Last year, on this date, Mark proposed to me. We had gone out on a regular date of ours: Torchy’s Tacos and fro-yo. Afterwards, he wanted to know if I wanted to walk around the neighborhood…nothing too out of the ordinary. As we approached the corner of my street, he took me by the hand, got down on one knee…then I blacked out. I knew what this position meant, Mark and I had been talking about marriage for months, but still, when you see him get on one knee and pull out a black box….it’s so very different than what you expected. The prior year, that street corner produced a very different story, a story of impending heart break, and a decision that hung in the balance. I was preparing to begin my fieldwork, I had also never really been in a relationship-I honestly thought that Mark and I would just be a summer fling. In my defense, I had never really known anything else, and my purpose in life at that moment was fieldwork and my PhD. He wouldn’t let me break up with him then, told me that things might be tough but we’d make it. I said ok. A few months later, we broke up (my fault), and then I would spend the next few months in emotional turmoil. What I failed to realize prior to the ending of our relationship was that I had fallen in love with Mark, that he had broken down walls I didn’t realize I had built over the years, that I was finding out what it meant to find your best friend, your love, the one person that accepts you warts and all, the one that makes you reconsider all of your life goals…and you’re ok with that, in fact, you’re excited. The next few months involved me being on probation, Mark realizing he too was in love, and the start of a very long distance relationship. I went to Scotland, Mark stayed in Texas, and Skype was our only way of having dates, seeing each other, and discussing our future. Last December I came home, I (not so) secretly hoped that Mark would propose…but while I knew deep in my heart that I wanted him to, I was still anxious about this big step.
The day before Mark proposed he and I attended a wedding of one of our friends. We danced, drank, at cake, I looked around at people and started to see weddings in a very different light. As I stood on the dance floor waiting for the bouquet to be tossed, I looked over at Mark and our friend, they were laughing, looking at me, and Mark had his devilish grin on(I know he’s up to no good when he has this grin on his face). It turns out Mark and Horace-our friend-were laughing because no matter if I caught the bouquet, tomorrow I would be engaged.
The next day Mark proposed on the street corner, cited one of my blogs in which I discussed writing chapters of my life, changing the story; he wanted to change the story of this place. I never asked him, but I imagine for him that corner held something painful; for me it was a corner, but now it’s the spot where he proposed. It’s funny how things and places can hold such memories and how they are different for different people. I often wonder about the stories, the conversations, the emotions that are embedded within objects and locations; the people will fade, but the memories will always remain.
So a year later, I have finally settled in to being engaged (it took me a while because I honestly never thought I’d be engaged; and there was a time when I was ok with that, content that it would just be me). In 3 months (exactly on December 12) Mark and I will stand in front of some of our closest family and friends, say eternal vows, and top the night off with some Ceilidh dancing. For many Americans December 7th holds a very specific memory; for me, it holds one that belongs only to Mark and me-one of love, eternity, friendship, and a life full of memories yet to be made.