Pics to tell a story with... (happy ending... err... beginning.... and all)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Better than I could have imagined...

After fussing with this and that all morning, I finally pulled out the blankets I was working on, and my mom said, “I don’t think you’re going to have time for this today.” My response in my head was, “Why on earth not??? It’s 1:30 p.m. and I have nothing else planned for the afternoon,” and I’m sure the look on my face said the same thing.

Mid-conversation, she suddenly needed to check the mail.1 She shuffled through the mail and handed me a letter from Jim. Inside was an origami dragonfly with a message that my boyfriend had sent “Freddy the flighty firefly” to take me on an adventure! My mom was to drive me to the location I’d recognize once I opened the firefly. It unfolded into a picture of a cricket Jim and I had seen in Balboa Park, so I knew we should head there, but why?

When I asked my mom what I should bring, she suggested a comb, in case my hair got windblown. Huh???

I knew Jim couldn’t be in town because he was coming the next week to help me move, so I figured he must be sending me out with my friends for a last “night on the town” before my big move to Portland. I thought he was the sweetest boyfriend ever!

Mom dropped me off in Old Town and told me to walk down the Prado and I’d see people I knew. What a strange feeling of being watched as I walked along waiting to see a familiar face. Suddenly, Rebecca was walking next to me!
2 I was thrilled to see her! After jumping up and down a few times, I took her by the arm and we resumed our stroll to the wishing well. We looked around for a clue, and finding nothing, sat down on a bench. Puzzled, I looked at her and asked, “What do you think we should do?” Matter-of-factly, she replied, “Maybe you should look in that box?”


On the bench, right between us, was a wooden, heart-shaped box. In my dumbfounded state, I asked, “Was that there all along?” She just shrugged and we both giggled. I opened the box and found another dragonfly and note, a tiny silver key, and a tiny scroll with foreign writing, tied with a tiny red bow. The dragonfly warned me that the scroll was probably full of “gushy, mushy blah” and gave me a clue to go to the Green Flash Monument in Mission Beach.

I was quite surprised, because I was expecting that some more girls would meet us in Balboa Park and we’d do something there, but Rebecca agreed that we should head to Mission Beach, so we did, giggling all the way.3

As we pulled up next to the roller coaster, Rebecca stopped at the sidewalk and said she thought I should go by myself, which distressed me. She said she wouldn’t leave me alone there, but I left my purse and jacket in her car just to be sure, and headed down the boardwalk.

I jumped and squealed and yayed and clapped as Tiffany came walking down the boardwalk toward me! We walked to the green flash sculpture, and she said she thought we should look around. Sure enough, another box with a dragonfly and a clue… a picture of Jim and me in a garden at Sea World.  (Later I found out she had asked some junior high surfer kids to watch the box she'd stashed at the sculpture!) 

We snapped a few photos and headed to Sea World.  She said I should get a shopper’s pass to get in to Sea World for one hour, but my purse was in Rebecca’s car and I didn’t know how I’d give them the I.D. required for the shopper’s pass! Until….

We arrived at Sea world, and just as we were walking toward the entrance Marcy came along, carrying my purse and jacket!
4 Tiffany waved goodbye and Marcy and I strolled around Sea World, watched the dolphins, checked out the manatee exhibit, and found the “Garden of Discovery.” To our shock, the vine-covered hut that we were seeking was now merely a frame of twigs!  We had a good laugh, and Marcy, as slyly as she could, dropped another heart-shaped box in the hut. Inside we found a dragonfly and note, and more gushy-mushy blah. The clue directed us to Cabrillo National Monument! Marcy seemed surprised. We stopped for a churro on our way out and cruised down Catalina Boulevard to the tune of one of our favorite C.D.’s, “Sunsets and Sushi.”5


When we arrived at Cabrillo National Monument, Ranger Laura greeted us with her usual love and smile and, “Hello ladies!” She suggested visiting the lighthouse, and I asked if she might join us in a little while. She laughed and said she might. When Marcy parked the car, she pulled several bags and other items out of her trunk, including one of my nice black dresses. When I asked what all that was she shrugged and answered, “Stuff!” We walked to the restroom, and after setting out all the bags, Marcy said, “Okay, get dressed!” I thought she might have a dress for herself and that all the girls were going out on the town, but at that moment I realized that I was the only one dressing up, and everything started to come together in my head. Nervously and excitedly, I got ready. Marcy had everything I might need…even makeup and deodorant!

We walked up to the lighthouse, and she left me there, all dressed up, alone, with a beautiful ocean view! I prayed for a few minutes, and Laura arrived, full of excitement, driving Tracie’s car! I hopped in and she handed me another letter from Jim. A dragonfly and note were inside, and the note went on and on exclaiming about how hot I looked. The dragonfly directed us to the Coast Guard lighthouse, and I tried to cram the whole day’s story into a three-minute drive.

She pulled up next to a gray convertible Mustang. I looked up and saw a little table with a white tablecloth and Jim smiling and walking toward me! I shrieked and giggled…and giggled…and giggled. Laura laughed, “Go on sweetie, have fun!”

