from work for nearly the month of April, I needed some new clothes after losing some weight. Stephanie’s BFF, Faith, had offered to help me out with some clothes shopping at her work place, providing critique and independent advice.

After racking up a huge bill and hauling around several large bags, Faith announced it was her turn for some shopping, and we headed to the jewelry store. Knowing roughly what was ahead, I considered we would check out some engagement rings, and get an idea of the styles that Stephanie liked the most. At the jewelry store, I was greeted by a friendly sales specialist, and Faith pointed out the rings that Stephanie had tried on.

Originally, I had planned on checking out styles, and then continuing my research online before I would make a decision. I already knew that I planned on spending the rest of my life with Stephanie, but the sudden realization of just how concrete my feelings for her truly were hit me like a wave when I saw The Ring.

I often scoffed at the idea of expensive jewelry that provides little function other than a sign of attachment, but realizing that all my promises and love would be embodied by a humble piece of metal seemed to be diminishing. The Ring was gorgeous, and I was instantly humbled. It sparkled and shone in the warm incandescent light of the shop display case.

A circle-cut sparkling diamond, embroidered with a square halo of low-cut and further diamonds around the band, the tiny little ring screamed beauty and functionality, offering a setting that likely wouldn’t get caught up in Stephanie’s busy lifestyle.

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I knew it. This was The Ring. I already had my soulmate, but it was time to put gears in motion and finalize what I had been procrastinating about for no good reason. It was now, there was no never, there was no later. Overcome with emotion, I held my composure together and tried to remain as pragmatic as I normally pretend to be. I quizzed the saleswoman on cut, colour, clarity, and all the other keywords I’d heard the gentleman with the annoying voice on the radio squawk about. I took pictures, and took down prices on business cards. I was sure I was going to google something later that afternoon.

After seeing the ring, and seeing just how happy it made me feel to have a serious internal conversation with myself about my future with Stephanie, I knew I had some discussions to clear up. First up, after parting with Faith, I went and saw my Mom at work. Forgetting that I no longer worked for the School District, and wearing all black, I probably should have announced myself to the front office before trespassing on high school property, and being promptly interrogated by a school authoritarian.

Fortunately, I was allowed passage without incident, and I found Mom in her classroom wrapping up with her students. I hung out, and spilled the beans about what I’d been up to, and asked for her thoughts. She responded with her ever-loving warm but pragmatic encouragement, and offered that I go get a coffee to think things over further. I agreed, and treated myself to a latte at the nearby coffee house, while I chatted with my best friend, Mike. He shared his encouragement and blessings, and was enthusiastic with the news that something was afoot on the subject of weddings after the repeated not-so-subtle encouragements to me from his wife, Arielle.

Armed with the confidence and assurances of my mother and my best friends, I decided that I was going to purchase The Ring that same day. The costs and comparisons were irrelevant. I wouldn’t find The Ring again, nor would it be truly the one and the same. So, after Mom had completed work, I dragged her down to the store, and offered her one final viewing before I completed the transaction.

Engagement and wedding band purchased, bank account in shock, impulsivity overcome. I found myself at home, after hiding away the ring, trying to get ahold of Stephanie’s parents to ask for their final blessings before I popped the question the following day.

Unfortunately, Darrell, Stephanie’s father, was away from her mother Shannon, on business. I left messages for them both, anxious to contact them before our trip to Seattle the following day. After conversing with Stephanie’s aunt Linda late that night, I knew I would have to get up early to try and reach them via Skype.

The following morning, I was up early before Stephanie showed up, and hid in the bathroom trying to reach Darrell and Shannon via Skype. Mom played defense for me, and convinced Stephanie that I was enjoying a good novel (after the conversation ran a little long, and Steph became concerned). I was in the bathroom for over an hour. It was a nail-biter, right up until we got in the car. Finally, Darrell expressed his blessings, and I was able to rest easy. Good thing I had a plan for the proposal, right?

I tried to keep my cool, but the entire time from when we hopped in the car, I was convinced that Stephanie knew what was going on. I happened to close my phone in sight of Steph, and I was certain she saw that I had been conversing with Darrell just prior.

I spent the rest of the morning playing it casual, and once we crossed the border, the thought popped in to my mind that I would propose after dinner on the Space Needle. One problem: I hadn’t made a reservation, and now I had no (cheap) cellular service to arrange the booking. I suggested to Stephanie that the Space Needle would make for a great anniversary dinner location, and she relayed to her aunt Linda, who skillfully arranged the reservations for us as we travelled south.

I was an emotional wreck, and it wasn’t even eight o’clock in the morning. Somewhere south of Bellingham, it began to snow, hard. My mind flashed back to when I asked Stephanie to be my girlfriend and first kissed her, and it was during a night of heavy snowfall as well. Someone was tugging at my heartstrings, and I was having a hard time keeping my composure. To make things worse, Stephanie was in full-on wedding planning mode (she loved talking about anything and everything related to weddings, which is what makes her such an awesome photographer) and was playing a very romantic and heartfelt song. I was tearing up, while trying to concentrate on the worsening road conditions. She knew, and she was playing with me, of this I was certain.

Suddenly, the snow broke and the roads returned to bare. We continued to our destination, the Boeing Museum of Aviation at Boeing Field, just south of Seattle, Washington. We spent the day looking at the exhibits portraying examples from the dawn of aviation through to modern space travel.

After the Boeing Museum, we head into downtown Seattle, and wandered around Pike Place before dinner. We sampled the local culture, bought cappuccinos from the original Starbucks, and dodged the rain before dinner.
Throughout the day, I had hidden the ring deep in the trunk of Stephanie’s car in my bags. Before dinner I had transferred the ring box to Steph’s camera bag, which meant I was overly defensive of the bag from there on out. Again, I was certain I was going to get busted.

I knew I wanted to propose to Steph at the top of the needle, but I wanted to do it in ideal conditions. When we got to the top, it was dark, and stormy, and the skyline was foreboding. I was overcome with apprehension for perfection, and Steph was overcome with the view. I decided to wait until after dinner.

During dinner on the rotating restaurant, we passed by windows (the platform rotates, the outer windows are stationary) with little messages written on coasters. I had an idea to write a proposal note on a coaster, and place it on a window ‘ahead’ of us around the restaurant. Unfortunately, this presented another challenge, as I couldn’t leave Steph alone with the camera bag, and I couldn’t stuff the large ring box in my pants without raising suspicion or at least concern. I was trapped.

My improvisation to the plan consisted of asking the waitress for a coaster and some pens, so that “We” could write messages to the other people in the restaurant. I managed to snag a coaster and a pen, and drew a picture of a helicopter (I’m a pilot) flying over a secluded log cabin in the mountains, and wrote in cursive “Fly away with me forever.” After some fidgeting, and trying to be coy, I slid the coaster over to Stephanie with the ring box slightly over it.

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Her reaction was immediate disbelief, combined with tears, combined with laughter. I got up and came around the table, took a knee, and somehow managed to blurt out the following most eloquently: “Stephanie. You are my rock, my inspiration, and I can’t live without you. You’re my best friend, my soulmate, and my partner. Will you be my wife?”

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