I sleepily stumble through the large, spacious hallways of the International Terminal at the Atlanta Airport until I finally reach Customs. I enter my information into the brand new customs machines that US citizens use now when re-entering the country (I swear one day machines are going to really take over this planet). The machine prints a receipt with a terrible photo and I wait in line to present my information to a customs officer, who checks to make sure the machine didn’t make a mistake. Or something like that? This whole new process confuses me, but it did take a whole lot less time. He asks me the standard questions, and I accidentally answer “I am staying with a friend tonight and then flying to Baltimore tomorrow” when he asks “How long were you gone for?” because I thought he said “Where are you going?”
Then, “Do you have anything to declare?”
YES, PLEASE LOOK AT THIS AMAZING ENGAGEMENT RING NOW SITTING ON MY LEFT HAND!
Okay, that’s not really what I said, because the super-bored-looking Customs officer could probably care less. But I did come back from Paris with something better than what I took over there with me–the fact that I can now yell this from the rooftops:
As I was packing for Paris, and telling friends/family about the trip, almost every single person said, in some form or fashion, “you’re going to get engaged.” One of my friends even said, after asking questions about our plans for the trip: “And where do you think the proposal will happen?” I talked about it at length with a few close friends, even making jokes about my concerns about dropping the ring into the Seine if he proposed on a river cruise, but I really didn’t plan on it happening. Rahul and I have been in a relationship for almost 4 years, and have been talking about marriage since near the beginning. But since we are still long-distancing it (for not much longer!), a proposal was not something I really expected to happen until we were both living in the same country. Of course, that didn’t stop me from dreaming about it.
Boy, did he prove me wrong.
Before I start to share the story with you, I’m excited to announce that you will not only be able to read the proposal story from my POV, but Rahul’s as well!! My friend Mary Beth said that one of the best part about proposal stories is you get to hear two sides of the same moment, and I have to agree with her.
Rahul, who is usually not a planner at all, sent me a very detailed itinerary for our trip about a week before we were set to leave. Each day was scheduled to perfection; all the places we had talked about visiting had a place somewhere. I was impressed, and excited, but didn’t think anything of it. I just assumed he was excited about our trip too and wanted to make sure we got to see everything we wanted to.
Then he asked for my dad’s phone number, so he could share the itinerary, and the little voice in my head piped up–could it be? Could he be calling him for any other reason than just to share the itinerary? I thought about it, even shared the idea with a few girlfriends, before thinking “nah. He just doesn’t want my parents to worry.”
Clever Rahul step #1.
On the itinerary, our 2nd full day in Paris was scheduled as our Eiffel Tower Day. We were scheduled to have breakfast in the morning, walk through Trocadero, visit the Flame of Liberty, and then return to the Eiffel Tower for dinner at 5:45. I was excited because 1) hello, it’s the Eiffel Tower, and 2) we were going to have dinner INSIDE OF IT! On the itinerary for the Eiffel Tower Day, he had placed a small asterisk by the date, something I didn’t notice until he pointed it out to me later.
Clever Rahul step #2.
THE DAY OF
I’m going to share this part of the story from the POV of has-no-idea-what’s-going-on-Katherine because it’s fun that way.
The night before, I ask Rahul what time we need to get up. Do we have a reservation for breakfast? What time do we need to get there? (I like to ask a million questions). “Oh, yeah, we have a reservation at 8:15, I think,” he says. I say okay and we set our alarm clocks. That night, we had gone on a dinner river cruise on the Seine, gotten a nice introduction to the city of Paris, seen the Eiffel Tower freakin’ SPARKLE AND LIGHT UP!, seen the Paris Statue of Liberty (where was Nic Cage?), and it was all during sort of dreary weather. We keep checking the weather in hopes that the next morning would be rain-less.
That morning, we get up with plenty of time to leave for our “8:15 reservation.” Rahul plays some music, I take a shower, and then generally lollygag, because that’s the thing I do, and Rahul waits patiently, because that’s the thing he does. We still manage to leave with time on our side and walk to the metro stop close to our hotel, which is a direct shoot to the Trocadero stop.
