The weeks up to proposing to the woman of your dreams are a combination of wild anticipation and sheer terror – even if you believe to know the answer with a high degree of probability.
We were camping up in Algonquin Park when the big day arrived. I’d hidden the custom-made ring in a pair of rolled up socks since we’d left Ottawa, where it had been carefully concealed inside one of my computers (two places I could be sure Tracey wouldn’t accidentally find it).
We were camped over on site 209, Kearny Lake, just across from Pog Lake. On the morning of August 23rd, 1997 Tracey had given me a watch (which I wore every day for about fourteen years until it broke beyond repair) to celebrate our first year together.
I nearly panic-proposed, but managed to keep my suave exterior from showing the fierce inner battle that waged for nearly ten seconds. She probably thought the progress-bar expression was just my usual self getting distracted by (possibly) a real squirrel.
Our history filled with long walks. We especially loved going on long walks while camping, and to this day still do. I don’t exactly recall if it was raining when we left for our walk, but we were dressed for it – I remember sneaking the ring (and box, I think) into the pocket of by bright yellow MEC monsoon coat.
We walked in the rain through the Kearney campground, then wandered across the highway to Pog Lake, and then to Whitefish lake where it was definitely raining, and foggy. Just about everywhere along the walk, I was looking for the ideal location to propose.
I had no idea what the ideal location looked like.
Eventually, I found a spot I thought would do the trick. Sheltered somewhat from the rain by tall pines, there were two trees that had grown together. I stutter/mumbled something about being joined like the two trees and how much I loved her, and dropped to one knee.
“Will you marry me?”
Let’s jump backwards.. oh, about two months.
The hunt for the ideal engagement ring (a relatively modern social convention invented by the diamond industry’s marketing department) at various retailers didn’t yield any promising prospects. I looked in the Rideau Centre, in the Byward Market, and down Bank street. Nada.
A traditional prong design wouldn’t do, as Tracey works with rather expensive fabrics all day, and I wanted to give her something she could actually wear.
One day, I sat down and designed a ring – white gold (Tracey doesn’t care for yellow gold), with three channel set stones, a Canadian diamond flanked by our birthstones. I spoke to numerous jewellers and settled on Tang Jewellers who assured me that they could make the ring in time for pickup well before we left for Algonquin Park.
The call came in at work that the ring was ready. In my excitement when I picked it up, I didn’t notice a small flaw – either due to the terrible lighting, possibly that anticipation and/or terror I mentioned earlier, or the fact that I was rushed – or most likely all of the above.
Fast-forward back to Algonquin.
“Will you marry me?”
Exactly what she said next is a bit fuzzy, but was something close to “Is there a reason it’s yellow gold?”
Entirely not the answer I was expecting. Or, I suppose the one I was dreading.
I didn’t have a back-up plan for this response. Confusion – yellow gold? Wait. What? I ordered white gold, I knew it! I thought it might be the light where we were. Nope, that was yellow gold, no question about it.
Somewhere in the confusion, I’m reasonably certain that she did indeed say yes, but I don’t *specifically* recall it.
Tracey told me that if she had an inkling that I’d propose she would have arranged a ceremony right then. I’m not sure how she didn’t know – somehow I’d managed to get her ring size, probably through some wildly complicated and intricate scheme.
When we got home from the trip, I checked the receipt for the ring, and yes, it did indeed specify white gold, so we took it back to the jeweller, who, after apologizing up and down, had the ring completely remade in less than a week. We were so pleased with the results, we had them make our wedding bands.
Every year since then, we try to find the spot where I proposed, and we have been unable to, leading me to suspect we’d travelled though some foggy fairy proposal vortex.
I don’t mind if fairies had their fun – we’ve lived happily every after.