My stomach just flip-flopped when I looked at the ring again. It's still so surreal. And you can see why, based on how I was feeling 12 days ago.
But it's a beautiful place that I was able to get myself to, BEFORE the ring, and the overwhelming happiness. I'm proud of that place, because I did it for ME.
And it made what came on Saturday so much more beautiful.
The day started around 9am when we woke up. K made me a delicious breakfast sandwich, I gave him his valentine, and we read the police blotter aloud to each other. (It's a family tradition.)
We cleaned up cat puke, put on snow pants, and packed up the growlers for the long drive to Windsor VT, where we were headed to #thelongthaw party at Harpoon Brewery.
K had originally told me we were going to do a nice dinner somewhere, and then changed his mind once he found the event. I told him an outdoor beer garden was more up my alley anyways.
On the drive, we talked about how we wanted our friends to be happy, how beautiful the scenery was, and I yelled at him again about how he had used a door that said "please use other door" the night before at Price Chopper. I told him he needed to learn to follow the rules.
We arrived, grabbed a few Long Thaws and I kicked K's ass in baggo. (Or "cornhole", depending on where you're from.) We played some slightly-larger-Jenga, won a Harpoon scarf, and stood by the bonfire for a few hours.
Then, Karl noticed they did sleigh rides through the beautiful Path of Life Garden adjacent to the brewery. Neither one of us had any idea just how beautiful it was.
We saddled up next to a bunch of sweet L&D nurses from Boston into the sleigh, and it drew us away from the brewery through this garden.
The garden itself (http://greatriveroutfitters.com/garden-story) is 14 acres, and the man who built it has been working on it for 16 years. The horse-drawn sleigh pulled through the tunnel into the garden, and we huddled under blankets as we viewed the sculptures representing the various stages of life.
A few minutes in, K turned to me and said, "we should go snowshoeing back through here when we get done." To which I replied: "that sounds like a lot of physical labor. I would rather drink beer by the bonfire." But he insisted, so once we were done with the sleigh ride, we compromised (I put on my snow boots instead of snow shoes) and we walked back into the garden the same way we had just come on the sleigh.
He told me there was a distillery next door where we could get vodka after, and I said that was the carrot on the end of my stick, motivating me to walk through the snow.
I then insisted we take a selfie at the entrance to the tunnel, which would turn out to be the last photo we have on record of being boyfriend and girlfriend.
As we entered the garden, K walked ahead of me, gripping my mitten as he steered me towards the first stage of life, "Birth". It was a huge hedge maze, a little overgrown since it was winter, and it led to the next stage, which is "Adventure".
I stopped him at the entrance and said we were going to get lost in there. And since nobody else was around, I was frightened that we would be found in the spring, thirsty skeletons in the center of the maze.
He turned around near the entrance, surrounded on all sides by hedges, pulled me into a hug, and held me close for a few seconds. Then, he said to me: "Honey, I feel like your strengths are my weaknesses, and my strengths are your weaknesses." Then he pulled back from me, looked me in the eyes and dropped to one knee.
I held my mittens over my face and sobbed uncontrollably while he held out the ring. Then, I didn't know what else to do, so I dropped to my own knees and hugged him back for a solid two minutes. It was very Monica and Chandler. (Whose engagement, ironically enough, was what my sister and brother-in-law were watching at that very moment.)
Finally, facing me with tears in his eyes, he said "well, is that a yes?" And of course I said... "YES!" He said, "okay, do you want to take off your Bear Paws so I can put this ring on?"
Just as he placed the ring on my finger, we both stood up to embrace. And just like magic, the sky burst with a whitewash of big fat snowflakes that didn't stop until we got home that night.
We called my sister immediately after and told only she and my brother-in-law. Then, we decided to save the rest of the phone calls for tomorrow. We walked over to the Silo, a distillery located next to the garden, and had our first gin/vodka tasting as fiance and fiancee. (I still can't figure out how to type those weird thingies on top of the 'e's.)
After an insane journey through the last few years, many ups and downs, and lots of very difficult conversations between the two of us, I wouldn't take any of it back. It made us stronger, it taught us that we can stay together through hard times and support and love each other through it, and it has made me the most THANKFUL bride-to-be there ever, ever was.
Friends and family reading this, I just want to thank you for staying by us and supporting us through the last years. We could not have done it without you, and we will continue to need your support through our engagement and marriage. After all, what good is your happiness if you can't share it with the people you love?
PS: Browse this blog with caution, some of it is raunchy and curs-y. But it's all me, and I can't say sorry for that. Stay tuned for more enchanting stories of seating charts and cat vomit.