This is where my husband asked me to marry him. It’s the rocky point at the end of a tiny beach, in a tiny town on the shores of the Northumberland Strait. The cottage on that beach is where we spend two weeks of every summer, and it’s where my husband spent all his childhood summers. It’s a piece of us.
13 years ago, we walked out to the rocks at sunset with a bottle of cold white wine, and we walked back to the house betrothed and drunk with love.
The proposal went wonderfully right, from my point of view at least. For Ted, it was nerve-wracking. Before we left on our trip, I was cleaning out the back of the car, and I pulled out a pair of his jeans and a shirt that were just sitting on the back seat. Not in a bag. I hate that. I was already grumpy about the whole not in a bag thing, mumbling something to the effect of “How hard it is to container-ize?”, when out of the pocket of his jeans fell three of my rings. I started in on, “What are my rings doing in the pocket of these jeans that you so carelessly transport without a bag?!” He’d taken them off the dresser to take to the jeweler’s to get my ring size, of course, but I was so hung up on the whole clothes not in a bag, rings clattering onto the sidewalk, they could have fallen out anywhere, it’s lucky that you didn’t lose them train of thought, that it never even occurred to me to wonder why he had them in the first place. He said he’d picked them up off the floor of our bedroom when he was vacuuming and had forgotten to put them back on the dresser. Bless ‘im. It never even occured to me to question that.
So having escaped my noticing that he was scoping out my ring size, he then had to come up with a way to present the ring to me. That year, Alice Munro, whose stories I wrote about for my doctoral thesis, published The Love of a Good Woman, so he thought he’d buy a copy of that aptly-titled collection, cut out a hole in the middle of it, and put the ring box into it. Great idea, but the book wasn’t thick enough. So he went to the shelf and took off the thickest of her books, her Selected Stories. The copy with all my notes and annotations in it. And he cut holes through 500 pages to create a little nest for the ring box.
He was more afraid that I’d be mad about the book than he was worried about my response to his proposal. Which was, of course, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I was not at all fazed by the cut up book, I was enchanted by the idea, and I am still head-over-heels in love.