Even after my second date with Joe I knew he was my ideal life partner, and when he proposed after three years together, I discovered that he felt that way right from the start as well. On July 15th, 2005, I took the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton to meet Joe for a weekend together at his cabin on Hood Canal. When I arrived, he said that he wanted to go kayaking, so I came along. When we were about mile from shore, I looked out and saw a raft, decorated with white tulle and holding a candlelit table set for two. At first I suspected that he might propose because the tulle looked suspiciously like bridal veils, but I believed him when he said it was a celebration of my accomplishments after leaving my last job to return to graduate school. If he did propose, I wanted to be surprised, and if he didnt, I wanted to avoid disappointment.
We docked up to the raft and sat down in the chairs. I was wide-eyed, giddy, and laughing with astonishment: he had spent two entire days preparing the raft. It was carpeted with turf, and he had added four six-foot posts, one on each corner. The tulle hanging from each post was accompanied by tiny white lanterns holding tea candles that dusted us with a romantic glow. The table in the center of the raft held a floral candlelit centerpiece, and he reached underneath it to uncover my favorite bottle of wine, cheese, bread, and oil and vinegar for dipping. The raft was free-floating; he had arranged for a friend to tow it out and release it so it would move only by the current and light breeze.
Joe told me he had a silly little gift to give me, to congratulate me for my work at my job. I used a small key to open a locked wooden box, and Joe started looking nervous as I fiddled with it. Inside, I discovered a dried flower bouquet: exactly the one I had caught only a week before at the reception of a friends wedding! At that point, Joe pulled his great-grandmothers ring from his pocket and asked me to marry him. As I said yes and began to cry, he slipped it on my finger.
Then Joe took out his journal and found an entry from three years earlier, only a few days after we began dating. In it he had written that he knew he had met the woman he was going to marry, and that he felt he loved me already in a way that was meant to grow over many years together. My eyes continued to tear in happiness as he read those amazing words, and then we talked as the sky grew darker and we floated down Hood Canal, drifting along on the current. Joes proposal was an absolute dream, complete with quiet waters, romantic candlelit refreshments, complete solitude and the new sense of a beautiful, endless future together.
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