“Oh, you don’t need a carat!”

02/04/2014

A┬árather unfortunate sentence that escaped my mouth when Sarah and I first broke the topic of engagement rings, and she innocently admitted she didn’t know much about diamonds, but suggested 1 carat would probably be enough. One of us knew what a 1-carat diamond can cost, the other didn’t. Sarah has been rightly giving me shit about it ever since.

Soon after this conversation we started casually walking into jewelry shops, where Sarah would explain in great detail her likes and dislikes of each ring style. I was mostly there to observe, but did have a question about one of the larger diamonds I found at the San Francisco Tiffany’s.

“Oh yes, you’ve correctly identified our higher end diamond rings” the sales woman said as she pulled one out of the cabinet. “This particular one retails for $630,000.”

Engagement rings are funny little things. They’re so small, but we attach such enormous value to them, emotionally and financially. It’s a social and status signal, a token of commitment, and a decorative accessory all rolled into one. It makes choosing the right one a challenging task.

Intel gathered, I went silent on the ring issue, but plans were in the works. I looked through hundreds of ring options, scouring for the right one. Something simple, elegant, understated, but not too modest. Something that didn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Something you could wear walking around the sketchy parts of Oakland. It took a couple of weeks, but I finally came across one that stuck with me.

I went and looked at it again the next day to make sure I still liked it. Round solitaire diamond, with a simple but unique setting. Medium shoulder, not set too high. Great stats on the stone, certified conflict free, with a platinum band, and within a reasonable budget. I checked the private Pinterest board of rings Sarah had made. It was on her list too. Clearly we had a winner.

I had the ring shipped to her parents house. I was greeted by her father when I went to pick it up.

“So what is it? It doesn’t weigh hardly anything” he explained.

I opened the box for him. I don’t think he was expecting to see a ring. Sarah’s father is not a sentimental man, but gave his approval in his own way. “Text a picture to [Sarah’s mom], she’ll want to see.”

My phone dinged back shortly after I left: “Holy S—! WHOOHOO!”

Blessing in hand, I wiped my phone of the evidence and went to work planning a proposal. A special place, not too public, at the right time, without giving too many hints of what was coming. It wasn’t going to be unexpected, obviously, but I did want the moment to be a surprise.

I casually proposed we take a hike out to the Point Bonita light house the next Sunday, a scenic bay area spot that Sarah had worked at many years ago, and which we hadn’t been to together yet. I invited my friend Scott to tag along as well to reduce suspicion, and also to document the occasion with his excellent photography skills. The light house is in the Marin Headlands by the Golden Gate Bridge, and it’s a beautiful area, and meaningful to Sarah. Seemed like a great location, and being Super Bowl Sunday, it would likely be devoid of tourists. Perfect.

Unfortunately, we woke up Sunday morning to the first proper rain storm the Bay Area has had in at least 6 months. It was raining across practically the whole state, and forecast to continue raining all day.

“Looks like we need a backup plan” I texted Scott.

I scanned all around Northern California on the weather map. Precipitation was everywhere, but it wasn’t all rain. I went into the bedroom where Sarah was still dozing. “There’s a little problem with our light house plan” I said. “How do you feel about going to play in some snow?”

Plans were hastily changed. We settled on Lake Tahoe, a 3+ hour drive away. Scott agreed to come over early. We arranged dog sitting with Sarah’s parents. Then I remembered that my Subaru, our go-to vehicle for snowy mountain adventures was still in the shop, and my rental car was rear-wheel-drive and without chains or proper tires. So we also traded cars with Sarah’s mom, who has a 4WD SUV, and set off to the East.

I had only been to Tahoe once before, last year with Sarah and a few other friends. I had no idea where to go, but figured we would find a scenic spot somewhere with snow, and I’d just have to wing it. It was snowing in Tahoe alright, so much so that you really couldn’t see the lake! No matter, we stopped at a vista along the west side of the lake where we had taken pictures the year before to check out the snow and take pictures.

Sarah is a bit of a crier, and had suggested a couple months ago that a proposal should be accompanied by a tissue. After taking a few hits from her snow-balls, I handed her a Kleenex and explained that I had ulterior motives for our trip. I didn’t have a grand speech, but asked her if she’d marry me, and she said yes. At least, I think there was a yes in there somewhere. She put the ring on, so it may have just been implied. I’ll chalk it up to shock. Seems I did a good job of keeping everything discreet, she was caught totally by surprise.

So now it’s official.

A few years ago when I started this blog I had just ended a marriage, and was reflecting a lot on what to do with the “thousands of days” I had left in life. At the time it was hard to imagine getting married again. But now I can’t imagine spending those days without Sarah. We compliment each other in so many ways, and while we both have our independent spirits, we have a friendship, partnership, and love that I want to celebrate. I am still not sure what all I will do with my thousands of days, but I do know who I want to do it with.

And for anyone wondering, the ring is .6 carats.