So Zach and I are engaged, as of about a month and a half ago. This is horribly overdue. I've been back in the states for a month now, worked multiple days of overtime each week at work, missed two posts in my regularly-schedule three-a-week, and still have more travels to log on here. Forgive me? None of it's relevant, though.
Amsterdam is where it happened. The story starts long before that, but I'll get to that in another post.
Amsterdam was the last stop in the mini-backpacking trek during Zach's two weeks over in Europe. We had a really great trip, stopping in London, Paris, and finally Amsterdam, but to say that the trip was the best one ever would be a lie. We had a really rough start. To start, I am a stressful traveler. I've traveled Europe many times, and it's incredibly comforting sharing a similar language, but trains, planes, and time tables make me so tense. Tense to the point that I turn into a tourist robot. The complete opposite is the case in the states, where I've literally ran through an airport without shoes before because I'm so bad at planning time. I was also so incredibly concerned about Zach having an awesome trip, seeing as much as he could, and making his first trip out of the country memorable. It's ironic because I was literally a heartless machine leading him through cities with such precision to start this trip.
I wasn't like that in Derby. I was so chill. Over the few days in London, I could slowly feel my body parts being replaced by machines. Not literally, obviously. Though I think I just made a good movie premise. Don't steal it. In Paris, I knew I was irritable solely on our time table, and was mad at myself for it. Zach knew it was happening, and tried to reassure me that he was having an amazing time, but I took his "I'd like to see anything" as apathy and started to feel that he didn't care as much as I wanted him to care about all of these awesome, historic, and famous cities. I'm fully aware how crazy I sound as I type this. Certifiable.
By the time we got to Amsterdam, I was exhausted purely on my own mental punishment. That, and the hellacious overnight bus from Paris. Again, never do that. Amsterdam totally revived me somehow. I think it was because the city was new to both of us, so I didn't have as strict of a schedule to follow. I couldn't make Zach fall in love with it the same way I had because we would be discovering it at the same time.
Enough with my crazy, though. I'm working on it, and also trying to keep this real so not every girl imagines the music building, the animals gathering, and the stars smiling during her proposal.
Please remember that I'm wearing two pairs of pants, three shirts, two coats, and a scarf in this picture. I couldn't feel you if you stabbed it, and I look like it.
On our only night in Amsterdam, we were exhausted. We blame the eight previous days of touring two cities at a very fast pace and a sleepless night on a bus with a pack of loud Spanish-speaking girls and drive through heavy snow that literally shut down Paris the next day. That's the truth, and we're lucky we got out of there just in time. My friend had encouraged me to explore the red light district at night, though, saying that it was fascinating. I was intrigued after seeing five prostitutes in windows a noon earlier, so I was willing to sacrifice sleep again that night. We toured the red light district until Zach was sufficiently uncomfortable and I was still walking past windows in awe. They looked so normal. I couldn't believe I was seeing guys go in the doors. I couldn't believe that locals were walking around like nothing unusual was happening. I was exactly as my friend had described it - fascinated. Zach wanted to walk around the canals on the other side of the red light district, with the intent of finding the widest bridge that we had seen previously on our walking tour.
We ambled about for some time, then I wrapped it up with some line about being over it and ready for the warmth of the hotel. I wore two pairs of pants, three shirts, two coats, a hat, and gloves the entire trip. Zach agreed and we headed back. Halfway there, he grabbed my arm and said, "Actually, there is one more thing I wanted to do." I rolled my eyes and followed as he spun on his heels and walked briskly in the other direction.
We were standing in the middle of the widest bridge over the canal. The Googles are telling me this is the Torensluis bridge. Zach was looking at the sky and running to and fro across the bridge. I was standing and watching. After probably ten seconds, because he looked like a lunatic and I wasn't going to give him more time for lunatic tendencies, I asked what he wanted. He said he forgot. So I let him continue with his strange pacing. I suggested that he measure himself against one of the skinniest houses in the row, which was something like six feet and a couple inches wide. He walked toward it, then got awkward about measuring himself against a residence. I reminded him that it wouldn't be helpful for me to lay down and measure myself because I was already under six feet. He continued pacing around and I shrugged it off. Finally he stopped on one side by the railing and called me over. I shuffled over and was asked if he'd remembered. I don't remember him answering.
He pulled me in for a hug. He kissed me, then my forehead. We stood there for a bit. I pulled away to look at the stars, spotted Orion's belt, and was about to point it out to him when he started backing into a lunge. I started flapping my arms about and screaming in a hushed tone, "What are you doing?!" I pulled him up by the elbows. He looked real confused, then started to lower again. I started flapping again, saying, "No, no, no - what are you doing?!" In all this flailing, I believe I kicked him in the shin and pulled him up again. This time, he looked a bit exasperated. "Sam," he said. "Will you let me do this?" I nodded and let him back into a lunge uninterrupted. On one knee, he told me he had all these nice things to say, but that I had since thrown him off. He said that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I nodded, still biting my lip in an effort to control myself. He got up, we kissed, hugged, and, true to my planning fashion, asked how we were going to do this. I ruin everything.
He didn't present a ring, but on instinct I started pulling my glove off. That's a weird instinct for this being my first proposal. He picked up on that and then pulled out a box and said, "This isn't your ring." I was all sorts of confused, and started to put my glove back one, thinking that maybe I had just imagined that last minute and this was going to be real awkward in a second when I would realized that he was actually just tying his shoe. He then blabbered on about how he had made another ring, but that it wasn't ready, and he knew he wanted to propose over this trip, so he got a sort of promise ring until then. It's clear that he had no concept of what a promise ring was. He presented me with a raw, jagged diamond on a thin, hammered, silver band. I loved it. The reality was setting in at that point, so I wasn't processing language and was starting to cry as I stared at it. Zach starting bouncing around then and I followed in a haze, shaking a bit and staring at my hand. I could barely believe what just happened. I was in a state of complete shock.
Clearly I wasn't ready - my nails look fantastic.
Strangely, I knew it was coming. Earlier in the trip, I had thought there was a moment on the top of Montmartre when it might've happened. Amiright? After the moment passed, and nothing happened, I thought I was crazy for even thinking it.
When Zach and I got back together the summer before, after a year-and-a-half split in which we didn't talk to each other, we talked casually about what it meant. Reuniting, in our mid-twenties, after years of dating and a solid split. It was happening for a reason. Zach was moving to Cleveland, though, and I was moving forward with my career in DC. We were both happy with that. A couple months later and the long-distance, it was clear that we'd matured from our previous relationship and it was clear that we weren't happy without each other. Zach had said that he didn't think anything would happen until we were in the same city (which would mean I would move to him) and I had said that I didn't think anything would happen until I had a ring (meaning he would have to propose). We're very stubborn people, and we were just talking casually, so neither of us thought much of it.
That changed for Zach when we spent the Christmas holiday apart (I was in England). The following January, I had a rough time at work, and told him that I would give DC one more year, then I'd be out. I was admitting defeat, and setting the clock for a move to Cleveland in the summer of 2014. Based on conversations we'd had before, I believed that meant we would be engaged in the summer of 2014, or later.
So I wasn't prepared for Amsterdam. It's clear I don't handle surprise very well.
Three weeks later, back in the states, Zach visited DC on my birthday and presented me with my "real" ring. It's a raw diamond with grey shading, surrounded by tiny brilliant diamonds, on a brushed palladium band. I'm obsessed with it.
This time I was ready - I painted my nails and woke up to creepily demand my ring.
So now we're on to big life changes: a quicker move to Cleveland, house hunting, and wedding planning - all while trying to keep the emotions in check. Wine me.