The first time it happened was after a church service in a teeny tiny Alabama town: It was a whim of a morning, a last minute decision to drive—windows down and Wilco blasting—to an Episcopal church in Greensboro.
Afterwards, we stood in the stone courtyard, our arms a tangled mess, as I looked up, way up, and he asked me in a whisper.
I grinned and nodded.
. . .
The second time was after the greatest meal of my life. A root vegetable salad our server aptly described as “transcendental” and a bottle of Line 39 we’ve been searching for since.
We donned our Santa hats and held hands as we ran, tipsy and laughing, to the venue where we snuck to the balcony where he stood behind me, pulling me in and wrapping me up.
I’ll come to you, I’ll sing to you/ Like it’s Christmas in the room/ I’ll dance with you, I’ll laugh with you/ ‘Till it’s Christmas in the room.
I felt a pull and looked back and up, way up, until I found his eyes and he pulled me tight and asked in a whisper. I looked back, my eyes misty, and smiled.
The third time was in the snow. We were in Chicago, and he’d gone out on a walk by himself.
He called to say he was on his way back, and I ran out to meet him. It was a dark, hushed night with the streetlights casting a glow on the mounds of snow and complete silence in the deserted street.
I ran to him, jumped up in a bear hug.
He swung me around in the snow and told me about his night—about the man he’d met, about the thinking he’d done.
We stood, arms wrapped tightly for warmth, and he told me what he wanted from life.
The fourth time was after I’d had the most rotten day. I was in tears as he tucked me into bed and turned on my very favorite show.
He went into the kitchen and washed—by hand—the mound of dishes I’d let pile up for weeks and weeks.
An hour later he yelled into my room: “Come here, I have a question.”
I walked into my, now gleaming, kitchen to find him on one knee with the decorative candles from all of the rooms of my apartment winking around him.
The last time was in the kitchen again, but this time I was doing my own dishes.
He walked into the door, set down the bags of greasy Chinese food, and wrapped me up from behind.
“Will you marry me?” he asked, popping the black velvet box open deftly in front of my sudsy face.
Why yes, I do believe I will.