Ben and I had been kicking around the idea of one day getting engaged starting in mid-January, but I was certain that a proposal wouldn't be coming for a couple of months. And I was quite sure that the proposal wasn't going to be a surprise.
Boy, was I wrong.
Ben had been applying to different graduate schools when we started dating and knew that he would be moving out of Utah within the next few months. Shortly after applying to Washington University in St. Louis, he was asked to fly out and interview on February 9. On February 8, I pulled into our apartment complex after work got over and headed to Ben's apartment for dinner. After scarfing (not really) down some spaghetti, we headed to Institute. On our way there, Ben mentioned a couple of times that he was really nervous about his upcoming interview and wanted me to quiz him about his research later that night.
After Institute was over, Ben suggested a drive up Provo Canyon while I interviewed him. As we turned onto a small road, we came to a park that was covered with candles in paper bags in the snow. Ben started to slow down a little, and I started to freak out. Freaking out because there was a little red car parked in front of the path of candles and I thought that we were ruining someone's engagement or special moment! Ben started laughing as he drove a little further to find a parking spot. At this point I was mortified that we had obviously just intruded on someone's moment and refused to get out of the car when Ben asked. As he jumped out of the truck and came around to my side, I locked the door since I realized that I was wearing fabric shoes and wasn't about to jump down into 2 feet of snow. He patiently unlocked the door with his key, grabbed my hand, and asked me to follow him. We started walking towards the candles as I grumbled about my feet getting soaked (I can be a brat :)), and that's when it hit me.
This is for me? Whose red car is that? Oh, this really is for me. Ben knows I hate Valentine's Day so he wanted to do something nice for me before February 14th. How nice!
As we walked down the path of candles, I could see two shadows trying to hide and get back to the car. I later found out that it was Ben's cousin and friend who had set everything up and we'd pulled up before they were finished. Anyway, the path of candles led to a circle where Ben's guitar was laying there. He played me a song, gave me a hug, and gave me a kiss.
And then got down on one knee. (!!!)
After a few sweet words, and a "popped" question, I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that this was actually happening. I remember asking him a couple of times if he had even asked my dad's permission and if this was real. After a couple seconds of shock, I must have said yes or nodded or something to acknowledge my desire to marry him, because he slipped a diamond on my finger.
(Note: He proposed with his grandma's wedding ring. We later went to a jeweler and worked together to design my ring.)
The moment was cut short when a paper bag suddenly caught on fire, followed by another, and another. :) We ran around stomping out all of the candles and collecting the bags. As soon as we made it back down to the main canyon road and had cell phone service, we called our family and friends.
And that, my friends, was the night I got the biggest surprise of my life.