Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memoir - My First Engagement Ring

I have been encouraged to write through because some of the swaps require writing, whether it is fiction or memoir or poetry. I entered the swap "Life Story #5 - 2011," which required me to write a memoir about one of the "firsts" in my life. I had a difficult time choosing a "first," but I finally settled on writing about my first engagement ring. This is the first draft, and I can always work on it again later. Though the story is about my engagement ring, I didn't really focus on my ring that much. I focused more on how I met Michael, so perhaps it's a lot more about Michael than about the ring.

On a side note, I don't like how "first" implies there's a "second" in this scenario. Michael is my first husband, and I intend for him to remain my only husband. With God's grace and love, Michael and I will grow old together.

Without further ado, I now present to you my short memoir.

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My engagement ring means a lot to me. I had technically been engaged twice, but in 2009 Michael gave me my first (and only) engagement ring. In 2004, my boyfriend at the time proposed to me, but he never gave me a ring. I knew Dale for two years before we started dating. When he proposed to me, he was a freshman in college and I was a senior in high school; we had been dating for over six months. We had been discussing our feelings on engagement and marriage. I told him “marriage is for life,” but engagements can be broken, though one shouldn't enter into an engagement lightly. If you propose to a woman, you should be serious about it. If you have doubts, then it probably isn't time to get married yet. I probably shouldn't have told him that engagements can be broken. He proposed to me while we were laying on his couch in his parents' living room. It was nighttime and his parents were sleeping. He proposed much like he had asked me to be his girlfriend: “So do you want to get married?” I had said yes, but he didn't give me a ring. Not a week went by when he told me on the phone that he had second thoughts and broke our engagement. A few months later he ended our relationship. Dale had been my first love, first engagement, and first heartbreak. I had boyfriends before him, but none as serious.

By the time I met Michael, I had one other serious boyfriend, had kissed two other boys, and had started dating Dave, Michael's roommate (yet another story). I met Michael in February of my sophomore year of college. One week after Dave broke up with me (we only dated for one month before we realized we were not good together), sometime towards the end of my sophomore year, Michael let me know he liked me and had been interested in me for a while.

“Do you want to play the game?” I asked Michael. “I don't feel like playing anymore.” Dave and I were playing some video game; I don't even remember what game. We sat in their living room in front of the TV. Dave sat on the couch while I sat on the floor. I handed Michael the controller, expecting him to sit next to me or on the couch; instead, he took the controller and sat directly behind me, his legs around me and his chest to my back. My heart started racing as fast as my mind. Does he like me? He has to like me. Why else would he practically cuddle with me? I didn't move. I let him play the game with his arms around me. Dave didn't seem to care. He didn't say anything or react.

I don't remember how long we stayed like that, but later that same day I lay on their living room floor. I was probably reading a book or talking. I must have complained about my back hurting, as it often does when I read on my stomach, because Michael asked if I wanted a back rub. He sat on my butt and rubbed my back like he'd been doing it for years. I felt a little weird, but excited at the same time. I had always liked Michael as a friend, and now we had the possibility of becoming more than friends.

That night we watched two movies: Evil Dead and Time Bandits. I fell asleep during Evil Dead (I found out later that Michael absolutely loves zombie movies). Dave went to sleep after Evil Dead, so Michael and I watched Time Bandits alone. I started to fall asleep towards the end of Time Bandits, so Michael tickled me to keep me awake. Then he kissed me: our first kiss. That kiss pretty much declared that he liked me way more than as friends, so if I hadn't figured out his earlier clues, this definitely cinched it.

The next day Michael had to leave for his family's home, a three hour drive away from campus. I wouldn't see him for the entire summer since I had a summer job on the other side of Pennsylvania. I sat in the passenger side of his car while he drove me to my sublet. I felt shy around him (every time I like a guy I become shy). What now? Did he want me to be his girlfriend? We talked about it briefly in the five minutes it took to take me home. My body felt tense. I held my breath waiting for his answer. I don't remember his exact response, but we decided to wait to commit to a relationship. Though we didn't date right away, we talked on the phone every night. And the months flew by before I saw him again in August when we decided to officially become boyfriend and girlfriend. Almost three years later, he proposed.

I sat on our futon in the living room; Michael sat on the floor in front of me slightly to the side. I don't remember what I was doing at the time: maybe watching TV or reading a book. Michael flipped through the little coupon book I made for him on our second-year anniversary last August. I figured he'd ask for a kiss or have me make the bed for a week, but he handed me the “get out of debt free” coupon I had made, knowing I'd never make him pay me back for the cost of the UHAUL anyway.

“Can I use this?” he asked.

“Of course,” I replied.

He turned around briefly and when he faced me again, still sitting on the carpet, he had a black box in his palm.

“In that case, will you marry me?” He opened the box to show me the engagement ring: 14 karat gold and lattice designed with three small, beautiful diamonds.

“Yes!” My answer would always be yes. I held my left hand out for him to place the ring on my index finger. I had prepared for this day by wearing my class ring on that finger for the last five years so that my wedding ring would feel comfortable; I don't usually wear rings nor did I wear one that day until he put the engagement ring on my finger. I jumped off the couch and into his arms, hugging and kissing him with excitement.

“You know this coupon wasn't necessary, right?” I teased Michael, “Once we're married, your debt is mine and mine is yours.”

“I know,” he replied.

Two months later we were married.