The day Justin told me he’d accepted a job, we had gone out to a movie and then to dinner at Rib Crib. He didn’t seem too nervous until, halfway through the meal, he reached across the table, took my hands, and said quietly, “I have some news.”
“You found a job!” I said. “That’s awesome! Where?”
He made a face. “Marquette, Michigan.”
I stared at him, my mind drawing a complete blank. “Where the heck is Marquette?”
“Fourteen hours from here,” he said.
I really didn’t know how to react to that. Yes, it wasn’t Alaska. Yes, he finally had a job. But it was so far away…
I decided to focus on the positive. He had a job! And after only one interview, which was practically unheard of. It was a better job than most 22-year-olds just getting out college would be able to find.
But Michigan may as well have been Alaska to me at that point in my life. A week or so later, the secretary of the office mailed him a packet full of stuff about the area. The pictures looked beautiful, and we’d be able to do all sorts of fun new things like snowmobiling and skiing in the winter. It looked like a great place for outdoorsy, adventurous people like us.
And so, Justin had a job.
Which led me to wondering…when would he “pop the question”? I didn’t think about it too much, because at that point, Olivia was still doing chemo treatments. There had been a couple of set-backs, but she seemed to be over those. Still, I knew it would be nice to be engaged before he moved to Michigan in October…
A couple of weeks before he left for Michigan, he took me out on a nice date. We went for a walk in Ritter Springs Park, a pretty little area with cliffs, a cave, and a little pond and waterfall. I’d only been there once before. As we walked, Justin talked about how many time he’s come here during his childhood. He remembered exploring the cave and going fishing with his grandpa and siblings. then he smoothly transitioned to talking about our future. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen before he moved, he said…his parents were still really stressed out about Olivia, and it was going to be crazy before he moved, especially with his sister Sarah back in school and all…
I’d noticed a square-ish shape in his pocket earlier, but when he started talking about all that, I realized that he wasn’t going to propose that night as I’d perhaps thought. The square-ish thing must be his cell-phone sticking in his pocket oddly, or some gadgety thingamajig that only a guy would carry around for who-knows-what reason.
My parents had come with us, and I noticed they were hanging back further than usual. I stopped to let them catch up, but my mom waved us on ahead, saying she had to run to the bathroom and that they’d catch up. It was a legit excuse, seeing as how I’d teased my mom multiple times about how often she needed a bathroom break. So Justin & I continued on to the little bridge that crossed the waterfall.
We stopped on the bridge and moved to the side to let a few runners jog past. I leaned over the side of the bridge, watching the last bit of the sun make rainbows in the mist, when I felt Justin tap my shoulder.
I turned around…and he was on one knee, holding up a black velvet box with a sparkly ring. I don’t remember much about that moment. It was too much of a blur until I had the ring on my finger and his arms were around me, squeezing me tightly.
Turns out, he’d known I was suspecting the question and had said everything as a half-legit concern and half to throw me off track. The sneaky man. 😉
After my parents caught up to us and finished taking pictures (and my mom finished squealing) we headed off to dinner. I saw some of my friends at the same restaurant, so I got to share our news immediately.
Not long after, Justin packed up his big red Jeep and headed up to Michigan.