In honor of our 11th wedding anniversary, I am rerunning this post. I have been playing with some creative writing techniques and as an exercise I rewrote this in the present tense to give it a more intimate feel. Happy Anniversary my love! You're my favorite!
I am sitting in a large, comfortable bus as I take a day-long tour of London. It’s December now and the contrast of the cold outside upon the heat inside has created a perpetually thick matte of condensation on my window. I reach up and write with large, friendly letters the words "Stupid American" into the fog, followed by an arrow that points down and ends where my face begins. The words are written backwards inside the bus so that spectators outside the bus can read them in the right direction. My girlfriend of 4 years is sitting beside me and my family, who lives here in England, is with us taking in the sights and history of the city. My Mom shares with me, "In England a hundred miles is a long distance, but in America a hundred years is a long time." It is my love's first trip here, but not mine, and I am beside myself with excitement to show it to her.
I should stop here and say that it has been no secret through most of our courtship that we are going to be married. As we have made our way through college, dating and living separately, we have passed the time by planning our future life together. I have made it a point to tell my love throughout this courtship that she will never know when I am about to ask for her hand in marriage. On several occasions I have told her, "You are going to think you will know when I am about to ask you, but you will be wrong. I promise you will never see it coming." I am hoping that this will be my brilliantly played victory in psychological warfare.
And so it is not by accident that today is a few days after Christmas, but not quite New Years Eve, and that we are traveling London. My love does not notice one of my hands spending an unscrupulous amount of time in its corresponding pocket. She is far too distracted with everything to suspect that I am guarding a secret in the shape of a diamond engagement ring. She should be curious as to why, as we approach Westminster Abbey, my family has decided to sit outside the historic church instead of accompany us inside, but just as I planned, she is not taking notice.
Together we drink our fill of the 1400 year old abbey which is shaped like a giant cross. This, we learn, is a place where kings were crowned, royal families were sewn together, and national treasures were laid to rest. We meander through the hallways marveling at the names of historic figures entombed in the very floors and walls around us. The anticipation of the impending moment is circling the rim of my heart like a twister circles the chain-link fence of a trailer park, just before leveling it completely. This grand Gothic masterpiece is the final resting place to monarchs and scientists and poets. From Henry V to Elizabeth I. From Geoffrey Chaucer to Charles Dickens. From Sir Isaac Newton to Charles Darwin. We stand in awe, again and again, that surely one hundred years is a mere drop in the bucket of time for a place such as this.
My love and I have reached the center of the abbey, in front of the altar. I look around, breath in the moment through all my senses, and say...
"This place is beautiful."
"Yes," she replies.
"This is the place where kings have been crowned and royalty has been married for hundreds and hundreds of years," I remark with purpose.
She doesn’t respond.
"This would be a romantic place for someone to propose, don't you think?" I offer casually.
"Yes," she agrees softly, admiring something off in the distance.
And then, in the heart of Westminster Abbey, with my would-be wife half distracted and not paying me much attention, I get down on one knee, in front of God and Charles Darwin's bones, and I cast an anchor into to sea of time that will be ours forever.