I’m in love.
It’s an over-the-moon feeling most of the time. I feel giggly and just so blasted happy. Joe’s love makes me feel warm, cocooned. I’m all mushy and can’t get close enough to my guy. We’re disgustingly compatible. I’m sure some onlookers get a little gaggy at our handsy, lovey ways. We touch often. Sit as close as we possibly can to each other. He calls me “baby.” I smile a lot.
A month ago, this man I love, Joe, asked me to marry him. A proposal to beat all proposals. Friends reported chills when we recounted the story. Or got teary. One person kept saying, “Oh my God, you’re killing me. You. Are. Killing. Me.”
The proposal that almost wasn’t
The night of our proposal almost didn’t happen. I slept little the previous night, and Christmas shopping absorbed our day. I was tired and cranky, but Joe insisted we go out. So, I plowed through the day. Turning down a mid-day nap, I opted instead for a soak in the hot tub before getting ready for the Joe-planned date night.
In the shower, I put a foot up on the edge of the tub to shave my right leg. Slipping, I start shrieking. In the couple seconds it takes to complete my descent to the bottom of the tub, I envision a broken hip or concussion, which is why I’m shrieking. It’s a spectacular fall that lands me hard on my ass, and leaves me with lavish, colorful bruising. I hit my head, my hip, my shoulder. Joe says it sounded as if someone rolled a big pumpkin down the stairs outside the bathroom door.
I finally shake off the fall, which takes a bit. I feel a little dazed from the fall and the sleeplessness, but am lipsticked and dressed in my favorite boots and jeans.
We arrive at Frederick Meijer Gardens to visit the Christmas and Holiday Traditions from Around the World exhibit, something Joe has wanted to take me to for three years, but we’ve never made it. On this night, it’s raining, and Joe doesn’t drop me at the door. This is out of character. I say something crappy and immediately regret my words. I apologize as we walk in telling him that I don’t like it when I talk to him like that, it’s disrespectful. He says he still loves me.
When we get to the counter to pay, we’re told the gardens are closed to the public. Only private events are going on. I’m visibly disappointed. The nice person tells us to go through anyway. It will be fine. We wander the gardens, look at the trees. I read everything, examine all the ornaments, exclaim at the beauty. I’m thoroughly enjoying the lack of crowds.
Joe tries to point me toward the conservatory, but I resist, head off in a different direction. I read more, take in the quiet. When else am I going to see this exhibit without crowds? I savor the experience.
Finally, we make it to the conservatory, which is empty of people and lit with white tree lights. The conservatory’s climate feels like the Caribbean, warm and humid. It’s the same air we experienced when we stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac in the Dominican Republic, a place we’d vacationed the previous year. A place where we fell deeper in love with each other and with the sea.
The only sound in the conservatory is that of crickets and a waterfall. We wander through the lush green and toward the water, talking of an upcoming vacation to Mexico. Behind the waterfall is a little cove. Waiting in the cove is a guitar. Joe’s guitar.
My heart is a hummingbird, to quote another favorite musician, Conor Oberst. My face goes warm. I’m a little breathless and lightheaded.
Joe – schemer and romantic that he is – pulls me to a bench and we sit. I know what song he’ll play. I know what he’ll ask when he’s done singing.
As a writer, I’m a woman of many words. Too many words, most days. But on a Christmas three years ago, I wrote Joe a card in which I let Bob Dylan do the heavy lifting. Carefully, with my favorite pen, I hand wrote the lyrics to Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love (lyrics below). I ended my love note to Joe saying that I hoped he’d sing that song to me one day. While I’m the writer, he’s the singer and guitar player. He’s the one who can bring the song to life. I never once heard him sing or play a note of the song.
But now he’s singing. Later he tells me he’d practiced for days, often when I was in the shower or on the phone. He’d set his guitar aside as soon as he knew I could hear.
Most people ask if I cried, because, really, it’s a fairy tale kind of proposal, to be serenaded in an empty conservatory lit only by tiny white Christmas lights – and possibly by my smile. Because trust me, I didn’t cry, I smiled. Like a lunatic. I couldn’t stop. I haven’t stopped.
Joe stumbles over some lyrics, and we laugh. When he pulls the ring box from his pocket and opens it, the ring is upside down. It doesn’t matter that not every last detail is perfect. That I’m sleep deprived and said something snotty to my beloved an hour ago. That my ass cheek is throbbing and sporting a new bruise with the circumference of a softball. Because this is real, so very real. The imperfections are my and Joe’s version of perfect.
The ring — a second chance at sharing my life with someone — slips on my finger.
I’m in love, and Joe and I are going to be married. My mind and heart spin with all the ways I want this man to feel my love. I’ll save that for another day, though.
Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love
When the rain is blowin’ in your face And the whole world is on your case I could offer you a warm embrace To make you feel my love.
When the evening shadows and the stars appear And there is no one there to dry your tears I could hold you for a million years To make you feel my love.
I know you haven’t made your mind up yet But I would never do you wrong I’ve known it from the moment that we met No doubt in my mind where you belong.
I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue I’d go crawlin’ down the avenue No, there’s nothin’ that I wouldn’t do To make you feel my love.
The storms are raging on the rollin’ sea And on the highway of regrets The winds of change are blowing wild and free You ain’t seen nothin’ like me yet.
I could make you happy, make your dreams come true There’s nothing that I would not do Go to the ends of the Earth for you To make you feel my love.