Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Philadelphia Story

Betty Beguiles has asked for proposal stories and I am more than happy to oblige.

Mark and I had spent Holy Week with my family in St. Louis. I knew that he had gotten up extremely early our last day there to ask my dad's permission.  Foolishly, I thought that he wouldn't be able to wait once he got the go-ahead, and that we'd be engaged before we went our separate ways in the St. Louis airport. I was so foolish in fact that I had even gotten a manicure in anticipation of having a sparkly new ring. Silly me. We said good bye with a kiss and the plan to see each other in two weeks, but not even a hint of a proposal. I was disappointed, and thought getting engaged would be a ho-hum affair since I could count on it happening 2 weeks from then. I never should have doubted Mark's ability to surprise me, or his incredible talent to plan special occasions. I'll have to follow this post with one about our first date, because that was really something!

A week later, one week before he was supposed to come visit, we were talking on Friday night about my weekend plans.  A friend had asked me to go down the shore with her, but we hadn't made any definite plans, and it looked like I would have to go in to work on Saturday, so our plans would be canceled anyway. Mark, Mr. Work-Till-the-Wee-Small-Hours, seemed uncharacteristically concerned that I was working too much, should go to the shore, and have time to relax. Since he never leaves his own work unfinished, I didn't think it fair for him to ask me not to follow through on my responsibilities. As we were discussing it, and I was digging my heels in more and more, he had to get off the phone suddenly. Shortly after, I received an out-of-the-blue text from that very same friend we had been talking about, confirming our weekend plans. I began to suspect something was up. Good thing I did, because had I really thought I was just going to the beach that day, I doubt I would have showered.

The next day, I was able to finish my projects at work earlier than I had expected, and called my friend to say I could get together earlier than I thought.  A little later, the door bell rang, I went to answer it, and there were flowers on the doorstep, a rose and a lily. The rose because that was the first kind of flower Mark had ever sent me, and the lily because it's my favorite. More importantly, there was a note from Mark asking me to meet him in the park across from St. Joseph's Church in the old part of Philadelphia, the same church and park we went to on our first date. It felt like I was in a movie as I left to go meet him. I knew what was coming and am seldom that flustered, but there was a lot to decide, what does one wear when one knows one is about to become engaged? I was so excited on the drive down; the hour trip couldn't go by fast enough.

It was a beautiful April day in Philadelphia. The daffodils bobbed in the sun, and the breeze kept the leaves on the trees from standing still, all that was missing was the movie soundtrack. As I walked down the cobble stone streets to meet Mark, he texted me (I think he was afraid I'd gotten lost) and said to come to the bench. "The bench" was were we had sat in the cold that December, and talked for hours on our first date, instead of walking to see the Liberty Bell. It was where we had made it a point to return every time Mark came to visit. It was our bench, and as I walked up from behind, I saw Mark sitting there, wearing the sport coat I liked so much, and looking anxiously from side to side to see if I was coming.
Our Bench
As soon as I got there, Mark got down on his knee, and with a beautiful ring in his hand, asked me to marry him. After giving my very happy yes, he put the ring on my finger. We sat on our bench and I learned all the planning that had gone into this. That phone conversation from the night before, the one where he was so worried about me working too hard? He had been in the Houston airport at the time, waiting through a torrential downpour that delayed his flight to the East Coast for FOUR HOURS and stubborn little me was in danger of spoiling it all, if I wasn't going to be there to answer the door when he rang the bell and left the flowers. 
Minutes After
Because of the travel glitches, he arrived in Philadelphia at 3:30 in the morning, rented a car, drove to Princeton, slept for maybe 2 hours and had multiple errands, such as a flowers to buy, that morning. So, when I tried to meet with my friend earlier than planned, I was really putting the pressure on him, my friend being just a ruse to ensure I would be home at the right time. I also learned that a night not too long before that, when he called later than he said he would, and I was quite angry with him for it, just so happened to be the night he had bought the ring, and that was why he had called later than promised! Like I said before, silly, silly me.
Of course we came back the next day too!
The rest of the day was lovely, we sat on the bench and went to our other favorite places in Philly.  As we sat on the bench, we called our numerous friends and family, told them the happy news, and  recounted the story of how Mark proposed. The story was told quite a few times that day, and it was getting a little tiring to tell it. No one asks to hear it these days, so I was more than happy to share it when asked!


  1. Anne, I LOVE this! Girls are so silly sometimes! I was furious with Ryan the day he bought my ring because he made us super late to meet my cousins for a road trip to A&M for a weekend. Then for MONTHS he would be spacey on the phone with me during the first semester of Senior year at UD - I would get so angry, and later found out that he spent the majority of his time staring at my ring when he was on the phone with me. Yeah... I pretty much needed a chill-pill IV during those last few months before we got engaged... I knew it was coming and I was just totally on edge about it... why? Because girls. are. silly. Great story, and we need to get together for dinner sometime!

  2. So sweet. And so funny! That cracks me up that he was calling you late because he was out buying a ring!

    Love that you all have your own special bench!