Josh And Christa's Engagement Story


This proposal plan was actually my third choice. First, was in a balloon over Napa, but I nixed that after finding out it would cost $1300. Then, I wanted to propose in front of the giant heart in the center of Cliff Lede vineyards (one of Christa’s favorite wineries which she is also a member of). They told me it would cost me more that the balloon ride in “event coordination fees” to have a friend come up an hour early and prop two pictures against a bench and put some roses next to them. Then they told me that they’d set me up with a private table in the corner and that any girl would be thrilled to be proposed to with a single red rose. Those Jerks! Don’t tell me how to propose or what me or my girlfriend would be thrilled with. Christa will be canceling her membership with them shortly. I want to do the cancellation in person so I can tell one of the managers off and tell him how dumb it was for them to turn me down because this is the kind of things that patrons love to be a part of and it enhances their wine tasting experience… but I Christa talked me out of any “telling off.” Anyway, onto the ring.

Christa had gone ring window shopping with her friend Kerry and decided that she wanted a sapphire or a ruby with a diamond halo setting. She said that sapphires looked better and that’s what she wanted. I’m not surprised she said that, she looked at rubies in the mall which suck. Red is her favorite color, ruby is her birth stone and it red reflects her personality. I wasn’t going to get her a sapphire. I soon found out why rubies in the mall sucked; good, big rubies are really, really hard to find. Good rubies come from Burma/Myanmar. And we have an embargo on Myanmar goods that makes imports really hard to come by. I first went to Shane Company. The had some “meh” setting and out of all of their stores across the US they had one ruby in the size and color that I was looking for, but it was in Arizona and I’d need to throw 20% down sight unseen. Next, I went to Jack who custom-made Lee’s engagement ring. Jack is a really nice guy, but he could only find one ruby that was the right color and it was too small. I wasn’t looking for anything huge, rubies are just very hard to come by nowadays. Finally, I pulled out the big guns and drove down to LA with Adi, under the guise of an investment house hunting trip. We went to 14 Karats, the largest diamond / precious stone wholesale store in LA, where Adi used to work. I called them three times to confirm when I was coming down and what I was looking for. I drive 400 miles down to LA and they had one stone ready for me. It was pretty but too small. I was furious. A whole weekend to LA blown all because the guy at the store who’s supposed to be “the best” at rubies has A.D.D. and didn’t pay attention. They had the perfect setting for the ring in the store, but no stone for me to see it with. To their credit the did pop an large ugly ruby out of an earring that they were selling to show me what the setting would look like with a big reddish stone. They knew that they screwed up, but they certainly didn’t act very apologetic. Instead, they moved forward and tried to make it right, partly at Adi’s coaxing. They did what no one else in their right mind would do. When we got back to the Bay Area they got several proper sized rubies from their supplier in New York and then shipped $21,000 in rubies to Adi’s front doorstep. No collateral, no credit cards. They just trusted Adi because he had worked there before. Now for the first time we were in business. I was still miffed that I went all the way down to LA and they had nothing, but this was a pretty big gesture, and frankly I didn’t have anywhere else to go. Adi and Kerry helped me to pick a ruby, and within two weeks the ring was made. When it got shipped to me I stayed home in the morning to sign for it. Christa was working from home that day. I chuckled to myself when the FedEx guy arrived and I signed for the ring and walked it right past her without her knowing it.

