Buddy System pt. X (the finale)

One day while in Pagosa Stuart surprised me with red roses and a little stuffed bear holding a bag. He gave it to me rather unceremoniously though just at the house, so I was slightly confused about what it was all about. He told me I had to look in the bag that the bear had and in my head I was thinking, “This had better not be “it.”” Because even if I’m not the most “romantic” gal around I thought he could come up with something better than that!! 😉 So I peeked in the bag and beheld a small marble. ??? Then Stuart told me that he thought the marble could represent our steadfast relationship or something to that effect. I honestly don’t recall because I was still thinking, “What in the world is he doing??” Turns out that bear did come with a very special gift, but he didn’t want to use it that way so he came up with his own plan. 🙂

After that we went to dinner at a fun Mexican place and then enjoyed walking around on the main street in the frosty night air. Came back still not engaged, but I wasn’t worried. I didn’t want him to propose with a stuffed bear OR in a public restaurant. I knew he could do better than that! 😉

On January 6 we had planned to go snow shoeing through Piedra Canyon. We had to use snow shoes for this hike or it would be impossible! I had never done that before so was pretty excited about trying it out. While Stu was out renting our snowshoes he got a ticket for parking in a handicapped space. 😉 He managed to talk his way out of it though, good thing for small towns. But it took him quite awhile longer than I expected, so we got a late start out. Still the snowshoeing was TONS of fun once you get the hang of it! 😀
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Once we got into the canyon we found a really huge frozen waterfall! I don’t think it’s generally running in the summer, but for some reason there had been a substantial drip going on there during cold season. If you look closely you can see me down at the bottom.
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I honestly wasn’t expecting anything this day. It was pretty cold out there, so we hiked (as quickly as possible in snow shoes) through the canyon and back. I was actually pretty tired out by this point, but we’d been having so much fun. I laughed a lot at Stuart as we were trying to get used to the shoes, but I’m sure I made quite the spectacle myself. 😀 Once we got back to the trail head we piled back into the truck and started heading back. But at the top, Stu suggested that we stop at the overlook for a minute. I was game, but a little nervous too because the way the snow was piled up it was difficult to tell where the real edge was. So I made sure he wouldn’t go too close to the edge. We did find the rock that we had sat on up in that same place that summer, but it too was covered in a thick layer of snow. Stu suggested that we sit down, but I popped back up again right away. I was already thoroughly cold and didn’t want to park in the snow. So my gallant knight took off his snow jacket and spread it on the rock for me. 🙂 Little did I know that it gave him an opportunity to fumble in the inside pocket for “something.” Suddenly Stuart sank to his knees in the snow in front of me and said, “Rachel Zahn, will you marry me?” and he pulled out a ring box!!!

(Now I have to pause here for a moment to tell you that he had been doing his level best to convince me that there was no way he could have a ring. I was fine with that. “It’s not the pebble it’s the penguin” that counts. 😉 I wasn’t hard to convince because I knew he was a “poor college boy.” No problem. A ring would be nice, but not necessary to an engagement. We already knew we were going to be married. A proposal would make it official, anything more is just bling. Nice bling, but just bling. 🙂 Over the break that we had spent together already he had mentioned a couple of times how difficult it would be for him to get a ring. He even went so far as to tell me a lot of jewelers are closed around Christmas. Later when I thought about it I was like, “Wait, that’s got to be their busiest season!!” But at the time I didn’t think much of it, because I really wasn’t expecting a ring. 🙂 Ha!)

So on the edge of the world as I looked at this ring box my mind was reeling to an extent trying to figure out this “trick.” Ha ha! As he fumbled to open it, because his poor hands were nearly frozen, I had “figured out” that there would be another marble in this box. And while I thought that would be a pretty dirty trick, that was what I was ready for. 😉 Turns out as he finally got it open that there was a BEAUTIFUL diamond ring in a platinum setting sparkling up at me!!! At that point my mouth became unhinged and I started blabbering questions like, “Where’d you get that?” “Where did that come from?” “I thought you couldn’t get a ring!?” Until finally with a big smile on his face he asked again, “So are you going to marry me!” It was only then that I realized that I hadn’t answered him yet! 🙂 I replied with a great big yes, and then we wrestled my big mitten off and put that beautiful “bling” on my left ring finger! Wow!! I still sometimes just stare at that ring, and think of all the love it represents. It’s such a simple setting, but to me it means so much!!! Well after that we uh…. shook hands (???) See?
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Just kidding, we shared a special kiss. I’m so glad that the only man I’ve ever kissed has been my husband! I used to tell people that I wouldn’t kiss someone unless I knew that we would be married, and some just looked at me like I was a loony, but I don’t have any regrets or memories to vie with the wonderful man I get to spend my life with, and I wouldn’t trade that!!

Stu had to go back to school for his final semester, and then when he was through with that, he DID work at Camp On Wheels, just like he told me he would. The separation of that semester and most of the summer was the hardest that I had EVER known!! I had no idea just how badly I could miss someone! But after he was done with camp, Stu got married that summer too! Funny how even though I ‘messed up’ his plans, they still turned out right. 🙂

We were married in Albuquerque on Aug 6, 2005, and the inscription inside my wedding band says “Buddy System.” 🙂
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