Sunday, March 9, 2014

The engagement.

In honor of treasured Jane Austen stories, original versions of British movies, shared blankets and tissues and too much popcorn, the heart for Dickens and all things rich and beautiful and real. *Ahem* Allow me....

On a very important March afternoon, when the long winter let up so we could feel the coming spring, many people were headed into the nation's capital. A girl and her friend. A boy and his family. More friends and excited family members. All but one traveled with a secret. Across the bridge and into the big city, just over the water rose their gallant destination: the John F. Kennedy Center. Swiftly inside, quietly up the stairs, handshakes and hugs... there were huddles and glances and lots of electronic messages. The sun started to fall behind the skyline, and with every passing minute it took more seriously the coming event, deepening its hues for the drama that was to unfold.

It was one of those evenings where the surprise of warm fresh air rang of magic, and the anxious waiting crowd noticed special sights; row teams and tow boats, "Marine 1" cutting just overhead - perhaps the president himself flying down the Potomac.

He set out three albums along the terrace railing - one for every year he'd known her, with facebook correspondence, journal entries and photos chronologically ordered. He tugged at his blazer, felt the ring in his pocket, and slipped around the corner where he would watch, and wait.

All of the family was gathered at the opposite end of the rooftop - careful to remain unseen, but watching with excitement.

 And then she arrived. Donning a classic ivory topped black ruffle dress and her remembered Grandmother's pearls, she and her friend stepped onto the terrace.

Her friend led with nervous energy. They meandered exactly toward the hidden groom a ways until the friend spied him, and steered her back to the planned route - a nice dose of suspense for the groom and onlookers. Her friend explained she'd been instructed to lead the girl this far. With loving excitement and relief, I believe her parting words were, "You're my best friend. I love you," and she backed away to watch the girl discover and explore what now lay on the railing before her.

The girl was confused, and excited. She knelt down and opened the first album. A date, a photo, scraps of conversations and memories past of she and the boy. She took her time flipping through it. As she began to understand the message within, and the thought of the whole thing that was really taking place here tonight appeared fuzzily in her mind, she took her time and tried to let it all sink in. She moved to the next album. Another collection of experiences shared from another year.
She gently pushed a tear off of her cheek. With each photo or entry, it grew clearer; both what was being expressed, and what she was ready to say.

It was after she moved to the final album that he quietly strode toward her, first taking her hands in his, then speaking the things he'd planned to say. 

The sun was almost gone behind them and they were small little figures to the eager family watching from afar. Right around them, a couple of pairs noticed, others walked right by, missing the magic altogether. 

He was dropping to his knee. 

And then, a long embrace. Celebration! They strolled up the terrace, affectionate and happy. There was still one more surprise. He pointed across the river, directed her attention away from the large group waiting for them as they got closer. The family turned around, enjoying the fun of making the suspense last just a little bit longer. But then, a stray nephew toddled out from the group. His mom turned after him, and glanced up to find her eyes already being met by the girl, again surprised! Lots of laughter as the group turned around... I'd go on about the many embraces and "welcome to the family" talk, but as they say, one picture is worth a thousand words. Here are several.



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