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May 8, 2014

Anniversary Week: Fly Away with Me

Today I'd like to share our engagement story with you guys! (If you missed the story of how we got together, Part I is here and Part II is here.) It's long as all get-out, but I just had to share all the amazing details. Ready?

When January 28, 2012, finally arrived, I knew the special date Daniel and I had been planning for a couple of weeks would be wonderful. But I had no idea how deeply wonderful and beautiful it would be.

Daniel came by to pick me up that afternoon, dressed in a suit that included a new tie picked out just to match my fancy dress. (We both love being dressed up and almost never get to.) He also gave me an absolutely gorgeous bouquet of a dozen orange roses—my favorite and also what he got me for our first "date" ever, at that concert he asked me to in May 2010.

We had planned to go to a fancier restaurant, but that was all the details I knew. I knew only that there was more he had planned. We drove to Christiansburg, Virginia, about an hour from my house, for our 5 o’clock reservation at the Blackstone Grill. I will admit, I was expecting that a certain question was to come at some point that evening, and a small part of me was afraid he was going to propose at dinner. But I knew he knew better than that. :)

After dinner, we decided to walk around the mall for a bit, which was just across the road from the restaurant, and enjoyed the strange looks we got from people because of our attire. It was like we were celebrities to gawk at or something. ;)

Once we got back in the car, Daniel told me we had a surprise place to go to but that it was back in Princeton (where his house was at the time). So after an hour, as we got almost to his house, he started acting like he was trying to trick me into thinking we were going to his house but that we weren’t—he would act like he was going to turn left and then suddenly go right (not in a dangerous way—don’t worry…). Just before the street where he lived, there is a circular street that you go around to get to the house. Well, he proceeded to drive the not-so-small circle twice, just to make me briefly think we weren’t really going to his house and he’d driven that way just to confuse me. That was a fun ride...Then we actually pulled up to his house.

He told me to wait for him and went inside for just a couple minutes, as I now know to get some last-minute touches taken care of. But probably also to set the mood, as he came out, opened the car door, and asked to escort me in in a very gentlemanly way.

When we got inside, I saw that he had cleared out the front room of his house. Now, that room had a wooden floor, a fireplace, an old piano, and two chandeliers in it. (It had been begging to be used as a ball room, so we named it just that as soon as he moved into the house a few months before.) So the ball room was all set up for its long-awaited occasion, complete with CD player containing the selections for the evening.

Daniel informed me that we were going to first do some Civil War dances that he had learned for the occasion. I’ve been a Civil War dance enthusiast since high school, having attended almost two dozen balls over the years, but Daniel had never been able to go to one with me. A couple summers before, I helped my cousin and some of her friends record a Civil War Dance Demonstration DVD for sale and distribution, and I have my own copy of it. Well, Daniel also proceeded to tell me that he had stolen it from my room one day (I had no clue) so he could learn some of the dances. He had also gotten two perfect songs off the Internet. So, for those of you who know such dances, we proceeded to dance the Liberty Reel and The Johnny, taking the part of the head couple every time. :) Then we waltzed to what I learned is one of his favorite classical songs, “The Blue Danube.” But not the whole thing—it’s too long, you know!

Then the emotional songs started. We danced to Lady Antebellum’s “Can’t Take My Eyes off You” (which I included in this post), one of the most gorgeous songs ever and also a song that we had listened to separately but didn’t know the other liked. Toward the end of the song, Daniel shifted to having me at arm’s length, of course with his gorgeous grin on his face, and proceeded to slowly circle around me. So I thought he was about to get down on one knee; it seemed fitting. But then he said, “Twirl!” And I realized he had planned the dance out in his head and wanted to do it special. I found out later that he had also planned that to make me think he was going to propose then. Well, it worked. So we danced the rest of the beautiful song, complete with a few happy tears.

