As Nook and I wandered away from the spot where she said YES (eventually), we were, as you might expect, all grins. It was a perfect moment on a perfect day and Sparkly looked absolutely stunning in the summer light.
We wandered back up through town and held hands tightly.
Well, not too tightly. Turns out that you have to be a bit careful holding the hand that Sparkly is on. She tends to gouge if you’re not careful.
There was a lot left to do this afternoon. My friends were looking to meet up with us later for drinks and possibly dinner, and we knew we had to call her parents and let them know what had just transpired.
Let’s think about that one for a moment, shall we?
They haven’t met me. They have probably haven’t even seen my picture. They have spoken to me on the phone a couple of times, and they’re about to be told that a (much) older man who lives on the other side of a very large ocean away from them and their daughter has just proposed, and she has accepted.
That’s a lot to take in, for any parent.
But we’ll get back to that later.
On our wander home I thought it would be a good time for Nook to get to meet a friend of mine who also happened to own a boutique Italian wine shop in town. He knew much of the story of my courtship with Nook, and was a regular reader of this website as it started to chronicle our relationship, and as I valued greatly his counsel during those early weeks I wanted to make sure that he got to meet her during her visit, and especially now, moments after she became my fiancée.
We meandered our way to his shop and introductions were made, and Sparkly was shown off. It was good for my friend to make this connection to this person who he had read and heard so much about, and to finally meet her in person. Over the previous weeks and months I’d pop into his shop a few times per week, often just to update him in person as to what was going on. He’d seen pictures of Sparkly, and was well briefed as to my plans.
As a congratulations gift, he presented us with an astounding bottle of an Italian dry sparkling wine, pictured here:
It was delicious. And yes, that is the actual bottle, on the actual day, before we drank it. As Nook will attest, I’m rather sentimental at times. Yes, I still have the cork. Don’t believe me?
Yep, that is it. Taken a huge distance away from where it was first removed from the bottle.
We thanked my friend for his generous gift to toast our engagement and made the short trip back to my flat. We had much to do before this day was done.
Better make that call.
Nook and I sat on the sofa for a little bit and just took the moment in. The city was getting louder and louder in anticipation of the evening’s sporting event, but it was all good natured and enjoyable. We knew that we should call her parents, but we also knew they were half a planet away and had to wait a little while before doing so. Not because they weren’t up yet, but because they were still at work and we didn’t want to interfere with their day too much (having typed that, I get the feeling this is the sort of interruption most parents are pretty darn happy to get...).
So we popped the cork on the bubbly and toasted each other and sat there talking and smiling and laughing. I seem to recall that I sent a series of SMS messages to friends and colleagues - short and simple: “She said yes.”
Those who were familiar with the story would know right away what that meant. Indeed, I think Nook was surprised at how many people were familiar with my plans for that weekend, even though she herself most certainly was not.
Eventually time passed enough such that we knew it was safe to call her parents and inform them of the good news. We certainly hoped they would take it as good news.
I wasn’t on the call with Nook, she made that herself, so I really can only relay what I recall from the moments as I sat next to her and watched her face as she talked to her parents.
First up, her dad. Sort of.
She called her father at work hoping to be able to talk to him and let him know the good news, but our timing wasn’t great. He was in the middle of doing something important and asked if she could call back later. I think he may also have asked if everything was alright...and of course it was.
So Nook called her mother and broke the news.
I think that both Nook and I wish we could have captured the look on her face, as I can only imagine it was priceless. She was very happy for us, very happy for the moment. She knew it was coming, as I had already talked to both of Nook’s parents several weeks previous (well, month or more by now) to explain what I was planning on doing in early July.
So Nook’s mother wasn’t too surprised about the news, but obviously was very happy to hear it for herself, first hand from her daughter.
Nook then shared the goings-ons of our day and wandering around town, and the details of how and where I proposed, the sorts of details that parents and close friends are always keen to hear.
The two of them chatted for probably forty-five minutes or so and then Nook said she had to go as it was time to call her dad and let him know.
Nook got ahold of her dad’s workplace, and spoke briefly with a colleague. It’s tough to know for certain, but both Nook and I have the feeling that this colleague had already worked out what was going on. There aren’t too many circumstances when a man’s daughter phones several times in a work day with what was obviously a HUGE smile on her face. It had to be good news, and since Nook’s father knew that I was going to propose, he likely shared that with his colleagues as well.
The call got connected to Nook’s father and Nook told him her happy news.
I’m not sure, but I think he may have cried just a bit, out of joy for his daughter’s happiness.
Like no doubt most parents, he wanted only for her happiness in life. The last few months were so tumultuous, and indeed, for many many months before that -- but throughout it all, he maintained total confidence in his daughter’s ability to find her own course and take action and make decisions which were well considered, thoughtful, and the best ones possible.
Thus, his joy was well founded. Nook was happy, and he could hear that clearly in his daughter’s voice. She briefly told him about the method of my proposal, and some of what we had done for the day, but as he was at work, she knew she had to keep things a bit more brief than perhaps she wanted to.
It was also nearly time to meet up with my friends visiting from out of town, and we had already managed to finish the bottle of bubbly during our wait for these calls and during the calls themselves. I think it is quite safe to say that we were both .. glowing .. a bit that afternoon.
To the pub!
After Nook finished talking with her father we got ready to go out. My friends were meeting us just around the corner from my house at a fantastic pub that I was a regular at, so we didn’t have far to travel.
It was a group of three friends, known in some cases for nearly twenty years.
None of them knew about the proposal.
Indeed, they only barely knew about Nook at all.
One of the three had provided me much wise counsel at the very very early stages of my getting to re-know Nook, back in January of 2010.
As she and I started to talk more and more, and I felt my feelings for her grow, I asked him if I was Evil to let this take place and if I should just stop or back off.
His words were calm and rational and well considered. To paraphrase, he asked if anyone was getting hurt with the actions undertaken at that point - and was there a possibility of anyone getting hurt.
At the time no one was being hurt, at least not overtly.
But in the process of myself and Nook getting closer together, it was, perhaps, inevitable that she would not exactly feel that same closeness with her partner at the time.
So I took his counsel to heart and proceeded with caution and care. I think that the story that has been shared so far makes that clear enough. Those first few weeks and months I held back as much as I could, and was always mindful and considerate of the realities which surrounded Nook’s situation.
But what happened happened, and here we were, just a few months on, and my friends were just about to meet Nook for the very first time.
The three of them arrived at the pub at the same time, and we all made introductions. One of the three asked what we got up to during the day, and I turned to Nook and said: “Well, um, care to show them?”
And out came Sparkly.
There was a pause, a stillness, a moment of everything simply .. stopping.
It took a bit for everyone to process what had just been revealed. Not only were they meeting Chair’s girlfriend for the first time (someone whom he kept somewhat secret for quite a while, given the situation and all) but she wasn’t his girlfriend any longer, she was his fiancée.
Many handshakes and hugs followed, as well as rounds at the pub.
Stories shared of the day, smiles, laughs. It was a pretty spectacular way to round off the afternoon.
Dinner was about to be even more interesting...but you’ll have to wait for the next chapter to hear about that.