Christa picked the night that she would get engaged, though she didn’t know it. We had Kerry take her on a date night and Christa got to pick the date. I had actually told Christa that in August I could really ramp up my ring search because she’d be gone with a lot of work travel that month. She was miffed because after four plus years she thought I’d be farther along. I chuckled to myself. Anyway, Thursday, July 28th rolls around and Kerry picks her up at 5:30 for their date, and I pick Adi up at the train station to help me set up a half hour later. We set up 300 candles lining the path from the gate along the side of our house to the back porch which was stuffed with so many candles that it looked aflame. Then I set up two 2x3 foot picture frames that I had secretly put together in May. I had routed through every album that Christa and I had been in together from our first date until the present and taken the best picture of us from each event, captioned and dated them, then made two collages in these two picture frames. There were 24 pictures on the first one and 23 pictures on the second with a hole sized for one last picture in the bottom right hand corner. I positioned these pictures so that they were facing her when she came in, covered them with red cloth and then fastened small LED spot lights to the chairs that they were propped up on in order to properly illuminate the pictures in the dark. Then we started lighting candles. Crap. They were blowing as fast as we can light them. We needed a wind shield. First we tried covering the incoming wind with my hammock. I get the stupid award of the evening for that. In retrospect that solution didn’t even make sense. Adi then had the bright idea of making individual wind shields out of tin foil. Perfect! The only problem is it was 8pm, Christa was getting back at 9pm, we had 300 candles and I was covering two a minute. We weren’t going to make it. So Adi asked me if I was friendly with my neighbors. Of course, Ravit and Edgar would help. Seriously nervous for the first time now, I jog the ten feet to their door and knock. They open and begin with pleasantries. I cut them off “So I’m proposing to Christa tonight,” Ravit chimes in with congratulations, I cut her off again “Thanks, but here’s the situations, I have 300 candles that won’t stay lit and I need your help to cover them with tinfoil wind shields in the next hour.” Ravit tells me of course they’d help and to bring the candles in. Err no. I took them to the back yard. Ravit and Edgar come out side with two fresh rolls of tinfoil and get to work. 8:45 comes and we’re still not done, but a heck of a lot closer than we would have been without the neighbors. Adi calls Kerry and tells her to stall. He then proceeds to curse himself for the next fifteen minutes for not being more clever and cryptic about asking Kerry to stall by using song lyrics or something stupid like that. We put the finishing touches on by interspersing six dozen roses throughout the candles. By about 9:30 everything is done and we’re just on re-light patrol. I don’t know what I would have done without Adi, Edgar, and Ravit’s help.

Adi goes out front. I prep the playlist that I had put together. I time it so our song will begin three minutes after I hit play. At ten Adi starts talking obnoxiously loudly which is normal, but also the planned cue that Christa is here. I hear nervous laughter and “what is this” from around the corner as she walks down the path. I press play. She rounds the corner to music, about 250 candles, two red sheet covered pictures and me in the middle wearing at three piece suite with a red tie. I lead in with my speech about caring for her and loving her as a partner and then I unveil the first collage. More nervous laughter. I recount some of our great adventures together and then unveil the next collage. I’m a lit bit nervous so I’ve been rushing. I slow it down to hit the three minute mark just right. Just as our song is about to come one I point to the empty hole and say that there’s only one more picture that I need to complete this chapter of my life; of our lives. Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars turns on (yes I know it’s a cheesy song that’s not veiled in clever metaphors, but it’s our song damn-it). Then I got down on one knee and proposed. And here’s my favorite part. When I opened the box it was very dim outside but the ring was illuminated brightly and sparkled. The weekend before I went to Fry’s and, with the help of my Electrical Engineer friend Ben, purchased a couple of LEDs, a 300 Ohm resistor, a 3 Volt watch battery and a soldering kit. I soldered the LEDs and resistor together and wrapped them around the battery twenty minutes before Christa arrived. I wrapped it up in electrical tape, taped it to the inside of the ring box and angled the LEDs down so that when the ring box opened the ring shimmered. That was the part that I was most proud of, but I don’t think Christa noticed until I pointed it out to her later. Anyway, back to the story. After a little more nervous laughter Christa gave an emphatic yes and hugged me, followed shortly by asking if her family knew. I told her I asked her Dad permission two days earlier to which he replied “Gee let me think about it – Yes.” I told Christa that her mom knew to, which apparently explained why Marcia had been ducking Christa’s calls for the last two days (Marcia was afraid that she might accidentally spill the beans).

