Here are our versions of the proposal story:

Will’s:

So, Katherine and I have been talking about our future for a while now. I had decided earlier this year that I wanted to marry her.

In July, I went and purchased the ring. Katherine was out of town for a weekend and I wanted to buy it before the tax hike in Mass. =) Before this, Katherine and I have already gone “ring shopping” (just happened to be in a mall) because she wanted to make sure that I knew what she liked.

From July-September, I basically had to lie whenever anything suspicious happened. For example, the jeweler called me one day when Katherine was sitting right next to me. I had to leave the room and say, “okay, uh-huh, alright, great” so that Katherine wouldn’t know anything. Later, she asked me who I was speaking to, so I had to make up a story that an agent was asking if one of my clients wanted to see his property. For weeks, she kept asking me about the client and this made up property.

In the meantime, Katherine and her family planned to go on a trip to Asia for 3 weeks, leaving mid-August. I knew I didn’t want to propose to her before the trip. So, I planned on proposing after she got back. While trying to think of a proposal site, I thought that it would be pretty cool to surprise her in DC and propose there. Katherine and her family are close, so I wanted them to be involved in the process. I ended up deciding that I wanted to propose in DC and got to work.

I contacted Melissa (Katherine’s sister) to see if she wanted to help. She eagerly volunteered and sent suggestions of places in DC that would make great proposal sites. With her suggestions and my perusing on the web, Meridian Hill Park stood out to me. It was a nice park and wasn’t overdone.

Katherine and I planned on going down to Maryland together before she and her family left for Asia. When I went down, I had the intention of asking for her parents’ blessing, which I got–I also filled them in on my plan. While I was down there, I knew it gave me an opportunity to explore the area. Right after Katherine and her family left for Asia, I went into DC to explore the park and find a restaurant. I picked out the location and restaurant that day.

While Katherine and her family were in China, it was crunch time for me. I picked up the ring, made up a cover story, and figured out how I was going to travel (bus and plane). I emailed Melissa the master plan so we can start coordinating.

Katherine and her family returned to Maryland on Labor Day. I ended up going down by bus the day after. I stayed at a friend’s place for the night and had to act like I was still in Boston when Katherine called that night. On Wednesday 09/09/09, I headed to the park in the afternoon and met up with Chris (Katherine’s brother). He came early to help capture the moment on video. Then we waited in anticipation for Melissa and Katherine.

Before I go on, here’s the background story: Melissa will take Katherine out to dinner in celebration of Katherine getting a job. After getting off the metro, Melissa will take Katherine through the park on the way to the restaurant. Then once they arrive to the designated location in the park, I will surprise Katherine and propose. After the proposal, Katherine and I will go to dinner while Melissa and Chris head back home for a surprise engagement party with family and friends. But like all surprise stories, no great story is complete without a few hiccups along the way. =)

First, Katherine wasn’t feeling well that day and we weren’t sure whether she would come out. Second, the weather forecast was rain. Luckily, with some encouraging from her mom, she agreed to get dinner with Melissa. And after praying that morning for better weather, the skies miraculously cleared up in the afternoon. Praise God! =)

Now, back to the story. Chris and I are hiding in the park, peeking behind some trees and bushes. While we’re waiting, I see two heads with black hair walking on the marked path and knew immediately that it was Melissa and Katherine. So, peeking through the trees and bushes, we followed them with our eyes, waiting for them to turn the corner. But then all of a sudden, we both lost sight of them. Looking at each other confused, a man (who happened to be watching us the whole time) came over and said, “are you looking for them?” pointing to Melissa and Katherine who was now at the bottom of the hill and coming towards us from the wrong direction! They happened to be coming in a direction where they could easily see our hiding spots. As they came around the corner, Chris and I dove in a corner hoping we weren’t seen. We even poked our heads out at different times to check how close they were. Now, Melissa and Katherine were coming up the stairs, straight towards us. (We even left our bags out in plain sight, accidentally). Chris and I are hiding behind this tiny stonewall waiting for them to come closer.

[This is where the video begins. Cue video located at end of blog.]

