Down on one knee, breath baited, time crawled as Meredith snapped photos of the surrounding valley. My left knee was tired of playing support to the rest of my body. I thought back to all of the small steps and big leaps that had lead up to this moment…
Back in January, Meredith and I are sitting down to some butternut squash enchiladas. The conversation turns to birthstones, and at the mention of rubies, Meredith says, “My mom’s birthstone was the ruby. She had them set in her wedding ring. It was such a pretty ring, with a well cut diamond, and channel set rubies…I’d like to have that ring someday…to remember my mom,” she trailed off with a sigh. I made a mental note, and life went on.
In June, I heard that Meredith’s father, Chuck, was leaving for Canada to finish construction on a house he is building. Seeing the window of opportunity swiftly closing on my plans, I began calling every chance I could. This was challenging: Chuck didn’t seem to be in every time Meredith was distracted (i.e. in the shower) long enough for a decent phone call. On the Sunday of his departure I finally got ahold of him.
“Hi Chuck, it’s Mike, how’s it going?”
“Oh hi Mike! It’s going well. How are things in San Diego?”
“The phone’s been ringing off the hook, what’s up?”
“Well Chuck, I’d like to marry your daughter, and I’m calling to ask for your blessing.”
“Well that’d be great! Of course you have my blessing!” And we chatted a bit more about marriage and how he thought I was a pretty good guy for his special little girl.
This was great – I’d been doing something right for the past few years, but now I had to really put my money where my mouth was: I had to ask for the ring.
“Thanks Chuck! So, Meredith had mentioned a while back that she might like to have Kathy’s old ring…may I buy it from you?”
“Aww no Mike, I couldn’t let you pay for that! It’s quite the special ring, and I’d be happy to give it to you.”
“Wow, thanks Chuck! Let me pay for shipping though.”
“Nah, don’t worry about that Mike. I’ll send it to your office.”
My father-in-law-to-be just jumped to the top of my awesome list. When I got into the office on Monday, I went straight to the receptionist and said,
“Elena, when a package comes from Chuck Rawls for me, interrupt whatever I’m doing and get me to make sure I get it.”
On Tuesday I got that call, and the ring had arrived! Now all I needed was the venue.
I called the Leonesse Winery in Temecula to reserve a tasting, and asked where a good spot to pop the question was. They recommended a short walk to a hawk box on a hillock in their vineyard.
The day arrives, and I check my gear: iPhone, wallet, keys, ring box, ring. I am set in my good luck red shirt (I’ve worn it every time I’ve been offered a job), and ready to go. We drive to Temecula, comment on how everyone else is watching the World Cup, and enjoy each other’s company. We arrive at the winery on a perfect clear and breezy day. Once we’ve checked in for our tasting, we sip a complimentary sample and enjoy the views of rolling hills covered in greenery, birds singing and people laughing. We are treated to a wine and cheese pairing. The other couples are fun, and everyone has a great time.
Afterwards, Meredith says “Want to take a walk in the vineyard?”
“Sure,” I say with all the nonchalance I can muster.
We wander in the sun-kissed fields along a nice trail until I spy a hawk box.
“Hey, you want to go on adventure?” I ask.
“Let’s head into the vineyard!”
I’ve had dumber ideas, but this is certainly up there. The path is covered with the sharpest hay I’ve ever encountered in flip flops. Meredith started to (rightly) complain of burrs and pokes. But we trudged on up to the top of the hillock by the hawk box.
I must have the wrong hawk box, because the scenic view described to me over the phone was actually a wall of green vines.
“What are we doing here?” Meredith inquires.
“Heading out to the road!” I respond.
So we walk the rest of the way to the road and I see a small, unobscured hill. I start towards it.
“Seriously?” Meredith asks. It’s a steep hill, made primarily of sandy dirt, and we’re still in our flip flops.
“Sure, I want to see the valley!”
Finally we arrive, hug, and Meredith begins taking pictures of the valley. A light breeze ruffles her hair. I get down on my knee and pull out the ring. My breath is baited. She turns, draws a sharp breath, and I say:
“Meredith, will you marry me?”
“Of COURSE I will!” she exclaims and rushes towards me. Her camera hits me in the face but we’re too happy to care. She shoves the ring on, we take some photos, and update our relationship status on Facebook per her request. We eventually walk back to the winery, enjoying every step.
Meredith asks, “So, where are we going to dinner?”
“Dinner? Well, I thought we’d just find a place and…”
“On a Saturday night, with no reservations?”
I had to admit, the plan sounded pretty tenuous. I called around, and sure enough, no one could take us until 8:30 at the earliest, and we’d have to sit in a corner on the patio.
“Wanna go to Owen’s Bistro?” I ask.
“Really?” she says skeptically.
“Yeah – we’re already halfway to LA, and they love us.”
I make the call: they’re full, but will squeeze us in. This is one of the many reasons why Owen’s Bistro rocks. The others are, well, better experienced than read about.
I hop in the driver’s seat and Meredith goes into full planning mode. She starts talking colors, locations, dates, everything. My dad warned me this may happen, so I take it in stride.
We soon arrive and are seated inside. I glance at the menu and order the “Camping Trip.” Even if Owen’s Bistro wasn’t already the best restaurant ever, this dish alone is worth the trip. A great cut of salmon, potatoes fried in truffle oil all in a salad with bacon sauce arranged around a 500-degree river rock. Yes, a sizzling river rock that you can use to cook your fish exactly how you want it. Not only that, they’ve put pine needles under the rock so the whole experience smells like a Washington forest. The bacon sauce helped too.
At the end of the meal, the restaurant owners came to toast the end of a great meal and the beginning of a grand adventure. I’m sure looking forward to it!
+1 Fiancée for Mike