Twenty-two, Two, Twenty-Two, “I do”

Every year around December I write down ten goals for the next year. Ten things I really want to achieve, most of them revolve around writing and blogging, because that’s what I enjoy doing in my spare time and writing is a skill I want to keep developing. Usually I share these goals on my blog, but this year, there was one goal I wanted to keep a secret, but I can now tell I have achieved and this is the story of how I did it.

Part 1 – It was a cold day in December…

Well, not really, but I just didn’t know a good title for this chapter. I was having two weeks off work at the end of last year and the start of the new one. I always sit down in December to look back at my annual goals and deciding what I want to focus on in the next. Sometimes this feels a bit like a drag, because I have a tendency to copy/paste a lot of my previous goals. But this year, I really wanted to shake up things and push myself to do new stuff. One of them is obviously working on a brand new novel, which I plan to finish this year. Another was taking up my hobby of drawing again, although I started doing clay sculpting and I have to admit that I’m enjoying myself a lot doing that. And well, the other was something I wanted to keep a secret from everybody, because it’s not every day you ask someone to marry you. In fact, my intention is to only do it once in my entire lifetime. You may call me old fashioned, or some hopeless romantic, but I really do believe in true love and the relationship Bren and I have is just what I always imagined a healthy relationship to look like. We really support each other in areas where the other wants to grow in, we share our feelings, although I have some troubles doing that sometimes. Sure it isn’t always easy, but we’ve been through so much already and I had always imagined that whenever I found a girl like Bren, I’d be in in for the long haul.

So, with all that in mind, I penned down this goal: Propose to Bren, by March 2022 (22-2-2022, 22:22?)

And my key motivation: Bren says she doesn’t want to get marry after her 40th. I figure that 40 for me would be a perfect age to ask her to marry me. I am still madly, deeply in love with that woman and I want to make her mine, forever.

Granted, I was a bit scared, because we both turned 40 last year and Bren had always been pretty adamant about not wanting to marry after her 40th birthday. Since 22-02-2022 was a date we won’t be seeing any time soon, I figured that if I wouldn’t do it then, then when would I. I then wrote down my next actions:

  • Figure out where and how I could propose
  • Get a ring(!)

Easy, right? Right?!

Part 2 – Ring, ring, ring

Since it wasn’t really that hard to settle on a date to ask Bren, that left me with just one more problem. A ring… How could I possibly get a good ring in such a short time? Because by the time I had penned down my goals it was almost the start of January, which would give me a full month and some weeks to get it. One thing that I already knew was that I didn’t have to buy her a big fat diamond ring, because that’s just not her style. Luckily I am good at remembering gift ideas. I even keep a list of ideas whenever something is mentioned by someone, just for future reference.

So, I heard Bren mention Atelier Wolfstone a couple of times and she showed me a bunch of their work on Instagram. What she showed me looked really good and their style really seemed to fit with Bren’s tastes. The first thing that came to my mind when I was thinking of where to buy an engagement ring was to contact them and see if they could do a custom design within about 1.5 months. I filled in the form on their website and pretty soon after I was sent an email with a reply. After that I kept in touch with Huib from Atelier Wolfstone and we discussed my wishes and what elements the ring should have. I told him that my wishes were a ring with a labradorite gemstone, an Ygdrassil theme, because Bren loves the Tree of Life and a text engraved on the inside of the band in Gaelic: “Mo Anam Cara”, which means My Soul Friend.

Huib and Kaat really came through with the design and everything. The sketch and the actual end result are so close to one another. That’s real craftsmanship, if you ask me. They managed to convert my wishes into something real and tangible. But the road to creating the ring wasn’t easy and I was a bit stupid in asking Bren for help as well, while still keeping all of this a secret.

Some time ago last year Bren gave me a small wooden box and I had kept it in the top drawer of my desk, knowing that I wanted to use it for the engagement ring at some point in the future. So when I was discussing the ring design with Huib, I also brought up the little wooden box and whether he was able to make something nice of it for the ring. Huib said they could, but he would need some pieces of fabric to create the padding on the inside and asked if I could provide that as well. With some manner of confidence I searched through all of Bren’s stuff, but seeing as she crochets and rarely uses any fabrics, I decided to ask her if she could provide me with some green fabric, if she ran into it. When I asked, she asked in return what in blazes I could ever need pieces of green fabric for, because I never use any of that stuff for the things I do (which is mainly writing, of course).

