One month ago, Jonathan asked me to be his wife with a super creative, intensely personal, and completely surprising scavenger hunt.
If you’re interested in getting a play-by-play of the whole thing, come right this way…
On Sunday, March 3, 2013, I woke up with Ennis excitedly jumping on me, bouncing on and off the bed.
My sister, Kim, was visiting for the weekend and Jonathan was “out of town” visiting his folks in Santa Barbara. We’d spent all of Saturday marathoning Switched at Birth — an activity we planned to continue the next day.
Apparently, that wasn’t the plan at all.
I woke up vaguely aware that Kim was up and had walked Ennis and her dog, Gretchen, as he was jubilant and licking me, trying to get me up. It was a few minutes of groggily shoving him off me before I noticed he had something tied to his collar. I called him up on the bed and saw immediately it was a message in a bottle, with sand inside and everything. I also pieced together fairly quickly it was for me and, through my daze, started calling for Kim while I fumbled to get it open. In the process, I spilled sand on the bed. I screamed for Kim through developing tears, saying that I’d spilled sand all over the bed.
I opened the message.
And then I immediately started crying tears of fear and confusion and happiness. It was a weird mix, and all I could think was that my hair was dirty and my armpits were smelly and how Kim had refused (for some reason) to go and get manicures & pedicures the day before.
So I did what any girl would do who was half asleep and suddenly bombarded by romance: I sat there crying for a while. There were a lot of feelings.
Eventually I threw on a robe and waddled down the hallway into the living room, my face tear-stained, feeling weirdly self-conscious, only to see Kim sitting there with a flippant smirk on her face while tap-tap-tapping away on her cell phone.
On the kitchen table was a Starbucks coffee, a wrapped-up breakfast sandwich, and a note. (I scanned these so you can see the front and back.)
At this point it was clear to me I was about to be sent on a scavenger hunt. Since my brain tends to overly complicate things and I’m the worst at puzzles and riddles, I started panicking about where I was about to be sent and whether I could actually figure out these clues.
Kim, seeing my confusion, assured me that it wasn’t meant to confuse me; keep it simple.
“Do I have to go somewhere? I’m dirty,” I sniveled.
She told me to shower and take all the time that I needed. I left my coffee, my breakfast sandwich, and my first clue and went to shower. (I also shaved my legs within an inch of their life, in case you were curious. Also, fun fact: before getting into the shower, Kim asked me, “If I hear a thud in there, should I call for help?”, obviously teasing me about how disoriented and shakey I was feeling. Not 5 minutes after entering the shower, I slipped and fell. Twice. Good job, body.)
I got out of the shower, put on something pretty, and considered the clue while I drank my coffee and Sriracha’d-up (technical term) my sandwich. Obviously the clue was referring to Ennis Del Mar, Heath Ledger’s character in Brokeback Mountain (whom I named my dog after), so eventually I determined that — if I wasn’t leaving the house — the next clue was either in my copy of the screenplay or the BluRay.
I was right. Inside the BluRay for Brokeback Mountain was the next clue:
When I told mah best girl Kait the story of Jonathan’s proposal, she got this clue in about .74 seconds. Apparently she knows me better than I know myself, because I read this and almost gave up right then and there. I had no idea. And of course, despite Kim telling me not to, I immediately over-complicated it. Here’s where my brain went:
“Constellation? So… stars? Like, celebrities? Hollywood?!?!?”
I put the clue down and went to do my hair, talking a little to Kim to see if I could get any hints or tips from her about what I should be expecting. She was tight-lipped, which I give her credit for, because she is usually a blabbermouth.
Mid-blow dry, the answer finally came to me and I felt like a fool. I went into my office to our gallery wall, and pulled off my Hubble telescope photo of the Orion Nebula. (I’ve referred to Orion as my “constellation crush” since I was about 17.)
Taped behind it was clue #3:
Kim called to me from the other room, “You know, you can use Google! You’re not on lock-down!”
I started to Google and it popped up after just a few letters: Bird’s nest fern, which is my dearest plant that I haven’t managed to kill yet.
On the balcony, nestled in the dirt with my fern, was clue #4:
I must’ve started to get better at this game, because I figured this one out pretty quickly. My dress from Free People that I bought last year on sale ($69 down from $299) and turned out to be way too small for me, but it was too pretty to send back, so I dubbed it my “goal dress” for when I inevitably have my wedding rehearsal dinner.
Inside the dress, paper-clipped to the inside of the tag, was clue #5.
Another easy one: my yoga studio, SunSpark.
To give you some perspective, I woke up at around 8:30 AM, and by now it was getting close to 10:15 or so. At this point, I was feeling a lot less queasy about everything, and started to settle into a normal rhythm of nerves and anticipation. I’m an extremely self-conscious person, and generally don’t even like being looked at for too long, much less the center of attention, so the thought of going out and maybe interacting with people was skeery.
