[continued from part fourteen // start here]
Newly graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University, I left for Denver in June 2004 to spend another summer working for Kingdom Building Ministries. I had loved my internship there the year before, so I was thrilled to return, even if it did mean being halfway across the country from the man I loved.
That July, Steve flew out to visit me and meet some of the people who had become so dear to me. In a phone conversation the week before, he made a request that made my heart race. "On Saturday morning," he said, "let's go someplace quiet, with a view but not tons of people around."
Oh my goodness he's going to propose.
He then clarified--he simply hoped to do some reading together, as we'd done at a park in Cincinnati the last time we'd been together. Still, I couldn't shake the idea. I'd had a farfetched fantasy about him proposing in the mountains. But I knew it was too early based on the timeline he'd mentioned months before. I didn't want to get my hopes up only to be disappointed, and I didn't want to be anticipating the proposal whenever it happened--I wanted to be surprised! I spent the next few days having the following conversation with myself a dozen times a day:
"Two days from now, I could be engaged. I can't wait to have a ring on this finger. Imagine how exciting it will be to announce to the staff on Tuesday morning!"
"Amy. You are not getting engaged this weekend. STOP."
"Right. I know. He's not going to propose Saturday. It's too early. It's not going to happen."
"...But wouldn't it be great? Up in the Rockies, so exciting, so romantic..."
ARGH! Even one of my male coworkers mentioned it, asking, "Would he propose in Colorado?" No, I said, it was too early; Steve didn't want to be engaged longer than nine months.
What saved the surprise was a phone conversation with my parents. I had further reason to think Steve might possibly propose during his visit because I knew he had been home the weekend before. I was certain he would talk to my parents first, and I figured he would have had the perfect opportunity to do so without my knowing. But when Steve came up in conversation, my parents didn't even know he'd been in town, and I was positive they couldn't have lied about it so well. So, I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be getting a ring that weekend.
On Saturday, July 3, Steve and I went up to Rocky Mountain National Park, and we drove Trail Ridge Road, stopping at overlooks here and there. (Sadly, I was not into hiking back then--oh the opportunities I missed!) I was actually sick, so I wasn't enjoying myself much. I think my face in this photo simultaneously says, "I'm so happy my boyfriend is here with me!" and "Ugh, I feel miserable." Please ignore the cheesy matching sweatshirts...I believe that was the only sweatshirt I had with me in Colorado, and UC sweatshirts were the only kind Steve owned :)
We parked way up above treeline (it was so windy and so cold!) and walked down the Ute Trail just a little way to find a good spot to relax and read. As I followed Steve on the narrow trail, I just wanted to cry because I felt awful--throat hurting, nose running, aching all over. Finally we found a huge rock and climbed up. As he sat with his arms around me, trying to warm me up, he handed me his Bible and asked me to find our spot (we'd been reading through Acts together). It immediately fell open to Acts, and there was the ring, tied to the ribbon bookmark. I was stunned, and tears came as Steve told me that he loved me and didn't want to spend his life without me. "Amy, will you marry me?" he asked.
Here's a pic we snapped immediately after--much bigger smile on my face :) I don't know why we didn't get my left hand in the photo! But (I think) you can just barely see the giant rock where we were sitting, over my shoulder. Wish I had a better picture of the spot. Someday we will go back!
As we talked about the whole thing, I found out that he had indeed talked to my parents--while I was in Europe on a chorale trip, six weeks earlier. Smooth move!
I wrote in my journal that night, "I am the happiest girl on the planet today..." Two days later I had to say goodbye to Steve for the zillionth time--except no longer as my boyfriend, but as my fiance. Glorious upgrade in title.
At the end of the summer, my boss invited me to stay on in Denver. Although the offer was tempting, I couldn't fathom being that far from Steve long-term. We ended up working out an arrangement where I could freelance for KBM from home part-time, and I moved back in with my parents to spend the next ten or so months working and planning a wedding. Steve and I would spend the rest of our engagement 3.5 hours apart, which was bad enough!
[coming up next: a wrap-up, finally, with some concluding thoughts from both of us]