Sunday, November 28, 2004


The alarm clock shattered the predawn silence. Startled awake from a dreamless sleep, it took me a moment to remember where I was. As I reached over to silence the offending clock I noticed the wide wooden slats of the blinds, the cool air coming in through the open window, the slightly musty odor of the room. Fort Buchanan. Yes, that was it. I was in Puerto Rico. The memories of the past few days flooded back to me.

My girlfriend and I had traveled from Maryland to Florida where we had boarded a charter flight, with most of her family, to San Juan, Puerto Rico. They were having a family reunion of sorts, and I had been graciously invited along. I was thrilled! Never having been to the Caribbean, it all seemed very exotic to me and quite the adventure.

The flight was uneventful, but after a few hours in the plane it was a great relief to stand and stretch and feel solid ground beneath my feet. We picked up a rental car and an empanada (hey, I was hungry) and headed off.

The first few days of the trip had been a bit of a blur. Lots of parties, lots of relatives, lots of me smiling a lot without having a clue what the person talking to me was saying (knew I should've studied Spanish in school). We toured Old San Juan with my girlfriend's father. He showed us where he went to school and we walked around La Fortaleza and El Morro. I really was enjoying myself, but I was also a bit distracted.

You see, my girlfriend and I had been dating for about 8 months and things were going really well. She was captivating. And I, quite simply, adored her. I had decided to ask her to marry me. The trip to Puerto Rico was the exciting, romantic backdrop I wanted for the proposal. Once on the island the only problem had been that we always seemed to be so busy or there were too many people around. I had been carrying the engagement ring around in my pocket since we had arrived, but the right moment just hadn't materialized.

Two days before Thanksgiving, my girlfriend's father and I found ourselves alone for a few minutes. We talked and I explained my intentions. I probably should have asked his daughter (and made sure she was going to say yes) before speaking with him but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. We had a nice chat, and he readily agreed to give us his blessing.

The next day we took a day trip over the mountains to the southern coast and visited Ponce, but again the opportunity to pop the question did not appear. I was rapidly running out of time, and my girlfriend's parents, now in on the whole thing, were waiting anxiously to break out the champagne. I finally decided that Thanksgiving would be the day. I got out a map and made some plans.

So, an hour before dawn the alarm went off. I stumbled out of bed, washed up and got dressed. I woke up my girlfriend and while she dressed I double checked the map and made sure the ring was in my jacket pocket.

We left the base and drove through the nearly deserted streets of San Juan. I found the area I was looking for and we parked. I led my girlfriend out onto Condado Beach. Part of the beach there juts out into the sea with a clear view to the east. The perfect place to watch a tropical sunrise. And ask the girl of my dreams to marry me!

We sat there for a few minutes and talked. I was sure she would say yes, but I was still nervous. I felt the butterflies in my stomach even as I reached into my pocket for the ring. Then, with the sun bursting over the horizon and the waves crashing around us, I got down on one knee and told her how much I loved her, how I couldn't imagine my life with out her and asked if she would be my wife.

She said yes... and changed my life forever. A year and a day later, we were married.

Happy 6th Anniversary to the love of my life!

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