After ten years, my boyfriend and I have decided to go ahead and make it official. No more dancing to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” at weddings, my friends. Because your girl officially has a ring on it! An ethically sourced ring, I might add. That’s a post for another day though. This post is all about how it happened. Because I want to remember this day in as many different ways possible.
It all started with a walk through Holden Arboretum. The park in Kirtland, Ohio is one of the largest botanical gardens in the United States. In millennial terms, it’s Instagrammable. There are tons of paths to follow and, at the time we went, the trees were ablaze with bright oranges and reds. What I thought I was going there for was the Canopy Walk, a 65-foot tall bridge that makes you feel like you’re walking in the trees, and the Emergent Tower, which is a 120-foot, well, tower where you can see all the way to Lake Erie.
Little did I know that I was going there to get proposed to.
My boyfriend, Chad, and I don’t always get the chance to have weekend trips. He works for the Cleveland Police Department, and his schedule is always different from week to week. On this particular day, we decided to wake up early and hit Holden before he had to work. Even before I had the ring on my finger, I was excited to have the morning with him. We woke up early, took the 25-minute drive to the park and, although it was a little chilly, started our walk. We were both definitely underdressed for the morning stroll. When we saw an old couple birdwatching, wearing gloves and hot mugs of coffee in hand, we realized that we were amateurs. I actually ended up catching a sinus cold a few days later, but it was well worth it.
other than the slight morning crispness, Chad picked the perfect time to go to Holden. The trees were in full bloom, changing their colors from green to bright orange, yellow, and the occasional red. A weekend earlier and the trees would have still been green. A week later and it would have been way too cold. It made the canopy walk absolutely incredible. No matter when you go, standing in the middle of the trees is an incredible feeling. But when the trees are showing off all of their different colors, it’s even more incredible.
When we’re together, we almost never take photos. We’re always too caught up in the moment to take out our phones. On this particular day, he was very camera happy. (Hence all the blog photos.) For some reason, I didn’t take this as a hint of anything. Honestly, I thought he was just finally catching on to the Instagram-boyfriend trend I’d been feeding him.
After the Canopy Walk, we took another short lap around the park. He took his time, scouting out every sign and even pulling out the park map to make sure that we were headed in the right direction. Looking back now, I can tell that he was a little antsy about getting to the Emergent Tower but at the time I couldn’t tell a thing.
After checking the maps multiple times and taking our time looking at all the different types of trees in the park, we were on our way to the Emergent Tower. I had been on it before, but this was Chad’s first time up there. We literally stood at the bottom, looked at each other, and looked back up. When I say 120-feet in the sky, it doesn’t really sound like a lot. When you’re five-foot-tall, standing at the bottom of the 120-foot structure and looking up, it is a giant of the best kind.
The entire structure is made of wood and one large spiral-ish staircase winds around the entire structure. After a few flights, there’s a place to sit if you need a stop, so it’s a legit tower. The stair also gets smaller as you hit the very top. Then, after all of the steps, you hit a giant lookout platform. On a clear day, which it was, you can see all the way to Lake Erie. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
Oh, and just one tiny little detail that I forgot — the bottom of the platform is grated. Which, at the time, means absolutely nothing to me, but it meant a whole lot to him when we got up there.
After taking some time to look at the gorgeous trees surrounding us, Chad asked a lady if she could take our photo. She was more than happy to, and I was more than happy to finally have a photo of us to frame. When she handed us back the camera, Chad asked if she could take one more. As soon as the woman went to tap the screen, he got down on one knee. I won’t lie, it was pretty darn smooth.
Then, I blacked out. Not literally, but I honestly have no idea what the heck he said to me as he was on one knee.
Something about loving me forever, I assume? He could have been reading a list of ingredients to his favorite meal and I would not have known the difference. (Actually, maybe I should figure that part out.) But as soon as I saw that little box peek out of his pocket, I went into shock. I just kept nodding my head.
Thankfully, a kind lady who saw it all go down whipped her phone out and recorded all that she could. The video shows me nodding my head up and down a lot and saying “duh!” one too many times. I guess some people say, “yes.” But after ten years, I said “duh.” I also threw in a “don’t drop it” at the end. We were, like, really high up.
We were really lucky to have such great people up on that platform with us. Not only did everyone quiet down when they saw what was happening, but we also got some amazing photos from multiple different angles. Besides one kid screaming, “AH IT’S SHAKING!”, it was almost dead silent at the top of that tower. Or maybe that was part of me being in shock? Who knows, but it was my perfect moment.
After that, the view was the second most perfect thing about the Emergent Tower. We took a few more pictures and then went climbing down the tower to celebrate. The woman who took the photos was in front of us on the climb down. She and her kids kept announcing our engagement to everyone that we passed on the stairs. It was the cutest thing!
When we hit the ground, we started our way back to the car. As beautiful as Holden is, I couldn’t wait to go tell the good news to our families. Despite, you know, almost all of them already knowing. Oh, and listen to Taylor Swift’s Paper Rings on repeat all the way home. Chad’s the real MVP for letting that happen.
It turns out that this wasn’t the only surprise that Chad had for me on the day.
After we went to share the good news with my grandparents, I was told that we were on our way to my parents. Then we passed the exit. I had no idea what was going on, but he assured me that we were going to grab something to eat before we stopped at our parents’ house.
We drove past wineries until we got to our favorite one. Wine at noon? Anything goes after you’ve just gotten engaged. As soon as I walked in, both of our families were sitting there waiting for us. It was yet another magical moment for the day.
To wrap everything up, we took a much-needed nap when as soon as we got home. Yes, really. (It was a long morning, okay?) When I woke up from the nap, I actually grabbed my hand to make sure it all wasn’t a dream. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.