And here’s the story.

About a month ago, my friend Kylee came to me and suggest we do something fun for Alex and Garrett’s (her fiance) upcoming birthdays, because they are both during the first week of November.   And what is more fun than a surprise party?  Nothing, really.  So that was the plan.   We decided to cover it with our annual Halloween/Pyhäinpäivä (Finnish All Saint’s Day, duh.  Keep up.) party so the guys wouldn’t get suspicious.

I felt super sneaky.  It’s always my goal to pull a fast one on Alex.  He’s super good at surprising me, but I haven’t managed to surprise him.  He’s too good at figuring those things out.  This was my chance.

As the day of Halloween and the surprise party approached, Kylee and I got more and more excited.  The guys seemed to have no clue, and I was especially pleased the Alex clearly had no idea.  Kylee and I had snuck around and bought lots of decorations and food, and I had sent out secret message to all of our friends informing them of the details of the party.  I knew Alex was going to be so surprised, and I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face.  This was going to be a very special weekend for us, anyway.  Saturday was our six month anniversary, and Sunday marked two years since Alex and I had met, at that very same Halloween party.  A surprise party for Alex’s 22nd birthday would make it completely perfect.

Sunday, October 31, or Halloween, started like any other day.  Kylee had gotten Garrett out of the house for the afternoon, and she was going to go over to the guys’ house to decorate.  Alex’s sister and her husband, Jenna and Joey, were coming out to visit for the day, so I knew it wouldn’t be too hard to keep Alex distracted until 7:30, the time Kylee and I had planned to have Alex and Garrett to arrive and be surprised.  Things were going according to plan.

Jenna, Joey, Alex and I headed off for an afternoon of hanging out in Yellow Springs.  We shopped and wandered and drank smoothies.  When I suggest we go around the corner to the Peruvian restaurant for dinner, Jenna, being 8 months pregnant, said her feet were swelling, and Joey insisted that she go and lie down and we go on to dinner.  I felt bad going off without them, since they had driven clear out here to see us, but I couldn’t risk Alex getting back to the house before the party.  We agreed, and parted ways.

The Peruvian restaurant is one of our favorites, and a romantic dinner with Alex before the party seemed like it could only make the night ever better.

About halfway through the meal, Alex said, “So remember the present I said I got you?  Well, it’s in the back of the car, and since Jenna and Joey left, I suppose I could give it to you before the party instead of after.”

Ah!  My present! With all the excitement of King’s Island, Jenna and Joey coming, and getting ready for the party, I had completely forgotten about the present!  Earlier that week, Alex told me he had gotten me a present.  He said it was a just because/to-hold-me-over-until-he-proposed present.  Yes, in case you didn’t know, I knew Alex was going to propose sometime before the end of this calendar year, but I had no idea when.  And I’ve been super excited and curious about when, so when Alex said he got me a present to hold me over until he prosed, I knew it wasn’t going to be anytime soon.  After I realized that, my excitement shifted to this mysterious present.

“Can I have it now?”  I was bouncing around in my chair like a five year old.

“Nope.  How about we go for a walk first, and I’ll give it to you when we get there.”  Perfect.  Then we wouldn’t get back to the house too early.  And I get a present 😉

“Wait, get there?  Where are we walking?”

He gave me one of those “Duh, Jess” looks and smiled.  “Where do we always walk?”

He was talking about the Indian Mounds, of course.  We’ve been going there to walk pretty much since we met.  I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve sat at the top of the waterfall and talked about everything, wandered off the trail and gotten lost in the woods, and ventured all they way to the top of the mound to watch the sunset and the stars.  It’s our place.

When we rolled into the parking lot, Alex grabbed a shiny silver gift bag and handed it to me.

“Why don’t you carry this?  I know it will drive you crazy.  No peeking!”

I stuck my tongue  out at him and took the bag.  I didn’t peek, but I tested the weight of the bag and began rattling off my guesses of what it could be as we walked.

It was chilly, almost cold enough to see our breath.  The walk to the mound always seems to be much longer than we remember.  The sun was going down and the path was rough, but Alex held my hand and guided me along the way.  I felt safe and happy and perfectly content.

Finally, the mound came into sight through the trees, like a tower leading up to the sunset.  We climbed the steep steps and I flopped down on my back when we reached the top to catch my breath.  Alex laid back next to me.  It was that perfect moment when the sun dips just below the horizon, and the orange and yellow sky blends up into the darkness, where stars are just beginning to peek through the black.   It was here, on this very mound, at a sunset just like this one, that Alex had first asked me to be his girlfriend.

“Would you like your present now?”

“Yes!”  I sat up quickly and pulled the silver bag over to me.  I reached down through the crinkly paper and felt something very soft and velvety.  I pulled it out and found myself looking into the eyes of a cuddly, stuffed animal dog in a little blue sweater.

