Zoe and Scott

Zoe's Proposal in Stowe Cinema, Stowe VT

How We Met

We met on an app called Coffee Meets Bagel and were matched on Christmas Day. Funnily enough, we’re both Jewish. Another funny fact: the app usually pairs you with friends of friends of Facebook. After we both “ran out” of mutual friends we randomly got selected for each other. Our first date was at a bar in the East Village in New York. It was a beer bar and Scott somehow managed to score us the best seats in the place. Conversation came easy. We both realized our shared love for theater. Midway through drinks he had already invited me on a second date: the opera. Turned out that date wasn’t at the Met as I expected but at a church downtown. The opera belonged to a fringe music festival. The plot: angels who had fallen from heaven become victims of childhood prostitution. Thus began our nearly four year adventure together and the basis for our mantra: “Weird Together Forever.”

How He Asked

We were on vacation in Vermont – in Stowe, the small ski town from my childhood. Over the course of our nearly four year relationship, my boyfriend Scott had grown to love it too. The quintessential Main Street with its general store, a malt shop decorated in 1950s garb and the B&Bs spotted throughout the village charmed him. One of these bed and breakfasts – the Gables Inn – was where we found ourselves on Friday. We were enjoying our eggs before we ventured out on a hike in the rain when Scott also asked me a troublesome question: “Can I invite your Dad to dinner with us tomorrow night?” Tomorrow was supposed to be my birthday dinner. Scott wouldn’t tell me where we were eating, but insisted I bring a nice dress. We also couldn’t do a hike that day. With our track record, we would likely miss our reservation after taking too long to descend the mountain. All week long, I thought he would propose at this dinner. Our future wedding had become a common topic of conversation. We went ring shopping together. I also spotted a cryptic handwritten note in our apartment with letters, numbers and a circle around one of the combinations. Looks like diamond lingo, I thought. I must have had this proposal thing all wrong. After all, he was seriously asking if my father could join us. Using every ounce of energy in my being, I did my best to hide my disappointment. But Scott could see right through me.

He poked, asking what was wrong. I refused to answer. Once in the car, I gave in. Between sobs I told Scott I thought he was going to propose. He felt terrible. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to give you the wrong impression,” he said. He held me as I cried. I wasn’t sad that he wasn’t going to ask. I was sad I got the situation so wrong. That night he tried to patch things up. “Look what I found,” he said as he sent me a website link. On my phone I browsed through the site for the Stowe Cinema Club. It was right up my alley. The newly formed group plays foreign films once a month at the local theater. The next show was the following day at noon. I looked up at Scott who was beaming. He found something to make it all better. “I don’t want to go to this,” I said. “Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day. Why would I want to spend the best day of the weekend in a cold dark theater?” We had driven a grueling 8 hours from New York to be in Vermont. It made no sense to see a movie, regardless of my adoration for film. Scott was devastated. “Too bad. I already bought tickets,” he said. He emailed me the Eventbrite tickets to prove his point. Now I had to go – and I was furious. We argued for hours until we settled on a deal. Halfway through the movie, we could leave. He also had to buy me a Ben and Jerry’s mini ice cream they offer at the concession. When I woke up Saturday morning, my mind filled with dread thinking about this midday activity.

Zoe and Scott's Engagement in Stowe Cinema, Stowe VT

The sun was orphaned in the sky. Not a cloud to be seen. Nestled in the valley of Mt. Mansfield, Stowe is known for its temperamental weather. These days don’t come often. For this reason I dragged my feet getting ready for the movie. In an effort to make up for the day before, Scott made me french toast. Being the stubborn mule that I am, I couldn’t even feign the slightest bit of excitement for this movie. We were late getting to the theater. After purchasing the concessions I was promised, we made our way inside. It was pitch black with barely enough light to see the seats. The movie was already rolling. It was a black and white Italian film with subtitles. The slapstick romantic comedy revolved around a young man who falls in love with the boss’s daughter. As I begrudgingly ate my ice cream, I heard Scott laugh at the jokes. While the actors were silly, almost annoyingly so, the plot was surprisingly relevant. As the two characters became more enamored with each other, the man begins to think things are going too fast. Just as the daughter hopes for a proposal, the young man explains he’s not ready.

The irony was palpable to me. Here I am stuck in a movie about the very thing that upset me yesterday. The film soon cut to an action scene where all the characters were chasing the young man, explaining the movie couldn’t end this way. It needed a happy ending. Confused yet entertained I watched on until the subtitles read: “If they’re not ready to get married. Is anyone in the audience ready?” Suddenly the lights in the theater came up. Scott asked me to stand as he bent down on one knee. “Walter wasn’t ready, but after nearly four years with you, I know how I want my story to end,” he said. Without waiting for the question, I answered yes. Without looking at my surroundings, it took me a moment to realize I knew everyone in the audience. They were my family and friends. Some came as far as Florida. In shock I soon learned the film I just watched was created by Scott. He bought an old made-for-TV Italian film, cropped it and added his own subtitles to follow a plotline that reflected the two of us. It was a project he had been working on for four months. Everyone in the audience with the exception of a few thought this was going to be a surprise birthday party for me.

They traveled to Stowe and stayed at the very same bed and breakfast Scott and I ate at the day before. Scott blocked off a set of rooms for them. He also wrote them personalized notes that explained why he wanted to include them on this special day. He worked with the movie theater to rent the space. He created the website I visited about the film club that didn’t exist. Scott is an engineer. Everything he does is deliberate. With careful precision and a full heart he orchestrated the best day ever – for me. To him, love is a verb. And this wasn’t his first time living this creed. Scott supported me throughout my mother’s battle with breast cancer and her death ten months ago. A couple months later my grandmother was diagnosed with the same disease. Soon after that, Scott’s stepfather learned he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Less than a week after this perfect proposal, Scott’s mother had a heart attack. While we know more challenges lie ahead for us, this moment will always serve as a happy reminder that magic does exist. It isn’t solely reserved for the movies.