Ten years ago this past Tuesday, I got down on my knees and asked someone I loved if she would share her life with me.
She was sitting in the floor of my bedroom, working on a jigsaw puzzle. And had been mostly oblivious when I pushed play on a cassette I had cued up to the beginning of "our" song.
When I knelt down, she looked up from what she was doing. Before I could utter words, she saw the tiny red box in my trembling hand. Her tears preceded her answer.
I wrote this a couple of years after we broke up, long before I even knew what a blog was. It's raw and unedited and just as I wrote it then.
Oh, and we never finished the puzzle.
Even though people may think about dying, they always think they have more days left to live. And even though in the back of their minds, people know life has to end somewhere, they act and live as if it just goes on and on. That's how it was for me with Lily. I never thought for one moment that we would ever not be together.
It was just like life. I would wake up and Lily would be in my life. I would go to sleep and Lily would be in my life. In the back of your mind, you know that either you will marry this person or you will have to say good-bye, but I never thought which of those two ends we would come to.
Even when I decided to propose to Lily, I cannot explain it, but I never thought a whole lot about being married. That is not the best way to word it, for I did want to marry her someday, but I do not know how else to say it.
After we were allowed to see each other freely, our relationship quickly began having its ups and downs. There were still plenty of fun times, but I do not think many of them were ever as wonderful as the days when we could not see each other.
More than anything, there are moments in time, places and things that I remember about Lily. One strange thing that I discovered is that when you use a payphone somewhere, then whenever you pass that phone again, you always remember the time when you used it, what you used it for, and even a bit of how you felt when you used it. I suppose that is an observation that seems to come from nowhere. But I think that it is true.
It is like a song. There are certain songs that when you hear them, you remember a particular time you heard them, what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt. And for a brief moment, a song or a payphone can bring back a past feeling. They can make you happy when you are feeling sad. Or they can bring back a melancholy feeling and make you lonely.
Sometimes I think we live our lives either yearning for the past and something that we can never recreate, or longing for the future and something that we never quite attain. And some people will say that we should only live today.
But I think that today is only yesterday's future and tomorrow's past. And life is only made up of all the days of our past and our future. And we mainly yearn for the bigger part of it. The young long for the future, and the old for the past. And I do not think that remembering, or thinking about, or longing for anything or anytime that made you happy could ever be wrong.
If I was the horrible one in the last months of our relationship, it was Lily that was more difficult in the early days. I remember she would be very moody and sometimes jealous and sometimes just hard to get along with. But unlike my actions, most of this probably could be blamed on immaturity, since she was only seventeen or eighteen during these times.
I would have given anything for her just to be happy, and for us not to ever have any problems or difficult times. It was my reasoning at that time that she was somewhat insecure and that the way to solve all our problems would be to buy her a diamond ring and ask her to marry me.
Another reason I proposed is because of something one of my aunt's had said one evening when we were all at my parents' house. She probably said it in passing, but she had always been my favorite aunt. The subject of Lily came up, and my aunt said, "You know, she'd make you a good wife." Or something to that effect. It was something that always stuck with me.
Sometimes people say things in passing, but the affect they have on the listener is great. Another time I remember talking with someone I greatly respected. I was talking about being unhappy with my job. And he said something to the effect of "well there are always people who will hire you" or "you can always find work." And soon afterward, I quit my job. And it was not easy to find work.
Lily and I had been together for two years now, and although my rational side told me to wait a little longer till she got along in college, my emotional side decided to propose.
I remember I was supposed to see Lily the day that I purchased her ring. I had my heart set on a heart-shaped diamond solitaire. The size really did not matter too much, except for the fact that she had a small, petite hand, and I had been told once by a jeweler that a very large ring would not look right on her hand.
I had to call at least three or four places before I found a jewelry store that had a heart-shaped solitaire, and the store that did only had one. So I decided to take what they had. It was my only choice, other than to wait.
I went to look at the ring and it was really beautiful, and I was sure Lily would think so too. I just remember thinking how happy this would make her and that all our problems would be solved and that we would be in love forever. I was so happy.
After purchasing the ring, I had to decide how I was going to propose. I remember once when I was at her house, I showed her mother the ring. She liked it and said she was sure Lily would like it as well.
Even though her parents had not agreed with our relationship at first, they had accepted it by now and I always thought well of her mother, and I think she thought well of me. Although we never really talked about it that much. I do not think I showed anyone else the ring ever, even my parents did not see it I do not think, before I gave it to Lily.
Looking back, I think that it felt like we were engaged from the first time we were together. We would always talk about forever, and I never thought about dating another girl and I am sure she never thought of being with someone else either. For although there are many things I do not know or understand about Lily, even to this day, I do know that she loves with all that she has, and that I could trust her always. That is something that is hard to find.
She loved the way that one should love, with all her heart, and all her being. And even though she has faults like everyone does, her love is true and strong and precious and should be treasured more than all the money and gold and diamonds in the universe. I know this now, sadly, looking back.
I knew that she would be surprised that I had decided to propose to her, for we never really went shopping for a ring. And although we would write in cards and letters about how we would love each other forever, there was nothing to indicate that I was about to propose. The proposal was original I guess, if quite simple.
I knew that it would not matter. For even though every girl says that she wants a boy to surprise her like no one has ever been surprised before, most of the good ones are completely happy no matter how they receive it.
Lily was no different. She was as happy I guess as I ever saw her that night. We called friends, went to see friends, called our families, and celebrated our love.
From that high, I guess we had no where to go but down.