Exactly two years ago, Melissa and I got engaged. Yep, September 11, 2014.
In case you’re thinking that this was an odd day to propose … well, there is a story behind it. And the post-hoc justification I wrangled actually seems to work.
Through most of the summer of 2014, we had talked about getting engaged. Fortunately, we were both ready to take the next step. Unfortunately, I had no clue what style of ring Melissa would want. I suggested that we go ring shopping together, and that way, I could get an idea of what styles she liked.
Several jewelry store trips later, I still had no idea what to get her. And that’s when I came up with an alternate suggestion:
“You pick the exact ring you want, Melissa, and I’ll surprise you with it … at … some … point.”
Lo and behold, by the first week of September, she finally found the exact ring that she wanted. Since September tends to be a busy month for us (Melissa’s birthday is in September, and my work’s annual week-long company meetup is usually in September, too), my initial plan was to propose sometime in October or November.
I think Melissa realized this, too. I’m pretty sure she figured that I would pick up the ring at some point, and then just hold onto it and propose when the timing was right — whatever “right” may entail.
Three days later, I had the ring purchased. I wasn’t about to let someone else snag it up, especially after Melissa had expressed such excitement after trying it on.
It was a Thursday afternoon when I came home with it in my pocket. Since we live together, I spent the next half hour or so trying to figure out where I could hide it for a month or more, without 1) Melissa accidentally stumbling on it, and 2) me forgetting where I had hidden it.
Half an hour later, I still had no clue where I could hide it an satisfy the two conditions. And that’s when the thought popped into my head …
Ya know what? Maybe I should just propose tonight. I mean, it will definitely be a surprise if I propose now. There’s no way she’s going to see that coming so quickly.
That’s what I’m going to do!
The excitement welled within me, and I spent the next hour or so planning out how exactly I was going to propose.
In the end, I came up with a simple plan: Melissa was taking metalsmithing classes, so I hid the ring in the toolbox where she kept pieces of precious metals and stones that she would then forge into jewelry.
When she got home from work that night, I would casually inform her that I found an old piece of metal that I thought she could use. I had already done this several times before, so there would be little chance of her suspecting anything different this time around. I knew the plan would work.
Whoa, I’m seriously going to propose tonight! I’m … genuinely excited right now. I really am.
Five minutes later, I casually looked at my phone, and the date hit me …
Shiiiiiiiiitttt, I totally forgot it’s September 11! Aaaargh, I … can’t … very well propose on September 11. That’s so inappropriate. Is … isn’t it?
Another half-hour of intense pondering commenced. Then:
Ah, fuck it. I’m just going to propose. I don’t want to wait any longer.
And I did. And Melissa was thoroughly surprised. And we went out that night and celebrated, in spite of the fact that it was September 11.
Later on, I told the story to people, and a bunch of them pointed out that this was kind of cool. Sure, September 11 is a day of grief and sadness, but we could now make it special for us in our own way.
In retrospect, Melissa and I realized that this did work for us in kind of a morbid way. After all, our first date was on December 7 — the day Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. And Melissa was born on the exact day that one of the worst airline disasters in history occurred right here in San Diego.
So yes, it seems weirdly appropriate that we would make a pattern of turning dates full of death and suffering into special occasions for our relationship.
Yep. That’s our story. And we’re standing by it.