And so began a long, long month of Bren asking me almost every day if I wanted to confess my secret and what the fabric was for she had provided. I never told anyone else at this point and I’m glad I didn’t, because I’m sure someone would have probably told her. In the meantime I was also in contact with Huib almost every day, whenever he had questions about the ring and the design. It was quite nerve wrecking to keep a secret for such a long time, I have to admit.

Then came the day when the ring was finally delivered to us. The timing could have been perfect, with Bren being downstairs, but alas, the mailman decided to show up shortly after Bren came home and when the doorbell rang I knew I just said: “It’s for me, so I’ll get it!”
I clearly remember Bren saying that she was already close to the door and she didn’t understand why I was so adamant to be the one to open the door. My heart was beating like a drum in a death metal band. Luckily I was prepared with a decoy of sorts. The mailman also had a package for Bren, which was already a nice way to distract her from the package I had received and eventually she did ask me what was so important. I simply held up a copy of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire for the 3DS and told her I had ordered it cheap.
“And I thought you weren’t going to buy any games this month? So far for that…” was her reply. I was just glad that she hadn’t seen the actual package, but it was a bit too close for comfort. But the most important ingredient for my proposal was finally in my hands. A beautifully crafted engagement ring.

Part 3 – The Big Day

Bren must have wondered why I had been so adamant about wanting to have 22-02-2022 for ourselves and that I would at least take that day off from work, maybe the entire week. I ended up opting for the latter, because I just wanted us to be able to do the things we weren’t able to in the first week of this year, because of the lockdown here in the Netherlands.

It had always been a wish of ours to do some museum visits in the near future and so I decided that this day would be perfect to go to Naturalis in Leiden, the museum for Biodiversity, which is also a large research station. Ever since they had renovated I hadn’t visited and one of their key exhibitions is the dinosaur one. The addition of Trix the T-rex was one of the biggest in the museum’s history and it’s one of the most impressive things you’ll ever see in your life, along with the rest of the dinosaur skeletons on display.

One of the funniest moments was when we were finally seeing Trix and I had already told Bren a lot about my love for dinosaurs and how impressive Trix was in real life. When we finally stood there, she said: “Why don’t you ask Trix to marry you?” and I couldn’t help but laugh and think If only you knew what is coming up tonight!
We had such a great time in the museum and even brought home a couple of souvenirs, gemstones and a rock crystal geode.

We spent the evening eating vegan food from our local Vegan take-out service Mr. Vegan and after dinner we spent time building LEGO sets together, along with some music and talking about our great day at Naturalis. And so, time crept forward at an ever decreasingly slow pace for me. At about 22:15 I had set an alarm, but somewhere around 22:00 Bren said she was going to crochet for a bit, because she didn’t have the energy to keep building her LEGO bouquet and I was thinking Please don’t go to bed, because that’ll sort of ruin this perfect little moment that’s coming in 22 minutes!

But truly, once the time hit 22:15 I was completely taken over by a nerve wracking panic attack or something and I remember going to the bedroom to pick up the ring and pouring us both a new drink. I sat down next to Bren and I had prepared a little story in my head, but once I opened my mouth nothing even close to it came out. I said something along the lines of:

“Bren, we’ve been together for some time now and today is the twenty-second of… ehh… twenty, eh… ”

And Bren, kindhearted soul that she is helped me to get the date right and I just kept babbling before remembering that I should have gone down on one knee and then I asked her if she wanted to marry me and she replied: “No, really, are you all right? You don’t look good.”
For some reason that’s when I managed to finally reveal the box and the ring and ask the question again and she did say “Yes.” that second time! Score!
As you can see, I was extremely well prepared and everything went super smooth, just as I had rehearsed in my head a couple of times. We are engaged to be married, but not for some time, yet, we are going to take our sweet time preparing and actually enjoying this period. Both of us don’t like to stress about things and a lot of people’s first question after announcing that we’re engaged is: “Oh, what’s the date going to be for your marriage?” We both don’t know yet and why should it matter so much for those folks anyway? Well, I hope you enjoyed this little story about my plan to ask Bren to marry me. It sure was a big adventure for me, but the real adventure is yet to come!

With much love,

Jeffrey

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