It all began on Thursday, December 21st, 2011 as I sat by the fire in that leather chair. I wasn't looking for a boyfriend at the time. To be completely honest, I was incredibly content being single. All around me were signs of a Kairalla Christmas preparation, including the large tree in the corner, the stack of stockings waiting to be filled, and the steaming cup of peppermint tea sitting beside me. It was an extreme luxury to be awake after everyone was in bed - to enjoy the total silence. The beautiful patterns on the above ceiling caused by the flickering flames caught my attention for a moment, but my thoughts soon drifted back to the text conversation at hand.
My phone buzzed again.
"We should talk at the Lion's Den tomorrow," I read.
"Wanna ask Maggs or Claire? Or just us?" I quickly responded. I didn't want to assume.
The response came only seconds later, "I was thinking just us."
My heart skipped. Nate and I were just friends! Just days before I had even told him that I wasn't looking for a boyfriend before I left for college. He seemed understanding then, however, I couldn't help but hope that he had forgotten that little conversation. I was starting to second guess my own former plans.
"This whole not dating thing, could turn into us dating really quick." I slowly typed.
His response popped up on my phone screen, "I know. That's kind of what I wanted to talk about."
As the majority of my readers know, Nate and I became boyfriend and girlfriend the following day. Our closest friends were accepting, but continually reprimanded us for our excessive flirting. Our family was also supportive, but vaguely confused as to the quick nature of our relationship.
The two years that followed were filled with the stereotypical highs and lows of an intentional and committed relationship. There was the time I told him to "go ahead and kiss me" (for the first time) on the top of a mountain. There was the time when we attempted to summit a peak covered in snow, the time when we re-textured and painted my entire garage, and the time when we helped each other move to a new city. There were the tearful phone conversations while we were 1000 miles away, the two night backpacking trips through creepy river valleys, the heated conversations about money and budgeting on grocery store aisles, the yearly anniversary trips to East By Southwest for sushi, and a long and difficult summer at Kivu. There were even the unfortunate late night homework dates.
Exactly two years, three months and seven days after that initial Lion's Den date, Nate asked once again if I would like to talk. He convincingly insisted that we rarely get time to hang out alone in Durango, let alone at the Lion's Den. I willingly conceded. As soon as we pulled up, I raced up the gravely hill and plopped down in our familiar look out spot.
Nate followed suit. Soon he was standing behind me, embracing me in his arms and resting his chin on my shoulder. We sat in silence for several moments. There were so many memories in this place and in this town. One of our favorite past times has always been to sit in silence, tracing the familiar driving routes with our eyes - the way to our high school, the direction of home, the many paths to get to the river, or the bright roof tops of our favorite restaurants.
"Do you see anyone you know down there?" I asked without turning around. I was referencing another one of our games where I quiz Nate about his unhealthy car addiction. I still find it hard to believe that he can remember the car of every person he's ever met, but I have yet to stump him on one.
"Not yet." He replied casually.
The breeze picked up and I wished for the third time already that I had brought a blanket. I pulled Nate closer.
"I'll be right back. I' m going to go get my phone out of the car," he said abruptly.
"For what?" I said, turning around, but he was already half way down the hill. We almost always intentionally leave our phones in the car, but I wasn't too curious.
The next thing I knew, I turned around to find him down on one knee, red in the face and grinning bashfully. "Well, I have a predicament," he said.
"And what's that?" I replied. By then I had a pretty good idea of what was coming, but what came out of his mouth next was the very last thing I expected.
"I wanted to ask you to marry me, but I lost the ring!"
The next twenty minutes were a flurry of disbelief, hugs, giggles and a gravelly search for a tiny gold ring without a box. Even though I didn't know what I was looking for, we eventually found it.
Nate got down on one knee once again, and I said yes!
How did he loose the ring? Well, not wanting me to feel or see it and guess what was coming, Nate put the ring into what he thought was an inside pocket. Unfortunately, that "pocket" wasn't really a pocket at all. So when he went to put his keys in and take the ring out, the keys hit the ground, and panic set in. As he walked back to the car "to get his phone" he searched frantically, dreading the thought of having to go ring shopping again. When he couldn't find it, he decided making a good story was a better option than waiting to propose another time.
I personally think it's a great story!