The story of our engagement started a year ago when Chris (or “Jason” in the story) and I had a come-to-Jesus moment regarding the future of our relationship.
Chris flew to Seattle from Alaska – where he was commercial fishing at the time – and I flew from Wilmington, North Carolina where I was living for the summer while he was away.
It wasn’t all hearts and rainbows as we sat in the hotel and had a serious discussion of what we wanted for our lives and our lives together.
Luckily, for our relationship, we found a middle ground that works.
For example, one of those agreements is living bi-coastal between the Carolinas (NC or my beloved SC) and California. (I’m from the east and Chris, from the west. I like to say we’re sharing custody of the coasts.)
ANYWAY! This story takes place almost a year later, in North Carolina, and two days before Chris flew to Alaska to fish for the summer.
Here’s a background story of our engagement that I only share with my closest friends.
Head shakes ensue.
Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel as, Conscious Coupling.
While Jason and I were in Wilmington, North Carolina, visiting my family, we decided to get engaged.
This wasn’t a huge surprise since we had been talking seriously about it for a year now.
Though, that didn’t take away from the little surprises that awaited us that afternoon.
When Jason mentioned going to an antique store to find a ring, I knew a charming place downtown that would make the perfect setting for Jason to drop down on one knee.
But, when we approached the brick, pre-war building, a “Closed” sign dangled on the front door.
Disappointed yet undeterred, Jason and I walked to two more antique shops, none of which had what we wanted.
“Is this a sign?” I asked, half kidding, half not. Jason smiled, shook his head, then pulled his phone from his pocket to search for a solution.
Things continued to look dim.
We strolled down an antique district and hit three more shops, and struck out again.
But before we left the final shop, I casually asked the owner if she knew of a place that sold estate jewelry. She mentioned, The Ivy Cottage and the corners of my mouth immediately stretched into a grin.
Here’s the background on The Ivy Cottage:
Three days prior to this moment, I admitted to Jason that, years ago when I was single, I made out with my brother-in-law’s brother, Cory, who happens to manage the place.
This guy is literally family to me now; we share a two-year-old nephew.
And, when I told Jason about my past rendezvous, he responded with a high-five. Not an issue.
But, now at the vintage shop, I wondered if a night from my past would snag our engagement plans.
“What’s the verdict?” Jason said, walking from behind. “Well,” I said, scanning a rack of vintage Gunne Sax dresses. “She mentioned The Ivy Cottage, and that’s where Cory works.” Jason looked at me like the decision had already been made. “Sweet!” he said. “Let’s go there!”
Once inside The Ivy Cottage, I located the jewelry counters past rows of china cabinets, bookcases, and armors.
We scooted passed ladies bent over the glass displays and peeked over shoulders until a jeweler motioned us forward.
“What are you in the market for?” she asked.
“Just a ring,” I said, as a wave of heat flooded my face and armpits.
“Is it the ring?”
I looked at Jason, smiled, then nodded.
“Great! Well, let me know if there’s anything…” I didn’t hear the rest. A small vintage ring tucked in the last row called to me. And when I slipped the delicate band on my finger, it fit.
The ornamental yellow and white gold setting held a vibrant light blue aquamarine stone, reminding me of the ocean and our boat life together.
My spine tingled at the thought, but not wanting to make an impulsive decision, I placed the ring into the jeweler’s outstretched hand to try on others.
“We’ll keep looking,” she said while slipping the ring on her pinky finger.
I held back my first reaction – which was to yell, “B*tch, take off my ring!” – and tried on others, while keeping an eye on my ring which looked a little too comfortable on her hand.
Of course, the other jewelry wasn’t doing it for me so, frustrated, I pulled Jason aside to figure out what to do.
“What about the first one?” Jason asked. I looked at him, trying to hide how much I wanted it. “Get it, Love!” Jason said, reading me. “That ring is you!”
After the jeweler cleaned and boxed the ring, Cory appeared from the back room to wish us congratulations.
Here we were, the man I would marry standing next to the only man in this town I made out with because we were buying an engagement ring.
Cory ended up being the last person we saw before the proposal – he even rang up the sale for the ring.
But, in true Elizabeth Rose form, a romantic entanglement at the bitter end of my single life made sense.
A final send off to those I’ve made out with before.