On the metro, we are holding hands and Rahul starts playing with the small initial ring I have on my left ring finger–the one I had started wearing a few months before, and was planning on wearing until we got engaged, as my last name would change from a K name to a J name. He touches the ring and says, “Which finger do you wear an engagement ring on?” I smile and point to the same finger. He plays with the ring some more.
Clever Rahul step #3.
About halfway there, the metro stops at one of the stations and suddenly everyone get out. Someone says to us in French that the train is stopping and so we also get off the train. Then, of course, I go into panic mode. I am a pretty worrisome traveler, and I also don’t do so great with long lines, hiccups in plans (like train closures), or other things in this realm that involve waiting for something to happen. When I’m with Rahul, I can usually let this part of me take a backseat, as he is pretty relaxed and confident that things we’ll turn out the way they should and, if not, we’ll figure it out anyway. So while I’m panicking, thinking we are going to miss our breakfast reservation, Rahul hides his panic and asks a metro employee what we need to do. She points us in the direction of another route, and we continue our journey.
A few stops later, we get off at Trocadero and walk toward it. I’m not making this up when I say the first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower that morning was magical. Trocadero is a beautiful park/look-out/fountain across from the Eiffel Tower, and provides–in my mind–the best view of the Eiffel Tower. It’s unobstructed and you can see the whole thing. So we round the corner to Trocadero, and I gasp. The weather was perfect, the sun was still rising, and there was the Eiffel Tower, resplendent in the early morning glow. I’m taking it all in when I hear Rahul say, “Oh no!”
“What is it?”
He points to an Asian couple who are taking wedding photos and who are, strangely enough, the same couple we had seen taking wedding photos the day before at Luxembourg Gardens. “Why is taking wedding photos a bad thing?” I asks him. He laughs it off and we move past them to stand at the edge of the look-out and take in the view.
I am still in awe of the simply gorgeous view, especially after the dreary weather the night before. The sky is beautiful and shines down on the Tower, quiet and nearly empty at that hour. It was, and still is, my favorite view of the Tower from our whole trip. There’s hardly anyone else around us and so, after taking a few pictures of the Tower, I say, “Let’s take a selfie!” (Because what else are you going to do as an American in Paris). He obliges and we take a few photos. Also during this time we are hugging and kissing and basking in the glow of the fact that we are in PARIS and it is amazing.
This is when I start to wonder if something was going on.
I’ll step out of character for a second to say that when I have told this story since, I say here that I noticed something was going on because he started to say a lot of nice things to me. Now Rahul says nice things to me all the time, but he started saying a lot of them in succession. I return the sentiments, smiling at him and happy, and then ask to take more pictures of us. We go to take another picture when he says “Oh crap! We should move, the couple is right behind us.” I look and the Asian couple has moved closer to us and is in between us and the Tower. So we move a few spots to the right and I take my phone out again.
“Why don’t you put it away,” he said. “Just take in the view.” So I oblige, all the while thinking, what’s going on, as he actually puts my phone in my bag for me and zips it shut.
This is when I enter into what I like to call “PROPOSAL HAZE WHAT IS HAPPENING??!?!?”
Rahul puts my phone away, steps back, and says, “I love you. You make me so happy, and I want to spend the rest of my life making you as happy.” I sort of remember him saying this, because the next thing I know he is kneeling down on one knee and holding a red velvet box toward me in his palms. I follow the movement of him kneeling like a cat watching a laser, thinking OMG what is happening!?!? and then next thing I know there is a RING SITTING IN THE BOX SITTING IN HIS HAND. I am so distracted looking at him kneeling and looking at the ring that I don’t really remember him saying “Will you marry me?” even though I know he did. Even after all the dozens of comments that Rahul was definitely going to propose in Paris, I found myself in complete shock as he holds a ring up to me, a smile on his face.
As my best friend Lydia says, I went into “ooh, something shiny!” mode.
I stare at the ring as it blurs out everything else around me. I reach out toward it, and I must have been smiling (I honestly don’t remember, it was like I went into a haze) and Rahul says, “That’s a yes, right?” And I say of course, and I am smiling, and he stands up and takes the ring out and removes my K ring and slides on this BEAUTIFUL ENGAGEMENT RING and we start kissing and smiling and hugging and kissing some more and hugging to the point that there’s a picture of us where it looks like I am trying to pick him up, I am hugging him so hard.