“He’s adorable!”  I hugged the dog close and leaned over to kiss Alex.  “Where did you get him?”

“I made him.  I made him at Build-a-Bear.”

“Woah, really?”  The sappy part of me took over and both Alex and the cuddly dog got even more adorable.

“So, do you think he could hold you over until I propose?” Alex asked, scooting closer and putting his arm around me.  The sun was completely down now, and the last traces of light were fading.

“I think so.  I mean, he’s super cute and cuddly.”  I said, squeezing my dog tight and snuggling up against Alex.

“So, how long will that last you then?  Like, do I have a time limit?”

“Hmm…a week?” I teased.

“A week?  That’s a pretty short time limit.”  He gave me a fake sad look. “Well,” he said, reaching into his pocket and flashing me a smile, “What if it was only a few minutes?”

The light was fading, but it still glinted off the gold Helzburg Diamonds logo on the small brown box in his hand.  I sucked in my breath and my heart stopped.

“W-what?”  He didn’t answer, but rather stood up and knelt down on one knee in front of me.  Everything else around me disappeared, including my voice.  My eyes filled with tears as I looked at him smiling nervously in front of me, realizing what he was about to say.

Slowly, he opened the box, told me how much he loved me, and asked me the question that would change the rest of my life.

“Will you marry me?”

I didn’t even have to think.   I found my voice and threw my arms around him.  “Of course I will!”

He kissed me and then, taking the ring out of it’s box, slid it onto my shaking finger.  Even in the semi-darkness, I knew the ring must be beautiful.

“Wait, let me get a light.”  Alex whipped out his phone and shined the light on my hand.  At the first good sighting of the ring he picked out for me, the ring I would wear the rest of my life, I gasped again.

“Oh my goodness!  It’s gorgeous!  It’s the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen!”  I couldn’t take my eyes off it.  It was covered in tiny diamonds surrounding one big diamond, and sparkled from every angle.  It was perfect.  I could not believe Alex had just proposed to me!  It had never felt so right to be in his arms.

We stayed there for awhile longer, savoring the moment, before Alex suggested we head back for the party and to tell everyone the news.  Oh my goodness!  The party!  I took out my phone and saw that I had a missed call and a text from Kylee telling me to hurry up and get Alex back to the house.  I did want the moment on the mound to end, but Alex was right, we needed to get back.  The walk was already going to take us extra long in the dark, just like the night he first asked me to be his girlfriend.

I held my new fiancé close, and he led me back to the car.  What a perfect night this had turned out to be!  Alex proposes, and now I get to surprise him with a birthday party, where all of our friends are already gathered to hear the news of our engagement.  When we walked up to the house, I saw the lights were off, and knew they all must be ready to jump out and surprise Alex.  This was it!   On this perfect night, I was finally going to get to surprise him.  We came through the door and I pushed Alex forward so he would come in first.   The lights flipped on.

“CONGRATULATIONS!”  I froze for the second time that night.  A stood there, mouth open, and suddenly saw my sister Kara coming towards me.

“W-what….what are you doing here???”  She just laughed and hugged me.  “Congratulations!”  She said.

As I hugged her I looked around the living room and saw streamers, balloons, and a big sign saying “Happy Alex Loves Jess Day”.  I also saw my other sister, Laura, my mom, the girls that I live with, and all of our friends, all smiling and offering hugs and congratulations.  It all began making sense to me.  Still shaking and teary-eyed, I turned back to Alex, and saw him smiling knowingly back at me from across the room.

“Jess!” Kylee called out above the clamor, “This is for you.  Because Alex has busted your bubble once again.  He planned this engagement party for you.”  She held up a red balloon that said “Bust my Bubble”.  Everyone, including me, burst out laughing as Alex popped the balloon.

After hugging everyone in the room, showing off my ring, and trying to regain my composure, I sat down on the couch with Alex, and told this story to everyone there.  I learned that all the while I thought I was planning a surprise birthday party for Alex, Alex and everyone around me had been planning a surprise engagement party for us.  Only my poor papa was not in attendance, because he just had knee surgery and isn’t too mobile yet.  I have never felt so loved and unbelievably happy before in my entire life.   Kylee brought out a huge ice cream cake that said ‘Congratulations Alex & Jess’, and we ate and everyone shared about the planning of this party.  Then, we all celebrated our Halloween/Pyhäinpäivä traditions, just like the night I met Alex at this same party two years before.  It was a perfect success.

So, my dear friends, that is how Alex busted my bubble once again, and why I don’t mind.  Because I am engaged to the most incredible man I have ever met, whom I love with all that I am.  The man who has been my best friend since I first met him at this party, who I jokingly told long ago that I would marry at age 40 if I was still single.   The man who has whole heart, and will hold it the rest of my life.  The man who I can’t wait to walk down the aisle to.  The man who I will share everything with.  That man is named Alex Laird, and I am going to marry him.

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