It was Christmastime 2012 and we were at a party exchanging gifts with my mom’s side of the family. At this point Nick and I had a lot going for us – we’d been dating almost 2 years, were about to leave on a Christmas cruise with my family, and in January he would be starting Med School in Dominica. So people had started wondering about when we’d be engaged and would periodically ask me when I thought it would be happening.
As my whole family was gathered in the living room, my little cousins passed out the gifts to everyone. We start every year with the youngest opening the first gift, and onward with each person opening one gift at a time for everyone to see what it is. When I opened Nick’s present to me, a huge plushy shape, it was a body pillow. Since he was leaving for school for a year and a half, this was a thoughtful gift and one that I was excited to receive. And for now, that was all he’d given me.
Once everyone was done though, Nick leans in to my little cousin, James, and says,
“I think you missed one.”
The room goes nearly silent as Nick instructs him where to find this little box wrapped in pretty paper. James digs around the tree and surrounding furniture – and as he hands it over to me, I hear a frantic voice as his mother hurries him to sit back down! I removed the wrapping paper, it was indeed a jewelry box. I finally opened it and said,
The tense stares directed at me were immediately averted as everyone realized it wasn’t happening just now.
In this moment I was actually confused though about why he’d given me earrings, since he had gotten me the same gift last year. He pointed out that I’d been saying all the time how I wish I’d had my ears double pierced but I was too much of a baby to do it. Now I had a reason.
I was strangely happy that Nick hadn’t proposed right there in front of my family. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to marry him, but rather because it was too simple for his style. Nick has a history of being really good at the whole romantic thing. In high school, he asked a girl to prom (or was it homecoming?) by folding hundreds of origami cranes. I always figured his marriage proposal would be at least to that magnitude.
Afterwards my mom came over to me freaking out that she thought he was proposing, and then opening up the conversation about how she hoped he would ask her permission first (of course she’d say yes). Not surprisingly, turns out everyone in my family had come up to her saying how they thought he was proposing. Poor Nick, so oblivious.
I did end up telling him about everyone’s perceptions – as a warning to how he presents himself in the future, as well as letting him know that this was now on people’s minds. He felt bad, but a major “ah-ha” moment as he mentally re-lived the experience and understood how that happened.
The best part about this whole experience was that it opened up the conversation about engagement. In the past we’d always made comments about our future together and how we definitely knew we were each other’s “one,” but not really anything specific. I told him about how I’d like it if he were to at least ask my mom’s permission, and my dad’s if he felt like it (to which he scoffed and said absolutely). I also requested that, while I did not care whatsoever about how he would eventually propose, my one request was that I not be in my pajamas (aka not during a Netflix binge-watching session in my living room or while getting ready for bed). He also told me that, unlike the predictability of opening presents at Christmas, whatever he eventually did, I would have no idea it was coming. This is something he would constantly reassure me of – and boy did he nail it.
And to bring the story full-circle, I do love my earrings! I finally did get my ears double-pierced that February, and yes I was a total baby about it. My friend Lauren came with me and she held my hand through the piercing. The guy who did it was really amazing about everything. Here I am getting the cheapest piercing done, and he is meticulously making sure that the holes are in the right spot and will look balanced against my first piercings (one of which is slightly torn and therefore not even with the other side). I’m very happy with them.
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If you have an ‘I-totally-thought-I-was-being-proposed-to-but-I-really-wasn’t’ moment, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!