Something about hitting this mark made me feel like it was already past time to get married. Like it should have happened by now. 6 years. 6 YEARS. More than half of which have been spent cohabiting, building a life together, bringing home more than a normal amount of dogs to add to our family- turning us into a pair of crazy dog people together. Six years.
This was the year where a wedding felt overdue. It was the year that I really started pressuring Nate to propose or elope. Something. Anything. I wanted more, needed it. It no longer felt “fair” to just be the girlfriend. We were already so much more than that. But that title, I hated it. Hated going to weddings and telling people about how I lived with my “boyfriend” or how my “boyfriend” would be second shooting with me today.
In August, I should have known something was up. Nate has never been a planner nor really been one to surprise me, in a big way. Especially since I’m the planner and control freak of us two. He’s also TERRIBLE at keeping secrets. For my 29th birthday, we spent the weekend at a dog show (have I mentioned that we are crazy dog people?) When we came home there was a package from Amazon waiting on the counter and he told me it was my birthday present. I opened it up and saw a shoe box. My stomach dropped. I glanced at it and immediately thought it was a pair of mountain biking shoes and that he must have gotten me a mountain bike (he’d been trying all summer to get me to start biking with him and my excuse always was that my bike isn’t a mountain bike, so I can’t.) I also have no desire to start mountain biking.
As I’m starting to panic about having to react positively to getting a mountain bike and wondering if I walked right by it when we came inside from the garage, Nate tells me we are going on a trip to Colorado as my present. He’s already asked my mom to watch the dogs. We’d been trying for months to find a good time to get my car worked on and he had been asking constantly what dates would work at the end of August. In reality, the real reason he was asking that was to book this trip when I actually would be free. My car wasn’t actually going to get worked. And the shoes were actually hiking shoes.
Around the middle of August we went out for my brother + I’s joint birthday gathering that we do pretty much every year. Everyone kept asking me if they thought Nate was going to propose on this trip. I had thought about it, but he had shown me his bank account a few weeks prior and I knew the ring I wanted took several months to make and I would have noticed the number changing drastically from when I had seen it last. So I was still kind of hopeful that maybe it would happen but also didn’t think so since the numbers didn’t add up. A few weeks prior to my birthday I had made a huge ordeal about never feeling like I get a vacation because I’m the one who plans things, packs everything, cleans the house, gets the dogs ready, etc. and by the time we get somewhere it’s hard for me to relax and enjoy a vacation because I’m stressed out about having to do everything to even go on it. I was thinking that maybe this trip was making up for that and we’d both talked about going to Seattle or Colorado or somewhere to hike and get away for a bit anyway.
On August 24th, we flew to Denver. Nate had planned out the whole trip to include hiking, driving and sightseeing. We arrived in the morning, snagged our rental car and headed right to the Rocky Mountain National Park. We spent the day driving through the park, hiking trails and seeing STUNNING scenery. Towards the end of the day we hiked a trail that would take us past 3 lakes. We got to the second lake, Dream Lake and watched a guy fly fishing, spotted some trout in the clear water, watched some chipmunks scurry around and took in the sights. We headed to the next lake and climbed up some rocks where I set up the timer on my camera and took some photos of us. We were the only ones there. At one point Nate told me to just put it on video and pull some screen shots from it but me being in “photo-taking-mode” told him no because the stills always look like crap. At one point up on the rock Nate was acting really strange, I thought to myself, “is he about to propose right now?” But then a group of people arrived at the spot and we hiked down the rocks and headed back to the second lake, Dream Lake. At this point I’m telling myself that I should stop hoping for a proposal on this trip because it would have happened by now and that I should just enjoy this trip. Soak it all in.
Once again, I should have known something was up because Nate took off down the trail and I had my camera in hand and was carefully climbing down the rocks. On the hike back to Dream Lake some guy was hiking back too and kept walking really close to me. Nate was still way ahead of me at this point. I listen to TOO many murder podcasts and was getting freaked out so I was hurrying to catch back up to Nate. I finally caught back up to him tell him about being creeped out and he asks if I want to stop here again. We had just gotten back to Dream Lake. So we walk off the side and the guy walks past and now it’s just us two in front of the lake.
I start taking pictures because the sun is shining over the crest of the mountain and it’s absolutely beautiful. Nate asks me if I will take his picture. This should have been a huge red flag because Nate HATES having his photo taken. I’m immediately excited thinking that I finally “broke” him to me taking photos and go right into “photo-mode.” In the photos he keeps making the strangest faces. At one point I ask him why he wanted me to take his picture if he was just going to make terrible faces in every single photo. Nate steps off to the side and gets down on one knee when I’m not even paying attention. When he says my name I look over and then he asks me if I will marry him.
I jokingly said, “I guess dreams really do come true at Dream Lake.”
The rest of the trip was a magical blur. Nate later said that he was thinking about proposing when we were up on the rocks and that he was going to do it when I was recording video, that’s why he had suggested it. Ooops! He chickened out when the people showed up and that’s why he took off down the trail. He also knew that I really hate having an audience especially when anything romantic is involved so the people showing up kind of ruined the moment. I’m really glad that didn’t work out because that was right when I was wondering if he was going to propose. By the time he actually did it, I had already convinced myself to stop thinking it was going to happen on this trip. So I was actually really surprised! He said he knew when we were back at Dream Lake that when he asked me to take his picture, it would distract me and that he was giving himself a mental pep-talk telling himself to “man-up” in those photos. Hence the awesome facial expressions.
It was the best. Perfect. Everything I could have wanted.
And now we plan a wedding.