Hello there, for this post I have asked two dear friends of mine to tell their sides of a story. A few weekends ago a group of us (our little six-pack gang) went one a "spontaneous" camping trip for the weekend. The catch was that five of us knew of the plan weeks before hand. It was just one wonderful soul (my dearest and best friend, Courtney) who was unaware. So let's read as they recount the events and give us their side of the story. Thanks for reading everyone! Please keep on doing so!
Whether or not you know us as you are reading this, I confide you will be greeted with a luxurious story full of joyfulness, ridiculousness, and passion nonetheless. However, also be mindful that words in this context provide a limited amount of justice when it comes to explaining the significance of this particular experience. Originally, Courtney and I were to go camping in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky just east of Lexington. Nothing more, nothing less. Little did she know, however, a greater plot full of surprise and celebration was being brewed behind the scenes. My initial plan was to wait until the move to Denver had been complete. However, after hours of contemplation, I decided the proposal would occur sooner rather than later. This is how it came into existence. This is how I took her hand in mine.
When I finally reached Richmond, IN on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in May to rendezvous with Courtney’s parents, I knew full well what I was proposing to do. In a matter of moments, I would be making one of the most dedicated, thoughtful, and honest requests I would have ever made in my lifetime. Once I reached my destination, I parked the car, pulled the keys from the ignition, and prepared to enter into a local downtown restaurant by the name of Little Sheba’s. An enormous deep breath was had before I opened the door. There they were Randy and Velma – my soon to be future in-laws. For the first hour or so we small talked about Starbucks, Kaleigh’s soccer performance and tryouts, Denver, and what events composed our last several weeks. Each time I attempted to transition into, “SO, I’m sure you know why I’ve asked to meet with you…” or “Well, it’s probably no secret what I want to talk about this afternoon with you…”, the waitress would refill our glasses of water, one of us would be lead astray on a tangent from another member of the conversation, etc. Finally, I notice Randy glance down at his watch to check the time: a prime opportunity for me to declare my position. In his mind I could only imagine him saying, “Come on, dude. Let’s get this show on the road.” Although I don’t fully buy into the fact he would say such a thing, I know I would be thinking something along a similar parallel. Once I began to explain to them my intentions as to why I wanted to meet with them, smiles from ear to ear consumed their faces. This made stating my intentions with their daughter that much more comfortable and relaxing. I could go on and on about this section of the story, and perhaps one day I will. For now, I’m going to close it with expressing how blessed I am to have the parents Courtney has. I believe wholeheartedly when marrying another individual, you are also intending to commit to his or her family as well.
June 22nd: The Summer Solstice Proposal. This is what I have decided to name this experience. To this day, I am extremely grateful and blessed for those who contributed in making this experience as refined and beautiful as it was. As stated previously, Courtney and I knew we wanted to go camping once more before we left for Denver in August. After meeting with some of my closest of friends, the date was set. Now keeping it under her radar was key. On the Friday afternoon before I proposed, Jack, Hannah, Tiernae, Bailey, Courtney, and I ventured to the Gorge. After five hours, we quickly rushed to the familiar primitive camping area where Courtney and I were last October. After setting up camp, bedtime followed shortly after. As I lied there, all I could think of was the ring in the tent at the end of our feet in my pack. When morning came, I asked her if she would be interested in hammocking that afternoon. After stretching intensely and smiling ever so beautifully, all was said was, “Absolutely.”
After hiking for nearly an hour, we reached “the place”. After pictures were shot, and thirsty throats were quenched, Hannah, Jack, Bailey, and Tier decided to trek back to the campsite to begin making dinner. With Court’s back turned to me, I quickly took the ring from my pack and placed it in the smaller pocket of my jeans. After they left, we found a convenient area to string up my hammock. Needless to say, once we sat in it, the view was simply beauteous. However, before we began our hammocking session, I crouched down to uproot a shrub via my knife. Little did she know, that would be the very place my right knee would eventually touch down. After a bit, I asked, “Court, why do you want to marry me?” After a slight pause, she elaborated upon her intentions. Which of course placed a magnificent smile on my face. Quickly thereafter Courtney then proceeded to ask me the same question. (Sidebar – for a while now, I have been giving this “spiel” to folks whether it’s to family, friends, or partners from Starbucks, including customers.)