Oh, that’s right. Because after the celebration phase (which is also sort of a blur because I was so overwhelmed with excitement about what had just happened), Rahul says, “By the way. Look over there.” And this woman holding a camera waves at us and I start laughing in shock.
Clever Rahul step #4.
You might notice that is my PARIS DRESS, which was featured in my last blog post, and will forever be known as my PROPOSAL DRESS!
Lindsey of Pictours Paris introduces herself and then we take dozens of amazing pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, all the while I’m looking at Rahul and at the ring on my hand thinking, “oh my gosh! We’re engaged! This is crazy!” When I discussed the proposal with some girlfriends afterwards, we all commented on the fact that, while you wish you could freeze time, take in every moment of the proposal, and remember it forever, your brain instead goes into “SOMETHING AMAZING IS HAPPENING SO I AM GOING TO FREAK OUT!” I am in a delirious excitement the whole time, but I also can’t believe what just happened. We are in Paris, we are engaged, and we are taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower. THE EIFFEL TOWER!!!!! Life is good.
We take some more pictures at the Love Lock bridge, and put our own lock on the bridge, but I do not have those pictures yet to share with you. After we part ways with Lindsey, we walk to a random cafe, order these AMAZING chocolate croissants, and I tell Rahul he has to tell me everything. I learn:
- Yes, he had asked my Dad for permission beforehand, and both of my parents knew, as well as his.
- In fact, many of his friends knew, and so did my sister.
- The center stone on the ring was from a ring of his mother’s, and he had skyped with the jeweler in TN to design the rest of the ring. (I mean, WHATTTT!?!?)
- He had his parents sew the ring in the tag of a t-shirt, wrap the t-shirt in a bag, and then sent to me via my parents, where I held this package (which I thought was a shirt and a check) for nearly three weeks before transporting it with me to Paris to deliver to Rahul.
Clever Rahul step #5.
Yes, that’s right. I HAD THE RING WITH ME THE WHOLE TIME! This is definitely one of my favorite parts about the story.
After the croissant eating, we walk down the river and just talk and laugh and enjoy ourselves and a Paris that is not yet full of the general OMG THERE ARE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE, which is lovely and amazing and one of my favorite parts about the morning. That and the fact that we ARE NOW ENGAGED.
Now that I am back in Maryland, I am sort of depressed with the fact that I am in Maryland and not Europe (Rahul, can we move there please?), and have to catch up on a crap-ton of work because, OH THAT’S RIGHT, school starts next week and I have to switch into teacher mode pretty soon. But it’s hard to work when you have a shiny ring on your finger distracting you every .8 seconds….
Rahul and I have talked a little about wedding plans but, as my friend Alex suggested, we are enjoying being engaged right now before transitioning into the months of planning and preparation. We had a full week of Paris left after the proposal to enjoy the city together, drink celebratory champagne, and just bask in the fact that we can now call each other fiancé and fiancée.
The following takes place between 7:00 am and 8:30 am, on the day of Rahul-Katherine Proposal.
So where exactly is breakfast? She asks.
Oh its a nice place near the Trocadero. We have reservations for 8:15.
Who makes reservations for breakfast, I chuckle to myself. Oh well, looks like she’s buying it. Time to get dressed.
She puts on this pink and white dress. It looks amazing! She makes it look amazing. I sneak looks at her as she’s getting ready.
I play “Married Life” from UP on my phone. I’ve been sneakily playing it on random occasions over the last month, she recognizes it.
My biggest problem right now: where do I put this ring box? It’s too big to fit in my pocket without being noticed. I’m not taking a backpack to a proposal. I can’t hide it in a t-shirt again. Hmmm, well done Rahul, so you didn’t plan everything did you…I start thinking.
Quick last minute, slightly dangerous, slightly stupid decision. I’ll just tuck it into my belt around the back so she can’t see it. All the way up to the proposal the box hangs precariously from my belt; it falls out on the metro a few times. I keep putting it back in the same place. What did Einstein say about stupidity?
