Eleven years ago today I was living in Waterloo, ON, attending the University of Waterloo and working as a seasonal employee at HMV. I had just gotten back together with my boyfriend of 3 years, Jeff, after what we refer to now as “The Dark Ages”. Jeff was picking me up from work, spending the night and then taking me home for Christmas Eve with my parents.
Unbeknownst to me, Jeff had been jewelry shopping that day and had then gone to speak to my parents to ask for their permission to propose to me. My parents had been busy cleaning up a flood in the basement, but took time out to give him permission, telling him that it wouldn't be an easy road but that he had their support and that they were happy for us. My sisters snooped on the stairs and my mom cried.
Jeff came up to Waterloo early, made some arrangements while I was working and took me back to my apartment so I could get ready for dinner out. While I was getting ready I asked where we were going. A girl's got to know how to dress, right? Jeff muttered ,“Lacosta in Kitchener”.
Now, Jeff and I had passed Lacosta, which closed in 2004, many times on our travels between K-W and Brantford and I had always said that this restaurant would be the perfect restaurant to propose in. So, I laughed and asked him if he was going to propose at dinner. After nearly swallowing his tongue, he assured me it was just a birthday dinner. I thought nothing of it, shrugged it off and put on a red, low-cut top.
When we arrived at Lacosta, the restaurant was empty except for one table of twelve celebrating Christmas. We were seated next to a beautiful picture window, a street light was just outside and large flakes of snow were steadily falling. A homeless man walked by and stared at my boobs.
Jeff wouldn't eat. I was annoyed, because he, at this point in his life, didn't like to try new food, but I forced him to get a salad and I got some wonderful kind of sandwich that I can't remember. We drank Lacosta's signature sangria.
When it came time to order dessert, Jeff excused himself to go to the bathroom. Except, here's where things started to get weird, I saw him through the window leaving the restaurant! Was this a dine and dash that he hadn't had the foresight to clue me in on? Had he changed his mind and we weren't going to get back together? What the heck was going on?!?
Jeff reentered the restaurant with his guitar. The music from the restaurant's speakers faded, the house lights turned up and he began to play. He was nervous. Jeff is never nervous when he plays. Someone from the table of twelve told him to "sing loud".
I was embarrassed. Jeff was great and bold at creative declarations of his feelings, I'm not.
This is what he played.
You're beautiful/You're all that I needNo one else makes me happy/ Today is the day/You're all that I needWith each kiss you complete me.
And I am happy to see you hereAnd I am so afraid I need youI need you.*
About halfway through the song I realized this was NOT a birthday song. I started crying. Mascara went everywhere.
When Jeff was through he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I cried some more and said yes. Jeff placed a ring on my finger. Well, kind of, it was a bit small.
Everyone in the restaurant, the other diners, the staff and management, cheered. We were handed champagne and the men at the other table grumbled that now they'd be held to a “higher standard”.
That was 11 years ago. We'll be married 10 years in March. To this day, every time we see large flakes of snow we call each other and let the other know that there's “engagement snow” wherever we are.
Best. Christmas gift. Ever.
*I can't figure out how to include the actual song file. It's quite beautiful and includes this great little guitar solo-thing. We played it at our wedding when we signed the registry.