So, what would you like to see?
Nook had never been to the city I was living in. It was somewhere she read about in books, saw some pictures, including several I had shared with her, but to actually be in a city which was several times older than the country she lived in, well, it was inspiring.
It was also a very, very hot day. It’s not often that it got into the mid 30’s (C, naturally) but it just so happened that this day, the second of July, was one of those rare days.
This had an effect upon our meandering around the town. We moved slowly, enjoying the sights, taking pictures of the buildings and whatnot, but we didn’t rush about nor try to cram too much tourism into the morning.
Since we had such a late start to the day, one of the first things Nook wanted to do was get some sort of breakfast, or a sandwich or something. I knew a place that was likely to be open and had great views.
We made our way to the cafe I had in mind, with Sparkly in my backpack, and Nook’s hand in mine.
A notion, not a plan.
In the weeks running up to Nook’s visit, I spent a lot of time on Google Maps and Google Earth, as well as wandering around the city. I thought about different locations, places with views, private locations, public locations, pretty much every possible option for an ideal spot to propose -- somewhere which would mean something to both of us, even though Nook had never been to the city before.
In the end I really could not make up my mind.
Some friends who were in on my plan, well, intentions, suggested that I should rent a boat and take Nook out into a quiet part of the waterways of the city, with a fantastic view, and propose there -- but that would require the weather co-operating in advance, and that just wasn’t likely, nor something that I wanted to risk.
I also was not keen on the typical restaurant scene for a proposal. Not because I thought she would turn me down, throwing a glass of champagne in my face and storming out, but because I really did want the spot to be somewhere memorable.
I wanted whatever I did to be unique and special, as unconventional as our entire relationship, and filled with a bit of randomness and chance, just as everything about our reunion had been.
This meant that every step we took that morning, every corner we turned, I was looking, seeking, searching...is this the place? What about up the road...I know a nice view there...
The thoughts that were spinning in my head were impossible to sort out. Not a single one of them was “should I do this at all?” -- that was clear, I knew I would propose, I knew it would be this day, and I knew it would be soon.
I was probably a horrible conversationalist that day, and I was aware of it. I just hoped that if I did find the right spot and the right moment appeared that any awkwardness in our chats would be instantly forgiven.
Sandwich, with a side of butterflies.
Once we arrived at the cafe, and sat down, I began to think “maybe here” - even though I did not want to do the typical restaurant thing. It was quiet, there weren’t many other people around, and the view was very nice.
But something inside of me said “not yet” and I listened. We had our sandwich and I had a Belgian beer (or was it two? Liquid courage? No, not really - I just needed to calm my nerves. I so wanted to propose, but I also knew I had to be patient just a bit longer).
Nook and I chatted about the city, the weather, our day before at my friend’s wedding. I suggested we walk along the path we were on a bit longer and I could show her some other nice parts of town that she’d probably like to take pictures of.
She was fine with that, and now that she had a bit of lunch, was feeling much more like continuing our random trek.
We continued to meander up and down various roads and alleyways. Pictures were taken, our hands would clasp together, we shared various stories, and just generally enjoyed the day together.
But all the while I was continuing to evaluate every location, ever moment, every second, for whether or not it was The Place that we would both want to remember for the rest of our lives.
Every time I would think I would spot It, something would discourage me. A passing car, too many people, too much sun, not enough sun...I wasn’t making excuses, I just knew that once I saw the right spot, I would know it and chance would present it to me on a silver (well, platinum in this case) platter.
The longer we walked and talked, the fewer options remained in my mental catalogue of Possibles. I also was aware that within a few hours, my friends visiting from elsewhere would be in town and would want to meet up with us for drinks and dinner.
On top of all of that, this particular day was also one of a real festive party atmosphere in the city - the national football team was playing in the semi-finals of the World Cup (not a sport I care about) but the locals were building up for a very festive evening; horns honking, the national team colours everywhere, and so on.
As the city’s excitement grew, so did my own. We had been walking for a few hours by this point, and my mind was telling me that it was down to two, possibly three, remaining options.
I told Nook that I wanted to walk her through the part of town where all of the antique shops were. She looked at me somewhat puzzled, knowing that I didn’t have any particular fondness for antiques, but probably thought that I knew it was a nice part of the city.
We were also both a bit tired by this point, from the walking but also from the heat.
As we passed by the antique district, I realised that it was not going to suffice for The Spot, and I convinced Nook to walk just that little bit further, saying that there were a few more nice streets just up ahead.
And then it hit me.
Even though I spent some time researching possible locations to propose to Nook, I had thought about so many, and seen so many more during our walk, that I actually forgot about one of the earliest “candidates”...
And we just so happened to be nearing that candidate.
The party atmosphere was increasing. Everyone we saw was smiling, laughing, enjoying the day.
My tension, well, no, anticipation, was building.
Nook was probably wondering why I was pulling her on this epic trek through the city.
But something started to go “click” in my mind.
I started to mentally visualise the part of the city we were heading towards, and suddenly I remembered that early candidate. I convinced Nook to make one more zig-zag of streets on our walk, and told myself that if the spot I was thinking of was indeed where I thought it was, that I’d very very carefully analyse it, and quickly, and try to see if This Was It.
We walked some more. In the shade. With a cool breeze.
Things were starting to align.
Just up ahead was the spot I was thinking of....