October 21, 2005. Nashville, TN.
When the principal of the inner-city high school where I taught asked my teacher friends and me to run senior night and honor the students who were football players, cheerleaders, and band members, we agreed. These students accepted the rigors of after-school commitments in this extra-tough environment. We would honor their parents that night as well.
We compiled biographies on forty seniors that week, and I read them over the loud speakers as the seniors escorted their parents down the 50-yard-line and presented their moms with roses.
Though it rained steadily, seniors, their parents, and their roses and umbrellas were proudly displayed on the field. Everybody went home soaked but happy. I was beat.
On the way home, I called my boyfriend Jeff to see if I would see him that night or the next day. He didn’t answer.
As I walked up the steps to my townhouse, I noticed that the orange pumpkin Halloween lights were on, and there was a note hanging on the doorknob: “Don’t turn on the lights. FH.” I didn’t know anyone with those initials, but wet and tired, I opened the door anyway. I didn’t turn on the lights either, perhaps because I was juggling school bags, purse, umbrella, beer I’d gotten on the way home, etc.
Soft music was playing. I looked down the shotgun hallway to my living room where a glowing jack-o-lantern sat atop my little coffee table, though I couldn’t see the details of the pumpkin from that far away. Lights still off, I headed into the living room where I saw Jeff standing nervously, smiling in a shy way I’d never seen before.
I had envisioned this day a million different ways in my head since I was a little girl, and the vision became more complete as I fell in love with Jeff and was able to dream about him proposing rather than some faceless guy I hadn’t met yet. I won’t bore you with all my dream scenarios because…This. Was. Better. (Except in dreams I wasn’t sopping wet after a high school football game.)
My amazing Jeff, a guy who was perfect for me in every way, gave me a special story that I could share for the rest of our lives. Friends, this boy carved “will you marry me”… into a pumpkin. He was never a guy for huge public displays of grandeur…no restaurant or scoreboard at a sporting event proposals for us. Instead, we got to share wine, roses, music, calling our parents, and sitting in the glow of our little jack-o-lantern. We dreamed of what our lives together would look like.
And all these years later, our happily ever after is more beautiful than we ever imagined. Is it perfect? No. Did my beautiful jack-o-lantern eventually go the way all Halloween pumpkins go? Yep. (But don’t think I didn’t Google “pumpkin preservation” to death!) Instead, I choose to celebrate October 21 as the first day of our lives together with my FH (Future Husband).
Sometimes people compliment my gorgeous engagement ring. I admit that the day after he gave it to me, I almost wrecked my car looking at it on my finger instead of, I don’t know, paying attention to the road. To this day, when people compliment my ring, I thank them and say that the guy who gave it to me is even better than having this beautiful piece of jewelry. And I mean it every single time.