Christa’s thrilled and I’m feeling pretty good about everything, but I told her that she had to hold off calling friends and family quite yet. I led her over rows of candles to the back of the deck where I lifted a black cloth on top of our candle lined table. Underneath was a gift in a red bag, a card with a poem I had written her, her favorite Champaign and her favorite dessert, carrot-cake cheesecake. I poured the Champaign and read her the poem (forgive the large number of inside references):

You are my partner in adventure and World traveling

I look forward to a lifetime more with you and your new ring

We’ve had fun from the shores of Puerto Rico to the Annapurnas with Pramahd*

To crossing over the bridge to Chame with Nepalese Namasteeeeing** to your hot bod

We’ve shared together the East Coast like Washington and N.Y.C.

We’ve even gotten into a little trouble as I’m sure Ms. Tussauds’ Obamas would agree***

You keep me on my toes with B2B, Santa Con and costumes to the max

Just as fun is our sleep deprived run, just watch out for those snacks!****

We share a love of wine tasting, from Sullivan to VJB

While on the way back from Napa we’ll singing badly in the car to Glee

You are my goofy partner who lets me feel like me

Whether we’re taking silly self-portraits or falling off the cliff in Wii

I love watching you on Football Sundays on the couch wearing red

Then capping off the evening with Angry Birds and cover fights in bed*****

Eventually you’ll depart from bed and make the covers square*****

Then snuggle up and drift off with Patrick, Clive and Sick Bear******

I’ll be honest with you that this commitment may at times give me a scare

But I trust in you, in us, in our hard work, and in your limitless ability to care

So my love, I’d like to raise a glass to us, and believe me that what I say is true

We’ll be a force to be reckoned with; I can’t wait to marry you!!!

* Pramahd was our porter in Nepal

**Christa got cat-called by a bunch of Nepalese construction workers whose cat-call was “Namasteeeee.” That’s why I can never take instructors seriously after yoga or meditation when they bow and say Namaste as if it’s some sacred word

*** We went to Ms. Tussaud’s wax museum for New Year’s eve in NYC, took pictures with wax Barak and Michelle and got into a little trouble

**** During our 200 mile relay race from Calistoga to Santa Cruz Christa started the tradition of throwing M&M’s and pretzels at our runners and yelling “Snacks!”

***** We regularly fight over the covers in bed followed by Christa getting up and readjusting the covers to a position that seems indistinguishable from the original state

****** Sick Bear is Christa Teddy Bear and Patrick and Clive are two plush Wombats At this point we toasted and then I let her open her present.

A month or two earlier we had gone to a dinner show called Teatro ZinZanni’s (like Circ De Sole, but with dinner and more humor). She spotted this elaborate, ostentatious red costume necklace and earrings that she really liked. I snuck away and b bought them because I thought they’d look nice with a ruby ring. The jewelry was a bit gaudy, but it was fun and is definitely us. We made our phone calls (Christa’s sister Carla was not thrilled to be woken up at 1:30 am EST), then went over to thank the neighbors (who had been eves dropping to the whole proposal). They took the lovely reenactment picture of the proposal. They toasted with us with Champaign, except for Ravit who had just found out that she was pregnant, so we toasted to her too.

That night we didn’t get much sleep. No, not that. Christa kept poking me every fifteen minutes or so because she wanted me to illuminate the ring with my iPhone LED so she could see it sparkle and exclaim “shinny!” The whole thing worked out quite well.

I just have one pet peeve. Why does everyone ask you when the wedding date is the day after you got engaged? Do they think I had a ring and a wedding venue and date planned out all ahead of time without consulting with Christa? Do they think that in six hours we’ve secured venue and a date? If the people who were asking were single that would make some sense, but most were married. They know the drill. What gives? Anyhoo… I don’t think our story quite compares to my friend Russell who took his girlfriend on a surprise trip to Australia (she literally didn’t know where she was going until they got to the airport) and proposed underwater while scuba diving by the Great Barrier Reef. But the ladies at the office and Christa’s co-workers seemed to like the story. And Christa was thrilled, and that’s what’s important to me.

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