The next morning was a very slow start for us both. My friend’s wedding was a glorious day, but between our sunburns and general exhaustion, I knew that Nook would be wanting to take it easy. She was also feeling the full force of the jet-lag, so sleeping in was going to be mandatory.
However, sleep was not going to be easy for me, and shortly after it got light, I snuck out of the bedroom and let Nook continue to rest.
Eventually, around 10:30am, I figured it was time for the two of us to start our day. I was excited. Extremely excited. I knew I had to contain my enthusiasm for the day’s activities and nonchalantly suggest that we should be tourists for the afternoon, but it wasn’t easy.
Nook knew that some other friends of mine were in town for the weekend, due to arrive in the late afternoon, so if we were going to have some time to ourselves, she’d have to drag herself out of bed.
After I finished with my morning routine of shaving and showering, I nudged Nook to get ready for the day. Reluctantly (and very slowly, it has to be said) she did so.
Technically, I think that she fell back asleep two or three more times, with me having to wake her up every 10 minutes or so, which I must admit I got slight amusement out of.
As soon as I was certain Nook was busy in the shower, I set about with my preparations for the day.
Blinky goes with Sparkly.
As Nook and I grew more and more comfortable with our eventually being engaged and married, we would frequently joke about the ring that I would present to her. Several carats of Cubic Zirconia, with flashing LED lights, was the “plan” -- Cause nothing says “I love you” like cheesy-bling...
I’m pretty sure that Nook didn’t really expect me to propose with such bling, but, once again in our story serendipity aligned events in such a way to make this a bit more possible than either of us expected.
Whilst visiting Australia in May for the conference, I happened to have a conversation with an acquaintance who worked for Google, and who had on his conference badge a flashing LED pin for Google, with each letter lit up with a different colour, rotating through quickly. It looked like this:
I asked if he had another. He wanted to know why. I explained that I was going to use it when I eventually proposed to my girlfriend, which was likely to be in a few month’s time.
He blinked a few times. I’m pretty sure this request was a first, at least for him.
He could tell I was serious, which was perhaps part of the problem.
But of course, he was happy to hand me one of the Google LED pins.
It was my intention to stick this inside the ring and have it flashing for Nook when I opened the Little Black Box. For a few weeks I worked on the right angle to place things, so the lid would close but the pin would stay flashing and be visible through the sparkly diamonds.
The Google Pin had a rather peculiar design feature. Rather than being a pin, it was actually intended to be held in place by a couple of strong magnets. One inside of the lid of the battery compartment, and the other outside of the lid and meant to be on the other side of fabric or a tie or whatnot.
In order to activate the pin and make the lights flash, you had to screw the lid down, which would bring the two batteries in contact with one another and complete the circuit through the lid.
One night whilst experimenting with the pin and ring, I managed to leave it in such a position that even though it was unscrewed, the magnetic discs somehow completed the circuit and the pin blinked all night long. When I sat down at my desk the next morning, I could see the faded lights still rotating through their colour scheme.
I couldn’t believe it, this critical component of my planned proposal...fading away.
I spent two days going to every shop in town that sold batteries for watches and similar devices, but no one had the type used in the Google pin. Finally, I resorted to finding a shop online and had it express mailed to me.
They arrived the week before Nook’s visit. I made sure everything worked properly, fit in Sparkly, fit in the box, that I could open and close it without anything falling out (that would be tragic).
I don’t know how many men practice That Moment, the one when they open the box, but I think I must have done it 50 or 60 times. Making sure I knew where the hinge was, which way was up, that Sparkly and Blinky were working in concert. Again, no nerves, not a single moment’s doubt or hesitation - just joy that the moment would soon be upon us. Hopefully.
Nook was in the shower. The ring was hidden in a drawer of wires and computer parts near my desk. Blinky the pin was already inside of the ring, I just needed to insert the batteries, screw shut the cap to activate it, and I was good to go.
So I pulled out the Little Black Box, grabbed the batteries, and started to assemble the most important little package I’ve ever made.
And then I heard Nook.
My flat has hardwood floors, but as you walk on them, they tend to creak.
C R E A K I heard behind me.
She was out of the shower room. Shower still running. She was in the hallway. Maybe three metres from where I was at my desk.
My heart POUNDED.
I quickly closed the Little Black Box and stuck it in my pocket and pretended to be getting something from my sofa. Blinky the pin was still on my desk, but face down, so even if she came out to the living area she hopefully wouldn’t have noticed.
Apparently she forgot something she needed for her morning’s preparation and after she obtained it she wandered back into the shower room.
I waited a few moments, let my breath return to me, my heart rate return to normal.
Have you noticed, by the way, how often my adventures with Nook have caused my heart to do the Chihuahua on Meth thing? They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger...
I wasn’t entirely sure that I got away with this packing and planning. Maybe she saw what I was up to and didn’t want to spoil the eventual “surprise” -- I really could not be sure. I would just have to wait and see...
Time to go!
Sparkly and Blinky were assembled. Little Black Box was inside of my backpack, with my camera. I was ready for the day. Whatever it would bring.
I was ready for our adventure walking around the city and hopefully, eventually, figuring out exactly how and when and where I would propose to my Nook.
Nook finished getting ready for the day and we headed out together. Hand in hand. Boyfriend and girlfriend. For now.