At the end of the song, he told me he wanted me to close my eyes and cover my ears. So I did. Well, come to find out, the ears part was so I wouldn’t hear him cross the wooden floor and go up the stairs at the end of the room to my camera, which he had set up, to start recording a video of what would come next. The eyes part was to present me with a small sentimental token. In May 2010, after he had asked me to that concert at school but before we went, and also once we started liking each other but before we had a clue that was the case (we were pretty blind to our very own feelings for a while…), one evening at a random meeting, he gave me an orange conversation heart that said “Cutie Pie.” That’s a popular memory in our history. So when he had me open my eyes after placing something in my hands that evening, I saw that it was another conversation heart, which said “I Love You,” and I immediately thought of the heart from almost two years ago. I was also briefly afraid he had dropped the ring into my hands (though I knew he knew better), which I later found out was in his plan to briefly throw me off one more time.

Then he told me we had one more song to dance to. He told me it was really long and slow but that it was now one of his favorite songs. As the music was just about to start, I asked if I’d ever heard it. He told me, “No, you’ve never heard it before.” My mouth then fell open as I listened expectantly to a piano introduction—somehow, I could feel what was coming, and I waited to hear the first note sung. As soon as the voice began, I knew it was Daniel and that he had written me a song (called "Fly Away with Me"). I immediately buried my tear-crumpled face in his shoulder as we swayed back and forth with the music. I cried like crazy.

About halfway through the song, Daniel stepped away for a moment to retrieve me a tissue from a box on top of the piano, which he had placed there knowing I would cry, next to the trash can he had also placed there, knowing I would be using a lot of tissues. :)

As the song went on, I cried, smiled, sniffed, and we kept dancing. As the bridge started, I know now he was probably thinking, “Here we go…” The end of the bridge began: “I’m kneeling in front of you…” And he did just that. At that point, I of course knew without a doubt what was coming and gasped/began to cry more. Then the music abruptly stopped in mid-thought. The CD player remote in his pocket got bumped as he knelt, pushing the pause button. Oops. :) But he pressed play and continued. “…And I have to ask.” And he then asked me, in the recording and in person, “Will you marry me?”

Poor but priceless screenshot from the video. This would be where the music cut off. ;)

You know, I always figured when he finally asked me, I would jump up and down and squeal and tackle him. What did I do? Fit a yes between happy tears, get out an emotional “Oh my goodness…!” when I saw what the ring of all rings looked like, and proceed to sob as we hugged and danced the rest of the song. Tears everywhere. But very happy ones. Not only at the fact of being engaged but in amazement at what all he had done for me.


But the dancing was not done! After I'd calmed down and my eyes were dried, he told me we had one more song to dance to. I gave an emotionally drained sigh, but he assured me it was just a bonus song. And it turned out to be the perfect final dance: a lighthearted, happy song that is of personal meaning to us, a classic called “Ruby Baby.” That was a carefree dance of silly happiness, the perfectly planned ending to the perfect proposal.

I found out after the ball ended that Daniel had written the words for the song but didn’t have a tune for it for a while. He had also borrowed my keyboard about a week earlier, under the guise that he wanted to use it with one of his computer programs if he had time, which is truly what he used it for. But I hadn’t known that he was planning to take it half an hour away to a local college to meet with one of my good friends, who is amazing at the piano, to get her to come up with accompaniment for the song. After unsuccessfully playing with the song for a bit, Daniel, who is known among those of us closest to him for singing random pieces of songs composed off the top of his head and never finishing them, decided to just wing it and told the pianist to just follow him. So that’s what they did. And in less than two hours, their meeting was completed. If he hadn’t told me that detail, I never would have known. I was shocked that such a beautiful melody was a spur of the moment thing yet was so good.

I also learned just to what extent Daniel had planned this day. He didn’t just wing it all—he had an outline typed up of what was to happen when and where that day so he could get everything just right. And he did!

The more I think about this event and all the amazing details that went into it, the more blown away I am by it. It wasn't really a surprise, since we were pretty much engaged in all but the title for months before, but how it all happened was. And now I have the most wonderful song to listen to whenever. And man do I still love my ring. ;)

P.S. Linking up with Lovely Thursdays, Fab Favorites, and Throwback Thursday

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