Court has known the existence of this spiel for some time, but not the contents within it. Anyway, I then told her how I had written her a poem that would fully disclose this “spiel” and let her know why specifically I want to spend my life with her. Then, I asked her if I may not only read it to her but stand up while doing so. With a look on her face, she nodded confusedly. It wasn’t until this point that I became rather nervous and excited. Standing there, my back to the scenery of the cliffs and forestry, her legs crossed in the hammock, her eyes watching me like an audience of listeners at an Explosions in the Sky concert, and the silence and serenity of Mother Nature. “Here it comes”, I thought. My lips began to sync with the words from the Summer Solstice Sonnet. Up until I reached the final lines of the poem that read, “My dear, you are the light I am seeking. You are the one who makes life come to life”, in no way did the poem express I was about to propose to the one with whom I would live the remainder of my days. When I did reach the final line, I reached into my pocket for the ring. Instantly, I began smiling profusely. Courtney began to hide her face in a way that expressed she now knew what was happening, and the purpose this weekend served. Then the words, “Courtney Jeane, I would rather spend one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone” flew from my mouth. By this time my knee was in the midst of making contact with the earth. “Courtney Jeane, will you be my love for a lifetime?” She doesn’t remember me placing the ring on her finger that was at one point in time my mother’s, however, for the remainder of her days that is where it will be.
(Hannah was our creative soul on this trip. She called this invention the "moss-kini")
I feel it’s important to point out two things: when it comes to surprises that involve me, I’m oblivious…and the people who are closest to me are far too good at lying to me. When it turned out that four of our best friends were also able to come camping (last minute) I was surprised they could all manage it, and I was excited to spend the weekend together. This is an example of one of the many things I should have picked up on, but alas, I was comically ignorant.
So we all made the trek to Kentucky. Our friends tried to hold it together and not let anything slip (it almost did a couple times, with cover-ups that are now hilarious in hindsight). We arrived in Red River Gorge on Friday night and pretty much set up camp then slept. The next morning and afternoon were spent in summer celebration with a delicious breakfast and flying through the air off a hefty rock into murky river water. It was fabulous! The plan was to then go for a hike on one of the trails nearby…
I had a headache from the water pressure after jumping off the rock so many times, so needless to say, I was neither on alert nor very energetic as this hike started out. Blessed friends and hydration were my saviors, and I was feeling much better by the time we reached a plateau atop the Gorge, which was the “end” of our hike. We all admired the scenery for a bit, then Jack, Tier, Hannah and Bailey all headed back to the camp site to make dinner while Sean and I hammocked. This had been the plan the whole time so it didn’t seem weird to me in the slightest. Again, blissfully ignorant.
Sean and I set up the hammock (he had a brief encounter removing a plant that was in the way of where he would soon be kneeling) and enjoyed the lovely view of the Gorge. He then asked me why it was I wanted to marry him. Again, no suspicions were present. He asks me questions of this nature often so it didn’t tip me off at all. I answered and then asked him the same question, to which he replied that he would tell me in “just a little bit”. I was jokingly peeved that I now had to wait, but I figured it was going to be all eloquent and sophisticated and planned and whatnot. (Don’t worry, it definitely was.) So when a few moments had passed he finally said he would answer, and then said he had actually written it out, then said he really wanted to stand to read it. I STILL DIDN’T KNOW! There were way too many things that were consistent with past behavior to make me think that even something as seemingly obvious as this was not out of the ordinary. I realize by this point I’m starting to sound painfully obtuse.
As he started to read the sonnet he had composed, I found myself distracted by thinking how specific the content was to our exact location. It just felt like he had put so much thought into it… and it would just be so perfect if he were planning something… or trying to insinuate something else was happening…oh just shut up and listen to him talk! This was a continuous battle while he was reading almost the entire sonnet. It wasn’t until he was just a few lines from the end when I saw him start to reach for his right pocket that suddenly all the gears in my brain started whirring and spinning and I FINALLY realized what was happening. In elation and excitement, and in classic romantic comedy style (woof), my hand flew to my now gaping mouth as I saw him bend down to one knee and heard him say the words that were both a promise and a question. And I lost it. Instantaneous tears. I was that girl. I always thought that I would be totally cool and maybe have some sort of witty or hilarious retort…but I was so overjoyed that I just started cry-laughing like an imbecile, and I couldn’t say real words (they wouldn’t have been distinguishable at that point anyhow) so I just started nodding. It took a few moments before I found my voice, and in between laughing and crying I managed to gargle out an ever so romantic “YEAH”.
After regaining my grip on reality and hearing all about the loving deceit that had been in the works for so long, we finally headed back to the campsite. Overwhelming moment number two of the evening; our wonderful friends had decorated the entire campsite in glowing balloons that looked like floating orbs of magical wonder! It was the most beautiful patch of wilderness I had ever seen. They had dinner ready and champagne on standby…and all I could do was smile and laugh and accuse them all of being liars of the highest order while they hugged us and laughed at my overwhelmed state of being. It was perfect.
The following day, I got surprise number three. When we arrived home from camping, there were a few dozen amazing people waiting for us in my living room. Sean, Tier and my mom had managed to get almost my entire family and some friends over to stun what little sanity I had left out of me and shower us in love. It was awesome! Needless to say, I loved every startling and wonderful minute of it. I also learned that having a best friend and a fiancé who love surprises is detrimental to my health, and may very well give me a heart attack one day. Worth it.
Thanks for sharing, Sean and Court. I love the two of you very much and I am excited to be in your life for good.