Friday, April 06, 2007

Proposal - Part One

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Okay, this is probably not going to be published until April when all the surprises have been revealed, but I wanted to blog it now, as it’s happening, as it is the run up to one of the pivotal moments of my life.

I have long had a bit of a fear of commitment; I am quite cynical of human nature and how people change over time and so am wary of promising anything absolutely. Hence Brett and I have been living together as partners for nearly three years and I have never felt comfortable proposing marriage to him.

Sometime before Christmas that feeling changed. I can’t really say when, how or why it happened, it wasn’t the result of a particular train of thought, rather there was some kind of subconscious emotional shift where it began to feel right to say ‘Yes, I expect to spend the rest of my life with this man and I want the world to officially recognise that fact.’

So that’s how it began.

I have something of a reputation of an all or nothing man that is not unjustified. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Any actual marriage celebrations will be a joint project and I have seen enough of them to know that the day is far less for the bride and groom than it is for their guests. So I wanted to make the proposal a special, hopefully romantic event that we will both look back on fondly in the years to come.

To me romance is not the Valentine’s Day commercialism of red love-hearts, chocolates or flowers and a candle-lit dinner, it is doing something together that you know your partner is going to love for no other reason than it makes them happy. I don’t claim that my motives are entirely that pure though, as I am certainly going to get an amount of selfish enjoyment out of springing the series of surprises on Brett, but I justify myself with the knowledge that they are all going to be pleasant surprises for him and should provide both a happy and enduring memory of my proposal to him and the days thereafter.

The first thing I considered was the ring. After scoffing a few months back at John & Rich’s suggestion that one could easily expect to pay £1,000 for a wedding ring, when it actually came to buying a ring for Brett there was no question that I wanted to buy the best I could possibly afford for him. I looked at Garrard’s and Asprey’s websites but they are first and foremost jewellers rather than metal-smiths so, while they do some exquisite ladies’ engagement rings, they don’t do plain wedding bands. In the end I came to the Cartier site and found a number of rings I liked the look of.

The Stephen Sondheim musical, Company, has figured often in the development of our relationship; I first really noticed Brett when he sang the solo as Bobby in the title song of the musical at my first Chorus Concert. Another song from the show, Marry Me A Little, describes how I think marriage should be; a close and committed, considerate partnership but without any subsumption of the individuals’ identities. I think he and I have managed to build that kind of relationship these last few years. The show’s finale, Being Alive, while not an especially romantic number is just heart-rending and whenever Brett sings it, it brings a tear to my eye.

Company has recently been revived on Broadway and we’ve spoken several times of going to see it. So I figured I would surprise Brett, first with a proposal of marriage and then by flying him to New York to see the show together. As it’s a special occasion I thought we should take advantage of my (our) accumulated loyalty miles with British Airways and get upgraded seats on the flight (after all, Economy class seats are hardly intimate or a good venue for romance!) Then, as Brett is close to his family and we were going to be Stateside anyway, I thought it would be worth pre-warning his family to see if any of them could be in New York to hook up with us while we were there.

The whole idea was nearly still-born; after looking up rings, I started planning the trip to New York and balked at the price of upgraded flight seats. Alternatives, such as a weekend in Paris were considered, but none of them really felt as good as Company in New York with his family around. It was ultimately a lunch with Oz that spurred me on; he reminded me of my own oft given piece of advice about seizing the day because you never know what’s around the corner, so I went back to the BA website and played around with options and eventually took the plunge and booked theatre tickets and Club Class flights to New York over the Easter weekend 2007.

And that’s how you find me today; I haven’t booked a hotel yet, or organised transfers, but I’ve got the flights sorted, the show tickets are bought and Chris C has been charged with the mission of briefing the family and co-ordinating any family trip to NYC in complete secrecy. If all goes according to plan, we’ll have dinner with friends on the evening of Thursday 6th April where I will do the actual proposal and reveal that we are flying to New York the following day. I won’t tell him about the Club Class seats until we board the plane, although he may well guess when we make use of the BA Lounge and Spa before boarding. Hopefully the presence of the family in New York will be a final surprise on arrival.

I am still undecided about whether to do the actual proposal over dinner or before. While I am fairly certain he will say yes, it is not the kind of decision one should feel pressured into and, being surrounded by his friends (who will all be expecting him to say yes), would certainly count as pressure. Maybe I should do the proposal before we leave for the restaurant so we have time to talk some before joining the group. That should ensure the integrity of the decision. (I know that doesn’t sound at all romantic, but if for any reason Brett isn’t entirely sure he wants to marry me just yet, I don’t want him to be forced into it by circumstances that I’ve arranged.) When he says ‘yes’ to me I want him to be as sure of the decision as I am.

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