As we’re riding the metro on the way to the Trocadero, a thousand scenarios are running through my mind. We hold hands and it calms me. I force myself to think in the moment, I don’t want to forget this day.
I ask her about the ring she’s wearing, but its carefully placed inside another conversation. I’m hoping I’m not being too obvious, I’m just excited! On very rare occasions I let my poker/act like you’ve been here before/face slip, and this is clearly one of them. She clearly notices the ring conversation, and I quickly change the topic. How bout that Disneyland Paris huh? I wonder if there are joggers there too? (There are joggers everywhere in Paris, Versailles, the Louvre, the toilets.)
The metro doesn’t cooperate, so we have to detour. I take it in stride. Nothing is going to ruin this day, I think to myself.
The following takes places between 8:09 am and 8:30 am. All events are in real time.
We finally make it to our stop, and I’m thinking, come’on sun! If there’s only one day you need to cooperate, it’s today, don’t let me down giant burning star. As we’re climbing up the stairs, exiting the metro, I see what looks like sunrays, could it be? Does someone up there know how important today is?
Sure enough, we walk out to a beautiful sunny crisp Paris morning! It’s not too cold, not too hot, just the perfect porridge, I mean weather. What could go wrong?
And as soon as we turn the corner onto the Trocadero, BAMMM! Asian Couple Marriage Photo Session! Dammit! Who invited the Asian couple decked out in full wedding garb to my proposal? (There are Asian couple photo sessions everywhere in Paris, Versailles, the Louvre, the toilets.)
It’s ok, I brace myself. I force myself to think in the moment, I don’t want to forget this day.
As we’re walking up, I see the a teal camera strap out of the corner of my eye. That’s her, that’s the photographer. (“I’ll make a gesture to you, so you notice me,” she writes in the email conversation we had a few weeks ago, “you’ll notice my teal camera strap. “) Either that’s Lindsey the photographer, or I’ve just made awkward acknowledgements towards a weird-ed out tourist. She’s following us, good, that has to be her.
Too many things happening at once: trying to dodge the Asian couple, there’s construction on one side of the Trocadero, is the ring still tucked into my belt? Where is the photographer? Katherine didn’t see me look around, did she?
We slowly make our way to the steps descending from the Trocadero. Ring check. Ok, good it’s still there. I look at Katherine, she calms me. One look at her is all I need, I’m back in the game. I tell her about how wonderful she is, and how happy she makes me. I try to tell her this as much as I can. She wants to capture the moment on camera, so we always remember it. No camera necessary, I put it in her purse. Don’t worry about the photo Katherine, it’s been taken care of. This is where I would break the third wall and acknowledge the audience, Underwood style.
Nothing could be more perfect than this moment. I slowly get the box from my belt and hold it behind my back. In that moment I think to myself, how lucky am I? In my wildest craziest most unimaginable dreams I would not have imagined I would be here, in Paris, with her by my side, asking her to be my wife.
I tell her how happy I want to make her, and how much I love her. How her smile brings a smile to my face. How much she means to me, and how I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her. I slowly drop down to one knee and ask her, Katherine, Will You Marry Me? As I open up the box.
The ring screams, do it!
She goes…. WHAT? Are you serious? Is this happening?
I say yes, the world pauses. Frame freeze. I take the K ring off her finger. I put the Rahul Katherine ring on her finger! It looks perfect on her. She looks perfect. I rise to meet her as she leans down the meet me, we kiss halfway.
What? Are you serious? She says again.
I already know that’s a resounding yes! But I ask anyway. That’s a yes right? And she says YES! Of course, yes! We hug each other, I’m the luckiest guy in the world.
We hug more, we kiss more, we hold hands, we kiss even more. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. Two silly kids who met at a bar in Jackson, Tennessee, made it through everything, and found themselves on the steps of the most romantic city in the world, with the Eiffel Tower staring down on us. And I got to ask the most beautiful girl in the world for her hand in marriage.
I’m a lucky, lucky guy. She makes my heart happy. And I get to do the same for her for the rest of our lives.