Kim and I leashed up the dogs and went on our way, walking the half-mile to my yoga studio. I was relieved to see that it was Ernie sitting at the front desk (the part-owner of the studio and a super nice guy), and when I walked in, he gave me a knowing and friendly smile.
“I think you have something for me,” I said.
He pulled out a clue which matched the others and handed it over.
“How’s your morning been so far?” he asked.
“Oh, you know. It’s been a morning.” I’m so awkward.
“Did you suspect anything at all?”
I thanked him, blushing like a fool, and went out towards the next destination: Chapman’s Leatherby Library.
It was a gorgeous day. Walking with Kim and the dogs felt pretty great, and even though I was still shakey and anxious, my excitement started to build the longer we walked.
Outside Leatherby, Kim told me to go in alone and find the book I was instructed to get, and bring it out with me. Apparently, it had already been checked out!
After a bit of trial and error, I eventually found my way to the Literature section, then to a copy of my favorite modern romance: The Time Traveler’s Wife. Inside, the next clue:
This meant we were about to turn around and head back towards home. It couldn’t be referring to anything other than The Filling Station, our favorite place to get brunch and salads in Old Towne Orange.
So with that, we started back the way we came, all the while I was shaking out my hands, trying to stop my heart from beating so intensely in my fingertips. By now I wasn’t so much nervous or anxious, but anticipatory. I wanted to see Jonathan, and I wanted this to be over, with a ring on my finger!
A few blocks away, surrounded by the brunch crowd that keep Old Towne bustling on Sundays, I walked up to the hostess stationed outside and gave her my name. I wasn’t sure if I needed to get food, or whether she was the right person to talk to; she looked a little confused. She called over another hostess who instantly told me to come inside. She walked around the counter and pulled out a card just like the previous ones.
She smiled, adding, “Congratulations.”
“Thanks,” I squeaked.
Glancing at the last card, the air in my chest immediately floated to my head.
It’s safe to say this one is my favorite clue. It makes me happy every time I see it.
I walked home, hardly saying anything. The nerves were back, the anxiousness was all-encompassing. Kim broke the silence with a bit of helpful reassurance, letting me know I would be alright. Just keep breathing.
Kim left me right at the bottom of the stairs leading up to our apartment. She took the dogs and had me go up alone.
The door was unlocked, the apartment was dark (as dark as it could be on a somewhat-sunny day), and Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat’s “Lucky” was playing quietly from the kitchen. Several vases of flowers covered the coffee table, as well as a dozen or so candles.
A bit apprehensively — as though I were expecting something to jump out of the closet and scare me — I called Jonathan’s name. After a minute he came out of the back room, dressed to the nines, with a rose that coincidentally matched the pink dress I was wearing.
And then I was crying again. Somehow, though, he managed to keep it together. I kissed him as he handed me the rose, and we hugged for a long time. He had me sit down in one of our lounge chairs, which he’d moved to the center of the room.
He knelt down on one knee, then… I forget. I’m sorry, everyone. Honest to God… I can’t remember a word he said.
I know. Not really what you were expecting considering I’ve been telling you this long story and you were probably hoping for a detailed climax, but the truth is, I was so happy, weepy, and excited that everything about these few minutes are a complete blur. All I can remember is what he said was sweet, personal, and summed up the fact that we are two best friends who took a chance, fell in love, and it’s all led up to this moment.
He pulled out the ring. He opened the box. He asked me to marry him.
Obviously, I said “yes”!
We hugged and kissed and held each other for a while. It was then I felt everything that had weighed me down all morning, week, month, year drift away. I was utterly relaxed and impossibly blissful.
Then we celebrated!
Jonathan pulled out the bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne we’d been “saving for a special occasion” since we got it in September 2010 — the year we started dating. He popped the cork and we celebrated with the tastiest champagne I’ve ever had, both of us admiring the ring. He admitted he’d had the ring for almost a month and was so relieved to see it on me and that it fit.
He told me about how he planned the proposal, saying Kim (obviously) helped and so did my dear friend Shannon, who was outside waiting with her. She had helped him set up the flowers and get everything in place around town that morning. I was so excited another friend could be there to celebrate with us!
After snapping a few pictures, we invited Kim and Shannon back upstairs to share our champagne, and thank them for all that they did to help Jonathan plan such an amazing and personal proposal. (It’s no secret Kim had a pretty heavy hand in it!)
It’s now been over a month since he proposed, and I simply cannot wait to plan this wedding and really get things rolling. Our families couldn’t be happier or more supportive; we’re so fortunate and blessed.
But more than that, I can’t wait to marry my best friend. :)
(Psst… the treasure hunt notes above are all scans, showing the fronts and backs, because they were so pretty and too difficult to photograph.)