After a year of struggling to get to one another, the Professor and I were excited for a summer together.
He worked second shift for a printing company, and I had an internship with 4-H (dream job!), so we kept obscene hours, usually until 3AM or later. Looking back, I wonder when I slept...but I didn't worry about it then.
The Professor had a few big ticket items on his summer to-buy list: a car. And an engagement ring.
Now, this was no secret to me. The boy wouldn't tell me he loved me (or kiss me) until he knew I'd marry him someday. Then he started asking me about rings. I talked him through online buying when it came time (he was too shy to go into a jewelry store--since remedied). He even called and asked for a pep talk before asking my dad's permission.
But when he actually popped the question...I didn't see it coming at all.
I had been away at the state fair for over a week; the Professor drove two hours, picked me up, got me a Dr. Pepper, and caught me up on life back home while I'd been gone.
We brought in my luggage and talked with my folks for awhile. They excused themselves to bed around 10, and after a week sharing a hotel room with three girls, I was eager to say a fond hello to my own bed.
"Let's go out to the barn," the Professor said.
Inwardly, I groaned, but I loved this guy and hadn't seen him in ages, so out to the barn we went. I got reacquainted with the dog, the cats, the calves. We talked and soaked in the quiet.
"Let's go out to the garden."
Oh boy. Dreamland called, but I knew how much effort the Professor had put in to drive all that way and pick me up, so I trudged behind him to my parents' garden, poked around the carrots, commented on the strawberries taking over the place.
At one point I stumbled and started giggling, commented that I had gone over the edge of tired to giddy.
"Well, I hope you won't be too tired to remember this," he said as he reached for my hand and drew me to him. The Professor pulled out a tiny box and opened it, revealing just the ring I had shown him: a small, square-cut diamond set in a simple white-gold band. It glimmered under the yard light; so did his smile.
He cocked his head to the side. "What are you doing for the next fifty, sixty, eighty years?" he asked.
All traces of exhaustion melted away. I dropped the Dr. Pepper bottle, and he dropped to one knee with those words every girl fantasizes about hearing.
"Will you marry me?"
I had given so little thought to the moment; I'm far too practical and spent most of my daydreaming time on budgets and goals for our early life together.
But as the Professor twirled me around the garden, the yard light above us buzzing, the dog barking to herald the news, the ring warming on my finger--it was far more perfect than I could have planned.