This is the final part of my short story, From Thin Air. If you missed the first part, you can catch up here.
My Girl Scout survival instincts kicking into high gear, I was ready to book it down the mountain. Dale, on the other hand, wanted to savor the moment. He pulled me against him so we could look at the foggy view together. Wondering why my affectionate boyfriend would choose this less-than-ideal moment to be close, I patiently humored him for about five seconds. Then, just as I was ready to explain, again, why it was important to head down the mountain, he said, “Being that this is the highest point in your life so far, I thought I would make it the highest in another way.”
My eyes grew to two times their normal size and my heart skipped a few beats as I realized what was about to happen. Although we had talked about marriage, I wasn’t expecting him to propose in Ecuador. If he had been carrying an expensive engagement ring on our backpacking, hostelling adventure, he would have nervously monitored his belongings and likely would not have let me get close to his things. Since he had been doing neither of these things, I was convinced we would still be boyfriend-girlfriend when we returned to the States.
Turning me around, he managed to get down on one knee despite the uneven, rocky terrain and asked me to marry him. He slid a ring onto my finger as I kissed him and accepted his proposal. As we savored the moment, he explained that he had wanted to propose at the peak, which explained his persistent search for the apparently nonexistent path, but decided that one hundred feet shy of the top was just as good. We then took a few quick pictures to memorialize the beginning of our engagement and immediately began our descent.
As we hiked, I periodically glanced at the ring he had bestowed upon me. I should have been ecstatic that I had finally found the love of my life and had just been proposed to on top of a mountain in Ecuador. Instead, I was crestfallen because the ring was nothing like what I had wanted.
The month before when Dale had prodded me with questions as to what type of ring I wanted, I responded by saying I wanted an ornate, antique band, and the size of the diamond didn’t matter to me. I refused to say anything further because I wanted to be surprised. However, just to cover my bases, I emailed my younger sister, Holly, a website that had ring styles I liked. I figured if Dale were to ask anyone what kind of ring I wanted, he would likely ask Holly during our Thanksgiving visit to my family in Iowa.
Contrary to my desires, the ring I wore had a thick, plain band and a massive solitary stone without any side diamonds. I tried to keep my tears in check. It’s only a ring, I repeated to myself with each passing step. I would learn to love and appreciate it. His love and our life together were what mattered. By the time we reached the gondola, well after the sun had set, I had managed to convince myself that the ring was indeed a special item.
Settling into the gondola, Dale tentatively stated, “I should tell you how much I spent on your ring.” Based on his tone, I slowly turned to face him, not wanting to know how far we would be set back by the mammoth stone I was sporting.
“I spent twelve.”
“Dale,” I responded in a state of shock, “$12,000 is a lot of money.”
“Twelve dollars,” he said with a goofy grin.
My clever sister had suggested that he get an imitation ring for proposing so he would not have to carry the real ring! For the remainder of the ride we laughed as we recounted our separate stories about what we had each been thinking as we descended the mountain.
Upon returning to the hostel, Dale logged into his email account and showed me pictures he had sent himself of the real ring. With tears running down my cheeks, I told him it was perfect – and I meant it.
Do you have a unique or fun engagement story? Please share in the comments section below for everyone to enjoy.
This story was published with 100 other stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride.
Don’t miss my upcoming posts:
Thursday, 10/6: Tip #8 in my series, Kids are Portable
Monday, 10/17: Peru – A high elevation vacation, Part II
Friday, 10/28: Get Your Ghoul On
Monday, 11/7: Peru – A high elevation vacation, Part III