The Proposal, Part 3: The Proposal Itself

The Proposal, Part 3: The Proposal Itself

Jun 26

The Proposal

After spending far too much time describing the plan, there’s almost very little I can say about the proposal itself. For the most part, it went according to plan. Caitlin and I arrived shortly before 2PM and went straight to the dolphin show (which I, unfortunately, cannot recommend — about 8 minutes of dolphins intermingled with 22 minutes of bad acting and indecipherable singing). During that time, my parents, Jennifer, and Sunira all arrived. I texted Jennifer the ID number for our photo so she could purchase them, and we both observed that the aquarium was very busy that day — much busier than when we had scouted it out. Initially we planned on the balcony, but a kind employee offered to help her with the tunnel.

Exiting the dolphin show, I saw Sunira, and momentarily worried that Caitlin had seen her, too. Caitlin and Sunira have never met, but they’ve tangentially interacted on Facebook. Fortunately, though, Caitlin didn’t notice her, and Sunira started following us into the Georgia Explorer exhibit. Following us couldn’t have been easy; I was usually aware of where Sunira was, but we moved fairly quickly. She did a great job, though, of pretending to be just any other aquarium-goer, and I’m sure she got some great photos of the fish in the aquarium. And she got some incredible candids, too:

 

 

We moved through Georgia Explorer and on to the River Scout exhibit, where we stopped to watch the otters for a good 30 minutes. They’re my favorite, and this was the first time we’d ever actually seen them awake and playing. Sunira, meanwhile, took up shop across the otter exhibit from us and grabbed some shots of us through the crowd. My favorite:

I got a text from Sunira saying "OMG I got it!" after this one was successfully tken.

From there, we finally moved on and walked through Coldwater Quest, spending plenty of time with the ocean otters as well. Afterward, I made a terrible excuse to skip Ocean Voyager (home of the tunnel) in favor of Tropical Diver, with the real reason being that Jennifer and my parents were planning on us aiming for shortly after 4PM. We strolled through Tropical Diver, then moved toward Ocean Voyager.

As we approached the tunnel, I suddenly jerked back on Caitlin’s hand — my parents were standing there. Sunira had texted Jennifer that we were en route in plenty of time, but the text got delayed up in the cloud, and it was only about 30 seconds from when she received the text to when we arrived. My parents quickly ducked out of sight, and while Caitlin thought she’d seen someone, she wasn’t quite certain. My sudden stop was far more uncharacteristic. I pretended I really, really, really wanted to see a fish that was swimming by.

I was thrown off by the fact that there was still a large crowd of people in the tunnel. I half-panicked. My biggest worry was that we wouldn’t have any privacy for the proposal, but finally I decided that standing awkwardly at the entrance of the tunnel for 5 minutes waiting for a gap would be worse than the crowd, so finally, we entered. Jennifer didn’t know we were there, but she dashed out of the way real quick — and really, Caitlin was going to know I was proposing 10 seconds later, so it didn’t really matter.

The photo board was set up along the side of the walkway. There were people on the moving walkway that moves through the tunnel, but the walking area was empty. I took Caitlin’s hand and led her to the photo board, and I heard her say, “Oh, this is…” You know that moment when you see something you recognize, but it takes you a moment to process it because of how out-of-place it is? This was that moment. I think that was the moment she realized what was really happening (though of course, she can give her side of the story later 🙂 ). The picture board, sitting in the tunnel, read:

Click for a larger version that lets you see the text. Also, give reading just the gold letters a try.

 “I think I’ve known for a long time
You’re the only one for me.
Somehow I knew
we’d be great even
before we were together,
Though I never could’ve imagined
we would be this good.

I’ve never met
Anyone else with whom
I click the way
I do with you.

The first night we re-met,
I felt like I’d known you
for my entire life.

I want to spend
the rest of my life
with you.
I love you so much.”

 

We stared at it for a few moments before I leaned over and whispered the text to her, line by line. When I reached the end, I’d forgotten about the aquarium photo; I got down on one knee, pulled the ring out of my pocket, and proposed. She, needless to say, said yes. The crowd applauded.

The most remarkable thing about the whole proposal, I think, is that it went perfectly: my plan wasn’t perfect, though. But somehow, the things that didn’t go according to plan went better than the plan. I didn’t want an audience, but she loved the applause. I didn’t want people to rush up and congratulate us immediately afterward, but that somehow sealed the moment. 95% of my the plan went exactly as it was laid out, but the 5% that was different actually made the proposal much, much better. She loved it.

Part 1 | Part 2

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