**A few things:
– I knew Katherine was going to cry when I surprised her. Earlier over the phone she told me she might cry when she sees me (in Boston).
– I don’t really know how to react when someone is crying, but I tried my best (cue awkwardness)
– While in Asia, Katherine had emailed me saying that she was starting to get a little homesick. (hence, “happy to be home?”)
– “are you flying with me?” – Katherine left me her flight info so I bought a ticket on the same flight
– On the phone the previous night, I had lied that I needed to sleep early because I needed to get up early for work the next day (really, I said that to get off the phone since I was at Jeff’s place. less time on the phone = less background noise she’ll hear)
– I hugged her for a while. started getting a little awkward. alright? alright.
– Katherine really loves the ring (thank God!) and evidently so does Melissa. =)
– I’m awesome. Katherine, Melissa and Chris are awesome too!

**********
Katherine’s:

When Will and I went down to Maryland, I already knew Will was going to talk to my parents to ask for their blessing. I thought, though, that Will wouldn’t have started doing any planning for a proposal or getting a ring until after he got their blessing. So I figured that he thought the three weeks I would be in Asia would be the perfect time for him to do all of that. [Little did I know that he had ALREADY done most of it before!] Also, I had talked to my parents back in May and had asked them when Will talks to them, how long they would’ve wanted to know before the proposal actually happens. My parents said they wanted the proposal to happen soon after giving their blessing and after some pressure to put a number to it, they said a month max. I had told Will this. So knowing he knew this, after he spoke with them, I knew his 30 days were counting down. And given that he spoke with them on August 15, I knew it would happen before September 15. And since we weren’t leaving for Asia until August 20 and I had a good hunch that he wasn’t going to propose two or three days after talking to my parents, I naturally figured it’d happen after I got back from Asia. I also figured that since I had a flight already booked to go from Maryland to Mass, that it’d be more convenient for Will to just propose in Mass and not have to worry about me having to cancel my flight or him having to book a flight. After all the calculations, I figured the earliest Will would propose would be September 10 (when my flight to MA arrived) or September 12 (since probably 99% of couples get engaged on Saturdays.)

This story now brings me to Asia. I was also 99% sure Will wouldn’t book a flight across the world to propose in Asia, so no suspicions there. But during the trip I did tell Melissa that Will had talked with my parents and that I suspected he’d propose soon after our Asia trip (i.e. when I flew back to Boston). And she acted all surprised and excited. Also, my parents never really said anything about it making me think they also thought it’d be sometime later but not sure when. (When I had talked to Will right after his talk with my parents, I even asked him if they had asked him what his timeline would be for when he’d propose. He said that they hadn’t asked. Which I thought was strange, since I kinda expected them to ask, but since I wasn’t at their conversation, I had no reason to think he would lie.) In the end, none of my family members gave anything away for 19 days of family time, all the time. (I’m impressed at their secretiveness. Haha!)

In Asia, I am also believing that Will is busy planning and buying, so even in our emails I’m hoping he’ll slip and say something like, “I worked today then I went to the mall” or something like that…just to maybe get a hint. No luck there.

We arrive back to Maryland on 9/7. I’m super jet lagged and weirdly I get stomach problems AFTER Asia. So Tuesday was not a good eating day, which was also the day Melissa asked if I wanted to get dinner with her. Here’s an excerpt of our Gchat convo:
Melissa: hey
me: hi
Melissa: whatcha doing tomorrow night? i want to take you out for dinner sometime
me: why? lol
Melissa: a congrats on your first job…i mean, if you dont want a free dinner, thats fine too lol
me: haha
even tho i’m outta college, i won’t turn down free food
haha
sure…i’ll save tom for you
Melissa: lol ok
me: where we going?
Melissa: well, ill spend some time today choosing the place, but yeah, plan to take metro and like..
maybe i can meet you at the farragut north metro station or something
me: u don’t wanna do something closer to home? lol
Melissa: lady! you need to explore DC more! besides, there aren’t any good places to eat by home
me: alright
So now I’m set to eat with Melissa on Wednesday…but my stomach is still not feeling good. When she comes back from work I tell her this and say that I’m not sure if I still want to go out tomorrow. I tell her that I’ll let her know by Wednesday if I feel good enough to go. That day I had called Will a couple times, but he didn’t pick up. I figured it was because he was playing frisbee, which is what he usually does on Tuesday nights. He calls me later that night and we talk about his day – work, frisbee, etc. He says that he can’t talk long because he’s going to bed early since he has to wake up early to go to his cousin’s real estate office. Which I believe since in an email I got in China he told me he was planning to go there sometime in September. So we say goodnight and I eventually go to bed…thank you jet lag.

