Well, it looks like I’ve had to move my blogging schedule around again. No, it’s not because I’ve got lockdown brain and writer’s block this time; it’s because I got engaged! Surprise, world!
It was a complete and utter (but welcome) surprise. After being with my boyfriend for five and a half years, living together for four of those, and dreaming of a dog filled life together, of course I said yes! I’ve had quite a lot of friends ask me for the details of the proposal, the ring, everything, and as it’s also consumed my every waking moment of the past week, I thought it’s only fair that I let you lovely lot know about it too!
Despite being totally surprised by his proposal, we’ve actually discussed marriage a lot; I’d say about three years into the relationship and we both knew marriage was on the cards. However, we were both recent graduates making our way fresh out of university, and knew it wasn’t the right time. And then, life got in the way, as it so often does. Family deaths, illnesses, moving, and then, of course, a global pandemic. We drew our focus into saving for a house, into researching mortgages, and the idea of getting married slipped to the side; something we’d do in a few more years. Or so I thought…
Rory, my now fiancée (I still get butterflies when I say that, how disgustingly romantic), recently traveled up to Scotland to help his parents move into a new house. When he came back a week later, I noticed he was slightly reserved. For those of you who know Rory in the real world, you’ll know he’s the chill to my anxiety; the spontaneity to my planning; the extrovert to my introvert – being reserved doesn’t really come naturally to him. So I attributed this change to having moved heavy boxes and fixing up a garden all week – a.k.a boy oh boy was he tired out. He returned to Winchester rather quiet, a little bit distracted and with one request; that we play some music together.
We actually met in the Busking Society at the University of Winchester in 2014. I came up to the first meeting, clutching my mandolin case with white fingers, scared out of my life to be going to something like this on my own. And there he was; the confident second year, chatting away to everyone, carrying a saxophone and guitar, and telling his friends about a new girl he was seeing. It’s safe to say that both my fear of the Busking Society (and Rory’s new girlfriend) didn’t last. A few months of singing, friendship, beers, and chatting about Star Wars lead us to both realise there was something else there. Music was the thing that brought us together.
Normally, Rory would pop his head around the door and say “fancy going through some songs after work?” – no planning, just doing. This time, he really wanted to choose a day and a time for us to sit down together. I didn’t think much of it, and just said yes to Thursday at 5pm. As I have been for the last five months, I was in my comfy yet shapeless work from home clothes, looking like a human marshmallow in a pink dress that is four sizes too big for me. An hour or so before we agreed to play music, he said something quite unlike him – “Why don’t you change into something different for music?”
He never asks me to change. I could be in a ballgown ready for an event or in my stained pajamas slathered in a green face mask, and he thinks I’m beautiful. As long as I’m happy, he’s happy. So, getting a niggling feeling that he actually doesn’t like the human marshmallow look (which would be awul, because I am a beautiful pink marshmallow), I say “Well, okay. I want to do a workout this evening so I’ll get into my gym kit”. He nodded. I noticed he’d shaved his lockdown scruff – odd behaviour, he’s rather proud of that. “Well, put on something you like, and you can change into the gym stuff after”. And then, he was gone.
Sitting at my desk in human marshmallow form, I could feel my forehead start to furrow. He was acting odd. He had shaved. He’d asked me to change. I started to feel a thought rising within me; is he doing something special? Maybe he’s actually going to – no. As soon as that thought arrived, it was gone. Hell no was he going to propose. He only told me last month he had started saving for an engagement ring! Sure, he’s good, but he’s not ‘save up and buy an engagement ring within three weeks’ good. So it slips from my mind, I get back to typing, and as 5pm hits, I got into my favourite black and flowery maxi dress, ready to relax and play music.
I go downstairs and he’s pulled up the old busking playlist. These are songs we’ve played literally hundreds of times, that we know inside and out. In all honesty, we are a bit rusty – it’s been months since we played together – but after a while, we slip into the old routine. At about an hour in, my voice starts to feel a little raggedy, but we agree to keep playing for half an hour more. I keep interrupting to ask if we can message our housemates to see if they want to play a game of Catan (we have a house tournament, just so you know), but he’s adamant we should wait to ask them after. I just thought he really didn’t want to play Catan.
We end the session with a cover of Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – our song, if you will. His hands are shaking on the chords; I simply think he’s overdone it. He wells up at one point; I just think he’s an adorable human being and laugh at him. When we end the song, of course I have to go and be all cheeky, don’t I. As he grabs his bag to put his plectrums away I say “you know, that song is so special. That has to be a special song in the future, don’t you think?” I am, of course, alluding to a wedding dance. Boy I set this up perfectly…
He pulls out a ring box from the bag, and drops down on one knee. “Yes, that song is so special. And you are so special to me”. It’s at this point I start gasping like I’m going to have an asthma attack and start muttering “ohmygodohmygodohmygod”. He then asks a question, which I’m later told was “will you spend the rest of your life with me, and marry me?” All I remember is wailing like a banshee, lunging into his arms, and sobbing “yes, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES”. After a few minutes of snotty and teary filled hugs, he puts the ring on my finger, and it fits.
It was a whirlwind hour that followed. We contacted our respective families, and have hugs and champagne from our housemates. My grandparents and aunt shrieked over the phone, my parents were over the moon on video call, and my brother took a whole minute for it to settle before bursting into tears and announcing “I’m going to have a brother-in-law!” to the rest of the world. I video called my Wales, University, and Winchester best friends, to an array of happy tears and shouts of joy. Facebook groups were sent pictures of the ring, statuses were changed, and then we put our phones down to simply breathe.
My head did not stop spinning for days after, and I still break out into a huge smile when I look at the ring. What was a huge surprise for me was not a huge surprise for everyone else, it seems. Rory asked my parents for their blessing (not permission, it’s not the 1800s anymore) two and a half years ago. Two and a half years ago!! He knew he wanted to get the ring from Dubai, where he was brought up, but all three trips were cancelled due to family crisis’ and COVID. So, before his parents moved, he had to get them to pick it up, check the measurements, and bring it back home to Scotland. He bought the ring in April, and didn’t see it until the beginning of July. It turns out my parents knew about the ring from April too!
And how did he know the exact size? Well, I used to wear a cheap pewter ring on my right hand ring finger that I dropped one boozy night last summer. He picked it up, and told me he’d look after it until we got home. It ended up staying in his wallet, even until now, perfectly shaped to the size of my ring finger. I always thought I wanted a silver engagement ring, and we even got so far to having a conversation about it a few months ago. He was being awfully defensive about having a gold engagement ring, but I know now it’s because he had already bought it! In all honesty, it is the most perfect ring I could have ever wanted. It’s delicate and understated, and yet so so beautiful. The gold suits my skin tone so well, and it means the world knowing my fiancée chose it.
And now we are in this weird post-engagement, extremely pre-wedding time frame. We’re holding off on an engagement party for a few months due to COVID, but are hoping we can have one this side of 2020. Having talked about weddings for years, we know what we want and where we want it to be. We’re not in any rush to get the wedding planned, but we want to book the church and reception venue as soon as possible so we don’t have that looming over our heads. Then, we can fully enjoy our engagement as a betrothed, affianced, engaged couple.