As we walked out to the little table, I asked about twenty times, "How are you here?" and giggled uncontrollably.  Jim said he'd come by airplane (shocking!) and I think he was puzzled by my giggling.  We sat at the beautifully set table, complete with tablecloth, silverware, flowers, and an ice bucket, and a larger version of the little wooden heart boxes as the centerpieces.  As the sun set, with the ocean waves rolling below and the lighthouse behind us, we ate the delicious dinner he had made - all my favorites!  I told him every detail of what had happened all afternoon, and he smiled and laughed and seemed to enjoy my mile-a-minute review of the day, Finally he handed me the heart-shaped box.  (Turns out he made the boxes with the dremel tool I gave him for his birthday!)


He showed me how to put the keys inside and as I was about to open the box, he placed his hand on the box and said, “Wait a minute.”6 I realized that he was down on one knee (!!!) and stared at him (and probably giggled).

I said, “Yes!” and he opened the box and gave me this beautiful ring!7

Afterward, we packed up and he asked if I was ready for dessert. (I’m always ready for dessert!) We went to Ghirardelli’s ice cream shop downtown, where my family, all the girls, and their families were waiting and we had a fantastic ice cream party!


You may have noticed some numbers up in Patricia's writing, they are pointers to here where there are some notes from my perspective (Jim) - some of the fun things behind the scenes...

1> I had arrived the night before all this happened to talk to her parents, do some more planning and generally collaborate with her friends (who, mind you, were FABULOUS!!!  They had been conspiring with me for weeks ahead, helped me plan the event, helped me pick out the ring, housed me, and adjusted to every little hitch in the plan to make it work out near perfectly... and they showed Patricia a great time...!), and give her mom a letter from me to stash in the mailbox so she could bring it in with the mail.

The morning of the plan, it was raining, which could have really put a damper on the coastal, picnic dinner.  Just as I left the house to start the festivities, the sun came out and we had perfect weather the whole time...

2> I had considered following this whole event at a distance to watch and take pictures,  but at the very first stop (Balboa Park), I could tell it would be way too easy to be seen.  I was hoping the surprise of her not knowing I was in town would last at least through the first stop and maybe even past the second before she figured out what was going on.  I think she was pretty surprised to see me at the fifth stop, still just figuring out what was really happening here!

3>I had met up with Marcy and Tiffany at Mission Beach before Patricia and Rebecca arrived.  While we were getting our cars moved to the right parking lot, I looked up and directly across the intersection from us, there they were, looking right at us.  Rebecca did a great job of keeping her distracted while we slouched down in our cars and backed-up out of there.  Must have looked funny, "Hey, there's a convertible mustang going backwards through that parking lot with no one to be seen driving it"... Meanwhile, that put Tiffany in the wrong spot, but with some quick adjusting she ended up meeting Patricia right on time...

4>When Patricia left her purse in Rebecca's truck, we just gave it to Marcy to return to her at Sea World, but it later dawned on us that she now had no way to get into Sea World to meet Marcy.  Marcy did a great job realizing this was happening and adjusting the plan to meet her outside of Sea World...

5> While Marcy was playing with her at Sea World (I'd asked Marcy to take her time, because I was going to need some extra), Rebecca and I were busy cooking a 50 minute meal in 35 minutes.  Mind you, this was an experimental meal, that I'd never tried before, let alone cooked, and now we were trying to cook it in a hurry.  I warned Patricia before dinner that I had no idea how edible this meal would be, and that I wouldn't be offended if we wanted to go out to eat after the first bite.  It actually turned out pretty good...

6>During this trip, in the smaller heart boxes, Patricia had been receiving small silver "sticks."  They were actually keys for the Heart Box I had locked her ring in.  After dinner, I thought I would end up having to open the box, because, even having designed and built the locks myself, it still wasn't terribly easy for me to open them.  For someone who didn't know how they worked I was sure it would be impossible.  Patricia proved me wrong though, and had the box unlocked and about to open before I could ask her my question.  I had to put my hand on top of the box to keep it closed, while claiming to be trying to help, so I could get a question out before she pulled out her ring...

7>And the last fun fact, I had originally been sad that the timing wouldn't work out to be eating dinner during the sunset, but the story of the day helped the dinner last longer than anticipated, through the sunset, until the only thing colder than the end of Patti's dinner was me.  I eventually had to interrupt the story and propose while my hands were still thawed enough to slide a ring onto her finger and propose without my teeth chattering.


And after dinner, we took the Mustang out to enjoy some convertible cruising down the Silver Strand...


And... the following day, we got some free time to hang out at Del Mar and go to dinner with Bob and Nancy - our first activities as an engaged couple.  That was a nice break after weeks of ring shopping, detail planning, box building, and..??



And anyone who knows how much I love planning with spreadsheets...


At the dessert I put some more dragonflies on the table.  Each one was a picture of us at one of our previous adventures...



And some pictures of the ring:


The End! ....err, Beginning!