Wednesday, 09/09/09. I wake up early…thank you jet lag and am up before my sister leaves for work. She checks in with how I’m feeling and I tell her that I’m feeling a little better…but that my ear hurts now (don’t even ask because I don’t even know). Anyway, she says to tell her by 3pm if I’m coming or not. Later that morning I tell my mom about the dinner and that I’m not sure if I want to go since the restaurant probably has these high-butter foods that my stomach won’t tolerate. She says, “You don’t have to eat the high-butter foods. Restaurants these days have very healthy choices now!” I tell her, “But I want to eat the high-butter foods!” She says that in any case I should go. So I’m convinced and get ready to go. Melissa Gchats me later to tell me that the restaurant is business-casual. But since I only packed my luggage knowing I’m going to Asia, I didn’t pack any nice business-casual clothes. And I definitely didn’t pack business-casual shoes. So I find the nicest looking traveling clothes I have and then decide to borrow my mom’s shoes. They definitely don’t fit me but I figure we’re probably not going to be walking very far in D.C. so I don’t worry about it too much.

In the meantime, I saw my mom making some food and told her that even though I was happy to go out to eat with Melissa that I wanted her homecooking. She then told me that the food she was making wasn’t even for me! She told me it was for a church staff potluck that night. I even looked at the refrigerator calendar and saw it written in for 6pm.

I also found out that my brother needed to go to a friend’s house so we needed to coordinate how we were going to use the car since I needed it to go to the Metro station. My mom said she’d leave at 3 and drop Chris off, then come back and then I could have the car for when I needed to leave at 3:45.

I leave at 3:45 and drive to Shady Grove Metro station. I catch the train and meet Melissa at Farragut North. We take another train down to Columbia Heights and get off. I am still pretty much unsuspicious at this point. (I did have some thoughts that it could possibly be on Wednesday, but mostly just because it was before the September 15 “deadline.” Will had sent me this email Wednesday morning hoping I felt better and that he couldn’t wait to see me tomorrow…he usually doesn’t send me emails that are so…sweet and sensitive. haha. So it got me thinking that maybe today was special…he wanted to butter me up or something. So I wondered if he was gonna come down to Maryland. But since he sent the email at about 10:30am, if he drove, he wouldn’t be here til about 8 or 9pm and that’s just so late and then do I have to cancel my flight so that I can drive back up with him? That didn’t make sense, so I crossed that possibility off. Would he fly? But I knew where my parents and siblings were so I knew no one could pick him up from the airport…so I crossed that possibility off. So there was a time where I did think Wednesday would be the day, but with my awesome deductive skills, I convinced myself it wasn’t.

Back to the story…Melissa and I get off the Metro and we start walking to the restaurant. We walk for a while…and it starts seeming like a long while. Mostly because my feet start hurting because my shoes are too small. Melissa even comments that I just keep complaining. I’m getting more frustrated because it seems like we’re cutting through this random park area and Melissa seems to not know where we’re going since she keeps referring to this map she’s holding. We’re almost at the exit of the park when she then points up this set of stairs and says that the restaurant is up that way! I remark, “This restaurant better be good!” since I am so tired of walking! We start walking up the stairs when all of a sudden, Will jumps out from behind a small wall.

[This is where the video begins. Cue video located at end of blog.]

Awesome video, right?

After the proposal we go to dinner. All this time, I am believing that my parents had no idea that it was happening tonight…if they had known it’d happen tonight, then they wouldn’t have gone to a church staff potluck! This was frustrating because my parents don’t have a cell so I couldn’t call them (since they were at church) and I wanted them to know first before I called anyone else. It was also frustrating because in the afternoon my mom had told me to stop by my godmother’s house (Auntie Mei) to pick up a pot that my mom wanted to use since Auntie Mei was going to go out of town soon. I knew that when I stopped by her house after dinner that I’d HAVE to tell her the news and even thought it’d be great to tell her, I still wanted my parents to know first, but it seemed like my parents were just going to have to be the second people to know.

We finished dinner and on our Metro ride back, I put 2 and 2 together and deducted (remember, my deductive skills are awesome) that my mom had actually dropped my brother off at the Metro. Therefore, she must’ve known about the whole plan. And thus must’ve asked me to go to Auntie Mei’s not JUST for a pot. So I figured they knew and so when we got to Auntie Mei’s, I played along and unfortunately our dessert at the restaurant had taken WAY longer than we thought, so half of our surprise party guests had left. (It was a school night…and we were supposed to get there at 8:30 but arrived at 10pm). In any case, it was still great to have my family and close friends there to celebrate with us!

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