Although the money changed hands on Thursday (Jan. 12), I was forced to leave the store and head back to Franklin empty handed. By leaving the ring overnight, they promised to have it sized by Friday afternoon.
After I got home, I sat down at the computer to do some work on Parts III and IV of this story. Rarely am I ever able to just sit down and start writing. Add to that the fact that I was staring down at some hefty receipts for a ring that I didn't even have in my possession. I never doubted the decision. But that doesn't mean that I didn't ask myself, "what have you gotten yourself into," more than once. I decided to kill some time by wondering through Yahoo games. I like to think that this is where this story gets interesting.
Although I'm usually a pool man on Yahoo, I downloaded the trial version of Wheel of Fortune, instead. The second puzzle of my game was a phrase.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
As I spun my way through the puzzle, piecing together vowels & consonants... it hit me.
The puzzle was "Will You Marry Me."
I haven't expressed a sincere drop of doubt or worry since.
* * * * *
The next day, I made the hour drive back to pick up the smallest big investment that I've ever made. Or, perhaps that should be biggest small investment. Whatever. You get the picture.
My mind was doing cartwheels on the way from the store to my truck. Only days before, this had been a concept. Engagement was just an idea that Jessie and I would get around to one of these days. But, suddenly, it was more than that. It was indebtedness. It was white gold & diamonds. It was in this small box clutched tightly in my fist. It was as though I was in the middle of the lake with no recollection of jumping in. But, somehow, it was okay. The water was fine.
I made like a kid with a new toy and hurried out to my truck just so I could pull it out, sit and stare at it a while. As I negotiated rush hour traffic, I think I pulled it out at nearly every red traffic light. Only one person knew that I'd purchased the ring and he lived about 30 minutes away. I called him up and told him that I was heading over. I had to show somebody or else I was going to go mad. On the way to his house, I wore the rings on my pinky just so I could see them. Yes, I'm aware that that is a warning sign of something.
* * * * *
Friday night, the ring came home with me. On Saturday, the ring went with me to the firehouse. I thought about putting it in the safe, but I felt better knowing that it was around. Because of an odd schedule that we work every few weeks, I was off work at 7 p.m. Saturday night and headed south to Smallville. After a late dinner with my mom and brother, I had the chance to show it off to someone new.
After ditching my brother, I offered to drive my mom home. About halfway there, I told her that things might be a little tight in the money department for a while. I told her that I'd made a down payment on something and I wanted her opinion. As I reached into my pocket, one might have thought I was proposing to her. "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" Needless to say, she approved of the ring and of the potential engagement. One parent down... Two to go.
* * * * *
Monday was my last night in Smallville. I'd felt crummy all day long and so I made up a (convincing) story about needing to make a Wal-Mart run for drugs before driving back to Franklin. Instead of Wal-Mart, however, I headed out to Jessie's parents' house instead.
Although I think I had been legitimately sick all day, part of me wondered if it was the nerves of meeting with her parents. Whatever it was, it disappeared on the drive out to their house. When I arrived, her dad was in the shower, so I shot the shit with her mom for 30 minutes. I'd called her up on my way out to the house to ask if I could run something by them, so I wondered how much of an idea she had as to the purpose of my visit. Eventually, Jessie's dad came out and conversation slowed. Finally, it paused. I took that as my opportunity.
To be honest, I'm not sure I remember everything that was said. It started with something like this, "I realize that the relationship between Jessie & I has centered around a lot of ambiguity at times." And then, I lost my way for a bit. After mentioning that I'd never had a conversation like this before... Jessie's mom chimed in with, "if this is heading where I think it is heading, you shouldn't have to do it again." A laugh was had by all and, with that, I asked if they had any problem with me asking her to marry me. I think that conversation was the first time I'd actually uttered the words "marry me." Her mom said, "It's about time" and her dad jokingly told me not to be in too big of a rush as he'd just paid off Jessie's sister's wedding. Ahh... approval complete.