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One year ago today, I had been dating my boyfriend for just longer than two years. We were very happy. We were very in love. We’d talked about marriage, and he’d shared with me that he was finally ready. He had been waiting until the point where he was comfortable saying, “Your wants and needs are as important, or more important, than my own.”

Which is not an easy realization to come to when you are in your upper 30s, have never been married and live alone. Not that you’re stingy and selfish, but it’s easy to get set in your ways, and a wife will certainly change that dynamic. I tremendously appreciated his honesty.

We had had the “I’m ready now” discussion about two months earlier, and I wondered … Could he … would be … dare he … propose on Valentine’s day? Half of me said, “How cliche.” The other half said, “Well, this would be kind of perfect.”

We went to dinner at our favorite sushi joint in town. We shared a tiny table in the middle of the crowded restaurant and I thought, “Jeez, I hope he doesn’t propose in here. How impersonal and public.” (I don’t like it when people look at me. I’m not sure there’s a more “look at me moment” than getting proposed to in the middle of a crowded restaurant on Valentine’s Day.)

After dinner, we toyed with going to see a movie. We toyed with going to a bar. I asked, “Want to just go to your place and put on our pajamas?”

So we did. We drank the whisky I bought him, we ate the chocolate he bought me, we donned pajamas and we watched two hours straight of “The Big Bang Theory.” Curled up on his sofa, I thought, “NOW would be the very best time to propose to me.” In my head, curled on the couch with my beloved was, truly, my ideal spot.

Valentine’s Day 2012 ended with no proposal and truly, while I had thought about it, I didn’t expect it.

No, I expected it a week later, when we went to Mexico for a friend’s wedding. I expected it during the private lobster dinner on the beach with the Gulf of Mexico so close it was rightthefuckthere, and we listened to the waves as we ate and laughed and buried our toes in the sand.

It was impossible to take a good picture of the scenery on the dark beach, but I had to try. I failed, so you have to believe me: That’s the Gulf of Mexico.

Instead, it came 2 1/2 months later, on a Sunday afternoon after I came back from work. (I guest blogged the proposal over at Yes, Teacher! last July, if you’re interested.)

In the subsequent weeks, as we talked about our engagement and our impending wedding (which will happen, not on purpose, one day shy of our one-year anniversary of getting engaged). And he shared some things that made my jaw drop. Literally. I was open-mouthed.

That Valentine’s Day dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant? He’d had a ring in his coat pocket the whole time. He chickened out (his words, not mine). So that “perfect proposal” that I thought about curled up on his couch with Laphroig, Ferrero Rocher and Leonard Hofstadter completely could have happened. (And what I find too-sweet? The ring he had was not the ring on my finger. No, he knew how important it was for me to pick out my own engagement ring, so he had purchased a place-holder ring. I think he took it back, but I wish I could have seen it!)

And that so-perfect-it-would-have-seemed-fake proposal I wondered about at dinner on the Mexico beach? Also could have happened … if he hadn’t left the ring in his Jeep back in the airport parking lot. No, he didn’t forget it. He just decided not to bring it.

Bless his heart, my fiance was very nervous to propose. Which made that stuttering, sweaty, red-faced, clammy-handed, heart-pounding proposal last May all the more lovely.

Because all engagement photo shoots should include gelato and a cool mural.

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