Before I relay this story to you, I preclude it with this note. This is my final post to Mona’s Apple. After reading, you will perhaps understand why. I am in the process of coming up with a new blog/site for the next page in my life. The Apple was defined by a certain period/era that faded once I moved to Los Angeles. And now that I enter this exciting next chapter, Mona’s Apple feels further and further away from where/who I am today. Stay tuned, but first, stay a little while, and read…
Friday the 13th.
The infamous date, which conjures images of black cats, bad luck and the horror movie franchise, has been a fabulously lucky day twice in my life.
The first time, as my dad surprisingly remembered with his hyperthymesia-esque date memory, was April 13 1997, when I was accepted to the University of Virginia. My mom teased it wasn’t just Good Friday, but Great Friday. It also, coincidentally, is the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, the founder of UVA.
The second time this date made my history was last Friday.
I barely know how to capture a moment so profound and momentous in one’s life, but I will do my best, with a tissue not far from my left hand.
Despite it being one of my least favorite words in the English language, we’ve been busy. I continue to have clients almost every weekend for dog-walking and pet-sitting, and we’ve been trying to save some money and stay put. I think July 4 got my wheels turning. I missed the outdoor adventures we so often took when I first moved to Los Angeles. If we weren’t camping, we were scuba diving, if we weren’t scuba diving, we were taking a road trip somewhere. Our neighbors would joke when Friday rolled around, “Where are you off to THIS weekend?”
When I mentioned the possibility of a camping trip to MaineMan he shook his head in affirmation, “Let’s do it!” We have a couple of parental visits coming up so now was the time.
Tuesday I looked for campsites. I clicked on the usual suspects Malibu Creek SP, Leo Carillo, Point Mugu, Sycamore Canyon… all of them were booked. I’d heard good things about Lake Arrowhead and was curious to check that out. There was one site available.
“How about Big Bear?” MaineMan asked.
When I got around to making the reservation on Wednesday, the Lake Arrowhead site was booked. I guess we were driving the extra hour to Big Bear.
We snagged the last campsite, #11, at Serrano Campground. It wasn’t on Big Bear Lake, but it was just off it. I couldn’t wait to test out our new tent and grill — the two items we’d purchased with giddy excitement at Sports Chalet.
After a 3-hour drive, half of it through traffic, half of it through windy mountain terrain, I jumped out of the car and did the Julie-Andrews-as-Maria Alps twirl. The hills, the air, the trees, the sky, the brush were alive. It was the most perfect campsite.
We raised the tent, uncorked a few craft beers and decided to take a dusk stroll to the edge of the lake. We weren’t sure where it was exactly, but after a few encounters with fellow campers, we found our way.
I stared with longing at the rural scene before me. I wanted to pitch a tent on the sandy banks and never leave. Lately I’ve been getting really tired of the concrete jungle that is Los Angeles (sorry, fellow Angelenos, it’s true, unless you’re at Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica, driving PCH or kicking it at Venice Pier). I needed this break and I soaked it in like a wet seal on a dry rocky beach. Mother ducks and their ducklings floated by. One set to our left. Another set to our right.
“Look at the ducklings, honey. Oh my god, they’re so cute!” I fumbled to open my phone’s camera app.
Agnes was two paws in the water, two paws on land, staring at the open water like she’d never seen it before. Her leash was taut.
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you, honey,” said MaineMan.
I barely turned around to look at him. I was enthralled by the lake and our surroundings. And besides, we often exchange such lovie-dovie niceties.
Then it happened.
MaineMan, who stands about a head over me, dropped down on one knee. His head was at my waist and he looked up at me with his big brown eyes. My brain was short-circuiting and I couldn’t decipher the mixed messages. What is he doing? He’s proposing! What is he doing? He’s proposing! What is he doing?!
“Will you marry me?”
The incredulous side of my brain won and I blurted, “OH MY GOD ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? HONEY, ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? ARE YOU KIDDING? ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?”
Probably not the words anyone wants to hear after asking a loved one the most nerve-wracking question known to man.
I face-palmed. Shock and disbelief won over any sense. I thought I was going to be prepared for this. I thought we’d probably have one, two, a dozen more talks about getting married before this.
“Can you answer the question?” Poor MaineMan. Smiling up at me.
“Yes yes YES!” I said in a crescendo.
He struggled to get a ring out of his pocket. I worried he might have dropped it. He tried to slip the beautiful ring on my ring finger, but it wouldn’t fit. It now sits on my pinkie, a beautiful gold diamond heirloom. MaineMan probably sat there for over five minutes until I grabbed his hands and made him stand up. We kissed. I was shaking, crying, screaming, jumping, then I’d repeat the cycle. Agnes was oblivious.
We stayed there for a few moments holding hands.
“Honey?! WHAAT?!” I exclaimed.
MaineMan started to tell me how he managed to pull this off. Packages came to the house filled with “electronics.” We exchanged family phone numbers for “emergency purposes.” Meanwhile his parents sent him jewelry and he and my dad played phone tag before he asked for my dad’s blessing. I was beyond impressed and blown away.
A couple of days have gone by, but as I just told my mom on the phone, it hasn’t sunk in. I’ve logged countless minutes of phone conversations, text messages and e-mails to friends and family. I’ve pinched myself a dozen times.
As we unloaded the truck back at our home in Los Angeles, I shook my head with a wide smile.
“I can’t believe this moment has actually happened to me!” I told MaineMan. “For the longest time it seemed I would forever be sharing in other people’s life-altering moments,” I said.
Engagements. Marriages. Pregnancies. Births. Enthusiastically celebrating, but wondering when would I get to experience such bliss.
“Honey, your whole existence has been made up of life-altering moments,” MaineMan said.
I almost cried then, like I’m almost crying now. So true. So perfect. So in love. With MainMan.