there’s a ring on my finger

When I got in my car to go to work this morning, alone for the first time in days, I didn’t know what to listen to. I couldn’t remember what I was interested in. I wasn’t sure what motivated me, what blog posts were still to be written, or where I left off on Thursday afternoon. The weekend had been a blur, and everything I thought I knew was now different, hazy underneath the filter of my new reality.

Because this past Thursday night, my week – and my life – changed forever.

You see, somehow I managed to find myself engaged. . . and I think I’m still sorting through the shock of it.

It’s almost comical to think of how ravenously I was plotting a post about the Ken Burns Country Music documentary to post on Friday, or how much I was looking forward to finally painting my nails that night with a new polish I’d just bought at Target. All of that feels so far away now. Not like it doesn’t matter, not like it will never come back – but like I’m somehow brand new, with bigger fish to fry and more pressing details to worry about. Like all of that’s been washed away and I don’t know how to get back to it right now. And that’s okay, because things will settle soon enough. I just need a little time to breathe.

I thought it was just a simple date night out on the town. I mean, I’d planned it! Or so I thought … Turns out, my plans had unknowingly intercepted someone else’s. There was a preview night at the Frist – an exhibit of artwork by Native American women, which was designed to stir up some inspiration. After the exhibit, we headed out for dinner – a typical “we’re not home so let’s get food” occasion. But something was off about it. We were going back to the place where we’d had out first date – a place that we save for anniversaries and special occasions. Only, today was September 26th – and there was nothing special about it.

At least not yet.

As we turned into the parking lot, I noticed Webb rubbing his hands together, the way one does when they’re cold or extremely amped/nervous about something. Odd, I thought to myself. Then I noticed his parents’ car parked several spaces down. “Are your parents here?” I asked with feigned innocence. Something was up, and I knew it, but I wasn’t about to let it get the best of me.

“Yeah, I just wanted to do something special tonight,” he told me. It had been a hard week at the farm, and it wasn’t out of the question for him to want to do something fun with his parents. I felt a little trigger of sadness, remembering the phone call I’d tried to make to my mom earlier that afternoon. She hadn’t answered. I always found myself wishing, in moments like this, that my own parents were close enough to join us for dinner on a whim.

As we rounded the corner, he stopped me, grabbing both of my hands and turning me around to face him.

And then, I knew exactly what was happening.

The next couple of minutes weren’t for anyone but us. Mostly because we got engaged behind a car, where the staked-out photographers couldn’t get more then the very top of my head as Webb asked me to marry him.

But that wasn’t even the best part. As we began walking towards the restaurant, I already knew his parents were there to meet us. But then I caught a glimpse of my mom through the window. And my dad. And my brother, all the way up from Florida. I went rushing in, hugging them all through a stream of tears, turning around to discover my future sister-in-law and her boyfriend, down from Chicago, and one of our best friends and her guy, too. They, it turned out, had been hiding across the street in an attempt to get pictures. The entire time I’d been trying to soak up some art at the Frist, Webb had been arranging and coordinating with all of these people to make this one of the most meaningful and surreal moments of my life.

Of course, everybody had known but me. For months, they had all been whispering behind my back, making plans, booking flights, assessing rings, and putting together “future bride” care packages. There was even a party – already planned – taking place the next day. Everyone came over to get our patio ready, my mom and I finally went out for our first mani-pedi, and so many people showed up to congratulate us.

Five days later, I still can’t believe it.

I say all of this because I’ve known for a long time that I was with the man I’m going to marry. We’d talked about it a lot before this moment. We’d already discussed quite a few plans. But the unknown always resided in the “when?” – in the “how long do I have to wait?”. And suddenly, it’s here. It’s probably the most caught-off-guard I’ve ever felt. I’ve got something I’ve wanted my entire life – and I have no idea what to do next.

What I’m realizing is that, now that the unknown has been answered, all of the expectations can start rolling on in. There are people to notify, social media announcements, Facebook relationship status changes, a date to save, a dress to discover, and so, so much more – enough so that less than 24 hours after it happened, I had to turn off my phone and leave it in the corner of the room where I couldn’t be bothered.

I didn’t want the pressure of my phone buzzing every 5 minutes. I didn’t want to worry about composing my feelings in a short, witty Instagram post. I didn’t want to answer all the questions I didn’t yet have answers to.

Because you know what? Now that it’s finally here, I just want to live in this moment for a while. I’m grateful for the well-wishes, the congratulations, and the “Can I see the ring?” texts. But I’m also just so ready to have this moment for myself (and for us) – to remember it, to cherish it, to gaze down at the ring on my finger that was made just for me and remember just how amazing it feels to watch so many people come together in support of a relationship that I’ve believed in for such a long time.

Unfortunately, I know people whose engagements haven’t been able to go as planned. People who have had to fight and prove and hide what they have only to hear radio silence coming back at them from those who are supposed to love them the most. I’m grateful that my journey won’t go that way. I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many people who care and want the best for us. But I won’t be shouting it from the rooftops day in and out for the next year. I’m ready to do this our way: to watch our story unfold in a way that’s unique and right for us.

And that’s about all I can tell y’all for now.