Posted on October 25, 2012 by Beth Yost
A Greek man once told me that a woman needs to be tamed like a horse. Did I mention that he was a chauvinist? He then demonstrated his theory with a delicate yet aggressive dance with a pretend horse –one that I assume (in his mind), he tamed, married, and then she instantly bore him three little centaurs.
While his impression of marriage was disillusioned, I couldn’t passionately rebuke his theory with a metaphoric dance myself. I wasn’t really sure what marriage was all about, but I knew I didn’t want it to be that. I also knew that I didn’t dream about wedding dresses or engagement rings or say things like “The One”. I cringed witnessing jumbotron engagements, and would rather spoon-feed Hannibal Lecter than sit in the middle of a gift circle adorned in bows. And I sure as hell knew I didn’t want to become a tamed horse—or a horse, period.
I once had to pinch myself during a wedding ceremony when the groom accidentally pledged his infidelity rather than fidelity. Whoops! Others didn’t find the mistake as amusing, but I nearly peed my pantyhose.
On another occasion, I sat in a booth at a diner drinking coffee across from a lamenting newlywed, whose wedding I was in mere months before. She sulked in her beige winter coat and perfectly blonde highlighted hair about the dreaded possibility of a move to the suburbs and never having a clean enough house. I sat, listening, wide-eyed as I clutched my coffee and fought off my lingering hangover – in fear.
So I escaped my 20s cautiously observing the marriage circus from afar, still trying to figure out what it would be, if anything, for me.
And suddenly, after a few years in a loving relationship of give and take, and support and honesty, I relaxed. It’s whatever we want it to be. And next thing I knew, like the girl I never thought I was, I found myself swooning over my ring and drawing hearts in the sand –yes, I drew hearts!
The proposal went down in the Enchantment Lakes. We were backcountry camping for 3 nights at that point, and the only showers we’d had were quick dips in glacier fed lakes. Our clothes were dirty, hair a mess, but spirits high: it was beautiful everywhere we looked, like a 19th century painting frozen in time, a place unscathed by decades of change.
With four other friends, we climbed to the top of mountains, traversed snowy paths alongside electric blue lakes, ate dinner out of bags cooked over a small flame, and shared plenty of laughs –mostly poop humor.
At night, we zipped ourselves in our cozy tent and gazed out at the biggest, starriest night’s sky we’d ever seen. We contemplated the lights that slowly traversed the sky: which were manmade (like satellites and airplanes) and which we couldn’t explain (UFOs!). And eventually, we’d drift off to sleep until the mountain goats woke us in the morning. (Probably aliens disguised at mountain goats.)
We had one more night left, so we decided we should move camp a few miles closer to the end of the trail to avoid a descent on the last day longer than 10 miles. We stumbled upon Leprechaun Lake, where huge rocks hovered over the eastern side. We decided this was a great option, but were reluctant to decide so early in the day. What if something better is just ahead? The spoiled campers dilemma.
Kyle, with a plan to get me alone, suggested the others drop their gear and hike onward while we watch our stuff and hang back, waiting for them to scope the area. I, like most unknowing brides-to-be, made my first attempt to unintentionally sabotage his plan. I suggested we all drop our bags and scope the area together. No one is out here. No one will take our gear. But Kyle was persistent, so I shrugged and went with it.
We walked out on the big rock, dropped our packs, and sat in the warm sun enjoying the lightness of a pack-free back. I don’t have to sit for long before I get the urge to fiddle with my camera, so I pulled it out of my bag and started looking though my photos when Kyle suggested I take out my tripod for a photo of the two of us.
He took more of interest in the composition of the photo than he normally does, asking if the sun was in a good spot, if he was in the frame, where was I going to stand, and then suggested I take a practice shot. I just assumed he was being nice by feigning interest in my hobby and thought nothing more.
I set the timer for 10 seconds and just before the photo snapped he was down on one knee. Cheese! The photo took. I’m not really sure what he was saying to be honest, but he was talking and I assume he was saying nice things. I only remember the last part: “Will you marry me?”
After I said yes, that’s when it happened: hearts in the sand (or maybe dirt?), googling over my ring, and sheer squeals of delight and excitement. In my big hiking boots and dirty face, I was as giggly as schoolgirl.
Our friends returned and we ended up moving onward. The big rock at Leprechaun Lake became smaller in the distance and got lost somewhere in the trees as we hiked on. But it was perfect that way.
No sense lingering, there are plenty more adventures ahead.
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