Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pink Hats 24: "Yes," Was All She Said

Ordering an engagement ring from Boulder's Cronin Jewelers the Monday after Thanksgiving was easy. A phone call with a Visa card number and ring size was followed by the promise UPS would deliver it by next-day air. Bob wished the rest of his life was as simple.

Attending group education classes as part of the adoption process added an evening complication to his already busy schedule, though Jessie joined him when her's permitted. Since he was going to be, at least initially, the legal entity in the process, he was the one who had to show up for these meetings without fail. But he was surprised at how much he was learning about blended families, helping children who eventually wish to know their biological parents, and so forth. The things they don't teach you in medical school, he thought.

Following the Monday evening group, he was at Halley's, seeing the girls."So, are you finally going to turn me loose on the hospital gossips or what?" she asked. "I still keep up with my sources and they've been chomping at the bit since I retired to take care of Hannah and Clara." Bob and Jessie had decided to name the twins Clara, after her mother, and Hannah, after his.

"Wait a few more days, okay? I haven't proposed and it's always possible Jessie could fool me and run, not walk, as fast and as far away as she can get."

"Oh, come on! You know that's never going to happen. You're more likely to get cold feet than she is."

"I know, I know." He said, chuckling. He looked down at the baby in his arms and said, "It won't be long before we'll be rocking away every night in your very own room." He stroked her palm gently and she wrapped tiny fingers reflexively around his.

Halley watched them, father and almost-daughter. "Little did we know, that afternoon in the ER."

"Nope. Chuck called them a 'Mack Truck' heading my way. It was the best auto-pedestrian encounter I've been involved in."

Halley smiled and nodded in agreement. "Have you thought about where you're going to propose? You have to plan this, you know."

"I've made reservations at Twenty Milk Street in the Portland Regency for Friday evening. Ted took you there for your anniversary last year, didn't he? Seems to me he said he did." She nodded in assent. "It's all done up for the holidays and I'm thinking drinks in the Armory Lounge and then dinner. You remember the fireplace at Twenty Milk, right? I've arranged for one of the tables next to it and champagne to be served at my signal -- if all goes well, that is. With snow in the forecast, the Old Port should be magical, like it always is at Christmastime, and we can walk the streets afterward."

"Or get a room?" Halley said, with an arched eyebrow.

"Use your imagination," he said, "it's active enough for both of us."

WGME's chief weather meteorologist did not disappoint when, five nights later, the Old Port resembled the North Pole, replete with decorations and a light snowfall adding to the accumulation that had been piled along the edges of the sidewalks, turning them into corridors in front of the shops. Bob and Jessie had foregone the valet parking in favor of a walk, arm in arm, along Fore Street, and were now deep into New York Sirloins by the fire at Twenty Milk.

"I've been thinking more and more about your 'house,' Bob said, "The real estate broker called this week, apparently the owners liked us and suggested they might be willing to deal. I told him I'd like to sell my place first and when I mentioned the location, he said he might actually have a buyer. He wants to bring them by for a look sometime next week. If all goes well, we could be moving after the first of the year."

Her fork halted in mid-air. "Are you serious? Oh, Bob..."

"Serious as a heart attack, Babe. Eventually we'd have to add a bedroom or two, but right now, there's plenty of space, as we saw when we toured it, and I really do like the idea of living in the country again."

"So do I," she said, and reached across the table, laying a hand on his. "It would be a dream come true."

After dessert of Pumpkin Bread Pudding with pecan pralines and cream, they sipped coffee and let the nearby conversations drift away.

"There's something I'd like to talk to you about," he said, taking a deep breath, "and honestly, I'm not entirely sure how to begin."

She set down her cup as this time, he reached across the table, taking her hands in his.

"Ever since we met, though I didn't fully realize it at the time, my life has been different. I know I keep saying that, but it's true. The next day, when we ran into each other in the parking lot, I could tell."

She smiled, remembering. Hi there, Splenda gal.

"The funny thing is, when class was over and I got into my car to head back to Portland, I knew exactly what I wanted to say to you, and of course, I couldn't and wouldn't for reasons you already know. But I knew it anyway. I've thought about how to say this, over and over, tried to imagine being more eloquent, and all I can come up with is this."

He let loose of her hands and she watched him slowly stand, then kneel down on one knee in front of her. "Jessie," he took another deep breath, "my sweet, sweet Jessie, I love you like I've never, ever loved. You're all I want, you're all I could want if I lived forever. Will you," his voice trembled and he swallowed, "will you please marry me?" Her eyes swam, but before she could answer, he reached into his jacket pocket and took out a small velvet-covered box, opened it, and set it down in front of her. Inside was a diamond ring with the Flatirons carved along either side of the stone.

The room had been growing quieter and quieter and all eyes were turned toward a couple near the fire where one knelt before the other. A waiter serving food stopped as if frozen. A dropping pin would have made more noise. Jessie took the ring, slipped it on her finger, and looked at it for a second that seemed to him like hours. Then she framed his face in her hands and kissed him.

"Yes," was all she said.

(Photo of Portland's Regency Park Hotel copyright 2011 by the author)

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